RTA Subway System – Abandoned New York – Rochester

For the better part of the summer last year along with this year I normally wander around Western New York by foot or bicycle.  Last year I used a $5.00, 7-speed, cruiser from a garage sale until I popped a tube and someone stole it from the airport.  Then I borrowed a mountain bike from an older woman whom I became friends with at the Village Inn.  Her kid barely used it so I traveled around exploring the abandoned parts of Akron until we shut down in September.  This year I came prepared and bought a Schwinn from Walmart for a little over a hundred dollars.  I put about 400 miles on it so far roaming around Medina, Waterport, Albion, Batavia, Hamlin, Perry, Mount Morris, Elba, Byron, and Rochester.  Recently, one of the pilots, Craig, crashes at the airport from Saturday to Tuesday instead of dreading a long drive back to Fredonia.

Abandoned New York RTA Subway System
Court Street Entrance to RTA Subway System in Abandoned Rochester, NY

If you have ever stayed or lived in an airport hangar then you know when work gets cancelled the last place you want to be is the airport.  My buddy, WizeHop, from StP, sent me directions to the RTA Subway System in Abandoned Rochester, NY a while back and told me it was worth checking out if in the area.  I put it in the back of my mind for the end of summer on my bicycle ride home, but, today seemed like the perfect day to go.

Abandoned New York RTA Subway System
Looking out over the Genesee River

My favorite places to explore carry a lot of history with them, such as, asylums, industrial plants, hospitals, etc.  So researching more about the RTA Subway System made me antsy to check it out.  I hitched a ride with Craig and we drove to Dinosaur Bar-B-Que in Rochester, NY since the one entrance to the RTA Subway System sat beneath this building.  We parked on the street and spent an hour exploring the unknown RTA Subway System, which surprisingly remained completely open for anyone to access off of Court Street.  Walking down the Genesee Riverway Trail path we climbed a small ladder and walked across a wooden bridge.  Light shined in from across the Genesee River through the concrete arches.

I squinted as I looked ahead.  I supported most of my weight on the steel beams using the steel handrail to guide my path as I slowly drug my feet forward.  Not being able to see definitely hindered my ability to climb and made me use better judgement.  As we walked across the bridge water cascaded beneath us through each individual arch flowing out to the river.  Graffiti lined every piece of concrete wall including the concrete pillars supporting the RTA Subway System.  Art prospered here and with each step we took further into the subway bloomed like a variety of pretty flora.  Some graffiti remained incognito from the raised water level hiding their true beauty, but as we walked deeper into the subway pieces flourished over every tunnel wall.  Some really great talent colored the walls of the abandoned RTA Subway System.  Three dimensional tags popped out of the wall in every vibrant color imaginable.  Octopus, bats, and mythical creatures filled the empty space between the words.  The most memorable piece burnt into my mind was the artist who spray painted a “Pepsi Cola Cap” in red, white and blue.  The precise detail and coloring made it almost surreal.

So enthralled by the masterpieces covering every inch of wall we almost stopped.  However, we continued to walk deeper into the tunnel towards the pitch black entrance of the subway due to the thrill of the unknown.

I reached in my jacket and pulled out my headlamp.  Craig walked behind me following in my footsteps as I led the way through the complete darkness.  Occasionally, sunlight peeped in through the dark tunnel casting its rays through windows, drains and cracks.  We poked our heads into empty sealed off stairwells lined with graffiti, which in olden times led back to the streets of Rochester.  Despite the RTA Subway System lacking security it remained fairly clean, free of most trash and lacked home-bums.  We wandered for about two miles and I noticed structural engineers sporadically placed steel support trusses throughout the tunnel.  This tunnel closed back in 1956, but hopefully this was a sign of restoration or at least preservation of a crucial part of Rochester history.  As we walked a bit further, light illuminated the exit of the tunnel, which put us out on Broad Street by the freight trains.  Baby car-seats scattered across the ground near the exit.  I did not know what to think, a practical joke or abandoned children lying dead somewhere?  We never found out and rushed back down the streets of Rochester to beat the meter.  I plan on cycling back out this way to stake out the freight yard and catch out to wherever the train may take me.

Abandoned New York RTA Subway System
Inside the RTA Subway System looking out over the Genesee River
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