ROCHESTER STREETCARS................................ No. 48 in a series

New York state Railways, Rochester Lines 1218
NYMT Collection


by Charles R. Lowe

The year 1936 proved to be the turning point in the struggle for survival of Rochester’s streetcar system. Buses had by that point proved themselves capable of carrying the riders of even the most-traveled of transit lines, even in winter months. Rochester’s streetcar fleet, despite the best efforts to keep them in good repair, were slowly wearing out. Perhaps more critical was the system’s track. Since the mid-1920s, very little trackage had seen replacement, and some sections were in poor condition by the 1920s.

In our present photo of car 1218, one of Rochester’s distinctive Peter Witt cars (1200-1249; Cincinnati, 1916), we are looking northward at the Clinton Avenue South loop near Field Street in 1936. Clinton Avenue is at the right side of the image. For decades, the Clinton Avenue South and Clinton Avenue North streetcar lines had been through-routed, forming a strong north-south line through Rochester. The Clinton Avenue South line, though, was the shorter and weaker of the two and it was slated to be bused during the month of August 1936 along with ten other streetcar lines, after which Clinton Avenue North would eventually be linked with the Monroe Avenue line, a through-routing arrangement that remains in effect to the present day (alas, with buses).

The time for Clinton Avenue South’s abandonment, however, had yet to come when the photographer made our photo. Probably, he rode out the line and jumped off at the terminal loop after pleading with the motorman to a) pose the car in the sun, and b) neglect to charge a second fare when he re-boarded. We are glad he made the effort since this is the only known view of a streetcar at the Clinton Avenue South loop.