Sunday, January 25, 2015

Rochester's Electric Interurban Railway

It operated a century ago — Retrofitting Rochester: Exchange Street Interurban Station. What it did:
    Though only two streetcar lines — the Rochester and Sodus Bay and the Rochester and Eastern Rapid Railway — departed from this location, the station nevertheless served as a nexus connecting the far reaches of the Genesee country.

    From 1908 to 1927, as many as 19 trolleys a day set off from the depot, transporting commuters to suburban sites like Webster and Pittsford, and towing travelers to the waterfront destinations of Lake Ontario and Geneva.

    Boosters from both ends of the trolley line fueled streetcar revenues. Promoters from the Finger Lakes region invited Rochesterians to revel in the beauty of Seneca Lake and its expansive vineyards, while Rochester's publicists attracted travelers by expounding the thrills of the "big city" and the "mini-Coney Island" at Charlotte.

    In addition to accommodating the droves of urbanites and townsfolk prompted by such pitches, the station was often abuzz with sports fans and theater-goers.

    Though baseball was quite popular in Rochester at the turn of the century, no ballparks resided within city limits at that time. Downtowners thus boarded trains at Court and Exchange to sites like Sheehan's Field in Twelve Corners to cheer on the Maltops, the Niagaras and the streetcar-inspired Rochester and Eastern team.

    It was not uncommon for such sports enthusiasts to rub shoulders with theater buffs at the depot. The interurban lines ran a special "theater train" every weeknight to and from the city. Passengers from the suburbs and beyond could purchase show tickets in advance at the station before walking over to one the lavish movie palaces or playhouses along the "Great White Way" of Clinton Avenue. After the last performance of the evening, a late night train awaited audience members back at the depot.

    Though an invaluable transportation system at the turn of the century, the interurban railway gradually fell out of favor as an increasing number of train riders opted for the convenience of cars.

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1 Comments:

Blogger Steven Cornett said...

The city of Dayton had an inter-urban railway system as well. in fact, one remnant building of the system is a brick building in a field not a half-mile from my house.

This is what the network looked like in its heyday.

February 10, 2015 at 10:42 PM  

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