Because I’m an idiot and made a wrong turn returning from the lovely Susquehanna River Valley recently, I found myself in Binghamton, NY. My only knowledge/memory of Binghamton is that the first girl I ever made it to second base with was from Binghamton (not counting babysitters, but hell, who does, right?)

So I figured, I might as well make some lemons out of this lemonade and look her up. She was cute in 1980, and I’m sure she’s everything like I imagine her. But no, it was getting to be dinnertime and so I decided to spend a few minutes checking out the town in search of grub and maybe some gas.

My preliminary observations were that Binghamton is a city in dire trouble. While it had some interesting architecture, it has little else going for it. (Ok, fine, it’s the “carousel capital of the world”, the sign said, but I didn’t stay long enough to figure out what that meant.)

Its two main drags seemed to be two parallel streets: Court Street and Main Street. These streets were crawling with some very unpleasant looking people, were populated by blocks and blocks of boarded up buildings or, in some cases, buildings just abandoned and left open to the elements. Not just parts of blocks – but multiple city blocks, one after the other, met this description. I drove for a mile or two each way on each street, covered a few cross streets and the approach from I-81, and I was really struck by the lack of any palpable economy or life. Even most things that didn’t look completely abandoned were closed.

I did some Googling on Binghamton, and visited the “Explore Downtown Binghamton” site. I chose “fine dining”, giving the Chamber of Commerce a chance to change my mind about Binghamton – maybe I just missed the cool part. (Which reminds me, the place felt a lot like Bridgeport, CT except Bridgeport has a “good” part). The page under “fine dining” really sums up Binghamton nicely:

“Be sure to use their bathrooms while you are there.”

I’m guessing it’s the best chance in town?

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