1 Background

Table of Contents

[1.1] Second Industrial Revolution, 1860-1890

The Second Industrial Revolution was the phase of increased industrialization and technological advancement. It was characterized by rapid technological and economic developments, the Anglo-German Steam Race, and American experimentation. In Europe, Britain and Germany competed for technological supremacy, both focusing on developing steam-power. While Britain had an earlier start, Germany invested heavily in research which allowed them to surpass Britain’s developments. In the United States, the U.S. government created a policy that promoted experimentation across American cities. Cities were given grants to promote leadership research and development into different types of tech. Rochester was one of many cities that looked into steam-power, taking inspiration from Britain and Germany.

[1.2] Progressive Era, 1890-1920

The Progressive Era was a period of widespread social activism and political reform across the United States from the 1890s to 1920s. The main objective of the movement was to create reform including regulating political machines and corporations, weakening the political power of bosses through Prohibition, promoting women’s suffrage, and improving efficiency through scientific developments. Following the Great War, many progressives, such as George Greene, worked to implement new technologies to improve the lives of American citizens. Greene, working with the likes of European visionaries and American inventors, incorporated the latest and most advanced discoveries in his vision of a steam-powered Rochester. This includes technologies such as steam-powered prostheses and the Pneumatic Tube transportation system.

[1.3] The Great War, 1914 - 1918

On June 28th 1914, Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria was assassinated in Sarajevo by a group of Serbian nationalists. With the death of heir presumptive to the Austro-Hungarian throne, Europe erupted into open conflict. The German war machine, consisting of men and repurposed coal-mining automatons (der Dampfhauer), struck first and struck hard. France was underprepared for the assault, finally halting the German advance less than 26 miles outside Paris.

The combined forces of France and the United Kingdom, reinforced by automatons pressed into service, forced a German retreat. Both the Allied and the Central Powers would dig into the French country-side and fortify, leading to the formation of the Western Front. Over the course of four years, the front line would prove to be a constant as both sides refused to allow their enemy to advance. Many wartime technologies, including tanks, machine guns and zeppelins, were developed in an attempt to break the deadlock on the front. The United States would join the war effort in 1917, the same year that the Russian government collapsed and withdrew from the war.

In 1918, the German deployment of a redesigned automaton (der Dampfsoldat) in the front lines as well as the freeing of soldiers from the Eastern Front allowed for a renewed springtime offensive during which German forces successfully took over Paris. However, new supply lines were not formed fast enough to allow for the German army to retain control. The Allied forces rallied and drove back the Germans. Within the year, the Central powers agreed to an armistice, ending the war in victory for the Allies. At the Paris Peace conference of 1919, the Allies imposed their terms for peace, ending the German and Austro-Hungarian empires and redistributing their lands.

2 Rochester, NY circa 1921

[2.1] Economic Climate

[2.1.1] Industry

Rochester's economic climate at the dawn of the 1920s was one conducive to industrial growth. The Great War was a boon for industrial advancements - optical technologies in particular - within Rochester's two largest companies, Eastman Kodak and Bausch & Lomb. Employment by Kodak, for example, had already exceeded 5,000 in 1907. By 1927, that number would exceed 27,000 workers within Rochester and around the country. The prosperity of these companies resulted in an increased working class, and would contribute to the growth of the middle class and a higher standard of living within and around the city.

Since the turn of the century, Rochester had also taken on a significant role as a hub for textiles and clothing in the Northeast. Hickey Freeman, a manufacturer for men’s suits, would expand its production in new factories just north of the city to accommodate increasing demand, employing over 1,700 people.

Rochester had cultivated a small but thriving steam tech sector throughout the war, such as Cunningham & Sons and Stein-Bloch & Co. This fueled the ideologies of politician George Greene's "New Steam Society," a radical plan to transform Rochester into a Mecca for steam technology. As state and federal funds were invested by the millions into large scale projects such as the Rochester Pneumatic Transportation System, the city would become the center of a mass migration of engineers, tinkerers and other skilled laborers from all over the world.

