Rochester’s Great Flood of 1913

Rochester’s Great Flood of 1913


The winter had been unusually warm and rainy, and the ground already soaked to the max, when a powerful arctic weather system – stretching from Ontario down to the Gulf of Mexico – swept through. Beginning on Easter Sunday, March 23, the rains pounded all of upstate New York. Hurricane force winds and heavy sleet took down power and communication lines across the eastern half of the country, preventing the U.S. Weather Bureau from gathering information and sending warnings. And as the Genesee River swelled beyond capacity with stormwater from points south, Rochester could only wait downstream for the onslaught.

Water rose a staggering 8 feet above the top of the Court Street Dam and turned downtown streets into canals. Residents became trapped in their homes, and businesses were forced to close for days. Even the mighty presses of the Democrat and Chronicle newspaper came to a standstill. The newspaper building was located on the Main Street bridge and the presses were completely submerged underwater. At its height, parts of downtown saw water up to 6 feet deep.

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A large crowd is gathered on Front Street to look at the flood at the other end of the street. Varlan’s Hotel, Rosenberg’s Pawnshop, Charles Adam’s Sons Grinding, J.G. Zweigle’s Sons, W.T. Bridle Furniture, William Pigeon Shoes, Hyman Davis Shoes, Genesee Provision Company, Myers Department Store, and the F.H. Loeffler Company are visible in the photo. March, 1913. [IMAGE: Albert R. Stone]

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Two men stand ankle-deep in water on Front Street. They are carrying a coffee pot and baskets. On the right side of the photograph a man and a woman look out of a doorway. March, 1913. [IMAGE: Albert R. Stone]

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Men stand ankle deep in flood water on Front Street. They are in front of the Rochester Poultry & Commission Company. The People’s Rescue Mission is in the background. March, 1913. [IMAGE: Albert R. Stone]

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Spectators line the Court Street Bridge railings to watch flood waters beating against the arches of the bridge, below the dam. March, 1913. [IMAGE: Albert R. Stone]

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A group of men are pictured in and around a rowboat on Front Street, during the flood of 1913. March, 1913. [IMAGE: Albert R. Stone]

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A group of people are pictured in and around a rowboat in the middle of flooded Front Street. They are members of a rescue crew that has saved a woman from a flooded building. All records for high water were broken in this flood. March, 1913. [IMAGE: Albert R. Stone]

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A Front Street policeman patrols his beat in a rowboat during the 1913 flood. He and another man row past the Hotel Richmond at the corner of Front and Market Streets. March, 1913. [IMAGE: Albert R. Stone]

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A horse and wagon stand in the middle of Mill Street during the 1913 flood. This is Mill Street at Andrews Street. Rochester Thread Company, F.A. Sherwood Company, John M. Forster Company, and Fahy Market are visible in the photo. March, 1913. [IMAGE: Albert R. Stone]

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Men are standing ankle-deep in water on Front Street. On the left is the Atlantic Supply House and on the right is the People’s Rescue Mission. March, 1913. [IMAGE: Albert R. Stone]

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Three men ride a rowboat down flooded Front Street. They are passing J.G. Zweigle’s. March, 1913. [IMAGE: Albert R. Stone]

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The flood has filled the store cellars with water on Main Street East at Graves Street. All the first floors are submerged as well. A horse and wagon are at the curb and the men are standing on the sidewalk. F.P. Van Hoesen Company, Rienzi (a bar), J.C. Wilson Company, the Postal Telegraph Cable Company, and the Fifth Avenue Clothes Shop are visible in the photo. March, 1913. [IMAGE: Albert R. Stone]

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Rochesterians viewing the water on Front Street. Ice has formed in pockets on the flooded street. The sign for Charles Adam’s Sons, Inc. [IMAGE: Albert R. Stone]

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Genesee River in high water stage, showing the backs of Front Street buildings. This is believed to be a depiction of the flood of March 28, 1913. Myer’s Department Store, Charles Adam (grinding), and Zweigle’s (sausage maker and saloon) are visible in the photo. Weis & Fisher Company (furniture and carpets) is in the right background at 297 Brown Street. The Powers Building tower is in the upper left corner. March, 1913. [IMAGE: Rochester Municipal Archives]

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A group of people stand at the edge of the flood water on Front Street in front of the Genesee Provision Company. A rope cordons off the street near Charles Adam’s Grinding and the William H. Larkin Hotel. March, 1913. [IMAGE: Albert R. Stone]

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Two men are stopped in a Ford car during the flood on Front Street. One man is holding a camera and other men stand in the street in ankle-deep water. March, 1913. [IMAGE: Albert R. Stone]

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This view is a close-up of flood water going into the shops on Front Street. There is a Bartholomay Beer sign on the post. March, 1913. [IMAGE: Albert R. Stone]

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A man sits in a Ford automobile, which has water halfway up the wheels. This is Plymouth Avenue, which has been completely flooded by the Genesee River. March, 1913. [IMAGE: Albert R. Stone]

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A man leans out of a car to observe the damage done on River Road.

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People, including one man with a horse and buggy, stand at the edge of the flood on Front Street. Dave Solomon, Pawnbroker and Auctioneer; Charles Adam’s Sons, Incorporated, Grinding; Zweigle’s; and (probably) the Genesee Provision Company are visible in the photo. March, 1913. [IMAGE: Albert R. Stone]

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Pedestrians throng the sidewalks of the Court Street Bridge to see the flood waters, as a few horse-driven carriages and automobiles drive past. March, 1913. [IMAGE: Albert R. Stone]

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Flood waters swirl around the aqueduct near Broad Street, looking toward South Avenue. March, 1913. [IMAGE: Albert R. Stone]

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Police hold back a large crowd at the water’s edge on flooded Front Street. March, 1913. [IMAGE: Albert R. Stone]

via RochesterSubway.com


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