A lively group of Binghamton residents came together on Thursday night to celebrate “Around Binghamton (Images of Modern America),” a new book by Binghamton local and Binghamton University alumnus Jim Maggiore, ‘78.
Maggiore spoke candidly about his book — which is composed of a collection of photographs, memorabilia and anecdotes about the city of Binghamton — in a presentation on his writing process and inspiration.
The event was held at the Bundy Museum of History and Art in Downtown Binghamton, an appropriate location to celebrate a book that celebrates the rich culture of the city. The museum’s mission is to educate the public on the cultural, artistic and economic history of Binghamton.
According to Eric Eckman, director of operations, art gallery manager and events manager, the Bundy Museum hosts events like live music performances, yoga classes, art studios and exhibitions.
In his talk, Maggiore shared his favorite parts of the book — which was published by Arcadia Publishing — including photographs of the city “Then and Now,” as well as “Hometown Heroes.”
“The history of this area is to be admired,” said Maggiore during his talk.
A native of Long Island, Maggiore chose to stay in the area after graduating from BU in 1978 with a bachelor’s degree in English and history, first teaching high school before working at IBM until his retirement. Now, Maggiore spends his time pursuing his passion for writing.
The talk was split into three sections, as are the chapters in “Around Binghamton.” The first examines the history of the city at large (“From Cigars to College Town and Beyond”), the second takes a look at entertainment and the stars who have lived here and the third, “Sports Mecca,” examines the sports stars who discovered their talents here.
Some of the stars Maggiore discusses in “Around Binghamton” include actors Hugh Herbert, Anthony George and Rod Serling, the celebrated writer of “The Twilight Zone” and “Planet of the Apes.”
Dani McGrath, a field sales representative for Arcadia Publishing, said that Maggiore’s book is important because it shows what Binghamton has to offer, especially to those who question the city’s culture.
“People always say, ‘Oh, why do you live there?,’ or, ‘That’s too bad,’” McGrath, who is from Connecticut, said. “Jim is turning that around, and I think that’s great.”
It’s not just outsiders commenting on the reputation of Binghamton. Carolyn Laskoski, a Johnson City resident, said that Binghamton is not what it used to be. She compared the current state of the city to life here in the 1950s.
“I used to go Downtown on Thursday nights, and you would think you were on 5th Avenue in New York,” Laskoski said. “It was shoulder to shoulder.”
Maggiore says he thinks the city is being revitalized by Binghamton University’s increased emphasis on Downtown Binghamton.
Maggiore also said that the construction in Johnson City, where the Decker School of Nursing and the School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences will be operating in the next year, is going to improve the greater Binghamton area.
“The area is definitely on a rebound,” Maggiore said. “When you take a look at Downtown Binghamton, the area by the [Floyd L. Maines Veterans Memorial Arena], and you just take a look at how that’s starting to revitalize itself, a lot of that is the University presence.”