Out of the Loop Pt. 5: A Before and After Look at the Neighborhoods of the Inner Loop

The last section of the Inner Loop, completed in 1965, is perhaps the most intriguing to current Rochester residents, as, for the most part, it no longer exists.

The final loop arc originally ran from Scio Street to the intersection of Union Street and George Street.

IL_5_aerial loop_DC_Sep_30__65

The original path of the Inner Loop’s last arc. From: Democrat & Chronicle, September 30, 1965.

Today, it concludes its course just past Main Street thanks to the Inner Loop East Transformation Project, which filled in two thirds of a mile of the sunken roadway and replaced it with an at-grade Union Street in 2017.

IL_5_aerial loop_post fill

City of Rochester Map, 2019.

The filled-in loop section has already begun to transform the landscape of the East End neighborhood. The area’s metamorphosis will continue as Union Street’s built environment develops.

IL_5_union and east__Mar_20__1964_

Construction on the Union Street section of the loop at its intersection with East Avenue. From: Democrat and Chronicle, March 20, 1964.

IL_5_union and east

The same section, filled in. From: Googlemaps, 2019.

IL_5_union and east northward__Nov_21__1962_

The intersection of Union Street and East Avenue facing north circa 1962. The diagonal street below East Avenue is the original route of Court Street. From: Democrat & Chronicle, November 21, 1962.

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Union Street at East Avenue in 2012, with the adjacent sunken loop. From: Googlemaps, 2012.

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The same stretch in 2019 boasts a tree-lined median, designated bike lanes, pedestrian paths, and budding buildings. From: Morry, 2019.

Though the majority of the loop’s final section has been reincarnated, what remains of the last arc offers further reminders of all that was lost as a result of the circular thoroughfare.

Anderson Park— named for the University of Rochester’s first president, Martin Brewer Anderson—originally comprised a somewhat sizeable triangular piece of land bordered by University Avenue, East Main Street and North Union Street.

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Anderson Park, bordered by Main Street on the northwest side, Union Street on the east side, and University Avenue on the south side. City of Rochester Plat Map, 1910.

Opened in 1905, the pastoral greenspace for a time housed a skating rink, and, in 1913, hosted a colossal Christmas tree adorned with hundreds of colored incandescent lights.

IL_5_anderson park xmas tree 1913-ish

Hundreds gathered for a Christmas celebration at Anderson Park in December 1913. From: Albert R. Stone Negative Collection, Rochester Museum & Science Center, Rochester, N.Y.

The park was also the first home of the Schiller monument.

IL_5_schiller in anderson park

The Schiller monument at the southwest corner of Anderson Park in 1938.

Donated by Rochester’s German community in 1908, the statue of the 18th century poet and philosopher later became something of a mecca to the city’s teenaged lovebirds. Scores of Cupid-struck couples in the 1950s deemed the monument’s pedestal as the place to pledge their love to one other via inscriptions of their initials, often emblazoned with red lipstick.

The monument and its lipstick traces met their match the following decade, as plans for the Inner Loop designated the southern tier of Anderson Park as the juncture where the circular roadway would make its final curve towards Union Street.

Anderson Park, much like Franklin Square (discussed in part 4 of this series), was more than halved.

Il_5_anderson park_then

The somewhat sizeable Anderson Park in 1935. City of Rochester Plat Map, 1935.

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The truncated tuft of greenery that constitutes the current Anderson Park. City of Rochester map, 2019.

And, in something of a game of monument musical chairs, after Franklin Square’s Spanish American War eagle was relocated to the Community War Memorial, the Schiller monument was removed from Anderson Park, and placed in Franklin Square (now known as Schiller Park).

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Schiller on the move in the spring of 1964. From: Democrat & Chronicle, April 21, 1964.

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The monument at home in its eponymous park.

In addition to gutting yet another downtown park, the loop’s final segment was also responsible for swallowing a host of homes and apartment buildings, often erasing entire street sections in the process.

The mixed-use neighborhood between North Street and Union Street found itself radically altered following the Loop’s arrival.

Seen in 1935, the area between North Street and Scio Street, boasts a series of densely plotted residences and a selection of commercial structures:

Il_5_north to scio_then

City of Rochester Plat Map, 1935.

Il_5_north to scio_now

City of Rochester map, 2019.

The post-loop picture is much starker. The buildings lining both sides of Delevan Street, the south side of Lyndhurst Street, and the west side of Scio Street are gone as are sections of Gibbs Street and the entirety of Barber’s Lane.

The next block over also witnessed a considerable transformation:

Il_5_joslyn place_then

City of Rochester Plat Map, 1935.

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City of Rochester map, 2019.

The most striking difference between these pre- and post-loop pictures, apart from the substantial loss of buildings, is the elimination of an entire street, Joslyn Place.

Some of the street’s denizens did not face its demise without a fight.

Mrs. George R. Woods had been living in an apartment at 72 Joslyn Place with her teenage son and dog when she received the news that her building would be demolished in 1962. In January of that year, her landlord stopped collecting rent, and two months later, the building’s utilities were removed.

By this time, all of the apartments at 72 Joslyn Place had been vacated. All except the one occupied by Mrs. Woods. She and her son kept themselves warm in the frigid flat by donning their wooliest clothing. The pair lit candles in lieu of electric lights, and, when in need of water, they availed themselves of the nearest fire hydrant.

When the landlord or state agents stopped by, Woods came armed with an array of excuses, reinforcing that all her belongings were packed and that she was only waiting for a moving truck.

A sheaf of paper notes remained permanently affixed to her door. One warned: “Leave my things alone until I get moved tomorrow afternoon or I will turn my dog loose. I need my things. Can’t buy more.” Another missive, directed to her postman, informed: “Don’t believe I’ve moved away. I’m still here. Mrs. Woods.”

Woods’ standoff continued even after all the other structures on the street had been demolished and her building became the target of routine rock-throwing by neighborhood children. She eventually retreated in the middle of May 1962, when two movers struck a deal with her and transported her affairs to a new abode on Maple Street.

While Woods’ experience presents an extreme example, her frustration over losing her home was nevertheless mirrored by thousands of Rochesterians whose lives were uprooted as result of the Inner Loop.

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A home being leveled for the loop in 1962. From: Democrat & Chronicle, May 11, 1962.

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In “progress.”

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Demolished. All in fifteen minutes’ time.

The extensive damage and displacement that the Inner Loop caused was deemed by its proponents as the price of progress.

The new time-saving thoroughfare thrilled many in Rochester’s business community.

Chamber of Commerce president Byron Johnson exclaimed at the Inner Loop’s official opening on October 20, 1965, “Without businessmen willing to support it, this Inner Loop might have become a useless noose around a deserted central area.”

Seemingly sharing Johnson’s flair for the dramatic, Rochester District Engineer Bernard F. Perry proclaimed that the loop opening was, “One of the most important days in the history of Rochester and Monroe County,” adding, “We are extremely proud of this achievement, the result of long planning, intricate design and elaborate construction.”

That this long-planned, intricately designed, and elaborately constructed achievement was perhaps flawed in its inception remains a matter of debate, but convincing evidence is offered by the thriving thoroughfare that has risen above the former route of the sunken loop.

-Emily Morry

 

 

 

Published in: on March 27, 2019 at 5:57 pm  Leave a Comment  

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