"Giants . . . in Those Days"
AND there were giants . . . in those days."
=Call the roll of the men of Rochester and there arenames that "echo through the corridors of time"; names of titans ofindustry and finance, of trail-blazing scientists and political potentates.
=Each in his time and in his field was known far beyond theborders of his city. Of the many illustrious names on the roster, Ihave singled out seven.
=Two were Georges and bath were powerful rulers beside theGenesee. One was King of Kodaks, the other Poobah of Politics.Two were christened Lewis and both were students, one of theheavens and the other of the races of mankind.
=There was a Hiram in his realm as mighty as the king of ancient Tyre. And a Henry whose helmet flaunted no plumes yet who ranged the far places like a knight of the Crusades, seeking wondrous things.
=The seventh bore the old-fashioned name of Seth and he isrevered wherever fishes leap and anglers cast their lines.
=They are not just names. The names belong to men, humanbeings, who dreamed and struggled and knew adversity as well astriumph, whose contributions were as varied as their personalities.
* * * * *
=The American flag floats today over rich Alaska, strategic outpost on the military frontier, largely because of a Rochesterian, Hiram Sibley.
=In 1857 after he had promoted the amalgamation of some 20small competing telegraph lines into the Western Union Companyand had strung wires across the nation to the Pacific Coast, Sibleyplanned to link the United States with Europe telegraphically viaAlaska, the Bering Strait and Siberia. After the Atlantic Cable wasa success, the scheme was abandoned but in the meantime Sibley hadheld several conferences regarding it with the Russian Prime Minister in St. Petersburg.
=He learned that Alaska, a barren waste which the Czars hadnever bothered to develop, was for sale at a reasonable price. Immediately he got the word to William H. Seward of Auburn, the American Secretary of State, and Uncle Sam's purchase of Alaska followed.
=From his youth Hiram Sibley was a bold entrepreneur. Henever did things in a small way. Five years after he had arrived atMendon in the then raw Genesee Country from his native NorthAdams, Mass., in 1825, a youth of 16, he, with Don Alonzo Watson,was operating a saw mill, a carding machine and a plow works atSibleyville. Their mills employed 80 hands and Sibleyville was anindustrial center. Now it's a sleepy hamlet, mostly on land stillowned by Hiram Sibley's descendants.
=In 1843 Sibley was elected sheriff and moved to the county seat.The next year Samuel F. B. Morse sent a historic message and thetelegraph was born. Rochester became a center of the new industry. Henry O'Reilly and Samuel L. Seldon of Rochester and Ezra Cornellof Ithaca pioneered in promoting several lines. In 1854 Sibley became interested in the enterprise and two years later led in themerger of the small lines into one mighty system. He and Cornellinterested capitalists, mostly Rochesterians, in the project and theWestern Union Telegraph Company was formally organized onApr. 4, 1856 in the old Reynolds Arcade.
=It was tough sledding at first. The sale of stock was slow, somefaint-hearted ones pulled out, to their later keen regret, but HiramSibley never faltered. Satchel in hand, he went up and down theland, buying up the stock of smaller lines for his combine.
=After Western Union was on firmer ground, Sibley proposed anaudacious plan, the building of a line to the Pacific Coast. His owndirectors derided it. "Where will you get poles on the treelessplains?" and "The hostile Indians will cut them down if you doerect them," they said.
=When the board rejected the project, Hiram Sibley arose fromthe council table, squared his shoulders and said:
="Gentlemen, if you will not join me I will go it alone."
=And he did, obtaining a government subsidy on stipulation theline be completed in two years. He staked his reputation and hisresources on the venture. He mollified the Indians by telling them"The Great Spirit is on the singing wires." Hundreds of men, horsesand oxen hauled the poles and other equipment across the plains.In less than four months instead of the stipulated two years, theline was completed-and the picturesque Pony Express was doomed.
=After that Western Union flourished, It made handsome fortunes for Sibley and those stockholders who had been in "on theground floor." For 16 years Sibley was president of the companywhich for 20 years maintained its headquarters in the ReynoldsArcade.
=Sibley was not one to rest on his financial oars, He built railroads, he bought thousands of acres of Illinois lands, he founded a nationally known seed business.
=The magnate was a lavish giver, too. There's a tale, neverauthenticated but persistent, that when he offered a school of engineering to the University of Rochester, President Martin B. Anderson politely suggested that a library might be more in keeping with the college's policy. Engineering schools were radical educational departures in those days.
=So Cornell got the magnificent Sibley College of MechanicalEngineering and the University of Rochester got Sibley Hall.
* * * * *
=A fabulous character was Rochester's world renowned meteorologist-naturalist, Henry Augustus Ward.
=The short, bearded man of science crossed the Atlantic 50 timesin search of his treasures. He braved remote jungles and deserts.He met potentates and savage chieftains. He crossed the Andes before there was a railroad across the range. He hunted buffalo onthe western plains with Buffalo Bill Cody and the Russian GrandDuke Alexis.
=He rode camels across Oriental sands. He chartered vesselsfor his expeditions. If he were alive today, he would charter airplanes. For whenever Henry Ward heard of a rare specimen, hedashed to its locale the fastest possible way.
=And what a collection he brought back through the years toRochester for Ward's Natural Science Establishment which hefounded in 1862 and which still exists. Mounted skeletons of mastodons and elk, rare rocks, fossils, fish, scorpions, tarantulas, thegiant walking stick, the world's largest insect, obtained from New Guinea, and in his later years, one of the finest collections of meteorites ever known-all these made Ward's of Rochester famous in thescientific world.
=The son of Monroe County pioneers, Ward early in life showedaptitude for his chosen work and studied with the great Agassiz atCambridge in his youth. He had a rare opportunity for travel andstudy abroad as the companion of young Charles Wadsworth of theGenesee Valley squires whom he accompanied to Paris and later toEgypt and Syria on one of his first treasure hunts.
=In 1861 he was called to the University of Rochester's chair ofnatural sciences. The next year he opened his establishment in aremodeled house on the Prince Street Campus. It was said he waslikely to walk out of his classroom in the middle of a lecture andmake for the Arabian desert.
=Later on, his collection was housed in the building in CollegeAvenue near the campus where the jaw bones of a great whaleadorned the driveway. That building was swept by fire in 1931 andthe museum moved to 302 N. Goodman St. In recent years Ward'smoved to a new site in Irondequoit.
=The 1880's were the golden years for Ward's. From all overthe globe, largely from colleges and museums, came orders for sucharticles as a bale of bats hair, a smear of porpoise blood, humanskeletons. When in 1885 P. T. Barnum's celebrated elephant Jumbo,met death charging a locomotive head on at St. Thomas, Ont., theshowman commissioned Ward to mount the huge beast.
=Among his pupils were young men who later became famous,among them Carl Akeley, big game hunter-naturalist, who came toWard's, a country lad from Orleans County, and Dr. William T.Hornaday, for years director of the New York Zoo.
=In 1887 Ward began his collection of meteorites, a field onwhich he concentrated until his death. His quest took him to theends of the earth. Despite his unpredictable, unconventional ways,his sound scholarship was widely recognized and the American Museum of Natural History in New York and the Field Museum inChicago sought his advice and services.
=Still the legends clustered about him. One tale is that when thevessel bringing his specimens to America caught fire off the Carolina coast and the captain was about to abandon ship, Ward sat onhis treasures, pointed a gun at the skipper and ordered him to makefor port. Another is that once South African soldiers chased himfrom the jungles to the coast when he was taking an iron meteoriteout of the country.
=Death came to Henry Augustus Ward at the age of 72 in 1906-in a Buffalo street. The man who had braved the perils of jungle, desert and savage tribes was fatally injured by an automobile.
* * * * *
=No legends and little glamour surround the slight figure ofLewis Henry Morgan. He was a painstaking, profound scholarwithout any Hair for the spectacular. Yet history must record theethnologist as one of the greatest of Rochesterians.
=A versatile man was the slender, blue-eyed, red-bearded scholarwith the mystical temperament of his Welsh ancestry, who livedmost of his adult life in Rochester and who published here in 1881,"The League of the Iroquois," considered the standard work on theSix Nations.
