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Maps and Details on the Interurbans Systems in New York
Rochester was one of America's first "boomtowns." By the mid 1800s, it was already a burgeoning industrial hub. It rose to prominence initially as the site of many flour mills along the Genesee River and then as a major hub of manufacturing. Often referred to as “Flour City”, by 1838, Rochester was the largest flour-producing city in the United States.
By the early 1900s, its interurban system was well connected to both the ports and popular Lake Ontario beaches to the north and to its neighboring cities to the east and west.
Did you know?
- Rochester and Eastern Rapid Railway - Trolley vs. Stream Train Race
In 1904, the year it began, one of the Rochester & Eastern Rapid Railway’s electric cars, racing on tracks parallel to the Auburn Branch of the New York Central from Pittsford to Victor, handily beat a five-car steam-driven train!
- Rochester built a subway to connect the inner city street car system with the interurbans. (details below)
Rochester Area Map
Pan and zoom in and out on the map below for a detailed understanding of the various trolley companies in service in 1924.
Zoom in and out using the mousewheel. Once enlarged, left mouseclick and drag to pan. On mobile touch-enabled devices the usual pinch gestures can be used to zoom in and out and tap and drag to pan around.
Interurban Timelines - Predecessors/Mergers/End of Life
New York State Railways
- Rochester-Sodus Point (1900-1929)
Rochester-Geneva (1903-1930) a.k.a. Rochester and Eastern Rapid Railway
Rome-Utica-Little Falls (1902-1933)
Rochester, Lockport and Buffalo Railroad
- 1909-1919 - Buffalo, Lockport and Rochester Railway
1919-1931 - Rochester, Lockport and Buffalo Railroad
Rochester and Syracuse
- 1906-1913 - Rochester, Syracuse and Eastern Rapid Railroad (Beebe Syndicate)
1913-1916 - Empire United Railways
1913-1931 - Rochester and Syracuse Railroad
1931 - Abandoned
Lines to the Lake Ontario Beaches
(changed ownership and names frequently)
- Rochester and Manitou Railroad
Rochester and Irondequoit Railroad
Rochester and Lake Ontario Railway
Rochester and Suburban Railway
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New York State Railways - Post 1924
As roads improved, fierce competition from automobiles was greatly affecting the profits of interurban lines throughout the U.S. by the mid-1920's. The October 1929 Stock Market crash and subsequent Depression crippled the nation's economy and forced New York State Railways into receivership. The company subsequently filed for abandonment.
-1- The Rochester Subway
When the subway neared completion in 1927, agreements were reached for the New York State Railways to operate the system. In 1928, (a) the Rochester, Lockport and Buffalo, (b) the Rochester and Syracuse and (c) the Rochester and Syracuse interurbans all began using the subway.
The use of the subway by interurban cars one of the reasons the system was built. But it was short lived as all of the interurban lines were abandoned by June 28, 1931.
-2- The Rochester Transit Corporation
In 1938 the Rochester Transit Corporation (RTC) began operating the remaining active subway and surface lines. Surface lines in the city of Rochester were abandoned in 1941 and the last streetcar ran in the city on April 1, 1941. The 8 1/4 mile subway lost money consistently from 1938 and the Rochester Transit Corporation finally won its plea for abandonment in the mid 1950's. The last day of service was June 30, 1956.
- Rochester and Eastern Rapid Railway
- Rochester and Sodus Bay Railway - NYS
- Rochester and Syracuse Railroad
- Rochester, Syracuse and Eastern Rapid Railroad
- Rochester Railway Company
- Rochester and Suburban Railway
- Irondequoit Story
- Rochester, Lockport and Buffalo Railroad
- The Orphan Rochester Subway - by Otto M. Vondrak
- Rochester Transit Corporation
The Electric Interurban Railways in America
David Rumsey Historical Map Collection