The complex of the Rochester Psychiatric Center (a.k.a. Rochester State Hospital or Monroe County Insane Asylum) is legendary among urban explorers and history fanatics alike. Originally built in the early 1800s as the Monroe County Almshouse (or poorhouse), new buildings and facilities were gradually added to care for the mentally ill.
Although the hospital still operates to this day, a few buildings were closed in the mid-1990s and now sit in various states of decay. One notable example we’ve explored previously is the towering 16-story Terrence Building which looms over Elmwood Avenue. Another is the sprawling Walters Building (originally known as the Orleans Building) which we’ll be exploring today…
Last week we looked at some photos of the Beebee Station power plant at High Falls. That post drew some comments about another interesting facility nearby which is sometimes confused with Beebee; the City’s old garbage incinerator plant on Falls Street .
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.
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
Ryan Green is a student at University of Rochester. Last month, after joining up with the University’s Urban Explorers (UrbEx ) club, he toured Rochester’s Times Square Building, formerly the Genesee Valley Trust Company . You probably know it by the enormous set of wings on top of it. Aside from maybe the Mercury statue, those “wings of progress” are easily the most recognizable element of Rochester’s skyline. And while they have a story all their own, there’s plenty more history to be found on the fourteen floors beneath.
Although the building is not open for public tours, Richard Calabrese Jr., who manages the property, says he likes touring the urban explorer group because of their genuine curiosity. Although, if a fundraising tour is requested, Calabrese says he’d consider that. “I have all kinds of history that I’ve learned over the years.” Ryan Green had such a good time touring the building, he wanted to share these photos, and his experience, with us…
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…
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…
Last Halloween I posted a ghastly warning about the abandoned Rochester subway tunnel. That warning was sent to us by a reader who claimed he knew people who once lived and died in the tunnel, and that he now feels a strong “spiritual pressure” whenever he returns there.
Jeffrey’s not the only one who feels these strange vibes from the subway tunnel. RochesterSubway.com often receives stories like these from people who claim to have been followed, or chased, out of the defunct subway. Though rarely do we get to see physical evidence of the ghoulish bouncer.
Last week Aaron Killeen sent in this mysterious photo (shown below) and gave a spine-tingling account of a night inside the Rochester subway, which he says he and his friends will not soon forget…
Johnny Knoxville may be a jackass but today he shows us that even ugly can be beautiful. In what is actually a 30 minute advertisement for Palladium Boots, Knoxville turns urban explorer and takes for an eye-opening ride through some of the hardest hit areas of Detroit…
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.
Okay so Halloween is fast approaching. I hate the stinking day myself for reasons I won’t get into. But I recognize that most people like a good ghost story so I thought I’d share this. I regularly ask people to send us personal stories and experiences from the Rochester Subway and last summer an individual named Jeffrey Smith sent us a rather blunt warning about the abandoned subway tunnel. Claiming it to be hallowed ground, Jeffrey warns, “Leave it alone, don’t mess with it. It is fine the way it is, we don’t want your stupid shops or anything like that in it. I refuse to go within 100 yards of any of the entrances because of the strong spiritual pressure I feel going there…”
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.