=Morgan got his material first hand. As a lad in his nativeCayuga County, he played with Indian boys, for in the 1820's someof the tribesmen still dwelt in the Finger Lakes country. Later on,after his graduation from Union College, he lived for months among the Redskins, studying their customs and history. He wasadopted into the tribe. Morgan was a lawyer and a legislator, aswell as an ethnologist and pleaded the Indians' cause in the courtsand in the State Legislature.
=He was a naturalist and a sociologist, too, as his books, "TheAmerican Beaver" and his "Ancient Society," which traces man'sprogess from savagery to civilization, attest. Twenty years' researchwent into the latter volume.
=When Morgan died in 1881 at the age of 63 in the house at Troup and Fitzhugh Streets where stands an historical marker today, he bequeathed $80,000 for the education of women at the University of Rochester. Two decades passed before the co-eds were admitted.
* * * * *
=On clear nights, even in the dead of winter, back in the 1870's, a bearded man in his forties might be seen sprawled in an alley off Ambrose Street, peering at the heavens through a clumsy, homemade telescope.
=His name was Lewis Swift, born in Clarkson in 1829, and hewas a neighborhood hardware merchant by day and an astronomerby night One of the owners of the Duffy cider mill at Lake Avenueand White Street heard of the alley star-gazer and offered Swift theuse of the mill roof. There through five years the scientist spentmost of his nights scanning the firmament and there he discoveredsix comets.
=His achievements stirred the world of science and Rochester became quite proud of her noted astronomer and took all her scientific problems to him. In the early days of baseball the sage decreed a curve ball was impossible but reversed his decision after seeing a demonstration along a stone wall.
=Then in 1879 Swift acquired a wealthy patron, H. H. Warner,the patent medicine man, then a rising star in the business world.Warner in 1882 built for the use of the scientist a stone observatoryand residence at the corner of East Avenue and Arnold Park. It cost$100,000 and was called the finest private observatory in the world.
=Warner's gift was contingent on the public raising funds toequip the building. Over $13,000 was subscribed and a telescope,22 feet long and weighing three tons, was installed. There Swiftdiscovered hundreds of nebulae and several comets.
=In 1893 the financial skyrocket of H. H. Warner crashed asspectacularly as it had risen and Swift moved his equipment to LoweObservatory on Echo Mountain in Southern California. There's astory that the big telescope was sneaked out of town over night byflat car to avert its seizure by Warner's creditors.
=The windows of the vacant stone structure on the Avenue wereboarded up, spiders spun their webs where Lewis Swift had livedand worked and shortly the residence was razed. But the bullet.headed observatory, like a tower of the medieval ages, lingered onthe scene until 1931, a well remembered landmark.
=Failing eyesight forced Swift's retirement in 1901. He died in1913. During his long lifetime many honors came to him, amongthem a doctor of philosophy degree from the University of Roch-ester and a prize from the French Academy of Science.
=And once he had lain in an alley, his hands so numb with coldthey could hardly grasp the crude telescope they had built.
* * * * *
=Over a century ago a young man would slouch for hours in a flat-bottomed boat in the Genesee River near the Lower Falls, hishead over the water, seemingly asleep. Neighbors at Carthage, where his father kept a hotel, used tocall him "The Lazy Boy of the Genesee." But Seth Green was notasleep. Nor was he aimlessly gazing into the water. He was studying fish life and later on the world knew him as "The Father of FishCulture."
=It's probably a legend but the story goes that Green conceivedthe idea of artificial propagation of fish while working in a FrontStreet fish market. Be that as it may, he studied means of protectingthe spawn of salmon from the male fish that consumed it and thatled to his successful pioneering artificial impregnation of dry spawnin 1864.
=He began the propagation of fish in his trout ponds at Caledonia and attracted wide attention. In 1867 the fish commissioners of New England invited him to experiment in their streams. At Holyoke, Mass., commercial fishermen, fearing his intrusion, broke his nets and hindered his work in every way. Still he succeeded in hatching 15 million shad in a fortnight, quadrupling the normal population of the Connecticut River.
=Green stocked the Hudson and Potomac Rivers and otherstreams and lakes. He introduced shad into Pacific waters. In 1868he was named one of New York state's fish commissioners and thestate purchased his hatchery at Caledonia, still in its possession.
=Green was a mighty angler himself, a member of the Birds andWorms Club, and developed at Lake Keuka the Seth Green rig, 300feet long, with six leaders to which were attached three treble ganghooks. Conservation laws were not what they are today.
=Before he died in 1888 at the age of 71, he had written severalbooks on piscatorial subjects, he had hatched the spawn of 20kinds of fish and hybridized many others; he had received medalsfrom foreign lands and scientific societies. Fishermen the worldover blessed his name.
=A few aged Rochesterians may remember Seth Green, a SantaClaus-like figure, with his white beard and ruddy face under a coonskin cap, driving a fleet-footed mare, in the "Jingle Bells" era of the1880's when cutter races were held out East Avenue on frosty Sundays.
* * * * *
="Let George do it," Remember that catch phrase of yesteryear?
Here beside the Genesee it was not just a phrase. It was a fact.
Rochester for so long "let a George do it" that some folks-outsiders-got to calling the city "George Eastman's town,"
=And when it came to politics, Rochester let another "George doit" for nearly four decades.
=That other George was George Washington Aldridge and virtually from his first taste of public office in 1883 up to his death in 1922, he carried the political destinies of city and county in the pocket of his well-cut vest.
=Other political bosses have come and gone but the stalwart figure of "The Big Fellow" still casts a mighty shadow in the city he ruled so long.
=He was no ordinary local boss. He was a gifted political leader,His influence extended into state and national spheres. He madeMonroe the banner Republican county of the state. His organizationseldom knew defeat.
=After death lifted his hands from the controls, the well nighinvincible machine he had built and manipulated so smoothly beganto creak and backfire within months and in a decade it fell apartin the wilderness of defeat.
=No ruler ever had more loyal or more obedient subjects. Today, 24 years after the boss fell dead on the golf links at Rye, theremnants of his Old Guard, the grizzled veterans who as young menwere the lieutenants and the armor bearers of his host, still speak oftheir leader in reverential tones and always as "Mr. Aldridge." Andevery Election Day and every anniversary of his birth, three or fourof them make a solemn pilgrimage to the grave of their old commander in Mount Hope.
=Because the carnation was his favorite flower and that of thePresident he most admired, William McKinley, every New Year'sDay in Rochester sees the blooms on the coat lapels of thousandsof the faithful who line up to shake their leader's hand, a customthat began with Aldridge 42 years ago.
=Few political bosses have inspired such traditions.
=George Aldridge was born in Michigan City, Ind., in 1856. Hecame here to live as a child. He was reared in an atmosphere of politics for his father, also named George W., was an alderman and acontractor.
=Young Aldridge tasted defeat in his first bid for office. Hewas shooting high for a youth of 24 when in 1880 he sought a placeon the City Executive Board, a triumvirate that virtually ran thetown, controlling the patronage and expenditures of the city departments. In 1883 Aldridge tried again for the Board and won.
=Armed with patronage, he began building a personal machine.He was a fine figure of a man, tall, powerfully built, ruddy faced,affable yet with a dignity that repelled undue familiarity. He drewhis support from many elements; from the Masonic fraternity inwhich he was active; from the ward heelers with whom he mingledin corner saloons, Particularly he gathered young men about hisbanner, Democrats as well as Republicans. Some switched theirparty affiliation. Others did not. Aldridge found it handy at electiontime to have office-holding Democrats who were loyal to him, Thosesatellites became known as "Aldridge Democrats" and there weremany such during the boss' long reign.
="The Big Fellow" conferred favors and jobs and he expectedloyalty and votes in return. He kept his finger on every district inevery ward, That was the key to his success. He may not have beenoverscrupulous in his methods. Politics was no parlor game and heplayed it according to the existing rules-and generally he won. Hehad a reputation for keeping his word and for taking care of "hisboys." Soon after his election to the City Board, he was the su-preme power in local politics and he never relinquished that controlas long as he lived.
=Mayors, judges, legislators took their orders from him. Had henot put them there? He had no use for reformers and usually linedup with the Old Guard but he could trim his sails, could compromiseor withdraw gracefully when he saw the tides were against him. "Ifyou can't beat 'em, join 'em," was one of his maxims.
