On a Tuesday at Fuego
Interview No. 106
Where are you originally from?
I’m from Victor. I grew up out in the countryside. I wound up attending Finger Lakes Community College because of the location; I wanted to stay close to home and my sister goes to school there. I’m studying criminal justice.
What is your favorite part of living in Rochester?
There’s so much to do! Bristol Mountain, hiking trails, city vibes. It has everything a city could offer. Plus, you know all the local places, and it’s growing as time goes on. The city grows with you as you grow as a person.
Do you have any favorite/secret Rochester spots?
High Falls—I go there all the time. The abandoned train tracks and abandoned factory are up there too. Also, under the bridge, there’s a cool overlook of the falls, where you can just look straight down over them.
If you had $100 and 2 hours to kill in Rochester, how would you spend the money/time?
I’d need $20 to fill my tank and I’d go explore the city. With $100, I’d probably go to the Strong Museum, or maybe go check out some events. But mostly I’d just want to explore—it’s free!
Do you have a favorite neighborhood?
Swillburg—my aunt used to live there in the most unique house. It’s got Cobbs Hill, Pinnacle Hill, Highland Park, the Lilac Festival, and the Highland Park Diner—it’s amazing. One of the most beautiful areas of the city.
Corn Hill is another favorite—we took a field trip there when I was in 5th grade and I fell in love with it. It’s like going back in time—you can visualize what Rochester and all the houses looked like back then.
What is your personal coping mechanism for cold/gray weather?
I love rain—it’s like my meditation. I don’t stay outside when it’s cold and gray; I still go out and adventure. It’s very peaceful out in the rain.
What is your favorite Rochester memory?
The memories made when I was really young are some of my favorites. Visiting places like the Medley Centre, the Strong Museum, RMSC, and Frontier Field really stands out to me. I was always interested in the city, even as a kid.
What makes Rochester unique?
It’s a growing city that’s going to keep growing. There’s so much to do now, like all the festivals. As a kid, we had to make our own fun. It’s truly remarkable to see the progress that’s been made.
What do you think could be improved?
Well, we should save Parcel 5—that’s a must! Turn it into a park or something, a Central Park vibe with trees and a fountain would be amazing. We also need to be moving more businesses downtown, not just adding new residential spaces.
I’d also like to see our city do more with homeless people. When I walk around the city at 3am, it motivates and inspires me, and a lot of ideas come to me. I really believe we need to rehabilitate our homeless population.
If Rochester was a food, what would it be?
A garbage plate—if you’re a true Rochesterian, you know that.
How long have you been urban exploring? How did you get into it?
I got into photography first, then urban exploring. I go to abandoned places or spots that have been forgotten. I’ve also been starting to go to rooftops; with rooftopping, I’ve found my passion.
I love connecting with people, learning their stories, sharing information, and creating friendships. I started exploring at age 15 with the Terrence Building on Elmwood. Seeing sunset from the top of that building was truly amazing—you can see the Rochester skyline and the Highland Park Reservoir. It’s something I will never forget.
When I was young, I didn’t think of the city as unique, but now I seek out these places and consider them beautiful. You get to see what was left and wonder why it was left, what the history of it is. Everything has a story to it.
“Fate” is my team of buddies that I go urban exploring with. I got inspired by a group called Destiny Inc. that’s based in New York City; they make videos that are really moving. I want to motivated people to explore and adventure, to seek out their dreams and follow their passions. It takes action and time, but it’s doable. I’m planning to make a couple films to inspire teenagers to take exploring to a new level.
Vandalism is not part of urban exploring—all we do is take photos and leave footprints. Rooftopping, exploring, and seeking what’s out there is an art form. If it’s a place that hasn’t been discovered yet, you wind up feeling like it’s kind of yours.
Any advice for people who are new to the Rochester area and want to get to know it better?
Exploring the city is something not a lot of people get to do—so try to just get out of that comfort zone. Start with a café, like Java’s, and just wander around the city. There are so many great places—there’s a lot to do. Lots of parks in the city too, it’s unbelievable. Cobbs Hill is a good place to start.
Find what you’re passionate about. Connect with people—don’t be shy! Open up because people can show you cool stuff. Find people who like doing what you do—it helped me get out of my own battle with anxiety and depression. Lots of people will love you for who you are.