The message on the back of this post card tells Robert Base that Donald Slick is in Rochester, New York in order to ride on “the Rochester Subway Trolley Line which makes its final run Saturday night.” The post card is dated Friday, June 29, 1956.
The Erie Canal, responsible for much of upstate New York's economic growth, was considered an obsolete eyesore by the turn of the century. The state legislature allocated money for relocation of the canal, and the last boat traveled through the city locks in 1919. After much debate about what to do with the abandoned canal bed, the city of Rochester then purchased the land for construction of a trolley subway that would greatly reduce the amount of surface traffic in the populous city. Eight years after the last canal boat was piloted through the city, the Rochester Industrial & Rapid Transit Railway was opened to the public in December 1927. Known to most simply as the "Subway," it was built to serve as a freight interchange for the five railroads that served the city. Running from the General Motors Rochester Products plant southeasterly through Rochester, and southeast to Rowlands, the Subway was not more than ten miles long. See where the subway took passengers in 1928.
From its opening date, the Subway was never utilized to its full potential. The exception was the World War II era when the Subway ran four-car trains at the height of rush hour. Public outcry for Subway service improvements and extensions fell on deaf ears. Eventually, against public statements to the contrary, the city council voted in secret to discontinue subway passenger service after 1955, and construct the Eastern Expressway (I-490) in its place. The last passenger run on the Subway was Saturday, June 30, 1956.
Today, few traces of the subway survive. The western section that was filled in remained undeveloped, and can be traced nearly uninterrupted all the way out to the former General Motors plant. The only remaining Subway car (Car 60) is in the custody of the Rochester Chapter NRHS, at the Rochester & Genesee Valley Railroad Museum. The subway car is in the middle of a multi-year fundraising and restoration effort. Ruins of the Subway exist downtown, partially obscured by the I-490 that succeeded it. The two-mile tunnel under Broad Street is in need of serious repairs, and there has been heated debate over the idea of filling the man-made cavern under the city. The two stations that were in the tunnel, West Main Street and City Hall, have remained hidden from the public for over forty years, with little remaining to indicate they were ever there.
It is very sad to me that a city would treat a mass transit system like this.
The post card was published by the Manson News Agency of Rochester.
It was printed by the Metropolitan Company out of Everett, Massachusetts.