[2.1.2] Class

In 1921, the situation in Rochester somewhat mirrored the rest of America, in which a grossly rich, tiny upper class dominated a large, unionized lower class. The term "Labor and Capital" was used contemporarily to distinguish the two, locked in a constant struggle of distrust and protest. At this time in America, 64% of the population made less than $5,000 a year, while <.7% made more than $500,000 a year.

At the same time, however, and perhaps predating most of America, the middle class did flourish in Rochester at this time. Due primarily to the creation of new industries that brought in fresh wealth, and the influx of immigrants with desirable talents (German jews in particular), Rochester was home to a rising class of craftsmen, masons, tailors, and engineers that made enough money to live comfortably. Along with an established population of lawyers, doctors, and professors, the middle class in Rochester likely made up anywhere from 25-30% of the population.

[2.2] Social Issues

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[2.2.1] Gender and Sexuality

The early 1920s were a period of experimentation. Gender roles and sexuality were questioned and expectations changed.

Before the 1920s, women were expected to be prim and proper. However, in 1921 Rochester, women had the ability to change the stereotype and to live a freer lifestyle. More and more women began taking on roles or participating in activities that stereo typically belonged to males. Due to World War I, women had taken factory jobs while the men were at war. When the war ended and the men returned, many women continued working to support their families. Women also began to use the time to have fun. Many of the women in Rochester were flappers. They cut their hair short, drank alcohol, smoked, and drove automobiles. Overall, they began to behave more like their masculine counterparts. The thought that men and women had completely different spheres of living was beginning to fade away.

Sexuality also evolved during this time. Men and women would participate in groups called “petting parties,” where sexual experiences would occur. Dating became more of a popular culture and the young men and women of Rochester would go on dates at social gatherings like parties, at jazz clubs, or at the park or the movies. Sexual experimentation was also rising during the 1920s. Many young women and men took the chance to have homosexual experiences. This overall led to a rise in the LGBT community. While the community became larger, homophobia was still prevalent due to the negative media it brought. There were anti-gay laws in place that fined or imprisoned men for engaging in homosexual activities. This led to a subculture of speakeasies, taverns, and drag bars owned by the LGBT community so they had a place where they were accepted. Many Catholtics were highly opposed to the sexual movement.

The term "charity girl" became more common as women would go on dates with men in return for sexual favors. Charity girls could be considered "escorts" as the women would choose what men to date and how far they were willing to go in return for something beneficial for the women. However, on the darker side of the new sexual liberation, some women were forced into prostitution especially poor and immigrant women this becoming slaves to sex in this new found era.

[2.2.2] Race and Ethnicity

[2.2.2.1] The Great Migration

The Great Migration began around 1914; the same time as the Great War. Approximately 500,000 African Americans moved to Northern cities between 1914 and 1920, looking for better political, social, and economic conditions. This move was due not only to the terrible conditions that they faced in the South, but also the demand for cheap labor in the North. Because there was a lack of European immigration, and booming industry from the war, factories needed black southerners to fill their labor forces.

Around 370,000 African Americans served in the army during the Great War, allowing many of them to see a world in which less discrimination existed. These soldiers came back and shared these experiences with others. As a whole, the Great War allowed African Americans to serve more as American citizens, and gave them a unifying force under which they could fight for more equal rights.

[2.2.2.2] Immigration

The Emergency Quota Act, which passed in 1921, set an annual limit on immigrants traveling into the US. Only three percent of foreign-born US citizens from a given country were allowed into the US, as of the 1910 census. This law did not apply to anyone who was banned by the Immigration Act of 1917, which included a large section of Asia and the pacific islands. However, those exempt from the quota were still subject to the 1917 Act. Overall, total immigration dropped from 9 million people in 1900-1910 to 5 million people in 1911-1920. The majority of these immigrants came from Western Europe.

