ROCHESTER STREETCARS.............................. No. 61 in a series
by Charles R. Lowe
State Street Station closed to all streetcar activity in 1937, save one operation of little-known use. Fortunately, it was occasionally photographed by a handful of railfans.
After 1931, the interurban freight terminal behind State Street Station was converted to a truck-only operation known as Bradley’s Motor Truck Terminal. Most of the rail connections were removed, but the two tracks which were located on the open area north of the terminal were left in place. One ran alongside the terminal but the other ran on the north side of the open area, next to the concrete block building owned by Wright and Alexander Co., Contractors.
The open area lined up with Dean Street, which ran east-west and which intersected Oak, Kent, John and Verona Streets and Plymouth Avenue North. Sometime in the 1930s, the open area became an extension of Dean Street, extending to and connecting with Otsego Street. It never continued on the one further block to State Street.
Our present photograph shows Rochester Transit Corp. 620 sitting on the north-most of the two sidings located in Dean Street between Plymouth and Otsego. The lack of a train number in the holder just left of the word “Front” on the red-and-white front entrance sign confirms that the car’s NOT IN SERVICE sign is correct. The pole is up so that the car is ready for making a run at a moment’s notice. Since this is a winter view, the car’s electric heaters may well be running, too. This car is here because Dean Street’s sidings were the one place in the downtown area, after 1937, where a car could be stored ready to run. Invariably, streetcar lines experience delays. Having a fill-in car ready keeps these delays to a minimum. By 1937, East Main Station was the only active car house in Rochester, but it was far away from several streetcar lines. Storing one emergency car on the Dean Street siding made it ready for quick use on any of Rochester’s remaining streetcar lines.
In this photo the photographer is looking west northwest along the north edge of Dean Street and is standing about halfway between Plymouth and Otsego. Plymouth crosses Dean in the background; the tall brick building and the shorter, light-colored building just in its front, once comprised Rochester City School No. 5. The nearer, lower building was a school annex which, by the time of this photo, housed the Rochester Chapter of the American Red Cross. The main school building is closed, as a new building (still in use today) was built a few blocks to the north in 1927.
From the generally run-down condition of the siding, one suspects this photo might have been made during the winter of 1940-1941, the last for Rochester’s surface streetcars. Soon, the Dean Street sidings will be removed along with the rest of the Rochester streetcar network. Car 620, though, became part of a never-used reserve fleet of ten 600-series cars for the Rochester Subway, eluding the scrappers until 1950.