A brief history. Before the Erie Canal was diverted to its current course through Genesee Valley Park, it flowed right through the city using the aqueduct to cross the Genesee River. In 1918, the canal was re-routed and the city began to use the vacated basin for public rail transportation, with passenger service ending in 1956, and freight traffic ending in 1970. Broad Street runs atop the abandoned underground today.
Ever since, there has been lively debate over what to do with the decaying infrastructure. The phase one plan involves preventative maintenance. While the politicians and planners figure out what’s next, we get to enjoy a living piece of history that played an integral part in shaping who we are today.
Sneak a peek
For a sneak peek, walk down the stairs next to Blue Cross Arena on Broad Street. You can view the aqueduct from a platform along the Genesee Riverview Trail.
On a sad note, the main entrance has been closed down as a part of the city’s revitalization efforts along the river. This view is no more:
This is what it used to be like: Your journey will take you under the Rundel Library next to the Johnson-Seymour Race, which still runs under the library today. Once you pass into the aqueduct, there’s much more to see. Amazing works of art amidst broken glass. Really cool views of the city skyline from a new perspective. During sponsored events, you’ll find volunteers from the Canal Society sharing the story of the area.
- Cost: Free
- Located in the City of Rochester (get directions)
Here are a few great places to read about the history of the now-abandoned Erie Canal Aqueduct and the Rochester Subway: