ROCHESTER STREETCARS  • • • • • • • • • • • • • • No. 25 in a series

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by Charles R. Lowe

When eleven of Rochesterís streetcar lines were changed to bus operation in August, 1936, most remaining 355-449 cars, including NYMTís car 437, were withdrawn from service. The 355-449 cars, built in 1904-1906 and by then Rochesterís oldest streetcars still running, had been largely reduced to tripper and fill-in runs. Eight lucky 355-449 cars, including 382 and 425, were retained after August, 1936 to supplement the ten 3000-3009 cars used on the University-West line.

New York State Railways, Rochester Lines 425
                                                             photo by Stephen Maguire

For almost a year, the lucky eight 355-449 cars labored on faithfully, but when busing of the Park and University-West lines was scheduled for August, 1937, no further need for the eight 355-449 cars was envisioned. Word of this may have leaked out to Rochesterís railfans, or they may simply have deduced such action. On August 9, 1937, the last full day of service on the University-West line, fans including George Slyford and John Woodbury, at least, and others rode and photographed final runs. At least one fan came from out of town, making what appears to be the first of many trips he made to Rochester during the 1937-1940 years. He was Steve Maguire, later the long-time traction editor for Railroad magazine.

Maguire cemented his place in Rochester streetcar lore with this scene, one of his very first Rochester streetcar photos. Car 425 is seen on University loop, once located at the southwest corner of University Avenue and Culver Road. The sign in the background admonishes young riders with the warning "NO BALL PLAYING ALLOWED". A lone rider, probably one of the railfans assembled to ride and record streetcars that day, can be seen hoisting himself up into the car. What makes this photograph especially important historically is that this may very well be the very last run of all time, so far, for a 355-449 car in passenger service. The "so far" is included because, in the not too distant future, NYMTís car 437 will once again be serving the riding public.