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State and Main… Window on the Past

April 18th, 2009

The intersection at State and Main Streets in downtown Rochester, known as the Four Corners, was once the epicenter of the city. I’m going to let these two photos do most of the talking for me in this article. The photo below is of the Four Corners, looking north toward State Street.

The intersection at State and Main Streets in downtown Rochester, known as the Four Corners, was once the epicenter of the city.
The postcard I’m holding in my hand is from the early 1900’s (maybe 1912-ish). Holding it up in front of the same location in 2009, it becomes a tiny window onto the past.

Close-up of the postcard. The Four Corners from the WWI era. Circa 1912-ish.
The Four Corners once had some of the most beautiful examples of Victorian, Gothic, Romanesque, and Neoclassical architecture standing at each corner. The Powers Building external link and the Wilder Building external link are still there—kiddie corner from each other. But the Elwood Building external link and the Rochester Trust & Safe Deposit Co. building external link have since been replaced with contemporary glass office buildings.

Here’s very same intersection as it looks today…
The Four Corners as it looks today standing at the south end on Exchange Street looking toward State Street.

Also worth noting, the Powers Building was the site of the very first house in Rochester—Hamlet Scrantom’s external link cabin. Also, in 1893, the first 12-way rail crossing in the world was built at the Four Corners intersection. Known as the ‘Grand Union’ it connected the Rochester & Sodus Bay and Rochester & Eastern Interurbans.

UPDATE: The postcard featured in this article (Rochester’s Four Corners) can now be viewed in greater detail here.

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This entry was posted on Saturday, April 18th, 2009 at 9:18 pm and is filed under Rochester History, Rochester Images, Urban Development. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

12 Responses to “State and Main… Window on the Past”

  1. pwg says:

    Well, the problem is that we have built nothing worth being around. Where’s the human scaled space here? It’s just someplace to drive through. Parking lots, blank facades devoid of any sort of detail or ornamentation, nothing worth stopping to look at. It’s what you get w a car based society. No doubt you’ve replaced all this loss with some real ‘beauty’ in your malls and subdivisions.

  2. Carlos Mercado says:

    By the end of the 40’s, we began as a nation and a culture to lose a sense of “public aesthetic” in which our businesses and institutions thought it appropriate to lift the human spirit with grand, elegant buildings. Banks, departments stores, movie palaces, train stations, commercial buildings all radiated a sense of place and importance. After the Art Deco period, this was all replaced with glass and concrete boxes surrounded by parting lots. Today, so many who did not live when those buildings existed, know only the soul-deadening excuses we have erected over the last 60 years.

  3. C. Scrantom says:

    my geat how many is the Hamlet Scrantom himself is my Great Grandfather! isn’t that increable!

  4. C. Scrantom says:

    OOPS! SRRY FOR THE MISSPELLINGS, BUT YOU KNOW WHAT I MEAN

  5. admin says:

    Did you say Hamlet Scrantom was your Great Grandfather? Wow, if you’re serious then that IS pretty incredible. Got any interesting stories?

  6. C. Scrantom says:

    lol wish i did but i found this out at my granfathers funeral last decamber =(

  7. C. Scrantom says:

    december (stupid spelling)

  8. C. Scrantom says:

    he’s like my great great great great grandfather! I swear!

  9. admin says:

    Sorry to hear about your Grandfather. According to RocWiki your Great Great Great Great Grandfather (Hamlet Scrantom external link) is buried at Mt. Hope Cemetery. Let us know if you find out any more info on him.

  10. C. Scrantom says:

    I just found out that he or his son (named after him was one of the mayors of rochester

  11. Charles H Wadhams says:

    there is a good article in the New England Historic Genealogical Society’s “Ancestors” magazine This month about “Genesee Fever.” The name given to the settlement of Rochester and the valley. A wood cut of Scrantom’s cabin. If C. Scrantom will email me, I have his lineage, because he is a cousin of my wife: Anne Wadhams.
    Charlie Wadhams,

  12. Ccwadhams@comcast.netharlie Wadhams says:

    there are two beautiful portraits of Hamlett and his wife at the Rochester Historical Society now at the Public Library. They are worth a visit.


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