The Rochester Subway
or Rochester Industrial and Rapid Transit Railway
was an underground rapid transit line in the city of Rochester, New York
Rochester is a city in Monroe County, New York, south of Lake Ontario in the United States. Known as The World's Image Centre, it was also once known as The Flour City, and more recently as The Flower City...
from 1927 to 1956. Contemporary photos show it used single streetcars, like Boston's Green Line
The Green Line is a streetcar system run by the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority in the Boston, Massachusetts area of the United States. It is the oldest line of Boston's subway, which is known locally as the 'T'. The Green Line runs underground downtown and on the surface in outlying...
, as a light rail
Light rail or light rail transit is a form of urban rail public transportation that generally has a lower capacity and lower speed than heavy rail and metro systems, but higher capacity and higher speed than traditional street-running tram systems...
line, with a large portion underground. It ran on its own private, grade-separated right of way through its entire length.
In 1918, the Erie Canal
The Erie Canal is a waterway in New York that runs about from Albany, New York, on the Hudson River to Buffalo, New York, at Lake Erie, completing a navigable water route from the Atlantic Ocean to the Great Lakes. The canal contains 36 locks and encompasses a total elevation differential of...
was re-routed to bypass downtown Rochester, and in 1919 the abandoned canal was bought to serve as the core of the subway. The subway was built below, and the subway's roof was turned into Broad Street. Construction was completed and operations began in 1927. Only two miles were in the tunnel, the rest of the route in open cut. The term "subway" did not refer to the tunnel, but to the route being grade-separated and operated as rapid transit. Connecting interurban lines were routed into the subway and off city streets, easing developing traffic congestion. The segment over the Genesee River
The Genesee River is a North American river flowing northward through the Twin Tiers of Pennsylvania and New York. The river provided the original power for the Rochester area's 19th century mills and still provides hydroelectric power for downtown Rochester....
utilized the former Erie Canal: Second Genesee Aqueduct.
When the Utica
Utica is a city in and the county seat of Oneida County, New York, United States. The population was 62,235 at the 2010 census, an increase of 2.6% from the 2000 census....
streetcar system was abandoned in the late 1930s, New York State Railways transferred the relatively new steel cars to Rochester to replace the 2000-series center-door cars that had been in service since the opening of the subway. The Utica cars ran until the end of passenger service on June 30, 1956. Car #60 was saved for preservation, and is currently undergoing restoration by the Rochester & Genesee Valley Railroad Museum
The Rochester and Genesee Valley Railroad Museum is an operating railroad museum located in Industry, New York. The museum started in 1971 with the leasing of a former Erie Railroad Depot from the Erie Lackawanna Railroad...
. L2 has been rescued, and has had restoration begun on it by the New York Museum of Transportation
The New York Museum of Transportation is a non-profit organization located at 6393 East River Road, in the Rochester suburb of Rush. The museum is open all year, on Sundays only, from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m....
The subway from Court Street to Rowlands was replaced by the Eastern Expressway in 1956. Limited freight service operated by connecting railroads lasted on the subway route from Court Street to General Motors until 1976, when the City of Rochester elected to fill the cut to eliminate the numerous bridges. Rail freight deliveries in the subway tunnel continued until 1996, when Gannett Newspapers moved their printing operations to another location.
- L1 locomotive - 1200V General Electric
General Electric Company , or GE, is an American multinational conglomerate corporation incorporated in Schenectady, New York and headquartered in Fairfield, Connecticut, United States...
electric locomotive - 1928
- L2 locomotive - Plymouth Locomotive Works of Plymouth, Ohio
Plymouth is a village in Huron and Richland counties in the U.S. state of Ohio. The population was 1,852 at the 2000 census.The Richland County portion of Plymouth is part of the Mansfield Metropolitan Statistical Area, while the Huron County portion is part of the Norwalk Micropolitan Statistical...
- 0205 locomotive - Jewett Car Company
The Jewett Car Company was an early 20th century American industrial company that manufactured street cars.The company was founded in 1893 in Jewett, Ohio, where its first factory was located. In 1904, the company relocated from Jewett to a site along South Williams Street in Newark, Ohio, but...
of Newark, Ohio
In addition, the remains of a road leading south from the Octagon have been documented and explored. It was first surveyed in the 19th century, when its walls were more apparent. Called the Great Hopewell Road, it may extend to the Hopewell complex at Chillicothe, Ohio...
- 13 Cincinnati Car Company
Cincinnati Car Company or Cincinnati Car Corporation was a subsidiary of Ohio Traction Company. It designed and constructed interurban cars, streetcars and buses. It was founded in 1902 in Cincinnati, Ohio. In 1928 it bought the Versare Car Company.The company was among the first to make...
SE Interurban Cars 1923 - all steel cars
- 3 J.G. Brill SE Interurban Cars 1912 - wood cars built as trailers and converted as motor unit
- 014 Single-truck rotary plow
- 0105 Jackson & Sharp Line car
- 0200 Single-cab motor Differential flat-car
- 0214 Single-cab flat motor car
- 0220 Single-cab Differential dump car
- 0330 Differential dump car trailer
- 0331 Differential dump car trailer
- 0343 Work and tool car
- 2002 Flatcar trailer
- 2006 Flatcar trailer
- Driving Park Avenue barn and repair shops 1941
- Main Street East Repair Shops
- Storage track between Oak Street and City Hall Stations
Future of the Tunnel
The subway sits abandoned. There is much controversy over what should be done with it. In the words of Laurie Mercer, "It’s either a giant hole waiting to be filled with dirt or an impressive asset in a city that needs to revitalize its downtown."
Rochester officials want to do something with the tunnels, because it costs an estimated $1.2 million in repairs and shoring up every year to maintain them.
There were proposals to use some of the tunnels in a new rapid transit system. Another proposal was to transform the Broad Street Aqueduct into an underground walkway connecting the Rochester Riverside Convention Center with the Blue Cross Arena
The Blue Cross Arena at the War Memorial is a multi-purpose indoor arena, located in Rochester, New York. Its maximum seating capacity is 13,000...
. A component of this walkway would include a Rochester Transportation Museum. Some suggested filling the remaining subway tunnel with water, re-routing the Erie Canal and restoring the aqueduct to its original purpose.
Rochester city officials decided in 2004 to fill the remaining subway tunnel with dirt. This decision caused public outcry, since residents regard the subway as part of their history.
On June 15, 2006, the city promised to form a committee to investigate all possible options. In July 2008, the city voted to fill in a portion of the tunnel, citing safety concerns. The western most end of the tunnel is scheduled to be filled as part of the Broad Street Tunnel Improvement project. Work began in spring 2010 and is expected to cost between $14 and $16 million.
- Cincinnati Subway
The Cincinnati Subway is a set of unused tunnels and stations for a rapid transit system beneath the streets of Cincinnati, Ohio. It is recognized as the largest abandoned subway tunnel in the United States...
, an intended streetcar subway constructed in a similar manner to the Rochester Subway; the tunnel was ultimately never utilized for rapid transit service.