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.

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.

RIT Big Shot 24

RIT has been doing what they call the Big Shot every year since 1987. They pick a point of interest and take a long exposure photograph using only flashlights and electronic flashes for illumination. This years Big Shot was located in Pittsford NY at Schoen Place to commemorate the 200th anniversary of the Erie Canal.

The Erie Canal was originally proposed in 1808…On July 4, 1817, Governor Dewitt Clinton broke ground for the construction of the canal…it was often sarcastically referred to as ‘Clinton’s Big Ditch’

Rachel and I heard about this a while ago and decided to go. It was fun. I was impressed to come home and see the photograph already online so for your viewing pleasure it is included below.

If you’re interested in seeing past Big Shots check them out here.