Walter has been a fixture at local sporting events and concerts for decades. Known to most Rochesterians as “The Accordion Man,” Walter plays his squeezebox (and sings) outside most hockey, basketball and lacrosse games… at music events all around the city… and of course, a Redwings game would not be the same without Walter’s rendition of Take Me Out To The Ballgame playing in the background as fans line up at the turnstiles.
In a recent phone conversation with him, Walter told me he’s been playing around Rochester for three decades. He’s missed only one game in the past 15 years. And he’s gone through 83 accordions. His latest one is currently out of commission with broken keys and a worn strap…
Last month RocSubway Facebook fans brought us rumors of a new grocery store for downtown Rochester (those rumors turned out to be true). Now comes an equally exciting rumor from RocSubway that has also checked out. John Tachin, owner of Mr. Dominic’s restaurant in Charlotte has purchased the former Lakeshore Drive-In site and is considering plans to reopen it as a drive in movie theater…
The City of Rochester Bureau of Planning and Zoning is in the process of updating Center City Master Plan. From the City’s website, “The intent is for this document to be a strategic plan [to] help the city measure and celebrate downtown progress, prioritize further research and analysis, prioritize projects, and help secure funding.”
A draft plan can be viewed online , and in a series of open houses the City is now gathering public input on that draft. The last open house is this Wednesday evening (details at the end of this story).
I had a chance to catch up with Jason Haremza, senior planner with the City of Rochester, to ask a few questions about the update…
Recently, RochesterSubway.com asked Facebook fans who they were voting for in the upcoming race for Mayor. The results are in. Statistically speaking, no one should read too much into this crudely constructed poll. But it did attract some rather interesting results.
If this race were decided on Facebook likes, Tom Richards (Independent) wins hands down with 23. Alex White (Green) finished with 7. And Lovely Warren (Democrat) pulled in 2 (and one person voted for all three candidates). Richards also had the edge with the shear number of comments left.
If anything can be taken away from this, it’s that Lovely Warren supporters were missing in action. Not one positive comment was left for Warren. Either they don’t read RochesterSubway.com, or they are busy on the campaign trail. We’ll know for sure tomorrow night.
DO NOT miss your chance to voice your choice at the real polls tomorrow. In the meantime, check out the comments…
If you’re a RocSubway reader and you love learning about Rochester as much as I do, you might want to check out 585 Magazine. It’s a pretty slick new bimonthly packed with tasty local bits on every topic imaginable. Plus, you might catch an occasional story on local places & history written by yours truly. In the current issue I attempt explore Rochester’s incredible, Olmsted-designed park system – in 800 words or less! Completely impossible, but I tried.
First, head over to 585 Mag and check out the story . Then come back here for fun extras, including Olmsted’s original plan drawings of Highland, Seneca, and Genesee Valley Parks, AND audio from my interview with JoAnn Beck, cochair of the Landmark Society’s Olmsted subcommittee…
Last September the Bread and Water Theatre group expressed interest in purchasing the Westminster Presbyterian Church at 660 West Main Street after learning that its owner had asked the City for permission to demolish it. That demolition request has been denied (for now). Meanwhile, the same theatre group now has its eye on another historically significant church…
“The units at Erie Harbor are very poorly designed and overpriced… The ground floor units don’t even have a view of the river – it is blocked by a berm… Shoddy construction… The stairs creak… Tacky… Ugliest building in Rochester…” These are all comments you may have heard about the Erie Harbor Apartments which were officially opened last fall .
When comments like these were left under a recent post on RochesterSubway.com, Jim Mayer didn’t take it sitting down. He contacted me and invited me to visit his home. He and his wife Irene sold their home in Brighton and now live at Erie Harbor. I admit, after nearly a three hour visit, I left feeling a bit jealous at just how much this couple is loving life in their new digs…
Rochesterians love to brag about how many cool things were invented right here in Rochester. The automobile, the automatic voting machine, fuzzy pipe cleaner, The Simpsons LEGO couch gag, Jell-o… hold up… what? You didn’t know the Simpsons LEGO couch gag was a product of Rochester? It’s true…
Recently I asked, “Who is Spaceman?” This guy’s work has been showing up in unexpected places around town for a while now. Although I’m still not sure who the guy in the space suit is, the actual artist did come forward. And I had a chance to sit down with him at Boulder Coffee in the South Wedge. Among other things I asked him what he thought about people who call his work “trashy” or “criminal.” With the Geico Gecko watching us from the billboard across the street, he pointed to it and said, “Would you rather see a Geico ad at every four-way stop? I’m just trying to make people smile.”
