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This former department store (Sibley, Lindsay & Curr Company) is truly massive. Rochester’s Sibley Building weighs in at over 1.1 million square feet (23 acres of floorspace) – easily the largest building in Monroe County.
WinnCompanies out of Boston now owns the property and plans to spend up to $200 Million over the next five years to bring it back to life as mixed-use space. Holy smokes, do these guys have their work cut out for them. You may have noticed new windows and awnings along Main Street? Some 2,000 windows have yet to be replaced.
Last week the UofR Urban Explorers Club went on a tour through the maze of hallways and spaces, from the dark sub-basement all the way up to the two massive water tanks on the tower rooftop…
I stopped by Iola on Sunday to check on what’s left, and I snapped these pics. In front of the main building there was once a circle with concrete benches and lamp posts. To be perfectly honest I coveted the abandoned lamp posts and thought of ways I could possibly “reclaim” them, but my conscience always prevented me from doing so. Well, I should have because the picture above shows the careful attention the deconstruction crew is taking to features that could be re-used. That’s the base and the flattened steel post is above it. I think my reclamation would have been better than this treatment. Damn conscience.
I often get asked if there are tours of the Rochester subway. The short answer is no. The longer answer is while there is no official tour of the “subway,” every October there is usually a tour of the “historic Erie Canal aqueduct.” And it’s coming up this weekend…
Last winter the City of Rochester made a Hail Mary pass to save the historic Pulaski Library. They posted an offer to sell the vacant building for a thousand dollars to anyone with a serious plan to fix it up. I’m not sure how many proposals were submitted, but I’ve learned that Providence Housing Development Corporation has been given the green light.
Providence Housing has worked on similar adaptive reuse projects such as Paul Wolk Commons on State Street, and the Holy Rosary Apartments on Dewey. Although Pulaski may be smaller, it could prove to be a much bigger challenge…
This is probably the most intimidating building in all of Rochester. The 16-story Terrence Building was once heralded as a “tower of hope” for the mentally ill (see this blog post ). Today the vacant structure looms over Elmwood Avenue and the Rochester Psychiatric Center campus like a nightmare. The Elmwood psych center campus was originally constructed as the Rochester State Hospital. This state-run mental hospital took over responsibilities from the Monroe County Insane Asylum in 1891. The Terrence Building was opened in 1959 and housed over 1,000 beds until 1995 when the last patients were moved to newer facilities elsewhere on the campus.
If you’ve ever wondered what’s inside, you’d not be alone. One RocSubway reader (who wishes to remain anonymous) found a way into the secured building. He submitted several photos, along with this written account of his expedition. Be sure to watch the related video at the end of this post to learn more about the Terrence Building…
RocSubway fans, This past Sunday morning (6/2/13), I went with a friend of mine to check out the Iola Campus site . I have lived in Rochester all my life and I have always been intrigued by those buildings (my aunt actually used to live in the apartments across the street). About 6 months ago, I started a little urban exploring group with some friends and coworkers; Iola was one of the first places of interest. With the CityGate project fast approaching, I knew I had to take the risk and visit Iola while I still could. Rather than taking a big group, just two of us went since we were not sure what the security situation would be like. The whole campus was great. A lot of the buildings had pretty easy access points, but there were a couple we could not get in to, due to time constraints (and proximity to the main road!). I hope that you all enjoy the shots! - Sarah Barnes
She’s a thing of beauty, don’t you think? Hundreds of thousands of square feet packed with mind-strengthening knowledge, all wrapped in 16 stories of brick and limestone, and capped off with 6,668 pounds of bronze bells. It’s the largest musical instrument in the city of Rochester, and also one of the top 50 research libraries in North America.
Proudly watching over the Eastman Quad , Rush Rhees Library at the University of Rochester seems to call out, “Come to me. Come to me and get your education on.” Personally, I’ve always wondered what the views are like from the top of that bell tower. What do you say we all climb up inside there and race to the top? Let’s go…
Rochester’s Pulaski Library (originally the Hudson Avenue branch) was the second permanent library constructed by the City. As explained here , the library was closed in 1994, and has sat unused until last week when the City opened the doors to potential buyers. If you’re interested, the City wants your proposal by March 4. $1,000 to buy it, but you’ve got to show you’ve got a serious plan to rehab the property. Historic tax credits and grants could help take a bite out of the million dollars it could cost you when all is said and done. If you missed the open house, here’s a look inside…
Just when I think I’ve done everything there is to do in Rochester, I discover another little hole in the wall. Literally. Check out these photos of what is unofficially known as “Rico Cave” near Lower Falls…
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.
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.