News10NBC Investigates: Video shows how Inner Loop cut through homes, churches, parks

Video shows how Inner Loop cut through homes, churches, parks

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. – More than 20, 000 people have already watched our exclusive video that depicts how Rochester was completely changed 70 years ago when the Inner Loop plowed through neighborhoods, churches and parks. 

The video superimposes a map of Rochester in 2002 over a map of Rochester in 1951, the year the Loop started getting built.

The video starts with I-490 on the west side, splits into the Loop, crosses the Genesee River and starts its path through the northern neighborhoods of Rochester’s old downtown.

Berkeley Brean: “When people watch that animation, what is it that you want them to know and understand?”

Adam Paul Susaneck, @SegByDesign: “Well what I want them to see is this is really government priorities in action.”

The video was created by Adam Paul Susaneck, an architect by training. He has his master’s from Columbia University and now he’s getting his PhD in urban planning in The Netherlands. 

“This is government prioritizing the mobility of suburbanites and the business interests of downtown over the economic and essential livelihood of primarily non-white, inner city neighborhoods,” he said.
On Susaneck’s twitter page, called Segregation by Design, you can see all the American cities where he produced the same kind of video:

Brooklyn and Queens.
Santa Monica, California.
Miami, Florida.

When you watch the Rochester video, look at the neighborhoods the Loop destroyed, look at the historic parks paved over, look at the parking lots the Loop inspired.

The Loop was built to deal with a real traffic problem in Rochester after World War II. But like most of the highways depicted in Susaneck’ videos, the Loop went through predominantly black and brown neighborhoods.

“So when federal money becomes involved in the 50’s for highway construction officials really see this as a one-two punch to solve the traffic problem between the suburbs and downtown,” Susaneck said. “As well as clearing out those neighborhoods that they think of as blighted because they had become non-white.”

Inner Loop

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“It’s fascinating to watch,” Erik Frisch said.
Frisch is the deputy commissioner for neighborhood development in Rochester. He watched the video that shows I-490 and the Inner Loop cutting a moat around downtown like a digital highlighter.

“But looking at the time were brand new facilities, brand new ideas, tear through neighborhoods and destroy literally thousands of homes and commercial businesses and churches,” Frisch said.

Frisch is responsible for the project that will fill in the Inner Loop North saying “It’s correcting those historic wrongs and bringing that heart and soul back to this community.”

He showed me the working map that replaces the Loop from Union Street to Innovative Field.

Berkeley Brean: “So even people, if they’re going to a Red Wings game and they would ordinarily take the Loop, they’re going to notice the change when they head to the stadium?”

Erik Frisch: “Yeah, yeah absolutely.”

Project Details | Inner Loop North

Inner Loop North is huge. It’s 22 acres of space to fill. Compare that to the six acres of space when the city filled Inner Loop East between University Avenue and Monroe Avenue.

Adam Paul Susaneck says the Loop was one of the first for a mid-size American city and Rochester is among the first to reverse the damage.

“Rochester is really leading the way in terms of addressing these past inequities caused by highway construction,” he said. “And what I see in the northern segment, it seems like they’re continuing that focus.”

Work on Inner Loop North should start in 2027. The city has $100 Million committed from the state.