[2.2.2.3] Jim Crow Laws and the Klu Klux Klan

In the 1920s, the Jim Crow Laws were still in effect. They were originally created in the 1880s under the concept of "separate but equal," which was validated in the 1896 Supreme Court case Plessey v Ferguson. By 1910, all but one Confederate state had new laws or amendments keeping blacks and poor whites from voting - via literacy tests and/or poll taxes. Black voter representation in the 1912 election was minimal as a result.

On top of this, the Klu Klux Klan experienced a revival in 1915, heightening the racial tensions of the time period. Originally formed in 1866, its members included ex-Confederates, as well as those who opposed Reconstruction. During the revival, not only were blacks being targeted, but Catholics, Jews, and foreigners as well. By the 1920s, the total population of the Klan ranged between 3 million and 8 million people. By then they were rigging political elections, such that members of the Klan had the advantage when running for office across the country.


[2.3] Social Movements

[2.3.1] Women's Suffrage

Women's rights have been in demand since as far back as the 1800's in the US, where many of the granted rights brought in from England were stripped away after the conclusion of the Civil War. Voting rights were not a large part of the early fights. Women's Suffrage came to the forefront in the years following 1890, where the Progressive Era saw women of all classes coming into public life and matters. The 19th Amendment, originally known as the Susan B. Anthony Bill, was introduced as early as 1878 by Senator Aaron A. Sargent, who's wife Ellen was a leading advocate in the movement. Women's Suffrage was nationally (federally) passed by the Senate and declared legal on Aug 26, 1920.

Many states granted women the right to vote in their school district, giving them a voice in important decisions. Florida as a state did not grant full suffrage, but some Municipal Cities decided that they would. New York state granted women full suffrage in 1917, 3 years before the national declaration, making it the first Eastern state to do so and lead the charge for the eastern states that would follow.

  • An image breakdown of which states had granted what level of suffrage rights can be found here.
  • A timeline of Women's Suffrage in the US from 1840-1920 (Civil War Era to Progressive Era), where you can also find the names and organizations dedicated to (or against) the cause and when they were formed, here.

[2.3.2] Temperance Movement/Prohibition

[2.3.2.1] Temperance Movement

The Temperance Movement's emerged in Rochester during the mid-19th century. The movement sought to protect families from the destruction caused by alcohol abuse by controlling the sale of alcohol and reforming the drunks. 1852, Elizabeth Cady Stanton chaired the first meeting of the Women's New York State Temperance Society in Rochester. Susan B. Anthony was one of the society's agents. Although the Temperance Movement was largely dominated by ministers, the creation of the Women's New York State Temperance Society and other organizations signaled a political turn. The Society did not last long after Stanton and Anthony left the organization not even a year after its start, but larger groups that were dominated by men, such as the Sons of Temperance and the New York State Temperance Society, continued their efforts.

[2.3.2.2] Prohibition

Prohibition officially began with the ratification of the Eighteenth Amendment. Enforced through the Volstead Act, effective January 16th, 1920, Prohibition criminalized the production and marketing of alcohol in the United States. Many people who were in favor of Prohibition viewed it as a natural culmination of the Temperance Movement. However, ironically, deaths related to alcohol increased during Prohibition due to the increase in home brews, many of which were poisonous. Like the rest of the country, much of Rochester opposed Prohibition. The brewing industry was prominent in the city beforehand and many of the immigrants who lived there came from cultures where alcohol played a significant role. The city's close proximity to Canada made smuggling alcohol over the border a possibility that many took advantage of. Speakeasies were present in the city and vast amounts of alcohol was hidden in an abandoned warehouse on Andrews Street. In 1933, Prohibition ended with the creation of the 21st amendment.

Many famous bootleggers used Lake Ontario to smuggle Canadian alcohol into Rochester. While the routes were often risky and fraught with peril, the vast amounts of profit to be gained was extremely enticing for the rum runners. Using improved boats to outrun the Coast Guard, they often traveled from ports on the Canadian border of the lake and slipped into different areas of Rochester under cover of night. One of the most popular places for bootleggers to drop their cargo was Braddock's Bay, a marshy swamp on the Rochester side of Lake Ontario. The many inlets and small bodies of water made for excellent places to hide from the Coast Guard. However, the lake could also be incredibly harsh, especially during the winter, when many bootleggers were injured as they tried to cross the frigid waters. Lake Ontario offered perfect transportation into Rochester for rum runners; however, it was not always the safest route.

