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 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.

Main Street Rochester NY

Until a recent trip to the Memorial Art Gallery – to take advantage of Free Museum Day – I had no idea that the Main Street Bridge in Rochester NY was originally covered in structures much like the original London Bridge.  There’s an excellent history recap of Main St available on the RocWiki if you’d like even more of a history lesson.  An archaic style of bridge like that somehow makes me think Rochester hasn’t always been as behind on the times as it is now.  After all, they had the good sense to remove it.  A small digital copy of a painting of the Bridge can be seen below or see the full version at the Memorial Art Gallery.

Rochester Main Street BridgeColin Campbell Cooper

It’s always impressive to go and view Artwork in your local city.  Even a small city such as Rochester houses some famous Artwork by names you’ll recognize.

This next painting is one of my favorites at the Gallery from an Artist I’d previously not heard of.

The Exorcism of the WavesAlessandro Magnasco