=Clement G. Lanni in his penetrating book, "George W. Aldridge, Big Boss, Small City," summed up The Big Fellow's ruleover Rochester in these words:
="He gave the best kind of government he was forced to give."
* * * * *
=In 1894 he got himself elected mayor and raised the salary ofthat office. He was commanding the attention of state politicos forhe had a fat sheaf of votes in hand when trade winds were blowingin state convention halls.
=After serving a year as mayor he resigned to grab the juicy po-litical plum of the state superintendency of public works. At theend of his five years in that post, there was an investigation of hisexpenditures. Governor Teddy Roosevelt gave the verdict. "Nocause for complaint," The Aldridge followers who manned canallocks across the state had no cause for complaint either. Aldridgetook care of "his boys."
=In 1896 he was a formidable candidate for the gubernatorialnomination.
=In 1910 he suffered a humiliating personal defeat. He madethe mistake of seeking a seat in Congress himself although he knewa boss is always vulnerable at the polling place. The reform elementjoined with disgruntled Republicans and the Democrats against him.Then, in the midst of a campaign that was exceptionally savage,there appeared in the enemy press a facsimile of a check for $1,000.It was drawn by a fire insurance broker whose company, amongothers, had been under state investigation; The check was made outto and had been endorsed and cashed by none other than George W.Aldridge. The leader maintained it was a gift to the party, not tohim personally. At any rate, the voters gave Aidridge a sound whipping and sent James S. Havens, a Democrat, to Congress.
=Aldridge never ran for office again but his defeat did not affecthis grip on the party machinery one iota. His power waxed with theyears and he became invested, so far as the public was concerned,with an aura of mystery and aloofness like some Oriental highpriest.
=With a fine sense of the dramatic, Boss Aldridge would keepthe nominating slate a secret, not shared even with those whosenames were upon it, until the day of the annual Supervisors' picnic at Newport on Irondequoit Bay. After he had arrived, amid a cloudof dust and a wave of cheers, in the limousine of his crony andneighbor, P. V. Crittenden, and while hundreds hung upon his fateful words, he would take his stance under a great willow, always thesame one, and after saying (with a straight face) "The sentimentseems to favor," would read off the ticket he had chosen.
=He delighted in the torchlight parades of the old marching clubdays and reviewed his Republicans from his residence in PlymouthAvenue South.
=Aldridge derived a considerable income from the presidencyof a clay and cement corporation. He lived well. He maintained anextensive wardrobe, dressed impeccably, always with the carnationin his buttonhole. He was a lavish spender and ran up enormoustaxicab and telephone bills. There was nothing petty about "TheBig Fellow."
* * * * *
=Months before the 1920 national Republican convention, he attached himself to the candidacy of Senator Harding of Ohio, seemingly the darkest of "dark horses." He and his Man Friday, JamesL. Hotchkiss, voted for Harding on every ballot at Chicago. Afterthe Ohio editor had been nominated by virtue of the famous "smoke-filled room" session and later elected President, Harding rewardedthe Rochester boss for his loyalty. He gave Aldridge a rich political prize, the collectorship of the port of New York.
=On June 13, 1922, while the Collector of the Port was playinggolf at the Westchester Biltmore Club in a foursome that includedCharles D. Wiles, national GOP committeeman from New York, hefell dead in the ninth fairway, stricken with a heart attack.
=The news rocked Rochester. "The King was dead!" Aldridge'shenchmen wept openly and unashamed. Two of them, Hotchkissand Charles R. Barnes, hastened eastward to bring back the body oftheir fallen captain.
=While George Aldridge lay in state in the Courthouse he hadruled so long, a tottering old man was literally carried before thebier, Hiram H. Edgerton, whom Aldridge had elected mayor ofRochester seven times, had risen from his death bed to gaze for thelast time upon his friend and chieftain. "Goodbye, old pal, myheart is broken," he sobbed.
=Four days later Edgerton joined his leader in death.
=Today's Republican legions-and there are few left amongthem of the "Big Fellow's" old command-visiting their headquarters, see upon the wall a large picture of Aldridge and Edgerton,like a general and his aide reviewing their troops. Above the picture is a card on which is written:
="Pals to the end."
* * * * *
="See that mansion with all the grounds? That's where GeorgeEASTMAN lives. He's a bachelor and he has 30 servants, a greatpipe organ that his private organist plays for him at breakfast; aconservatory with all kinds of rare plants and flowers; paintingsworth a fortune. And his own cattle and poultry right on thegrounds.
="That temple-like edifice? That's the Eastman Theater andSchool of Music. George EASTMAN gave it . . .
="That building is the Chamber of Commerce. George EASTMAN gave it . . .
="That's the Dental Dispensary where school children get freedental care. George EASTMAN gave it . . .
="That beautiful park by the lake? That's Durand-Bastman Park. George EASTMAN was co-donor . . .
="That skyscraper with the tower? That's the main offices of the EASTMAN Kodak Company. Our biggest industry. Employs thousands . . .
="Those acres of factory buildings? That's Kodak Park, the EASTMAN film plant. Has its own fire department, hospital, railroad, streets-A city in itself . . ."
* * * * *
=I remember in early March of 1932 showing the sights ofRochester to an elderly man from out of town. After the constantrepetition of the name Eastman during the tour, he remarked:
="What would Rochester be without this man Eastman ?"
=The obvious answer was that it would still be a fine, big town,but that because of "this man Eastman," it was a finer, bigger town.
=The visitor, a hale old man, not overly blessed with the world'sgoods despite a lifetime of toil, spoke with a trace of envy in hisvoice of the fortunate lot of that other old man, with his palatialhome, his fortune, his power and prestige.
=He did not know that the Kodak King he envied was then atired, ill, lonely old man without wife or child, who must havewondered in his heart how many of those who made obeisancereally cared for him as a man, how many were mere palace sycophants.
=The hale old man from out of town could not possibly knowthat the man of millions, fearing he was doomed to a life ofhelpless invalidism, was even then planning, in his precise, efficientway, the stopping of the clock of his own existence.
=George Eastman, trim, straight shouldered, medium built,whose features bespoke his Yankee ancestry, whose seeming austerity hid a great shyness, felt that his house was in order. Themighty industry he had founded was in capable hands. His far-flung philanthropies were on firm foundations. The theater experiment had not turned out according to plan but the music school wasan established success.
=Eight years before in a national magazine he had stated his philosophy:
="If a man has wealth, he has to make a choice because thereis the money heaping up. He can keep it together in a bunch andthen leave it for others to administer after he is dead. Or he canget it into action and have fun while he is alive. . . It is morefun to give money than to will it."
=He had given 100 millions, wisely and carefully. Of his for.tune some 21 millions remained and the bulk of that was to go tothe University of his home city. It had been fun giving away thosemillions.
=But now he was so tired. And there was the pain and alwaysthe dread of useless years ahead. He knew he never again wouldstalk big game, never again cook his own meals in the open or sharethe good talk around the camp fire.
=Perhaps, on that blustery, chill 14th day of March, 1932, a daythat Rochester will never forget, before George Eastman retired tohis room "to write a note," the years passed in review before hiseyes-like the unwinding of a long film from the spool of his life.
=There were fragmentary memories of his early boyhood inWaterville among the Oneida hills . . . of his coming in 1860, aboy of six to live in the mill town of Rochester where his fatheroperated one of the first business colleges in America . . . of thegrief when his father died two years later, leaving no estate . . . the hard days when the mother had to take in boarders and everypenny counted, when there was instilled in the boy's heart the fearof poverty that obsessed his formative years.
=Memories of his first job when a frail lad of 14 he was a $3 a week errand boy for a real estate agent in the old Arcade . . . his first interest in photography when he bought a few pictures and frames out of his savings . . . his first interest in music when he purchased a flute on the installment plan but never could master a tune . . . his 17th birthday when he bought his first tools and work bench . . . the proud new job as a junior bookkeeper in the Rochester Savings Bank.
=There was the day in 1874 when he bought $94 worth of photographic equipment and began taking pictures, lugging along a camera of soap box size, a tripod, a dark tent, a nitrate bath and a water holder . . . the beginning of his study, with his mother's kitchen sink his laboratory, of ways of making sensitive gelatine emulsion in which glass plates could be coated and used when dry so picture-takers would not have to be pack horses . . . the long nights he spent experimenting and the long days he fought off sleep on his bookkeeper's stool.
