Next month Rochester’s transportation authority, Regional Transit Service (RTS) will open a new $50 million transit center at Mortimer Street in downtown Rochester. According to a D&C story RTS has requested that the City change the name of Mortimer Street to “RTS Way.” Mortimer Street has quietly existed between N. Clinton Ave and Saint Paul Street since Rochesterville was incorporated in 1817.
I’ve spent the last five years of my life advocating for Rochester’s public transit system and building a good working relationship with folks at RTS. That’s why I know they will take what I’m about to say as constructive criticism, and nothing more. Here it goes:
Renaming Mortimer Street after yourself is a bad idea. Don’t do it!! Now, let me explain…
In 2012 we were surprised to learn that RGRTA had dug up the foundation of the RKO Palace Theater while excavating for the new transit terminal. This week, Jim Memmott reported on some more fantastic treasures that were unearthed at the same site. Some time last year seven heavy stones (some weighing a ton) were pulled up from depths of up to 30 feet below street level. Each stone bore a symbol of the Freemasons…
Like, WOW! I stumbled upon this concept for an elevated transit terminal in a 1967 D&C article. The drawing shows how Rochester Transit Corporation president William Lang envisioned passengers would wait for their bus – suspended above the intersection of Main & Clinton. This view is looking east toward Clinton Avenue with Sibley’s in the background…
There are few places Rochesterians talk about with such fondness as the old RKO Palace Theater that once stood on Clinton Avenue. Looking at old pictures, I can see why. The place was all dressed up and sparkled inside and out like a glitzy Vegas showgirl. But like many of Rochester’s brick and mortar beauties, she grew old, was chopped up into little pieces, and buried where she stood. All in the name of “urban renewal.” Fast forward fifty years. RGRTA breaks ground on a new bus terminal. And guess what shows up? That’s right – the skeleton of Rochester’s most beautiful movie theater…
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.
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.