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It’s December 24, 1914, and two fashionably dressed little girls have Santa Claus cornered at the entrance to a downtown Rochester department store. And they are absolutely spellbound. Be sure to click on this image for a closer look. If this is not the definition of the holidays I don’t know what is. I like to imagine what the girls were saying at this moment; “Hey shouldn’t you be at the North Pole making our toys?! … Can we swing from your beard? … You know, you don’t look nearly as fat in real life, Santa.”
Yes, I am forever grateful to you, Mr. Photographer, for capturing this moment in time. A moment which would have otherwise been lost somewhere in the ether, has been wrapped up and handed to us with a great big bow. Yes, Virginia, Santa is real. Oh, and if you’re wondering where exactly this conversation with Santa took place…
Here’s a fun birdseye view of Fitzhugh Street in downtown Rochester. This photo was probably taken from the roof of the Powers Hotel or the Powers Building on Main Street sometime between 1900 and 1910. The large building in the lower right is what we know to be City Hall, at the time the U.S. Federal Building and post office. To its left and across the street is (or was) the First Methodist Episcopal Church. And across the street and to the left of it was the First Baptist Church…
Often times while I’m doing research for a story, I’ll stumble upon something new and get completely sidetracked. Today I was digging for information on the Academy Building when I found the image above. It’s a shot of the Rochester Savings Bank building located at the corner of West Main and Fitzhugh. The Academy Building is to the immediate left of the bank. But forget the buildings for now. Do you see that strange little man standing in the lower left corner of the photo? That was actually a drinking fountain named Cogswell…
“Listed in the National Register of Historic Places and designated a city landmark, the old Federal Building is considered a fine example of Richardsonian Romanesque architecture. No one’s particularly interested in using it, however, because inside it’s dark, gloomy, usually uncomfortable and just plain ramshackle. Blow it up. It’s an ugly thing…and not particularly interesting inside or out…It should be demolished. A modern, tax-producing building would be a better use for the site and would give more new life to that section of downtown…”
All the controversy over whether or not to demolish the 120 year-old brewhouse at 13 Cataract Street got us thinking. Those in favor of demolishing the building say it’s an eyesore and a haven for drug dealers; even prostitutes. So, just remove the building and our problems go away.
But if we demolished every eyesore in Rochester, would we have solved all the City’s problems? Or might we end up tossing the proverbial “baby” out with the bath water? For the next two weeks we’ll take a look at some local eyesores …or rather, opportunities, nearly lost.
The Great ROC Digital Makeover Contest has come to a close. Scott Wolf’s photo of the Academy Building on Fitzhugh Street collected the most thumbs-up from our Facebook fans. That means Scott will receive a free print of Rochester’s Old City Hall and the Academy Building will get spruced up with a little Photoshop magic. Stay locked in to RochesterSubway.com for the unveiling in a few weeks.
And thanks to all of you who participated by posting your pics to Facebook.com/RocSubway. All is not lost if you didn’t win. I just might get bored one day and give your photo a digital makeover anyway.
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.