For two hours we talked about his work, what motivates him, life in Rochester, keeping our waterways clean, philosophy, Tibetan monks, and other stuff. For obvious reasons he wishes to remain anonymous, so I’ll refer to him in this interview as “Spaceman Artist”. Here’s a taste of our conversation…
At one of the Greentopia films a few weeks ago my ears caught the sweet sounds of Cammy Enaharo and I don’t think I’ve stopped smiling since. Cammy, 20, is from Rochester… so I admit I may be a little biased. But give her music a listen and I think you’ll agree, this girl is going places…
RochesterSubway.com has been nominated for Best Local Blog of 2012. If you’d like to cast your vote, simply fill out City Newspaper’s Final Ballot before October 3 (5pm) and select “RochesterSubway.com” for question #66.
Many people have been asking why Tom Selleck of the classic TV drama Magnum P.I. has been campaigning for RochesterSubway. Tom held a press conference at Letchworth State Park this weekend to answer these questions…
The song is Patience by Guns N’ Roses. The man behind the guitar is Dave. I’ve seen Dave playing on the side of this I-490 service road in downtown Rochester for years. Today I finally got out of my car and spent a few minutes with him. He’s a real good guy. Stop and say hello if you see him…
Meet local rapper “Bricksonion”. Brick first started rapping when he was 13, but didn’t take it very seriously until he was about 23. Now he is known around town for his music , and for operating Rochester’s first mobile recording studio.
The spate of recent articles in the D&C regarding local construction projects also means that there will be a great amount of demolition of older buildings and historic properties. Take, for example, the recent decision to demolish the Cataract Brewery buildings in High Falls. The cost to demolish the properties alone—estimated at $800,000 to $1 million—is more than twice the amount for which Genesee Brewery was recently selling the two Cataract Brewery buildings and a large parking lot. That same amount could be used to install a new roof and windows, “button up” the building, and abate the lead paint, within the older “gem” brewery building. Although the oldest Cataract building is currently a “liability” in the words of a developer who recently toured the property, it could actually act as the driver for redevelopment. Historic Preservation Tax Credits, coupled with city, county, state, and federal monies, could pay for at least 30-40% of construction costs, and potentially way more if the City took on the lead abatement costs and Genesee Brewery and its owner, KPS Capital, acted as an investor or partner in redevelopment.
Can I just say I love WXXI, public radio, and the Bob Smith Show. One day the topic might be the economy or politics; the next might be how to avoid lead poisoning. His guests are always relevant and the conversation is always thought provoking. Also, what other show (besides Wease) can a guy from a blog called RochesterSubway.com call and actually be put on the air?
Yesterday, Councilmember Carla Palumbo was Bob’s guest and the topic was the Mortimer Street Bus Terminal. Most of the callers denounced the project for it’s poor placement or lack of inter-connectivity with other modes of transportation. I wanted to try to move the conversation forward—beyond just this one project.
Back in January I stumbled upon a Flickr photo collection full of urban exploration photos from all around the Great Lakes and several “rust belt” cities… with several shots from Rochester and the abandoned subway tunnel. Shot after shot revealed some pretty unique views of Rochester’s underground world plus other amazing abandoned structures. As it happens, the owner of these wonderfully gritty photo streams is Chris Luckhardt, organizer of the Toronto Exploration Society. Chris is also the creative force behind Motionblur Studios —a low budget, high quality studio located west of Toronto.
Originally from Stratford, Ontario, Chris Luckhardt’s creative exploration has driven him from New Foundland to Pheonix in search of forgotten places—strangely spiritual, places we’re not ‘supposed’ to go. I contacted Chris to find out a little more about these photos and what enticed him to visit the bowels of downtown Rochester…
ROCHESTERSUBWAY.COM: Hi Chris, I noticed you have a couple of nice shots of the abandoned Rochester Subway. How often do you visit the subway tunnel? Can you tell me a bit about yourself and your photos?
CHRIS: Sure, thanks for the feedback! I’m the organizer for the Toronto Exploration Society . The group, founded in February 2005, specializes in urban exploration (mostly around the Great Lakes region) and photo walks (mostly in Toronto). I’m currently west of Toronto in Cambridge, Ontario. Rochester was the first US city I visited strictly for urban exploration. I have lots of photos and video from inside the [Rochester] subway. I’ve been down there 5 times in the past 4 years, the last time being a couple of months ago. I also have lots of SD and HD video, but I haven’t processed anything yet.