=Then his first success when he built a machine for coatingplates, drew $400 from his hoard, went to England and got a patent there . . . then the American patent and the setting up of businesswith six hands in a State Street loft after a boarder in his mother'shome, a whip manufacturer named Henry A. Strong, became a partner of his young friend, "Skinny," and put $1,000 in the Eastman Dry Plate Company.
=Years of competition, struggle, setbacks . . . that time when he had to replace thousands of defective plates . . . those nights he slept in a hammock in the factory and often cooked his meals there . . . the constant experimenting that finally evolved transparent, flexible film and the roll holder . . . then in 1888 the easy-to-handle box camera he called the Kodak and the advertising campaign whose slogan "You press the button and we do the rest" became a household word-and almost everybody began taking pictures.
=There were years when his business was his life . . . "the money heaped up" and those who had failed to buy Kodak stock in the beginning cursed their timidity . . . the building of theKodak Park film plant "way out in the Town of Greece" . . . themaking of the world's first strip of positive motion picture film forcommercial use, the association with the wizard, Edison, the birthof the movies and a lush new day for Eastman Kodak with the factories humming day and night here and in Harrow, England.
="The money heaping up," more money than any bachelorwould ever need . . . the gift under the name of "Mr. Smith,"whose identity was not revealed for eight years, of two and one-half millions to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology which had sent so many bright young men to Kodak . . . the long patent litigation, then the trust busters of the Wilson administration whosplit up his company and he fought them tooth and nail because herejected their ideology that big business, because it was big, wasnecessarily evil.
=Then the World War and he plowed up his lawns to raisevegetables; he let the rare plants freeze in his conservatory ratherthan waste precious fuel upon them; he led Liberty Loan drives,denounced "slacker dollars" and founded the War Chest whichbecame the peacetime Community Chest . . . a growing sense ofcivic responsibility, systematic plans for giving away his fortune, formaking his company progressive as well as sound and prosperous emergence as Rochester's "First Citizen," hob nobbing with notables at home and abroad . . . more time for travel, for recreation,for musicales in his East Avenue mansion, for planning the dispersal of his wealth.
="Doing it for Rochester" . . . establishing the Bureau of Municipal Research, leading the successful fight for city manager government, launching the plan for a Civic Center "over the river" . . . vast gifts to U. of R., MIT, and the Negro schools, Hampton and Tuskegee, founding of dental clinics in London, Brussels, Rome, Paris and Stockholm . . . the great experiment in" the enrichmentof community life" centered about the Theater, the School of Musicand the Philharmonic Orchestra . . . the experiment whereby thepublic was to absorb an appreciation of good music through themedia of high grade motion pictures and a superb orchestra in an$8,000,000 "temple of music" . . . the public was not ready for sosudden an infusion of culture, Hollywood had its hatchets out andthe public preferred the other type of movies . . . so the silverscreen in time faded out but the fine school and orchestra and thesplendid auditorium where the people of his city could hear thebest music-they would endure long after he was gone . . . pleasant interludes of hunting in Africa and Alaska, winters at theNorth Carolina lodge, musicales and receptions in the mansion,famous guests, Edison, Pershing, Mary Garden . . . retirement fromactive direction of the company . . . adulation and honors for whichthe shy man cared little . . .
=Now the loneliness and the pain and the dark foreboding.
* * * * *
=Head erect, with firm tread, George Eastman marched into hisbedroom that March day, saying "I have a note to write." A shot was heard. Servants rushed in, too late. Their masterwas dead. He had carried out his last act on earth with the sameexact efficiency that had marked every act of his 77 years.
=They found the note, signed with those potent initials, "G.E."
=It was a masterpiece of simplicity:
="My work is done. Why wait?"
THE Ward, THE Avenue, THE Street
ONCE upon a time, the Third Ward was a peninsula. On theeast was the Genesee River; on the north the Erie Canal andon the west the Genesee Valley Canal.
=In a social sense, also it was a peninsula and the waterwayswere its baronial moats.
=The canals are gone but the river is still there-and so isTHE Ward although, like the old gray mare, it's not what it usedto be. But what is?
=Maybe you think a ward is only a line on the city map; apolitical division, of import only on one November night each yearwhen anxious-eyed men squint through a smoke haze at rows offigures taken from the backs of voting machines.
=A ward is much more than that. Often it is a closely knitcommunity, with its own personality and traditions; a little citywithin the city.
=Of Rochester's two dozen wards the old Third, to my mind, isthe most distinctive.
="The Ruffled Shirt Ward" they called it because "The QualityFolk" lived there. It was the principality of "The Old Families." It was Rochester's Back Bay.
=More than that it was a way of life that was gracious, urbane,unhurried and altogether charming and that is gone forever.
=THE Ward is a symbol, too, of the transition of a city, of itsmarch, commercially and socially, across a river in the immemorialconflict between East and West.
* * * * *
=Today the ruffled shirt, once so starched and spotless, is mussedand its bosom is a little limp and its cuffs frayed at the edges.
=Few of the Old Families live today in the stately homes theirfathers built under spreading trees behind iron fences and whitepickets. They were staunch and comfortable, built for large families,with big, high-ceilinged rooms and broad stairways. Some of theold homes have been torn down. Many mansions have been converted into apartments, churches, offices of civic organizations andthe like.
=People live and work in them who are not of THE Ward andknow naught of its traditions. Yet these newcomers cannot helpbut feel the spell of an old regime, the warm charm, the rich dignitythat invest that neighborhood.
=Every stately pillar, every roomy dining room, every exquisitewhite mantel tell of the good taste, the good living, the good manners, the lack of ostentation, the open-handed hospitality and theneighborliness that was the Third Ward. Clannishness dwelt there,too, and an aloofness and ancestor worship that was not altogetheradmirable. But all that is departed and the fading charm of lavenderand old lace, the "tender grace of a day that is dead," remain.
* * * * *
=When the mill town was very young the Third Ward became the abode of its elect.
=Nathaniel Rochester set the style when he built in 1824 acomfortable brick residence at Spring and Washington streets on thesite now occupied by the Bevier Building of the Rochester Instituteof Technology.
=His sons built in THE Ward and his son-in-law, JonathanChild, erected the noble, many columned mansion at Broad andWashington streets that now is the Fourth Church of Christ,Scientist.
=The newly prosperous millers and owners of canal boats, themerchants, the professional men of the booming town followed suit and there arose, between 1820 and 1840, lovely Greek Revivalhomes on the streets whose very names bespeak their consequence.Troup, Washington, Plymouth, Fitzhugh, Spring, and especiallyLivingston Park.
=An aristocratic tradition took root. Men of THE Ward wentto the Legislature, to the financial capital in Wall Street, on diplomatic missions abroad and they waved farewell from the decks ofgaily painted packet boats to their ladies in their shawls and trailinggowns who waved back from the high bridge over the canal atWashington Street.
=So THE Ward became the "peninsula of the Ruffled Shirts,"dominating Rochester's social world for more than half a century.
=Wealth alone never unlocked the sacred portals. Family waswhat counted. A Third Warder, Charles Mulford Robinson, thecity planner, once wrote that "one became a Third Warder only bybirth, marriage or immemorial usage." He also painted this penpicture of life there:
="It is worthwhile to be sick in the Third Ward for the test ofits friendliness . . . the dainties which the mistress cooks shower onone, the books that come out of its private libraries, the flowersfrom its spacious gardens and the stream of inquiries at the door.
="Ostentation is frowned upon in the Third Ward. It wouldbe foolish there for if it were not justified, it would not misleadand if it is justified, it is not needed. The living is simple and wholesome in the lack of display. The great balls are not there . . ."
* * * * *
=On a crisp January morn in 1813, Seneca Indians from their fivesmall encampments on the fringes of the village gathered for theirlast Sacrifice of the White Dog, a pagan rite marking the end ofthe hunt. The site they chose for this farewell ceremony in Rochester was significant. It was Livingston Park.
=Today that short stretch is the last outpost of the old patricianorder of the palefaces. There is no street like it in all Rochester.Until recently it was not a public thoroughfare at all. It was a private parkway maintained by abutting property owners.
