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Gallina Development , with the help of the Rochester Model Railroad Club , has restored a favorite old model railroad display for the holiday season. The model trains, which have sat in storage for a decade, will be in the lobby of The Metropolitan (formerly Chase Tower) at One Chase Square in Downtown Rochester through the holidays…
The display features operating trains in four separate scenes, with many features that are familiar landmarks in the Rochester area. This display has a long tradition in downtown Rochester, and has been a popular attraction for students, shoppers and downtown workers over the years.
The layouts were originally constructed in 1975 by members of the ‘Iron Horse Club’ of Rochester for JP Morgan Chase. The club constructed and maintained the layouts until 1983. By then, the Iron Horse Club had lost enough members that they could no longer support the arrangement they had with Chase. Newsletters indicate that the layouts were in poor repair and were not running reliably during the previous two or three Christmas displays. Not long after this, the Iron Horse Club ceased to exist. The original four layouts depicted a winter scene, a desert scene (including a frontier town with cowboys and Indians), a freight yard scene and a city scene.
In 1984, The Rochester Model Railroad Club unanimously agreed to take over the maintenance of the layouts. And after the ’84 season was over, the Club observed the layouts looked and ran better than they had in years.
In 1985, they began a four-year project to completely rebuild each of the layouts from the ground up, one per year, starting with the winter scene. The City scene was next, followed by the Freight Yard scene and concluding with the Desert scene. The bank also invested in new locomotives, rolling stock and power supplies.
In the spring of 1986, the Strong Museum made arrangements with the bank to borrow the city layout for a transportation weekend they were putting together.
In 1990, the bank called for a meeting to discuss the ‘next generation of overhaul’. For the 1990 season, lights were installed in various buildings in the winter scene. The November 24 edition of the Democrat and Chronicle had a photograph of one or more of the layouts, Channel 13 News had some coverage on the 6 and 11 O’clock news and the November 29th Times Union also had some coverage of the layouts.
In 1991, the Genesee Country Museum expressed interest in setting up several of the layouts for their Father’s Day weekend program. This arrangement continued every summer through most of the 1990’s.
All of the handling and trucking of the layouts to and from the Bank and Genesee Country Museum was hard on the layouts, so in 1993 and 1994, several layouts were extensively rebuilt again. It was during this timeframe that the amusement park and new ‘Rochester Downtown’ scene including a semblance of Chase Tower were added to the layouts. In 1995, the winter layout was once again completely rebuilt with the Fright Yard layout being rebuilt in 1998. There was roughly a 10 year-cycle of completely rebuilding each of the layouts due to wear and tear. State-of-the-art scenery techniques and locomotives, rolling stock and structures were utilized with each rebuilding.
The February 2001 newsletter reported that 216 man-hours were spent getting the layouts ready for the 2000 season and for the normal maintenance during the display period.
The Club did a lot of touch up on all four layouts for the 2005 season, including the addition of hundreds of state-of-the-art trees. A coalmine scene was removed on one of the layouts and replaced with a golf course.
The train display has been dormant for almost a decade. With a renewed interest by Gallina Development, in partnership with the Model Railroad Club, we look forward to sharing them with the general public once again. The Rochester Model Railroad Club is proud of its long-standing relationship with these layouts and is excited to be involved with bringing them back to life for the 2015 Holiday Season.
For those interested, the train will be on display in The Metropolitan (formerly Chase Tower) lobby through New Year’s Eve with the train running from 11am-1pm Monday – Friday and 10am – 2pm on Saturday. All are welcome to view and enjoy this piece of Rochester history!
Renovation In Progress:
Gallina is in the middle of transforming the former Chase Tower into a mixed use retail/commercial/residential property known as “The Metropolitan.”
The lobby is currently partitioned off while workers remove part of the original escalator system to create a much more open space.
While we were visiting the train display, we caught a peek at the work in progress.
A new main entrance will be added to the building along Clinton Avenue which can be seen below.
Additional plans include a revitalized green space at Clinton Avenue and East Main Street.
If we were to take these renderings literally, it looks like a new giant Albert Paley sculpture may also be in the works for the corner of Main and Clinton. ??
The building is expected to be ready for residential tenants to move in this spring.
Tags: Chase Tower, downtown, downtown Rochester, Gallina Development, holidays, Iron Horse Club of Rochester, miniature, model railroad, model trains, One Chase Square, Rochester, Rochester history, Rochester Model Railroad Club, Rochester NY, The Metropolitan, trains, urban development
This entry was posted on Thursday, December 17th, 2015 at 8:54 pm and is filed under Reader Submitted Stories, Rochester Destinations, Rochester History, Rochester Images, Rochester News, Train/Railroad Stuff, Urban Development. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.
Aspirational two-way-ed-ness on S. Clinton in those renderings.