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When Broad St. was a canal

When Broad St. was a canal


Rochester, this could be us.

We also have a canal and a river downtown. But all we’ve managed to build over the last decade is Corn Hill Landing, which is a great place to have dinner, go for a summer stroll and watch the fireworks. It’s no main attraction, however.

Last week, the Democrat and Chronicle rehashed the idea from Broad Street Underground to turn the aqueduct into a mall. Yes, a mall. Like we don’t already have a daunting task to fill up retail space at Sibley and Midtown. Even worse, this half-baked plan includes a tunnel between the Blue Cross Arena and the convention center. “Gee I wish there was an underground walkway so I can get from my luncheon to the hockey game,” said no one ever. 

Ice skating on the canal downtown,1874

Ice skating on the canal downtown, 1874

There are people who’ve long wanted to rewater the aqueduct. We’d literally flood Broad Street. The restored canal would run to Jay Street. It would unite with the existing canal. Ice skate in the winter, dock your boat in the summer. Maybe apartments would go up along the waterway. Maybe people would want to sit outside and have dinner along waterfront patios.

It sounds completely insane. Like really, really crazy.

Until you see what they did in Buffalo.



Links of the Day:


– Governor Cuomo had a sparring match with reporters over the timing of his fracking announcement that resembled “Who’s On First.”

– This map shows saturation of casinos in New York.

– Wegmans is among supermarkets sued over alleged baked good fraud.

– Amazing interactive map details our collective pitchfork-raising outrage in 2014.

– Hanukkah is beginning to look a lot like Christmas.

– People bought boxes of poop and were surprised when they found actual poop inside.


The Southern Tier is Angry:





7 Responses to This Could Be Us

  1. It would be pretty pointless without connecting to the river. It’d be almost impossible to get the north end to link up with anything. The canal is no where near Jay St now, unless it goes down Jay past Mt Read to link up with the new canal. I’m not even sure a turning basin could be placed without having to tear up part of JOSANA. I’m not really sure I see much draw, the old path really goes no where of interest now. Past and current generations of city leaders have done a good job erasing Rochester’s canal roots. what are the maintenance costs?

    It’s a neat idea, I just don’t see the draw once the novelty wears off. Instead of that spend the money to turn Exchange Blvd back to a street and push waterfront development all the way down to Ford. Work on something workable on the East shore.

  2. If I could get somewhere from there I’d have my antique Chris Craft docked there. It would be a great boat to be there if I could go somewhere.

  3. December 19, 2014 at 12:19 pm Wayne Shipman responds:

    There is ice skating downtown now… why skate on the Canal or in the Aqueduct? Spend money on something that can run year-round and not just two or three months of the year.

  4. Yup we do virtually nothing with the resources we have here. The remaining Subway/canal bed is full of opportunity. Whole thing is a historic landmark and something the city should be exploiting but instead we now want to put a building at the east portal of it behind/next to Dinosour blocking the remainder off and basically make it into a maintenance tunnel. They treat it as a problem rather than a solution.

    Just for clarity, the canalside skating area does not connect with their river either, there is a road in the way that splits it off from the commercial slip that does connect. They built it with the perception it connects with the river.

  5. December 27, 2014 at 1:05 pm Kevin Yost responds:

    We do need additional streets connected and with additional bridges over the Genesee River downtown. I would like to have such a feature, such as an open-air version of Atlanta’s Underground, San Antonio’s Riverwalk, and Buffalo’s Canalside. We could have shops and bistros and a pedestrian walkway on either side of such a canal that would start at a round lock on the river at Genesee Crossroads Park across from the end of Alexander Street and run alongside Time Warner Cable, a proposed skatepark and the proposed Morgan Management apartment complex and end at a basin between Morrie Silver Way, Brown, Oak, and Broad streets and drain Frontier Field and back out to the river at High Falls, saving the historic wall there, or the basin could be at Jay Street and Brown Square Park could be extended to Oak Street. There could be horse-drawn carriage rides or sleigh rides in the winter time and non-motorized boats in the warmer months and a light rail line on the pedestrian mall all year round.

    However, though additional downtown street connections and bridges may never happen and Broad and Main are the only continuous east-west streets downtown. Therefore, why not just make the tunnel from Court Street to Industrial Street something like a combination of the Atlanta Underground and the proposed “Lowline” development in Lower Manhattan and have the water feature like the creek running through downtown Frederick, Maryland. We need murals like the canal-turned subway in Newark, NJ or like subway stations around the world and get rid of that ugly graffity down there.

  6. December 31, 2014 at 12:40 pm Kevin Yost responds:

    Should Broad Street stay intact and the tunnel scenario that I have outlined above happen, then perhaps, Broad Street above could be painted to remind of the canal and subway that was once there, just as is the case with Erie Boulevard in Syracuse where the canal once was (and more of that should be painted between Solvay and DeWitt) and traffic signal boxes along Broad Street should be painted with old canal and subway scenes and also have the canal and subway reminder amenities that were designed by city engineer Thomas Hack and his team in 2005. There should also be a downtown circlulator trolley double loop on Broad, Main, Morrie Silver Way, across the new pedestrian bridge at High Falls that could also accomodate such trolleys, St. Paul Street, Central and Clinton avenues.

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