=It was named after James K. Livingston, a pioneer miller. Itwas and is the heart of THE Ward. Once the gates of the narrowroadway flanked by cement entrances, were closed and locked everyevening and every Sabbath. In the center was a circle, guarded byan iron deer, where the coachmen turned their carriages around. Onthe green, residents sometimes served a community supper behindthe barred gates.
=There some of the finest homes of THE Ward were built. Twoin particular survive although they are no longer residences. Oneis the former Livingston Park Seminary, long a select school foryoung ladies, now a Gospel Tabernacle. The other is the chapterhouse of the Daughters of the American Revolution, built by HerveyEly in the 1820's.
=The iron deer and the crouching lion are gone from the lawns,only one or two families of THE Ward's "Old Guard" live on thepark, which is like a green isle in a sullen muddy sea; a serene oasisin a desert of noise and smoke. As if by magic it is set apart, a littlecorner of the long ago, exquisite, dainty.
=There are many landmarks in the "Ruffled Shirt" Ward-theCampbell-Whittelsey house at Troup and Fitzhugh, preserved as amuseum, the antiquarian's delight . . . the Chapin mansion nearby,now the Greek church . . . the Potter homestead at the old IndianSpring, now a club house for the policemen's social organization . . . the brick Bricknell house in Spring Street, oldest in THE Ward, nowa grill . . . the pillared one-time private seminary that is now theFitzhugh Hotel.
=And there's the 122-year-old General Gould place at Springand Fitzhugh's northwest corner with its ornamental iron fence. Apiece was torn from that fence nearly a century ago when the horses drawing Martin Van Buren's carriage ran away and it never has beenreplaced.
* * * * *
=And "Kimball Castle" on the hill at Troup and Clarissa, nowa splendid, rambling ruin, a white elephant on the city's hands. William S. Kimball, the tobacco magnate built it 70 years go. Ithoused a private art gallery, an orchid house, the world's finestcollection of pepper boxes, a pipe organ in a specially constructedmusic gallery. Its walls were swathed in red velvet, its floors in thethickest of Oriental rugs. There were thoroughbred horses in thestables; deft-handed Japanese in the servants' quarters.
=It did not seem to belong to THE Ward at all. It was too pretentious, too magnificent. It was not in keeping with THE Ward'straditions of tasteful simplicity.
=THE Ward gave cultural tone to Rochester because some ofthe earliest literary societies were founded there. Learned men livedin the Third, among them Lewis H. Morgan, one of America's foremost ethnologists. Several charitable organizations had their inception in THE Ward. The Genesee Valley Club began life there. It had political significance as the home bailliwick of Boss George W. Aldridge.
=Leonard Jerome once lived in Fitzhugh Street and the housestill stands. Some like to believe that his daughter, Jenny, themother of Winston Churchill, was born there, although LadyChurchill in her autobiography, made the flat statement that "I wasborn in Brooklyn, N. Y."
=General Billy Mitchell married a daughter of THE Ward, Caroline Stoddard, in a ceremony of military glitter.
=And a Britisher named Rudyard Kipling, who wrote somewidely quoted lines about "East and West," married an erstwhileWarder although he never saw Caroline Baleister's home townwhich for years seethed with its own clash of "East and West" withthe Genesee as the line of demarcation.
* * * * *
=That conflict really began in the 1860's when the Universityof Rochester moved to the East Side. People became interested in thenew development "way out in the country" and the East Side socialcolony, with East Avenue as its hub, was born.
=The Wards and the Seldens already had been long establishedin "The Grove" in the present Grove-Gibbs Street section, then onthe "far" East Side.
=THE Ward, at first scornful of its upstart rival, had to sit upand take notice in the 1870's when two of the city's richest men,Hiram Sibley and Daniel Powers, took up residence on THE Avenue.
=Rochester was feeling her economic oats and other men whowere making fortunes in a time of great national expansion builton the East Side. There were defections in Third Ward ranks although it must be said that those expatriates retained a sentimentalattachment for their old "peninsula."
=Tied in with the Third Ward's battle to keep its social supremacy was the Four Corner's desperate stand against the ever growingthreat of the East Side as a commercial center.
=In 1884, while the orchestrion throbbed in the million dollarArt Gallery of his "Commercial Fire-proof Buildings," Dan Powerspredicted:
="The business center of Rochester 50 years from now will bejust where it is today-at the Four Corners. The city may push tothe eastward as a place for residences but the business center is asfixed . . . as the river."
=He was no prophet or was he merely whistling in the dark? Forthe march to the East never faltered. Probably the removal of theCentral Station was the most cruel blow to West Side hopes.
=After Daniel Powers was dead, the Duffy interests took up theWest Side banner, building a fine hotel, The Rochester, to match theEast Side's fine new Seneca, and a department store to challengethose in the newer shopping district. It was no use. As is so evidenttoday, the East Side won, decisively.
* * * * *
=The social rivalry reached its apogee in the late 90's. It is recalled, that when tickets for Music Hall concerts were placed onsale, they were split into two sets. One batch was offered at a storenear the Four Corners, the other at a store near the Seven Corners,by which name the junction of Main, North, Franklin and ElmStreets and East Avenue was known-but not for long.
=So when the concert curtain rose, the East Side was on one sideof the center aisle and the West Side on the other, even as Democrats and Republicans are segregated in the halls of Congress.
=Slowly the Third Ward gave ground. Death took some of itsstaunchest defenders and their heirs sold the old homes. More andmore of the old families packed up and crossed the river. IsaacTeall, caterer to the elite, moved with them, which was significant.By the time the automobile had changed the whole pattern of American life, THE Avenue, favored by changing times and bolstered bynew made fortunes, was the undisputed victor.
* * * * *
=East Avenue goes back in history to 1880, when a crude roadwas built through the forest and along the swamps from the OrringhStone Tavern near Council Rock to the falls of the Genesee. That tavern still stands, now a private residence, the oldest in the vicinity. It was built in 1790.
It was an important road the pioneers built for it linked the new falls settlement to Canandaigua, capital of the frontier. First it was known as the River Road. Then it bore the successive names of Blossom Road, Pittsford Street, and for no good reason, Main Street.
=Tired of the anomaly of two intersecting Main streets, the Josiah Bissells, father and son, land owners along the street, aided by one Ward Smith, took matters in their own hands and in the early 1880's; put up "East Avenue" signs at every corner. The name stuck.
=The East Side social colony began to flower and East Avenue, once a bumpy trail, became the broad street under arching trees that is the city's pride.
=It became the royal road to Rochester's Mayfair, which was more complex, showier, more opulent, more populous than ever the "Ruffled Shirt " colony had been. Where THE Ward was lavender and old lace, THE Avenue was purple and fine linen.
* * * * *
=East Avenue became a proud and a fashionable street, a street of ornate, sometimes rococo, brownstone mansions with turrets, grill work, all the Victorian trimmings, where stone animals mount- ed guard at the gates; a street of elaborate formal gardens, con- servatories and wide sweeps of lawn; where bright lights shone from great ball-rooms; THE Avenue of the proud names that went with the princely fortunes that Kodak and Western Union and real estate and mortgages and bonds and mines had built; THE Avenue of the Sibleys, the Powereses, the Perkinses, the Hollisters-and of George Eastman who had been a bank clerk.
=To Rochester there is but one "Avenue." Really the august street is divided into three parts. From Main to Alexander it is a lane ofswank shops, hotels, clubs, automobile salesrooms and in these laterdays not a few saloons. From Alexander to Culver is the "old"Avenue, the one that is meeting much the same fate that befell theThird Ward. From Culver Road eastward it has retained its elegance and around that section is Rothester's Mayfair today.
=A deadline was set at Alexander Street beyond which commercemust not pass. When less than 15 years ago, an attempt was madeto teat down the zoning barriers, THE Avenue moved on City Hallin indignant protest and Harper Sibley told a public hearing that:"East Avenue is the finest residential street in America and we intend to keep it so."
=Last summer civic-minded members of the Junior Chamber ofCommerce were mowing the tall weeds on THE Avenue's 15 vacantlots so that visitors would not get an unfavorable impression of "thefinest residential street in America."