[2.3.2.3] Medical Use of Alcohol

Alcohol was believed to have medicinal value and therapeutic qualities. Due to this belief, physicians were able to prescribe liquor during the Prohibition era. This was the only way of legally obtaining alcohol. Physicians prescribed liquor, whiskey, rum, gin, brandy, and even beer for disorders such as anemia, tuberculosis, pneumonia, high blood pressure, and many others. Even though prescribing alcohol was legal, the American Medical Association(AMA) stated that "the use of alcohol as a therapeutic agent should be further discouraged"
(http://prohibition.osu.edu/american-prohibition-1920/medicinal-alcohol). Nevertheless, many physicians prescribed much more alcohol that they had in the pre-prohibition era, which was against the AMA's wishes. Prescription pads were issued by the U.S. Treasury Department, and alcohol cost about $3 per ounce, which is equal to about $40 today. The prescription of alcohol became very popular, and pharmacists who wanted a piece of the action devised practices to get a piece of this highly profitable new business.

[2.3.3] Progressivism

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[2.4] Social Features

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[2.4.1] Local Politics

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[2.4.1.1] Republicans

The Republican platform rested squarely on citing the failures of the Democratic administration. Failures, including unpreparedness for war and unpreparedness for the subsequent peace, were claimed to be the cause of issues such as the unnecessary loss of life during the war and the high cost of living that followed. While the Democratic Party controlled the federal government, Rochester’s local government had remained largely Republican since 1900. The floundering of the Democratic Party at the national level all but ensured the continued dominance of the Republican Party in the local government.

[2.4.1.2] Democrats

The Democrats of the 1920s reveled in the administrations of Woodrow Wilson. They took pride in the ability to stick their name onto all of his positive reformations and say he was a Democrat. Their primary goal was to progress in areas of social, economic, and industrial justice for America and create effective laws that reflect such policies. However, the war the Democrats were halted by America’s involvement in the war seeing as the primary goal was to win.

[2.4.1.3] Socialists

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[2.4.2] Religion

The religious atmosphere of the new Rochester is a shaky yet stable one.With the incoming waves of Catholic immigrants coming into the city, the local Christian congregations have begun their own propaganda campaigns regarding the nature of the Catholic faith, trying to both lure newcomers and dissuade detractors. Parishes have drawn lines, and some wonder how far the churches of Rochester are from becoming fanatic gangs. Despite this push for control and newfound xenophobia, the average Christian sees not much change in their mass. Though, from the clergy side of the equation, sales of “altar” wine increased, and even the smallest churches began to suddenly go through dozens of bottles every few days.


On the opposite end, the incoming Catholic population is still getting themselves settled in. Catholic churches for now typically meet in makeshift institutions, some no bigger than a storefront in some of the densely populated districts of the city center. And, coincidentally reports of arson, larceny, and burglary against these places of worship are not unfounded, and are in fact a growing occurrence.

Though, despite tensions, both groups do agree on one thing. That is the need of the neighborhood alcohol watch. If anyone is proud of the eighteenth amendment it is these Christian groups as they are large supporters of the progressive temperance movement. Congregations throughout the city have chosen to take a more active approach in the upholding of this historic decision. It is common to see local patrols on the look-out for men disappearing down shady alleys and cellars, looking for the next speakeasy to sell out to the police. But one cannot help but wonder if all the churches in this brave new Rochester at the forefront of steam are keeping their pledges, with the monopoly on altar wine and all.

