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Rochester Subway: Part One of Two
n the early 20th century, the city of Rochester, NY built a transit system. It was comprised of a system of rails which operated at street level and below street level (in open-air, recessed causeways) utilizing single-unit passenger cars similar to trolleys. The transit system ceased offering passenger service in the 1950's with the rise of the American automobile industry and few remnants of this old transit system remain. The street rail were removed and the open causeways were filled.

In the original system was a two mile portion which ran below Broad Street through downtown. It provided service to the City Hall as well as the local newspaper building and was the only portion of the transit system that was a true subway. After the end of passenger service, the subterranean portion of the rail system was used as late as the 1970's for bringing freight into the downtown area, primarily for the newspaper building which at one time printed a morning and evening edition. This two-mile portion of subway still exists beneath the city, providing shelter for the homeless and secluded canvas for graffiti artists. This subway is reasonably well-documented on-line, both historically and photographically. This is mine, if you care to follow me in.

There was a small gravel road which led beneath the old bridge.

There was a good deal of graffiti, consisting mostly of crude tags...

...but some of it was amusing.

Further in, the graffiti art became more sophisticated and grand.

A small building was here, just beside the gravel lane.

It was pretty evident that it had been used by homeless people in the past. It even said so.

The path began to lead beneath the city. There was a ramp here, leading to a staircase...

...which at one time probably led to a street-level entrance but now goes nowhere.

Here's a reverse angle of the entrance to the subway taken from the top of the ramp.

Then we went under the city...

Not far in, a small steel ladder led over the concrete barrier on the right....

...which took us to an area that appeared as if it may have been used as a waterway at some point before the river was dammed a little further upstream.

There were two tunnels here, leading back out to the river.

You can see the dam further upstream through the second one.

Ok so they weren't really tunnels, nor do I know they were ever used as a water way. It's mere speculation. The "tunnels" are actually arches in the bridge crossing the river.

We had a nice view of the river from here actually. The bridge to the right in the following picture is a double decker. The upper level is for automobile traffic, the lower section is part of the old rail system, which we would be walking through in the very near future and going for a 2 mile hike in total darkness below the city.

There was the remains of a small catwalk here, running over the water and right beside the arches in the wall which overlooked the river.

Most of the planks were missing from the catwalk, but the side beams to which they were formerly attached were still sturdy, so I took out across it, because I could halfway was a concrete landing with some metal structure bolted to it, which you can see in the following photo.

I'm not really sure what it was.

Incidentally, this entire area was directly beneath the Rochester Public Library. As a another point of reference, I took the following photo later from across the river, looking at the rear of the library. You can see the lower set of arches that corresponds to the entire area I just showed you with the catwalk.

The arch which is exactly in the center with the drain-pipe below it corresponds to the metal structure in the center of the catwalk.

From this vantage point, we also get reverse-angle view of the double-decker bridge we were about to cross.

Which I will cover in another post, as there are already way to many photos in this one. In Part 2, we'll take a walk into total darkness filled with scary tunnels, abandoned shipping docks, more stairways to nowhere, and an old subterranean building.

x-posted to urban-decay and abandonedplaces

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(Deleted comment)
'm glad some people do. Sometimes I think they suffer from "tl;dr" syndrome, but I like trying to give a little background and visual points of reference along the way. When I make some of these entries, you can hear the crickets in the comments section. Heh.

Wow, I'm originally from Churchville and spent sometime in the city. I had no idea that stuff was there.. How cool.

It goes below the D&C and near the War Memorial.

I was just in Rochester for the first time in my life about a month ago. I heard then that the double-decker bridge and the passage under Broad Street were both part of the original Erie Canal system. I don't know any more than that.

I have to ask, what double decker bridge are you referring to?

Cool. That's for the tour. :o)

Ooops...that's thanks. :o)

Hey, who's that hawt girl standing on the catwalk? I want to know more about her!

ok so maybe i am naive but, werent you afraid that you might run into some scary people down there?

and am i understanding this correctly, the library is actually not on the ground?

the art work on the walls are awesome though i would have never ventured in that far....im a sissy.

ell there was a group of us, a total of four. And stormodacentury's a pretty big dude, so I figured I could hide behind him if necessary.

There was one scary tunnel that I'll show in Part 2 that I was too chicken to venture into. But the rest of it wasn't so bad.

The library is suspended on top of all of those columns you see in the photos above. When you think about it though, a good deal of Manhattan is built that way, with it's massive, multi-tiered subway system running beneath the streets and buildings.

Awesome, looking forward to part 2!

I was just there on Saturday :-)

h yeah? In the subway, or in Rochester in general?

Oh Soopa! The Light one!!!

hhh! I KNOW! When I was sitting at stormodacentury and dsptchrgal's house later that evening going through the photos so see how they turned out and deleting all the extras/blurries/etc, when I came to that one I gasped "Wow" and was handing the laptop around to show everyone else. By far, my favorite picture from the expedition. Chronologically, that photo wasn't taken until near the end of the subway tunnel, but it was so strong I had to put it in the first two photos before the cut as an eye catcher. ;-)

Excellent entry, I really liked you narration. I should be in that area next year, I hope I can visit some of these places myself.

Such excellence...thank you!

I really liked this post. I also appreciated the narrative! I want to contribute to abandonedplaces but seems like the second anything becomes abandoned in Chicago nowadays, half million dollar condos are up the next night. I added you but I don't expect you to want to add me back, my lj is so mundane even I don't want to read it =)

ne thing you'll learn very quickly is that I'm a complete LJ attentnion WHORE.

I friend everybody back. :)

Aaaaahhh I've been wanting to go to those. It looks like the cops are pretty unconcerned with it, which is what is most important. Anyway, good pics. thanks!

e went down there on a sleep Sunday afternoon so there wasn't much activity about downtown, least of all cops. That's always my biggest concern with urban ruins like this is the law enforcement presence. It's not like abandoned rural sites where the owner of the property mind show-up and kindly ask you to leave.

Subway tunnels

Hi there lj person. I found your post on a lj-friend's site (detura). I lived in Rochester and used to hang out in the subway. Incidentally, I got arrested for trespassing just north of where you were...be careful but please keep taking good photos! -Thomas in ABQ