The story of the Rochester Subway is not complete without at least mentioning Rochester’s deep-rooted hip hop culture. If you’re less than familiar with Rochester, I assure you, this shizzle is fo’ real. The “Flower City” has street cred, and our abandoned subway tunnel has long been used as a canvas to show off some of our best underground talent…
My family has a Saturday morning tradition. We all grab our eco-friendly shopping bags and pile into our not-so-eco-friendly family car. But that’s alright. Even if my car is a clunker I usually feel a lot better about myself after a trip to the Rochester Public Market. I can’t explain it—this place just makes me feel good. So how do you improve on a good thing?
I recently heard a rumor that the cool people down at Rochester’s very cool Public Market were considering buying a trolley. Yup, that’d be an improvement! Is the rumor true? I asked James Farr, Assistant Director of Recreation for the City of Rochester.
For decades it’s been an inconvenient truth for Rochester. The abandoned Erie Canal turned ghost subway tunnel has long been considered a ticking time-bomb. It’s widely known that the city has wanted to fill at least the west end of the tunnel for many years, citing critical safety deficiencies in the structure beneath the street surface. But, with Rochester’s ongoing economic struggles and estimates into the $10′s of millions, the project has been repeatedly delayed (or swept under the rug). Until now…
ROCHESTERSUBWAY.COM: It was recently brought to our attention that the City of Rochester is taking bids from contractors to repair and/or fill the abandoned subway tunnel under Broad Street. Can you confirm this? If so, what are the details of the job?
Tom Hack: The fill is going to take place from Brown Street to the RR portal next to Nick Tahoe’s (it involves about 1900 lf out of 4600 lf total). We are maintaining the RR portal behind Nick Tahoe’s as that will serve as a new access/maintenance road into the remaining sections of the tunnel.
ROCHESTERSUBWAY.COM: When are you hoping to start the work?
Tom Hack: We are scheduled to open bids on October 19, 2009. We hope to have “actual” construction operations underway in early December 2009, however the bulk of the tasks won’t hit their stride until April-May 2010.
ROCHESTERSUBWAY.COM: What range do you expect the bids to come in at? (in $$)
Tom Hack: We anticipate that bids for the work will be in the range of $14-16 Million (+/-).
ROCHESTERSUBWAY.COM: Is this project part of a larger initiative? i.e. Is this just Phase 1 in filling the rest of the tunnel, or maybe prep work for some larger project involving Broad Street?
Tom Hack: This project is a standalone project but obviously it does has ramifications toward other city proposed initiatives. Four issues that come into play are:
Parking within the confines of the remaining rehabilitated sections of the Tunnel
Phase III and IV of Rochester’s Historic Canal District Initiative does envision partial use of this space for the creation of the West end Basin, however the timing of this phase is 15-20 years out and obviously the dynamics and market conditions may dictate other uses.
Stabilization and general enhancement of the corridor. This project does strengthen, link and unify the visual attributes of the surrounding land uses and neighborhoods. This is an overall initiative of the City and indirectly the streetscape amenities that we will be installing does add value in that regard.
The project does advance the Rochester Heritage Trail. The Rochester Heritage trail is a designated walkway linking the City’s multitude of historic feature, dating when downtown was a port on the Erie Canal and the burgeoning center of commerce, industry and social activism. This is a self guided walk that identifies historic sites and tells the stories of Rochester’s people, places, and cultures as they impacted development of our nation. (Think Boston’s Freedom Trial)
After the Erie Canal was rerouted south of downtown Rochester, the Rochester
Industrial & Rapid Transit Railway (the subway) was built in
its place as a link between the five different railroads and interurban trolley
lines that served the Rochester area. As the industrial landscape of Rochester
changed, and highways replaced the railroads, the Rochester subway gradually
became a relic of a bygone era. In 1956 the subway was abandoned and much of
its route was converted into Interstate 490 built to connect Rochester
with the New York State Thruway (I-90). Read more about the history of the Rochester Subway.
RochesterSubway.com exists to help spark
public dialogue around how we can better connect the neighborhoods of Rochester
NY, surrounding communities, and their cultural offerings. Rochesters
future is written in her past. Let's rediscover it.