Lots of news has been brewing lately over the future of Rochester’s beat-up, 32-year-old Amtrak station on Central Avenue. Congresswoman Louise Slaughter recently announced that a $1.5 million federal stimulus grant has been awarded to New York state to plan for a new multi-modal station on the site. A $2.5 million appropriation to pay for the station design is expected to pass Congress next month. And Governor-elect Andrew Cuomo has just made it abundantly clear that New York will take whatever federal money is left on the table by newly elected GOP governors in Ohio and Wisconsin.
So for now, let’s just assume that something very interesting is in the works for our pitiful excuse for a train station. This is the perfect time to take a step back in time—to be inspired by Rochester’s grand old stations…
Here’s a view of the first New York Central Railroad station located on the west side of the Genesee River, between Mill and Front Streets. State Street is in the foreground with the Savoy Hotel on the corner. This station replaced a wooden structure, known as the Auburn Railroad shed, in 1852. It remained open until 1883 when a more modern station was constructed on the east side of the river. Talk about architecture that inspires… the Auburn railroad SHED was so grand in its day that it was immortalized in this 1852 oil painting by Eugene Sintzenich (shown at left). This 4’x3′ masterpeice is currently located at the Rochester Historical Society.
And this was Rochester’s second NY Central Railroad Depot (above). It was the first station to occupy the site of the current Amtrak Station between St. Paul and Clinton Avenue (view is looking west from Clinton, 1907). If you were to ask my opinion on what our new train station should look like—put your pencils down—this is it.
Another view of Rochester’s second NY Central Railroad Depot. (looking east from St. Paul Street). This station was built in 1882 for $925,000 after the State paid to elevate the tracks to eliminate grade crossing in the City. It was only the 2nd such elevation in the nation—outside NYC.
Rochester’s third NY Central Station was designed by Claude Bragdon and opened in 1914 on the site of the current Amtrak Station. It was certainly the grandest of all of Rochester’s stations. Last year Infrastructurist.com declared it the 7th most beautiful station to fall to the wrecking ball. Presidents Woodrow Wilson, Warren G. Harding, Calvin Coolidge, Franklin D. Rooselvelt, Harry Truman, and Dwight D. Eisenhower were among those who used the station. Many spoke to huge crowds from a dais erected at the intersection of North Clinton and Central Avenues. No one really knows why this one was torn down. It was 1965. Someone was high on something.
The station shown above is probably the most overlooked of this bunch. The Erie Railroad Depot. (built 1887) stood between the Genesee River and Exchange Street on the south side of Court St. This shot was taken from the Court Street Bridge. You can clearly read the Erie Railroad sign over the canopy where the trains pulled in from the south.
And that brings us to the only two survivors. Both now serve Rochester’s tastiest meals. The Lehigh Valley Railroad Station (above, built 1905) is now home to Dinosaur Barbque. The building also sits on top of the south entrance to the Rochester Subway but that’s another story.
And last but certainly not least, the Rochester & State Line’s depot (built 1877) on West Main Street. In 1881 the Rochester & State Line became the Buffalo Rochester & Pittsburgh which was later acquired by the Baltimore & Ohio. The building eventually became home to Nick Tahou’s Hots. This shot was taken from Main and W. Broad Streets. I love that this postcard shows the waiting platform (long gone today) peeking out from behind the building.
Visit our Postcard page for some more vintage views of Rochester.
Tags: Auburn Railroad Shed, Bragdon Station, Broad Street, Buffalo Rochester & Pittsburgh Railroad, Claude Bragdon, Clinton Avenue, Court Street, Erie Railroad, Eugene Sintzenich, Exchange Street, High Falls, history of Rochester, Lehigh Valley Railroad, Main Street, New York, New York Central Railroad, old photos, old photos of Rochester, railroad, railroad station, Rochester, Rochester Amtrak Station, Rochester history, Rochester NY, Saint Paul Street, vintage postcard, vintage views
This entry was posted on Saturday, November 6th, 2010 at 10:48 pm and is filed under Rochester History, Rochester Images, Train/Railroad Stuff. 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.