What is this concrete thingy jutting out into the sidewalk on Joseph Ave?Posted by: Daniel Speciale, volunteer at Reconnect Rochester

When the Reconnect Rochester volunteers were out on Joseph Avenue last month placing the latest set of bus stop cubes, I noticed this crumbling bit of concrete (above) and thought… What the hell is it?

We kicked around some thoughts; Maybe a base for one of those traffic signal boxes? Part of an old bus shelter? An old stoop leading to a long-demolished storefront?

An email to my street design guy (yeah, I know a guy) quickly solved the mystery…

Joseph Avenue street plan from the 1970s shows our mystery wall was a 'tree protector'.

Ohhhhhhh! It’s a tree protector! 

Wait, what? That’s a thing? Where’s the tree?!

Regardless, I was more interested in what it could be than what it used to be.

An old tree protector wall on Joseph Avenue, Rochester.

Maybe because I grew up in the 90s during the endless stream of recycle-reduce-reuse PSA’s and Captain Planet episodes, but I can’t stand to see anything go to waste. So I envisioned our first Do-It-Yourself bus stop BENCH, and without any real knowledge of the time and effort that would be involved, I convinced the Reconnect crew that we (they) should build it.

Reconnect Rochester volunteers building a simple bench top.

Reconnect Rochester volunteers painting the bench top.

And as of today, anyone heading downtown from Joseph Ave. & Upper Falls Blvd. will have a sharp-looking (and deceptively comfy) place to wait!

An old tree protector wall on Joseph Avenue, reborn as a bus stop bench.

An old tree protector wall on Joseph Avenue, reborn as a bus stop bench.

An old tree protector wall on Joseph Avenue, reborn as a bus stop bench.

Moral of Story…

Opportunities to improve your neighborhood are everywhere.

Our city is full of relics and ruins from past projects. After a year of living car-free, I’ve noticed so many strange, forgotten elements of the built environment that are just begging to be made useful again.

How many transit riders have you seen sitting on retaining walls, planters, and things that are not benches but maybe should be? How many cyclists have you seen locking up to anything other than a bike rack? 

An old tree protector wall on Joseph Avenue, now a pretty comfy bus stop bench.

If you have an idea like this for where you live/work/walk/ride, let’s talk about it. I can’t promise to build you anything myself (I couldn’t build my way out of a tin can), but I happen to know some people who are great at getting things done.

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  1. Amazing! Such a great idea that turned into a reality… So proud of all of you and even more thankful for being in the present of such a awsome young man Daniel Speciale, he motiviates us all with his passion and energy to just do it!!!

  2. Super proud to know you Daniel, and so happy to have you as part of our team of super heroes. Thanks for being alive, aware and awesome.

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