Where the streets no longer exist

Second Avenue and First Street Southwest were once a thoroughfare; today there's a bit of an alleyway near the Kahler.

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It's the spring of 1940, looking south on Second Avenue SW. The brick intersection of First Street and Second Avenue SW was controlled by one, four-sided stop sign.
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When walking around in today’s city core, it’s hard to imagine that the turnaround by the Kahler Grand Hotel was once the intersection of two of the longest streets in Rochester.

Since Rochester’s pioneering days, Second Avenue touched the Zumbro River on both its north and south ends, and First Street ran from a park on the Zumbro on the east to well past the city limits on its west end.

Over its lifetime, the intersection of these two streets would become home to the city’s first Central School, a first of its kind group medical practice, and not one, but two of John Kahler’s hotels.

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In the summer of 2022, there is no intersection to control, but you can still catch a ride where First Street and Second Avenue Southwest once met for an intersection.

By the early 1960s, Second Avenue would be dissected by a hospital. In the mid-1980s, a shopping center and other buildings would sever First Street.

Eventually, the brick streets of Rochester’s past would be replaced by peaceful plazas, pools of reflection and walks of discovery.


"Lens on History” is a weekly photo feature by Lee Hilgendorf, a volunteer at the History Center of Olmsted County.

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