With all of the recent flooding in our area, RocSubway reader Michael Delaney wrote in and suggested, “a great idea for an article would be about the history of flooding in Rochester and the civil engineering that has gone into solving the issue. Beyond the dams, I’ve heard that there are huge storm sewer tunnels underneath the city. It would be very interesting to know more about it.”
Situated at the intersection of the Genesee River and Erie Canal, Rochester’s geography has blessed—or cursed—us with a long long history of great floods. Before the construction of the Mount Morris Dam (1948-1952) records indicate the City of Rochester had experienced severe flooding about every seven years between 1865 and 1950. Talk about a pesky problem.
Digging into all of the engineering marvels that have spared modern Rochesterians from most of these high waters could easily span many pages. And I promise to dedicate future posts on the subject. But for now, I want to show just how bad this problem was by highlighting just one flooding disaster that occurred in late March, 1913…
In 2013 I gave myself a photo assignment. Pick 13 subjects, and take 13 snapshots of each… 13x13x13. At some point during the project I decided it’d be much more interesting to open this assignment to anyone who wants to participate. I’m glad I did. The following series of 13 comes from local photographer Arleen Hodge . These are portraits of 13 Rochesterians she’s met on the streets. Arleen says she is grateful to call these people her “friends.”
“They all have stories and they are truly a great bunch of men who are suffering another facet of the human condition,” Arleen reasons. “When I’m shooting underground for a night, these guys look out for me. There are those who are quick to judge… but these would be the guys to jump in and save your life.”
I can think of no better subject for this merry time of year – and less than a week after we were forced to face the facts; that Rochester stands as the fifth poorest city in the United States. It’s not just a city problem. According to that report by The Rochester Area Community Foundation, 160,000 people living within the nine-county region are living in poverty. These are our neighbors. Our friends. These could easily be portraits of you or me…
I’ve given myself a photo assignment for 2013. Pick 13 subjects, and take 13 snapshots of each. Simple. We started last month with 13 mailboxes. This month I turned my lens on what I thought were some of Rochester’s most intriguing storefronts. These images were taken on the city’s east side, from Monroe Ave up to East Ridge Road…
You do not have to be a designer to see that Rochester has a problem—well, a number of problems, actually. That we continue to make the same mistakes, however, regarding design of our built environment, is perhaps one of the most egregious. This column highlights some of the worst offenders in Rochester—some of which are still being built…
The City of Rochester has contracted with Laberge Group of Albany, New York to determine the feasibility of converting the one-way street couplets of St. Paul Street/South Avenue and North/South Clinton Avenue between Byron Street and Cumberland Street to two-way traffic to improve neighborhood accessibility and walkability. Key considerations are expected to include impacts to traffic congestion, safety, parking, bicyclists, pedestrians, transit, and service provision.
Once-in-a-lifetime opportunities don’t come along very often—that’s why they’re referred to as such. So clear your calendar, put the dog out, and grab your coat and hat… preferably a hard-hat.
After our subway excursion was squashed last Spring, many of our readers feared that they had missed their last chance to see the inside of the Rochester subway tunnel with their own eyes (and smell it with their own quivering noses). But this Summer the stars have aligned. Here come not one, not two, but THREE rare opportunities to go inside Rochester’s seldom seen subway… legally!
Oh, and did I mention, a lucky few* will get to enjoy cocktails and a catered dinner party INSIDE the tunnel? Yummy! Okay, here we go… these may be your final chances to experience the Rochester subway tunnel…
Some of you may remember our story on Harry Davis last September. At that time Harry was running a long-shot campaign for Rochester City Council. He didn’t win any of the 5 open council seats. But that didn’t discourage him. He turned right around and announced he’d be write-in candidate for Mayor in November. Mayor Duffy squashed that dream pretty easily on election day. But Harry kept at it. He promptly asked to be hired by Mayor Duffy to lead a “green” urban renewal plan for the city. The Mayor turned him down.
So now Mr. Davis is coming at things from a different angle. Last month he formed his own Political Action Committee (PAC). According to Mr. Davis this new group stands for “green, sustainable development and transportation.” Davis affirms, “The importance of sustainable and efficient transportation for Rochester cannot be overstated. This would include light rail, high-speed rail, bike paths and additional pedestrian options – all of which should complement a rational and minimalist approach to automotive traffic.”
Recently we acquired this postcard (shown above) of the Rochester subway entrance at Court Street. And while I was reading up on the history of Rochester and the Erie Canal, I came across some pretty neat photos of downtown, the old canal, and later the construction of the Rochester Subway. These images say a thousand words so I’ll just start the slide show with this incredible panorama of Rochester from 1906…
Remember the movie Stand by Me? As I recall there’s barely a plot… four young teenage boys search the countryside for the body of a reported missing person. Along the way they drink, they smoke, they nearly get run off of a railroad bridge by a speeding locomotive yada yada yada. Everyone who’s seen Stand By Me loves it for the same reason—it beckons to a time in our lives when we’re just drifting along in search of a good thrill. A few weeks ago I got an email from a guy named Russ and his story immediately brought back images of that Corey Feldman flick. Russ’ story may never be made into a Stephen King novel or a Hollywood movie, but it takes place inside the Rochester Subway tunnels—between 1965 and 1968—and it’s just plain fun.
Take it away Russ…
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.