Back in the late 1960s, when redevelopment was kicking into high gear in Altoona, few city residents exuded optimism over what windows to progress the massive demolition might bring.
Businesses' exodus to shopping centers outside of the city's core area already was well under way. People here were left pondering what good the future might bring for the downtown, if any.
But as redevelopment progressed in the ensuing years, including old Pennsylvania Railroad buildings giving way to the wrecking ball, Altoona, although having a different appearance, increasingly embraced the new assets that would be the basis for moving forward - and, most importantly, residents were hopeful for more.
Some people continued to fear what was happening so quickly around them, including a woman who stood up at an Altoona Area Taxpayers League meeting at City Hall during the early 1970s proclaiming, "We can't be for them; they're for progress."
However, most people were increasingly content to watch, wait, accept and make adjustments necessitated by redevelopment's phases.
The early examples of redevelopment's benefits were the residential towers for the elderly, construction and renovation projects involving Altoona Area School District facilities, the 10th Avenue Expressway and 17th Street Bridge, the Altoona Area Public Library and, despite new shopping opportunities in neighboring Logan Township, the Station Mall.
The mall was not large; in fact, it was tiny when stacked up against today's Logan Valley Mall.
However, it was a morale-builder for the downtown despite not being situated along Altoona's traditional 11th and 12th avenues main business corridors.
Times change. Just like downtown Altoona experienced a major reworking over a couple of decades, what evolved eventually into the financially struggling Station Mall would give way to something better.
That something better - actually now a gem for the city - is the Station Medical Center, which today is home to 13 tenants, six of them medical tenants. More than 800 people are employed there, and the facility serves more than 11,000 patients and customers each week.
It not only draws many people to the city who might not otherwise have reason to visit, but it generates badly needed tax revenue for this financially struggling municipality.
Meanwhile, some of the people whose destination is the medical center also spend money elsewhere in the downtown - or along the way to or from here - for various wants or needs, benefiting other enterprises.
The description offered by Patrick Miller, executive director of the Greater Altoona Economic Development Corporation, that the medical center is "a true economic engine in the heart of the city" cannot be disputed.
Just as important, the site did not have to experience many years of vacancy or great physical deterioration before it became what a headline in Tuesday's Mirror pointed out was the "largest reuse of property in [the] city" - thanks to vision, determination, confidence and investment.
Those also were necessary components for launching the changed Altoona landscape first witnessed in large scale during the early redevelopment years.
Unfortunate circumstances brought about the city's worsening financial problems in recent years that necessitated going under the umbrella of state fiscally distressed status.
But while the city hopefully works its way out from under that umbrella, residents should pause to ponder how much worse things might be if, about 40 years ago, many more people had embraced standing still, rather than progress.
That outcome would have been frightening.