The following is a guest post submitted anonymously with additional photos by Mike Governale
I was near the airport when Vice President Biden’s plane came in a few weeks ago. Held up by a road block, I happened to find myself near a junk yard full of old RTS buses. I knew traffic wouldn’t be moving for a while so I pulled over and got out to take a closer look. It was little bus graveyard…
I received an email last week from George Conboy, Chairman of Brighton Securities. He asks, “Have you seen anywhere a photo of the transportation mural that was behind the long ticket counter at the old airport? I remember it as a vaguely Art Deco theme of general transportation with an emphasis, of course, on air transport.”
Mr. Conboy explained that he used to fly a lot during the “glory days” of air travel back in the 1960s when he was a kid. “I just liked that old mural. I used to see it all the time and it has always been in my mind.”
This is a great question. I had been told of this mural before but have never seen it myself. Photos of it online are practically non-existent, so this one will require some digging…
Imagine it’s 1965 and your parents bring you to the big city of Rochester, New York to take in the sights and do some shopping in the world’s first indoor urban shopping mall, Midtown Plaza . It’s thrilling! All the people! The lights! The sounds! The experience is setting off fireworks in your little 6 year-old brain. What better way to remember this extraordinary day from your childhood than with a warm, six-inch high… fleshy colored…… What the #&@! is this?
America seems to have taken a renewed interest in mobility. Maybe due to President Obama’s recent commitment to high speed rail—or perhaps the positive results seen in towns like Portland and Denver have caught our collective attention. Whatever the reason, from the top down, people are rethinking our automobile-oriented culture—and getting excited about the possibilities.
There’s also good reason to focus on transportation as a way of jump-starting economic development. Industry requires access to people. And people need to have easy access to centers of employment. Continually improving access makes further development possible. Interrupting access will have the opposite effect. Likewise, doing nothing or simply maintaining existing infrastructure for an extended period of time will also hinder development.
For 30+ years Rochester has relied on the infrastructure choices it made in the 1950’s, 60’s, and 70’s. At that time we made development choices that encouraged our population to emigrate from the downtown core. We scrapped our extensive streetcar system, choked off downtown with the construction of the inner-loop, and paved super highways to take us from the city to the NY State Thruway and beyond. Since then that’s exactly where our money, our workforce, and our future have gone—down I-490 and out of state.
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.