Rochester's Broad Street

The plans to rip up Broad Street and reconstruct the original Canal Aqueduct over the river are progressing.  I’ve mentioned the plans before and I’ve always thought it was kind of a neat idea but never thought it would get anywhere.  Now that it seems to be getting some traction it deserves more thought.

I for one think it’s completely ridiculous, and the City has more important things to do with its money.

The following is a letter I sent to:

  • Louise Slaughter
  • Paul.Holahan@cityofrochester.gov
  • info@broadstreetcorridor.com
  • Hackt@cityofrochester.gov
  • info@cityofrochester.gov (The closest I could find to Mayor Bob Duffy)
  • Patricia.malgieri@cityofrochester.gov
  • darryl.porter@cityofrochester.gov

Regardless of how you stand on the issue, I suggest you do the same.

Broad St Closure – A Concerned Citizen

The closing of the broad street bridge this week has me frustrated.  It’s something I cross on the bus at least once a day and has increased my bus commute time by about 5-10 minutes in each direction. In the morning due to the detour, and in the afternoon due to the additional build up of traffic on Exchange st.  Even in the past two days, the inconvenience this has created has been significant.  This has also been during a week of school closures and lighter than usual traffic.  I’m concerned how the effects would be during events at the Convention Center and War Memorial.

Why is the bridge closed anyway? Are we really going to tear out the bridge and flood the original aqueduct to create a POND over the RIVER?  Or are we just going to blow millions of dollars planning it and studying the effects of possibly doing it and then do nothing?

Rochester citizens have watched many other big projects fail and cost them millions of dollars with no gain.  Sure we got a new port building from the Fast Ferry debacle, but now it sits mostly unused and unoccupied.  One of the few ideas (The Casino) which stood to bring in direct revenue for the city was even voted down.  Now we plan on sinking millions into a plan to create another Manhatten square Park or another Genesee Crossroads with a manmade water feature in the middle instead of a river.

Rochester has proven time and time again that it can’t deliver on ideas like this.  Therefor we need to spend the money on things like better public transportation systems, Better education, maintaining (or improving) the parks we do have.

We don’t need another money pit, we need something with some real return on investment.

Stop wasting our money and end the study of the Broad St bridge closure early.

A Concerned Citizen,
Randy Aldrich

Old Pictures of Downtown Rochester

I love seeing old pictures of Downtown Rochester.  Historical photos of places we see all the time are just so interesting.  On top of that I work in one of the most historical buildings in the city, the old Aqueduct Building, with the statue of Mercury on top close to it’s original place.  The building is located near main street on the Genesee River.  As such, our building is almost always visible in these old photos.

The following is a Panoramic picture from 1906 of the Genesee River area.  You can see Mercury in it’s original position above the Cigar factory.  Just across the canal (what later became broad street) you can see the Aqueduct Building.  I found the picture (amongst others) on the Rochester Subway site.

So damn cool.

The End of the Line

I’ve been down in the Rochester Subway before and I find it very interesting.  I’ve also been taking the bus for almost 2 years and I find the public transportation system in Rochester severely lacking.  It’s sad that the subway was shut down instead of being expanded and becoming useful.

The following trailer  is for a documentary (titled “End of the Line”) on the Rochester subway.  There’s some interesting stuff about it in the trailer and I imagine there’s even more in the actual documentary.  I’m going to look into finding a copy I can watch at my library but if you’re interested you can get a copy from Animatus Studio.

Broad St Aqueduct

A while ago I heard about plans to revitalize Broad street in downtown Rochester by converting it back into the Canal.  This is what the aqueduct bridge was originally.  When I first heard of the plan, I thought it was neat but didn’t think it would ever work.  The biggest hurdle I can see to overcome is the traffic situation.  Broad street is a main roadway and carries a lot of traffic.

broad st canal map

I just found out that the plans didn’t die.  In fact it seems like there are many proposals and that something may actually happen, although what exactly happens to broad st is still up in the air.  It will be very interesting to see what happens.  There’s a whole website dedicated to The Broad Street Corridor Renovations.  The proposals are really quite interesting so take a look.

