Out of the Loop Pt. 3: a Before and After Look at the Neighborhoods of the Inner Loop

The previous two blog posts of this series, detailing the Central-Plymouth Avenue and Corn Hill neighborhoods, highlighted some of the historic structures that were demolished in the name of the Inner Loop.

The Loop’s third section, which ran from the eastern edge of the Troup-Howell bridge along Howell Street to the corner of Union and George Streets, did not result in the razing of many iconic Rochester buildings, but it nevertheless destroyed a staggering number of residences, and drastically changed the face of the fourth ward neighborhood.


This ca. 1955 aerial photo depicts the route of the third arc of the Inner Loop from the Troup-Howell bridge along Howell Street. The route crosses South, Clinton, and Monroe Avenues before connecting with Union Street. From the collection of the Rochester Public Library Local History and Genealogy Division.

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The area in question today, after the filling in of the Inner Loop. City of Rochester Maps, 2018. 

Built between 1956 and August 1958, the Inner Loop’s first eastside segment proved its most expensive and complicated section to date. The half-mile arc’s construction leveled over 160 structures in its wake and featured four bridges as well as a complex interchange.

Destruction for the arc began in the fall of 1955. By the time the razing was completed the following summer, swaths of family homes and apartment buildings had been eaten up in the process, forcing countless citizens to move out of the neighborhood, and leaving a desolate rubble-strewn scene behind.



Howell Street in shambles. From the collection of the Rochester Public Library Local History and Genealogy Division.

Democrat and Chronicle writer, Arch Merrill, went so far to say in 1956: “where loop demolition is underway at the eastern end of the new bridge, it looks like Coventry after the blitz.”


The last house demolished for the third arc of the Inner Loop. Democrat & Chronicle, August 4, 1956.

In addition to countless residences, a number of commercial buildings also met the wrecking ball, including a couple of longstanding businesses.

Rabe’s Complete Auto Service, located at 100 Manhattan Street, was originally a harness manufacturing company when it was founded in 1893. The following century, the firm made the transition from horse wares to automobiles.

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Rabe’s Auto Service (100 Manhattan Street) in the 1920s. From the collection of the Albert R. Stone Negative Collection.


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The location of Rabe’s Auto Service on Manhattan Street, north of Monroe Ave. City of Rochester Plat Map, 1935.



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Aerial photo of the same area in 2012, prior to the loop being filled in. The Rabe’s site has been replaced with part of Strong Museum’s parking lot. City of Rochester map, 2012.

Another longtime firm to lose its headquarters was Carhart’s Photo Service and Camera Shop, located at 294 South Avenue. Founded in 1914, the family business was once the largest photo developer in Western New York .


Advertisement in Democrat & Chronicle. December 13, 1953.

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Carhart’s photo Service stood at 294 South Ave on the block between Howell and Marshall. NB: South Ave is labeled St. Paul on this map. The “South” pictured is South Street, now St Mary’s Place. “(Green)” is Clinton Ave. City of Rochester Plat Map, 1935.

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The same area post-Loop construction. Clinton Avenue (albeit a bridge) remains the only constant. City of Rochester Map, 2012.

Notably, one major institution in the area remained in tact amidst the destruction and construction of the Inner Loop: the Fanny Farmer factory at 7 Griffith Street.

As these maps demonstrate, the Fanny Farmer candy studio, was one of the only structures in the vicinity of the Inner Loop interchange to survive. It closed, however, in 1967.


Prior to Loop construction. The Fanny Farmer factory is the pink rectangular building on the south side of Griffith Street. City of Rochester Plat Map, 1935.



The same area following the development of the Inner Loop interchange. Fanny Farmer Factory in pink. Sanborn Fire Insurance Map, ca 1950s.

Almost every other building along Howell Street, Marshall Street, Griffith Street, South Street and Byron Street detailed in the 1935 map was razed.

The Loop interchange also severed Marshall and Griffith Streets. Both roads once ran from South Avenue to Monroe Avenue, but as a result of loop construction, they were both stopped just east of Clinton Avenue.

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Marshall and Griffith Streets run from South Avenue to Monroe Avenue in this ca 1935 map. City of Rochester Plat Map, 1935.

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Marshall Street and Griffith Streets today. City of Rochester Map, 2018. 



Undoubtedly, the thoroughfare that underwent the greatest change during this phase of loop construction, was Howell Street.


The barren path along Howell Street stretching from South Avenue to Monroe Avenue. Democrat & Chronicle. May 26, 1957.

Like Marshall and Griffith Streets, Howell Street also once ran from South Avenue all the way to Monroe Avenue, but as the loop took its route, it was all but obliterated.


The original route of Howell Street can be seen in this 1935 map. City of Rochester Plat Map, 1935.


The same section in 2012, prior to the loop getting filled in. A few buildings just below the Inner Loop near its intersection with Monroe are the only edifices remaining from the original Howell Street. City of Rochester maps, 2012.

The neighborhood surrounding the eastern end of the new half-mile arc, running from Monroe Ave to the intersection of Union Street and George Street (which no longer exists), did not experience as dramatic a transformation as its western reach, but still witnessed considerable destruction.

Small sections of Manhattan Street and Savannah Street were lobbed off, while most of the buildings lining the west side of Union Street up to George Street were toppled.

This City of Rochester Plat Map from 1935 and Sanborn Fire Insurance map from the late 1950s below depict how the area appeared before and just immediately after the arc’s construction.

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Manhattan, Savannah and Union Street pre-Loop. City of Rochester Plat Map, 1935.



The eastern section of the Inner Loop’s third arc cut through portions of Manhattan Street, Savannah Street and Union Street, but left many area buildings intact. Sanborn Fire Insurance map.

This area looks much different today, as the majority of the homes and businesses that still stood after the loop’s construction were later razed and eventually replaced with the Strong Museum property. More recently, of course, this section of the loop was filled in, which will bring further transformations to the surrounding neighborhood in the years to come.

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Strong Museum and its parking lot now occupy the site where several residences once stood. Only a stub of Savannah Street remains while Howell Street has been revived and expanded. Googlemaps, 2018. 

The next post in this series will look at the dramatic changes the Loop wrought in the neighborhood between Front Street to Scio Street…

-Emily Morry

Published in: on September 30, 2018 at 11:58 pm  Leave a Comment  

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