=Death and taxes, a formidable team, have combined to dim theluster of the Alexander-Culver segment. Many of the old ownersdied and their heirs did not care either to live in or heat the hugecastle-like structures nor to shoulder their heavy burden of taxation.Besides, in many cases they had their own more modern residencesout in the newer suburban areas.
=So many of the old mansions were razed, at least a dozen in thelast decade. Seldom were they replaced. That's why the Jaycees wentweed-cutting. At the Goodman Street corner are FOUR vacant lots.
=Other old homes have been cut up into apartments and roominghouses. Many have been sold or given to clubs or organizations. TheGeorgian mansion that was George Eastman's is the residence of thepresident of the University. The noble former Erickson Perkinshome is the Genesee Valley Club. Lovely Woodside, where theErnest R. Willards lived, is the home of the Historical Society.Edward Bausch gave his residence that a fine museum might adornTHE Avenue.
=And so it goes. It was the same story in the Third Ward.
=This is not a requiem for East Avenue, still a grand thoroughfare despite the changes time has wrought. There still are manystately homes about which flows much of the city's social life. Nothing can take away the grandeur of the fine old trees whose branchesmeet like a benediction over the broad street.
=THE Avenue like THE Ward, has its traditions, its memories.Above the wreckers' ax one hears the merry jingle of sleigh bells,the crisp crackle of snow under steel runners; as in the olden days ofSunday "bob" races.
=Again the shuffle of dancing feet in lofty ballrooms that longago were torn down; the crack of a coachman's whip; the slither ofthe tires of Mrs. Warham Whitney's electric on wet pavement; J.Foster Warner driving his open car like the wind in which his whitebeard floated; the Easter fashion parades through the years; thechurch bells calling the frock coats, the striped trousers, the highhats to pews in which their father sat.
="The old order changeth, yielding place to new."
* * * * *
=It's not a long street, only four blocks between "the main stem" and the Central tracks.
=It has never been called handsome or distinguished. It's moreon the musty, cluttered side. On the other hand it has never beencalled dull. In Rochester it's THE Street-because it is differentfrom all the rest.
=It's old, old as the town itself. In the beginning it was MasonStreet on Nathaniel Rochester's 100-Acre Tract and named for EzraMason, who settled here in 1811. For a little while it was MarketStreet.
=But for 109 years now it has been Front Street. Wordsmiths of the Fourth Estate have dubbed it "The Bowery of Western New York" and "The Street of the Hopeless Men," Those men them selves call it "Skid Row."
* * * * *
=THE Street has seen many changes but in one respect it has never changed through all the years. The other day on Front Street I heard a familiar sound. It was the high, peremptory crow of a rooster-in a crate on the curb. It was symbolic. From pioneer days Front Street has been a market place, a provision center, where generations of Rochesterians have gone for meat, for poultry, for fish. They have gone there too to have keys made, shears and knives sharpened-and sometimes to pawn their jewelry.
=Before the Genesee was tamed, THE Street bore the brunt of the big floods. After the waters had receded and the rowboats were put away, driftwood and debris littered the cobblestones.
=For many years human flotsam and jetsam have been washed up on that same "beach," Only most folks just call them "the bums."
=But Front Street primarily is a business artery, right in the city's heart. Its marketplace tradition goes back to the early time when it was Mason Street and a sandy beach stretched along the river. On the Main Street corner stood the village's first public market, a collection of crude stalls, that eventually fell into the river.
=Prior to 1827, the New Market, surpassed only by Boston's was built opposite Market Street. Its facade was embellished by a carved wooden ox and it contained rooms for the militia. It was put over the river because Genesee water was handy for flushing out the stalls.
=Then there was the City Building whose presence gave THE Street tone. Oldtimers refer to it as simply "the fire house." It housed fire department headquarters, some city offices and meeting rooms for GAR posts. The building is still there opposite Market Street. Now it stands Hush with the sidewalk but in the old dayswhen the horses of Hook and Ladder No. 1 charged out of its doors,it was set back from the street. In 1907, after 33 years on FrontStreet, fire headquarters moved to the Central Avenue building thatright now is being remodeled into apartments.
=For years the main office of the gas company was at the Andrews corner. There the citizens paid their gas bills, Nearby was the"gas yard," storage place for piles of coke, wire reels, mains andother equipment.
=Well remembered is the Haymarket, north of the former playground site, at No. 118, with its big scales, the sheds where theteams "tied on the feed bags" while their owners were dickeringwith the hay buyers. Before the street railway was electrified, themajor buyer was the horse-car system. Sometimes the great drayschoked THE Street for blocks. The Haymarket, not the originalbuilding, but on the same site, lasted until 1920. By that time themotor age was entrenched and haymarkets were as passe as buggywhips and buffalo robes.
=In the heyday of the Haymarket, the 90's, there were 25 saloons on Front Street, 11 in one block, and they catered to the farmer trade. Sometimes rustics lingered overlong in the "bright lights" and woke in the gray dawn to find their pockets devoid of hay money.
=But that was only one facet of many-sided Front Street. Fordecades, as late as 1914, families, respectable, hardworking people,lived above the stores. Some of their sons achieved prominence inbusiness and professions. The city playground, maintained for years on the present Mission wood-yard site and directed by "The Angelof Front Street," Miss Bertha Servis, was a beneficent influence inshaping the lives of THE Street's youth.
=Since 1880 there has been a mission on Front Street, a havenfor the homeless. In 1889 the People's Rescue Mission was foundedby Albert E. Hines and it's still there. The present superintendent,Herbert F. Baker, conducts regular religious services and deploresthe many saloons still on the street. He has instituted an 11 p.m.curfew for his "guests."
* * * * *
=Always THE Street was of commercial significance, housingnot only saloons but some of the city's largest provision stores andother business houses, including always at least one excellent eatingplace.
=The hat and glove firm of John Taylor & Sons is "dean" ofthem, It has been there since 1860. At Number 36, where the signreads "Charles Adam & Sons, barber supplies, cutlery, and grinding." William Adam, who was born on Front Street in 1879, carries onthe business his father founded there 68 years ago.
=Adam has rich memories of bygone days in the neighborhood-of his friend, Rattlesnake Pete, and his famous showplace, of theLittle Casino and the Corinthian, all just around the corner; ofBuckley's Concert Hall at the Andrews Street corner and the oldEmpire Theater in the concert hall-vaudeville days; of Buffalo Billcoming on show days with some of his Indians to visit his friendBurkhalter; of the big flood of 1913 and wading out into the middleof the street in hip boots.
=Now the cobblestones are gone, along with the gas lights andthe Haymarket and THE Street is more sedate, especially by night,but there are those who remember the lurid era when they called it"The Bowery." Maybe that phase has been exaggerated but Saturday nights the clang of the patrol wagon was heard almost continuously as it made trip after trip. In those days the policemen in theirgray helmets, among them "Big Bill" Heinline, "Cap" Vaughan, Jim Scott and Tony Gabriel, patrolled THE Street in pairs.
=There are memories of the "Cheap John" clothing shops, ofthe merchants who "pulled in" their customers from the sidewalks;of Frogleg George and his mule and of white bearded Alex Carverwho fascinated bystanders as he cut out meat blocks for the butchersof Western New York with his trusty adz; of the "barber colleges"featuring nickel shaves and dime haircuts, where learners workedon the feckless denizens of THE Street.
* * * * *
=Front Street's pavement and sidewalks are crowded by daywith all kinds of people-prosperous provender shoppers in shinycars; middleclass householders and housewives on foot, seeking aSunday roast; anglers after fishing tackle; voluble truckmen delivering their wares.
=Watching the busy scene from the sidelines are the shambling idle men, the outcasts of "Skid Row." Once the colorful hoboes who "rode the rods" made Front Street a port of call. Now it's mostly the "regulars" whose faces the cops know well and the migrant workers who follow the shifting harvests.
=Many of them are merely stumbling, repulsive drunks. Others are glib panhandlers. A few are quiet elderly workingmen who haveno other home than the Mission. Among the faces are a few thatcommand a second glance. There's a latent spark in the somber eyes, something about the bearing, that suggests these men have knownbetter days.
=Two men of "Skid Row" were once assistant district attorneys-not in Monroe County. Another owned a 1,000-acre potato farm in Maine. He became a "bum" after his wife was killed in a tractor accident and his three motherless children died in the fire that devoured his farmhouse. Some have nicknames like Wooden Shoe Whitey, a native of Holland, and Utica Sticks, who has a wooden leg.
