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Powers Building & Four Corners, 1904

January 31st, 2010

The Powers Building, Rochester, N.Y. (photo: Detroit Publishing, 1904.)

We found this old photo of the Powers Building and Rochester’s four corners recently on a vintage photos website called Shorpy.com external link. Not only is this a photo of one of Rochester’s most celebrated structures at one of the greatest times in the city’s history, but it’s incredibly detailed for such an old photo—right down to the logos painted on the office windows (click on the image to enlarge).

Hey, here’s a bit of fun for you… we hid the RochesterSubway.com logo somewhere in the photo. Let’s see which one of you can find it first. And while you’re searching for our hidden logo, here are a few other things you should take notice of…

  1. The Powers Building, built in 1869. Additional floors were added in 1874, 1880, 1888, and 1891 so that it could retain its title of tallest building in Rochester.
  2. Check out the elevation change in Main Street versus today (2010). This photo shows many steps leading up to the front door, now the door is at grade (no steps).
  3. Notice the competing insurance companies upstairs from the main entrance of Fidelity Trust: You have Phoenix Mutual Life, and a little higher up, Ashley & Loewenguth.
  4. On the ground floor you have a One Price Hatters and Furriers. (Doesn’t say it is a low price. Could be a high price. Just says it is one price).
  5. The best sign in this picture has to be down in the basement. It reads Hot, Cold Shower Baths 25 cents. Many hotel/apartment buildings of the era had a single bathroom down the hall, for all the residents of a floor. Hot showers must have been a great novelty in 1904.
  6. The construction site for the Rochester Trust & Safe Deposit Co. building external link can be seen in the lower left. The picket-like debris must have been crating for round pre-cut stones used to construct the building’s Greek style columns.
  7. The four corners intersection was the first 12-way rail crossing in the world. Built in 1893, this interchange was known as the ‘Grand Union’ and it connected the Rochester & Sodus Bay and Rochester & Eastern Interurban rail lines.
  8. This picture was taken at 2:55pm according the clock on State Street. Not sure what day it is though. Pedestrian traffic is pretty light so I’d guess it be a week day.

Shorpy.com offers large fine-art prints external link of this photo for $30. Smaller prints can be purchased from $15. Pretty sweet!

For more information and photos of Rochester’s four corners, check out one of our older posts, State and Main… Window on the Past.

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This entry was posted on Sunday, January 31st, 2010 at 9:56 pm and is filed under Rochester History, Rochester Images, Transit + Infrastructure. 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.

9 Responses to “Powers Building & Four Corners, 1904”

  1. Hey, here’s a bit of fun for you… we hid the RochesterSubway.com logo somewhere in the photo.

    It’s on the right side of the trolley car toward the rear.

  2. admin says:

    Damn, that was too easy. Did it take you all night? I bet it took you all night 😉

  3. I’d like to claim that I got it right away. But . . . I swear I looked at each and every window in the building and then it dawned on me. Hey, this is a transportation blog. Duh! Look at the trolley!

  4. admin says:

    Ah good thinking. That was my first thought too but the windows were too obvious.

  5. Bob says:

    That $0.25 hot shower would cost about $6 today. I’d pay it considering I likely wouldn’t have the option at home. For all my conservation bravado, I really love my long hot shower.

    I had a chance to ride something on Saturday that I think represents our best chance of reimplemented intracity rail transit in Rochester. The 510 Spadina Streetcar is really an improvement to the speed and reliability of streetcar service, implemented like light rail running on a wide city street (see Buffalo, Baltimore), but seemingly much less expensive to implement. Take a look: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/510_Spadina

    More to come in a private E-mail, and in all likelihood, a blog post.

  6. admin says:

    Bob, you know I’ve been to Toronto a bizillion times and have never jumped on that streetcar line. Probably because I’m always there in the summer time when the weather is fine for walking. But seriously, we need to take the streetcar conversation in Rochester to the next level. Forget about comparisons to Toronto or even Denver. Look at Savannah Georgia (population: 132,410city & 334,353metro). They built a 1 mile, 7 station heritage trolley line for less than $1.5 million. It runs on biodiesel including cooking oil from area restaurants. And it’s spurring economic growth all along it’s route. Rochester can do this if we can draw up a plan that fits our needs. We should definitely talk soon.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/River_Street_Streetcar

  7. Carlos Mercado says:

    Downtown Rochester, for probably half the cost of that ill-conceived idea to remove borad Street and put in a faux-Erie Canal, could build about four miles of heritage electric trolley that would connect virtually all current and proposed venues in our center city. You’d park one or connect from a bus line. You could even create Trolley Car Square on that parcel of land across from the Eastman Theater. Combine a Victorian car barn with street level retail and second story+ residential & office space.

  8. admin says:

    Carlos, you must be clairvoyant! I’m working on a scenario for a Rochester streetcar line right now. I’m hoping to post my proposal here next week. Stay tuned! I’ll be looking for people to help.

    In the meantime, check out this post by Bob (aka the Urban Champ)… http://urbanchamp.blogspot.com/2010/02/case-study-toronto-on-canada-vol-3.html

  9. Ed Holden says:

    If you like this sort of image, the Library of Congress has a lot of similar high quality images at American Memories. The panoramic photographs (which include some panos of the Rochester aqueduct) and the Turn-of-the-Century collections are great, and I think I spotted this image in the latter one.

    I had particular fun geeking out by going to Google Maps and doing street view to compare some of these photos with the present locations (sometimes sad, since so much has been torn down).


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