Broad Street

I love local history.  I work in an old company in an old building with a lot of history in an old City.  Recently they sent out some information about the different stages the area the building is in has gone through along with pictures from the Rochester Public Library and the Rochester City Hall Photo Lab of the area.  Since it’s public information I thought I should share it.

In this view from 1855, the new aqueduct runs past the ruins of the first one. In 1845 Josiah Bissell built a house using much of the sandstone from the first aqueduct, cleaning up the river for the city in the bargain.

Josiah Bissell’s house, built from the red sandstone blocks of the ruined first aqueduct. See it today at 660 East Ave. at the corner of and Upton Park. It has since been expanded and is now the Rochester Methodist Home.

Rochester in the late 1880s, looking straight toward the future Aqueduct campus site. The Erie Canal and new aqueduct flow beyond the pedestrian lift bridges where Exchange St. now crosses Broad St. Old City Hall is at far left, looking much the same as it does today.

The Butts Building, newly built in 1895 with the familiar wedge shape. Six stories tall, two windows wide on the west side; six windows wide over the river. The new aqueduct and canal flow past at the first floor.

The same view in 1971. The Aqueduct Bldg. sports a new front entrance facing Broad St. at the second floor street level. Bldgs. 2 to 4 are complete. Bldg. 1 gained a seventh floor in 1951.

1897 photo of the busy aqueduct crossing the Genesee River. At left is the Kimball Tobacco Company, with the original location of the Mercury statue just visible above the smokestack. At right is the six-story Butts Building, shown here as the home of the Utz & Dunn shoe factory.

Sometime around moving day, circa 1901. Bldg. 1 with the names of Utz & Dunn and other former tenants scrubbed off. Names of the Lawyers Co-operative Publishing Co., Burke & White Bookbinders and E.R. Andrews Printing Co. will soon be painted on.

The Aqueduct Building in 1906. Note that Bldg. 1 has no seventh floor yet. Bldg. 2 will soon replace the four low buildings next door. McCauley-Fien Milling Co. has the white sign further downriver. At far right, four-story buildings line the Main Street bridge, hanging over the river. The original Democrat & Chronicle building is next to them on the riverbank.

In 1917, two years prior to the transition from canal to Broad St., Bldg. 1 is still six stories tall, but Bldg. 2 has arrived with seven floors. Today’s Bldgs. 3 and 4 don’t yet exist. Cluett, Peabody & Co., makers of Arrow shirts and collars, occupies the old Kimball Tobacco Company.

1925 photo: Looking east, construction of the subway in front of the Aqueduct Building. The Broad St. bridge temporarily serves as a parking lot. Note the long pedestrian ramp exiting the subway between the street and “our” sidewalk. Also, note the man walking down the stairs into the subway at the corner of Broad and Exchange streets.

The same view in 1927. Note the completed pedestrian ramp and subway stairs from the earlier photo. In the distance, Broad St. ended at South Ave. and the Osburn House hotel. The Rundel Library didn’t start construction until 1933. Standing on the future site of the LCP parking lot, the large “Bee Hive Building,” or RG&E power station No. 25, dwarfs the Herald Bldg. (B5) next to it.

Present-day view of the river and aqueduct buildings, looking towards the Main St. bridge. Aqueduct Park graces downtown Rochester and the statue of Mercury once again stands tall on the Rochester skyline.

Vintage Views of Rochester

A short time ago I found a website that has lots of historical photos and postcards along with time-lines named Vintage Views of Rochester. Apparently I’m the last person in Rochester to find it, but i thought I’d share it anyway. The following is a postcard depicting the aqueduct (broad street) as well as the building I work in (the large brick building in the center of the postcard).

Genesee River and Aqueduct