Out of the Loop Pt. 4: A Look at the Neighborhoods of the Inner Loop

As we saw in parts 1, 2, and 3 of this series, the construction of the first three sections of the Inner Loop required a massive amount of property demolition and resulted in the remapping of Rochester’s center city. The route’s fourth segment, completed in 1962, proved even more destructive than its forbears.

The .9 mile arc more or less ran along the original route of Cumberland Street, beginning at Front Street on the City’s west side and ending at North Street on the east.


“A” marks the fourth leg of the loop. From: Democrat & Chronicle, August 20, 1958.

As the route cut through a densely populated, mixed-use area, it necessitated a considerable amount of property razing. More than 250 residential and commercial buildings were toppled to make way for the new loop segment.

In the spring of 1957, four blocks worth of businesses near the New York Central Railroad Station met the wrecking ball.

Not everyone was sad to see the aging structures go.

A pro-loop editorial published in the Democrat & Chronicle that November referred to the razed edifices as “architectural monstrosities and crumbling flea bags.”


The Post Office is at the center of this circa 1960 aerial photograph depicting the dramatic demolition done in the name of the Inner Loop. The New York Central Railroad Station is at top right.  From: Democrat & Chronicle, July 26, 1960.

Among the bygone buildings in the train station neighborhood was the Railroad YMCA at 9 Hyde Park Street, a short road that once stood on the west side of the central Post Office (visible in the photo above).

The original Railroad YMCA branch was founded in the early 1900s to cater to transient railroad workers, offering them room, board, and entertainment. But by the time the branch moved into the Hyde Park structure in 1932, train crews had begun to bypass Rochester, and the institution’s import started to fade.

In 1955, the location ceased functioning as the headquarters for railroad men and was converted into a boarding house. Two longtime railroad worker residents refused to relocate, and remained tenants of the timeworn hostelry until its demolition in the fall of 1957.


The last location of the Railroad YMCA at 9 Hyde Park Street. From: Democrat & Chronicle, March 24, 1957.


Demolition of the YMCA as seen from the rear of the building. From: Democrat & Chronicle October 25, 1957.


The current site of the Railroad YMCA near Joseph Avenue in the vicinity of the New York Trailways station. Googlemaps, 2018.

Not far from the Railroad YMCA stood another longtime neighborhood institution, The Hotel Gilliard.

Il4_gilliard map 1935

The Hotel Gilliard, later the Saeger Hotel, stood at 218 Clinton Avenue North. City of Rochester Plat Map, 1935.

The establishment at the northeast corner of Clinton Ave North and Cumberland Street was founded in 1886 by Valentine Gilliard, a German immigrant who had previously worked in a number of local saloons. His three story hostelry boasted 20 rooms in addition to the tavern on its main floor.


Hotel Gilliard circa 1916. From: The Albert R. Stone Negative Collection, Rochester Museum & Science Center, Rochester, N.Y.

Valentine Gilliard ran the family business until he took ill in 1893, and, in a bout of apparent insanity brought on by his physical suffering, tragically shot himself on the roof of the hotel.

The Gilliards later sold the inn, but it retained the family name through the Prohibition era, during which the hotel endured several raids by dry agents. The hotel continued operations till the State claimed it in 1957.


The Hotel Gilliard appears on the right side of the street on the far side of the intersection pictured in this circa 1890 photograph.


The site today. Googlemaps, 2019.

Following the decimation of the railroad station neighborhood, a host of businesses and residences on St. Paul Street and Water Street met their fate.

Some did not go gently into the good night, however.

The Joseph A. Schantz Furniture Company had maintained two sizeable edifices at the intersection of St. Paul Street and Central Avenue since 1911. An eponymously named commercial building stood on the east side of St. Paul Street, while the company’s six-story furniture warehouse, stood on the west side.


The Schantz company owned two buildings that faced each other on St. Paul Street at Central Avenue. Note the original location of the Frederick Douglass monument between the Schantz structures. City of Rochester Plat Map, 1935.

The former came down fairly handily.


The Schantz Building stands on the left side of this photograph from October 1958. From the Collection of the Rochester Public Library’s Local History & Genealogy Division.


The same site from a slightly different angle in 1960, sans Schantz Building. From the Collection of the Rochester Public Library’s Local History & Genealogy Division.

The warehouse was more stubborn.

Neither cranes nor steel balls proved able to destroy the edifice. Construction workers were eventually reduced to using torches to slash the building’s reinforcing rods, before cranes could be brought in to rip out the rubbled pieces.

IL4_douglass and schantz

The Schantz warehouse building lies behind the Douglass monument in this circa 1941 photograph.

Il4_schantz warehouse_now2

The approximate site of the Schantz warehouse today lies at the corner of St. Paul and the rerouted Cumberland Street. Googlemaps, 2019

In addition to the hundreds of buildings it consumed in its wake, the loop’s fourth section was also responsible for gutting one of the city’s oldest parks.

Franklin Square (now known as Schiller Park) located between Cumberland and Andrews Streets, was opened to the public in 1826.

IL_4_1833 map_franklin square

Franklin Square circa 1833. NB: Cumberland Street was formerly called Bowery Street. City of Rochester Map, 1833.

In addition to providing 19th century downtown residents with a pastoral setting in which to unwind, the small park hosted amateur baseball club games in the 1850s and 1860s and later served as the site of numerous political demonstrations.

The following century, Franklin Square became home to the city’s Spanish-American War Memorial, a bronze eagle designed by noted sculptor, Carl Paul Jennewein.


The regal eagle standing atop a reflecting pool at the northern end of Franklin Square. Note the Post Office and St. Luke’s Church in the background.   From: Democrat & Chronicle, July 6, 1941.

In 1960, less than twenty years after the bronze eagle landed in Franklin Square, the northern half of the historic park was lobbed off to make way for the loop, and the Spanish-American eagle took flight.

IL4_post-franklin square

The site today. Googlemaps, 2018.

Franklin Square was decimated.

IL4_FS aerial_DC_1_4_1948

The original layout of Franklin Square seen in the late 1940s. From: Democrat & Chronicle, January 4, 1948.


The stub of the square that remains post-loop, now called Schiller Park. Googlemaps, 2018.

The eagle fortunately found a new perch beside the Community War Memorial (now Blue Cross Arena).


From: Democrat & Chronicle, August 18, 1960.


The eagle in its current home beside the Blue Cross Arena. From: Morry.

After almost three years worth of demolition carried out in its name, construction on the loop’s fourth arc finally began in March 1960.

Despite the extensive destruction that the new route had wrought, many maintained that the Inner Loop offered a path to progress. As one Democrat & Chronicle writer opined in March 1961: “We look at the loop now—the finished part of it—and we use it with the realization that Rochester would be literally choking to death on traffic without it. Every day the genius of this loop concept becomes more apparent.”


The next post in this series will detail the changes brought about by the loop’s fifth and final segment.

-Emily Morry





Published in: on February 26, 2019 at 9:45 am  Leave a Comment  

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