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Rochester: 1904

"Powers Building, Rochester, N.Y., 1904." Detroit Publishing. View full size.

"Powers Building, Rochester, N.Y., 1904." Detroit Publishing. View full size.


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>> how does the operator make the car go in the desired direction

In most cases there is no question of "desired direction." The car follows the tracks, which have already been switched. To change the switch points, the operator would have to stop the car and use a track bar.

How do streetcars turn?

Geezer's spotting of the Grand Union Junction gives me incentive to ask something I've long wondered -- when a street car approaches a junction (switch point) how does the operator make the car go in the desired direction? It seems unlikely that he stops and gets out, or that someone is standing by to throw a switch externally. And what ensures that both trucks make the same turn?

A girl named Sue

I'm so very late to the party on this one, but this is the corner of West Main (running left-right) and State/Exchange. Many of the buildings on State Street (the far right) are still standing today, and I walk by them regularly.

Suffragist Susan B. Anthony was a Rochester resident for most of her life, coming to the area with her family as a young child on a packet boat on the Erie Canal. One of my favorite stories to tell when I volunteered at her home as a docent was what transpired when she was arrested in 1872 for voting. The deputy planned to make her pay for her trolley ride to the police station, but she refused, stating that she was traveling at the expense of "this fine gentleman here, and he will pay my fare." She would have traveled down Main Street that day on these very tracks to the police station.

Thank you for presenting this photo!

Grand Union Intersection

This is the first photo I've ever seen of a "grand union" track junction -- where two two-track railway lines meet, usually at a street intersection, and railroad switches allow any streetcar coming from any direction to turn either left or right onto the intersecting line.

Elevation change

Notice the huge elevation change...there used to be many steps leading up to the front door, now it's at grade.

I guess that's where the underground baths went, further underground!

Super Powers

Thanks for posting this! The Powers Building is my favorite building in town. So cool to see such an old photo of it in high resolution!

Some Like it Cold

As always, it is the incredible detail that makes these photos and site come to life. Notice competing insurance companies upstairs from the main entrance of Fidelity Trust: You have Phoenix Mutual Life, and a little higher up, Ashley & Loewenguth. On the ground floor you have a One Price Hatters and Furriers. (Doesn't say it is a low price. Could be a high price. Just says it is one price).

But the best sign in this picture has to be down in the basement. It reads Hot, Cold Shower Baths 25 cents.

I know that many hotel/apartment buildings of the era had a single bathroom down the hall, for all the residents of a floor. But does that really mean that people were excited to go take a cold shower in 1904? Brrrrr.

[And let's not forget "Pony Moore" next door. - Dave]


It's good to see that this building with its magnificent ornamentation has largely escaped modernization -- but they still managed to muck up the ground floor. I'm trying to figure out where the basement with the hot & cold showers went.


About that construction site: it looks like there is a lot of stonework being done at this phase. I'm going to guess that the picket-like debris is crating for precut stones, possibly Greek style columns that are built up from many smaller stone disks.

Hustle and Bustle

The ghostly elongated motions of people and transportation devices adds further artistic complexity to this fantastic image. You sense the dynamics.

5 to 3

The men on the bottom left intrigue me for some unknown reason. I wonder what they're doing in the late afternoon amongst all that junk.

[That's a construction site full of building materials. - Dave]

Not Just One

Both of those large buildings still exist. The left one has had some remodeling to the facade and the roof line has been altered.

Shorpy Construction Co.

Don't think we don't notice how the Shorpy watermark is angled to look like it's painted on the construction site fence!

That Great-Grandpa Shorpy sure knew how to put up a building.

Powers Closeup

Click to enlarge.

One for the Preservationists

A nice tour of Western New York the past few days, Dave.

This one's still there:

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