=No more gripping human interest story ever came out of THEStreet than the one of the talented, well-educated son of an Englishbaronet who some years ago landed on "Skid Row" and through the kindly help of the Mission, emerged from the shadows to becomeone of Rochester's most distinguished artists,
=Front Street's "Mayor," is Herbert Paddock but everybody callshim Paddy. After the death of Dave Solomon, whose business emblem was the three gilded balls, Paddy stepped into the mayor's chair. He fought with the Engineers overseas in World War I and after Pearl Harbor signed up as a civilian construction worker, served in the Aleutians and came home wearing a magnificent white beard-which he soon shaved off. He's head of the Rochester Tank of the Hoboes of America, whose "king," Jeff Davis, is his frequent guest on THE Street.
=Paddy's something of a showman. Eating glass is on his repertory. But he's no eccentric and seldom performs. He really is a well informed, articulate and affable chap, with an engaging boyish grin.
=And he's "mayor" of Rochester's most picturesque street, whosecoat of arms might well be a crowing rooster rampant on a field ofsackcloth and ashes.
"The Old Neighborhoods"
"JACK, do you remember the Halloween night the fat cop chased us and the clothesline caught you under the chin . . when wewere kids in the old neighborhood ?"
="Mary, do you remember the old lady in the corner house who used to give us cookies . . . when we were kids in the old neighborhood?"
=That sort of talk is bound to flow around the table-whether it be in a swank club or in a "diner" down by the tracks-whenever and wherever people meet who used to be "kids together in the old neighborhood." They may not have lived there for decades; they may seldom revisit the haunts of their youth but they keep going back in memory. For the bond of "the old neighborhood" is strong-like an "old school tie,"
=In Father Rochester's house there are many neighborhoods.You won't find them on the official map. Their boundariesare elastic. Some of them don't really exist any more. Their identitieshave been swallowed in the maw of the expanding city.
=New neighborhoods, busy, important ones, have sprung up.But this is about the older ones with picturesque names bestowedin the long ago. Names like Dutchtown, Dublin, and Cork tell ofthe nationalities that settled them although shifting populationtrends have changed their makeup. Bull's Head, Swillburg, ButterHole, the Rapids and the rest-each has its significance, its placein the Rochester tradition and in the hearts of those who "used tobe kids in the old neighborhood."
* * * * *
=When Rochesterville was only a huddle of cabins beside the falls, there was built-according to some historians, as early as 1813-a wooden tavern just west of the village on the road to Buffalo.
=It catered to the drovers who brought their livestock to marketover that rutty road and on its sign was painted the head of a bull.It became known far and wide as the Bull's Head Tavern advertising "entertainment for man and beast." To this day the areaadjacent to the intersection of West Main and Genesee Streets hasborne the colorful "Merrie Englandish" title of the Bull's Head.To many of her sons it is simply "The Head"-and they say it withaffection.
=Of all of the old neighborhoods, the Bull's Head is the hardiest.From the beginning it was an important crossroads. Today a thrivingcenter of trade, it has preserved ith vigorous individuality throughall the changing years-against a rich backdrop of tradition.
=One tale of the pioneer days concerns a salt-laden spring onan enclosure set aside, on the present St. Mary's Hospital site, forcattle bound for the Rochester market. The drovers let the beastsdrink their fill because the dash of salt in the water added materiallyto the weight of the cattle when they were led on the market scales.
=For a while the Bull's Head had its own cattle market, established in 1827 on the site of the recently razed St. Mary's Boys' Orphanage. The venture was not successful but one of the stone buildings of the old mart lingered on the scene for years.
=In the 1820's Francis Brown had a highway cut through thewoods to link his milling town of Frankfort with the road toBuffalo. That street bears his name today.
=A rival arose in 1830 at the Willowbank corner to challengethe Bull's Head Tavern for the custom of the drovers. It was calledLambs Tavern. Later it was remodeled into a residence and renamedWillowbank because of the trees on the terrace.
=In 1884 Lyman Granger had this legend carved on a stoneleading to the house: "Willowbank-1844-Better Go Up ThanDown." That stone is still there at the entrance to Willowbank. Alfred Wright, the perfumer, remodeled the building into the presentimposing residence. In recent years it has been a tourist home in the old hospitable tradition of "The Head." A few months agothe Liederkranz Club bought it and eventually the landmark willvanish from the scene.
=The 1850's were lively years at the Bull's Head. The tavern,called Field's then, was a mecca for sleighing parties from the city;an omnibus line ran from the Four Corners and Dr. Halstead wasoperating a water cure and a sanitarium, called Halstead Hall, onthe orphanage site.
=The Cross as a symbol of mercy was raised at the Bull's Headin 1857 when tile venerated Mother Hieronymo and three otherSisters of Charity established there Rochester's first hospital, St.Mary's. It began in a couple of old stone stables. They were soonovercrowded and in 1863 the indefatigable Mother Hieronymosaw a dream come true when the cornerstone was laid for the huge,fortress-like structure that still stands. During the Civil War, morethan 800 wounded and ill soldiers were cared for at St. Mary's. In1864 the City Hospital (now the General) was built, just out of theBull's Head domain, and shared the wartime burden, A fire, thatcaused heavy damage but took no human toll, swept St. Mary's in1891. Surrounded now by fine, modern hospital buildings, the oldstone St. Mary's that is 83 years old still dominates the historiccrossroads.
=Had not Azariah Boody donated to the cause of higher education his pasture acres on the East Side, the University of Rochester today might be at the Bull's Head. After the college decided to leave its birthplace on West Main Street, a site in the Ardmore Street locale was virtually determined upon. A little street that ran east from Ardmore, then Briggs Place, to the St. Mary's Hospital property was even named College Avenue and a college square was mapped. After the college moved to University Avenue in 1861, and a College Avenue was laid out there, the West Side pretender was renamed Rural Street. Now it is gone, absorbed in the expansion of St. Mary's Hospital.
=Miss Ada M. King of 22 Ardmore St. has lived in the neighborhood since 1877 and knows its lore. Once she conducted a privateschool in her home. In 1945 at the age of 81 she completed anextension course at the University that almost moved to Bull's Head.She was hailed at that time as the "U of R's oldest co-ed."
=The sprightly lady of Ardmore Street recalls how a half centuryago St. Mary's was surrounded by apple orchards and wheat fields,and peacocks strutted on the grounds; Ardmore Street was the cityline and one resident, on seeing a bill collector approach, would slipout his barn door "into the country" and the Town of Gates.
* * * * *
=So many memories and traditions cluster about the "oldneighborhood" . . . the late William P. Webber's race horses bringingglory to "The Head," particularly his pacer, Hal Boy, who hung up a mark of 2:01 on the Grand Circuit; Maginty, the "Iron Horse,"who once raced seven heats at Batavia and won them all; Cochat andRossaree-the bull's head figure that for 15 years has adorned thefacade of the Webber Market, keeping alive the old symbol of thecrossroads. . . Incidentally, the Webbers have been "keeping store" at "The Head" for some 55 years . . . Frank Love, whose grocery store at Eddy and Silver, was a sort of community rendezvous and who hada son, Bill, a star ballplayer in his youth and who today is Mr. JusticeWilliam F. Love of the Appellate Division . . . Danny Fitzgerald,a boy playing in Victoria Street and now president of the RochesterBar Association . . . And whenever the historic name or the businessinterests of "The Head" were threatened there was Bill Caufield,the hardware man, carrying the Bull's Head banner.
=The Gimme Club that was organized shortly before WorldWar I in the cigar store of Edmond P. Vandewater, then at Mainand York, and the war days when so many boys of the club joinedthe colors and those at home sent them smokes and eats . . . theangry sorrow that swept "The Head" when Vandewater was slainin 1933 by a holdup man in his little cigar store-sub postoffice inBrown Street . . . the capture of the killer, young Ross Caccamise,after a gun battle in the Fruitland woods . . . he was wounded andbrought to St. Mary's Hospital while awaiting the trial that doomedhim to the electric chair and the window of his hospital room lookedout on the street where he had slain "Vandy," who was so popularat "The Head." . . .
=So many memories. But the Bull's Head does not live in thepast. It bristles with life. It has a wide awake Business Associationthat looks out for the interests of the neighborhood.
=And when Uncle Sam announced a new branch postoffice wouldbe built in York Street a decade ago, there was a strong movementto name the new station "Genesee." Whereupon the old fightingspirit of the historic "Head" asserted itself and after the smoke ofthe battle had cleared away, the name they carved on the newpostoffice was "Bull's Head Sub-station."
* * * * *
=The political upheaval of the late 1840's sent thousands ofGermans to America's shores. Many settled in Rochester. Mostlythey arrived on the canal packets. They were a thrifty, temperate,substantial people, skilled in many crafts and they brought withthem colorful Old World customs. Their singing societies, theirbands, their festivals, beer gardens and succulent dishes, strange toYork State palates, their general heartiness, helped to leaven therather stem Yankee flavor of the young mill town.
=They set up scattered colonies on the fringes of the city. Theylived in comfortable, plain, cottage-type homes, seemingly run offthe same mold, each with its neat yard and well-tended garden.
=One such neighborhood became known as Dutchtown. It wasbounded loosely by Lyell Avenue, Hague Street, Jay and the oldcanal. On its northern borders was a concentration of the warm-hearted, impecunious Irish emigrants who had dug our canals andbuilt our railroads,
=In the 1880's Dutchtown was nicknamed "The Basket Hole"because so many of its Teutons made willow baskets in their woodsheds and peddled them.
=Today Dutchtown is no longer Dutchtown, It's mostly a commercial-industrial section. The German and Irish families generallyhave given way to those of the Italian blood, the colorful, volatilepeople that swarmed here in the 1890's and around the turn of the century.
=But in Old Dutchtown was born a tradition that endures, It is inthe world of competitive sports. I doubt if any neighborhood in anycity ever contributed more star athletes. They were the products ofthe sandlots. The list is an imposing one.
=Dutchtown sent to the major leagues such figures as HeinieGroh, the wizard of the "bottle bat," George Mogridge, the greatmoundsman; pitcher Ray Gordonier, Bernie and Pat Boland; George(Stump) Wiedenmann and his brother Andrew, who before he became a political leader, was a catcher of renown. Listing all the minor leaguer and semipros of Dutchtown would take a column of type.
=In the field of umpiring there are such famous names as "Silk"O'Loughlin and after him, Bill Klem, "The Old Arbiter," whoseboast is "I never missed one in my life." And there was James M.Flynn, who umpired in the Western and other leagues that he mightstudy medicine. Not many years ago that same Dr. Flynn was chosenpresident of the State Medical Society.
Dutchtown also basked in the glory of its mighty footballteams, the old Scalpers and in later days the Russers. The Scalperlineup once included a Joe O'Brien who became a congressman and aGeorgie Nier who became a city public safety commissioner and today is a leader of the bar.
=And in the fistic arena there was the redoubtable "Chubby"Brown, pride of Dutchtown-and of Rochester-in his heyday.
=Dutchtown gave its warriors loyal and noisy support. It flocked en masse to the fields where its teams contended.
=The home diamond was at the "Y" formed by the junction ofthe tracks of the Falls and the Charlotte branches of the New YorkCentral, out Hague Street way. Many a game, started there indefiance of the city's long standing ban on Sunday baseball, endedabruptly when coming along the tracks in the distance was spottedthe towering figure of Mike Zimmerman, police captain of the precinct. By the time Mike reached the grounds the players and spectators had departed-to resume the game in a nearby. field in the moreliberal Town of Greece, In those days Hague Street was near thecity line.
=Also of Germanic origin was the neighborhood known as theButter Hole, in the North Clinton, Avenue D, St. Paul and Nortonarea. Some 60 years ago German residents kept cows on small farmson the lowlands there and produced much of the city's supply of butter and other dairy products-hence the name. Long ago the pastureswere turned into a commercial and residential section, made up ofa medley of nationalities. For many an autumn there sallied forthfrom the Butter Hole the mighty Oxfords to battle their Dutchtownrivals on the gridiron.
=Swillburg is hardly an euphonious name and you hear itseldom these days. But once the Clinton to South Avenue area, southof the Erie Canal, was so called, because its German settlers keptpigs and fed them swill. The Clinton Ditch was its moat, just at itwas the proud Third Ward's and from its bed in spring Swillburgerswould scoop up the rich silt for their gardens.
=Today the neighborhood has a cultural accent. For right in the heart of the old Swillburg is Rochester's "Little Theater," the Community Playhouse. The Erie Social Club is there too. And the societyfolk who seek refreshment during intermissions at the Playhouse andthe old line 13th Warders alike miss the slight, gay-spirited politico,the late Tim Kelly, who for years played the role of Mine Host on the corner across from the Playhouse.
=Obvious is the origin of the name of Cork, a virtually forgottencolony settled in the 1840's in the Ontario-Davis-Woodward-NorthStreet district. There dwelt the "Ninty-nine Cousins," the inter-related Protestant Irish from County Cork who voted the straightRepublican ticket, Among them were the Dukelows, the Swantons,the Gosnells, the Whitleys, the Attridges, names well known toRochester, Long ago Cork was submerged in the Italian influx.
=Another oldtime Irish neighborhood was Dublin, bounded byWard Street, the river, Clifford and Clinton Avenues. St. Bridget'sChurch was the center of its community life. It was on the ShamrockTract with street names like Cork and Emmett. Later on it becameGermanized. Now it is another racial melting pot. In the old daysDublin carried on a lusty rivalry with Frankfort across the river, Itwas the Dublin Ducks against the Frankforters and woe betide thelad of either gang who strayed into enemy territory. The VincentStreet Bridge was "No Man's Land."
=Frankfort, the pioneer milling community at the Upper Falls,goes back to 1807 and for a time challenged the commercial rise ofColonel Rochester's town. Which sounds so strange today whenold Frankfort, bounded roughly by the river, the Subway, KentStreet and Emerson, is just another part of central Rochester.
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=The Rapids met a similar fate. Once a busy river port, it's nowmerely the Plymouth-Brooks segment of the sprawling 19th Ward,Even the river rapids whence came its name are gone, obliterated bycanal improvements.
=In 1790 James Wadsworth bought land there at eight cents theacre and visioned a city where in 1800 a settlement sprang up,called Castle Town, after its tavernkeeper, Isaac Castle. In pioneertimes, produce, boated down from the Genesee Valley, was unloadedat the Rapids, to be carried across country to the ships waiting at theLower Falls. The building of the Erie Canal doomed Castle Townalthough it was rejuvenated when the Genesee Valley Canal wasdug through it. Those were robust days and the Rapids, with itsgrog shops and canalers, was a rough place. But that was long agoand now the only vestige of the settlement is the old cemetery on thehill above Terrace Park where sleep the pioneers.
=Corn Hill is kept alive only by the Methodist Church of thatname on Plymouth Park, where the tulips bloom in the spring-time.Once it was a hill crowned by fields of corn. The corn was madeinto meal and also furnished fodder for pigs that became the oncefamous Corn Hill brand of hams and bacons. Street names in thelocality hint of its Scottish pedigree, names like Edinburgh, Glasgowand Greig. It was Scottish born John Greig, the Canandaigua landbaron, who gave the park, originally a square, and he called itCaledonia Square after the land of the heather.
=And there was Carthage, the "lost" river port at the head ofnavigation at the Lower Falls and before the advent of the ErieCanal, a serious rival to Rochesterville, The Carthaginians built agreat bridge across the river gorge, a wonder of the time, and when it fell, down with it went the hopes of Carthage. There's a memorial boulder near the eastern approach of the Veterans Bridge to tell of its little hour.
="Fiddlers Green" was the picturesque name for "the canal zone" around West Main and Oak Streets, It was peopled largely by Irish and in early towpath days was plenty tough.
=Few will remember Goat Hill, east of Scio Street in the Lewis-Davis Street vicinity. Once it was the grazing ground for herds ofgoats. In the 1880's the hill was leveled and cut up into buildinglots.
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=Rochester has a sentimental regard for her old neighborhoods.
=She treasures the old names, too-for instance, Cobbs Hill. Askthe city fathers who tried to change that park's name.
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