In contrast, the brewing of new secular religions is a topic of hot debate within the city. As inventors, professional and independent alike, continue to settle into Rochester, they begin to seek out other like-minded individuals. Some found these pseudo-religions to insult the authority of what they believe is the hypocrisy of religion, while others seek guidance after having felt disenchanted by bearing witness to the capabilities of humanity. As we fly through the skies and master energy, this wave of thought is gaining attention. However, while these new institutions present an interesting new player in what was formerly the chess match between priest and pastor, they are still barely on their own feet. Their congregations grouped around the University of Rochester and RAMI, with sizes in the tens, and numerous denominations splintered by ego prevent them from gaining the attention of non-intellectuals. As far as the big players see they pose no serious threat to the stability of the city’s morals.

Overall, no matter their god, or their association, one thing is for certain, the people of Rochester are devout and loyal to their groups. Whether it's faith or science that leads them, religion is an important part of this booming Rochester.

[2.4.3] Arts & Culture

[2.4.3.1] Rochester Artisan Guild

The Rochester Artisan Guild (R.A.G) was founded during the boom of factories and steam technology development. It was founded to protect expert tradesmen and craftsmen by pooling their resources and talents together. They focus on quality over quantity, and that is the only requirement to join them besides have some form of craft or trade. They started to gain popularity among jewelers, tailors, and other people who focus on handmade crafts.

[2.4.3.2] Harlem Renaissance

The Harlem Renaissance was a movement that started in the 1920s. It was seen as a revival of African American culture. It encompassed poetry, theatre, literature, magazines, religion, fashion, and most importantly music. A large theme of the whole movement was a racial pride with trust in progressivism that permeated into the facets of culture.

[2.4.3.3] Jazz

Jazz goes hand in hand with prohibition. Prohibition, which led to the creation of speakeasies allowed a place for jazz musicians to perform their art. Recent technological developments made it possible for records to be created. Companies began ensuring that their musicians were making music that could be recorded, as well as played live. Tunes were often created so that they could be danced to. Jazz had an improvisational style to it, allowing for musicians performing the same song to add diversity in live performances. Jazz was heavily influenced by Blues. Blues consisted of chant-like rhymes with spiritual and folk-lore content.

As the Jazz movement grew so did the amount of “flappers”. These flappers mostly were around Jazz clubs and afterwards started to spread. Flappers usually were more prominent at night and were rarely seen during the day. This was usually because that is when the Jazz clubs were open and went to parties.

[2.4.3.4] Literature

This period was also a progressive time within literature. Themes drifted away from Victorian ideas, and entered a new domain of simplicity and directness. Authors explored ideas about seeking happiness, sexuality, horror, futility, and spirituality. All this was heavily influenced by the war. Writers like Aldous Huxley, F. Scott Fitzgerald, and later Hemingway and Langston Hughes defined the time.

[2.4.3.5] Photography

George Eastman founded the Eastman Kodak Company in 1888. The company was highly successful and dominated the film industry by selling inexpensive cameras, in addition to consumable components like film, chemicals, and paper. Because of the mass market for cameras, many models were made to be easily operated by amateurs and professionals alike. Especially amongst amateurs, people wished to take photographs of day to day life without the disruption of an obvious camera. They believed they could get more genuine and spontaneous expressions from their subjects, and Kodak responded by developing cameras disguised as other objects: cigarette boxes, canes, bags, and other common items. One of the most popular cameras in the 1920s was the Vest Pocket Kodak, a folding camera. A variant of it, the Vest Pocket Autographic, was used commonly during WWI.

[2.4.3.6] Film

Movies were starting to become more widespread during this time. A theater in Rochester started to show “talkies” and this caught the public’s eye. This was more for the upper class and sometimes for the middle class due to it being a rarity and a luxury. These movies were usually very well received and tended to be a show of wealth.

[2.4.3.7] Radio

The first radio broadcast in the United States was on November 2, 1920. Radio was only just beginning at this time, and wouldn't become popular until later. Crystal radios were popular, as they could be easily made at home and the parts could be cheaply purchased. But during this time vacuum tube radios were gaining in popularity.

[2.4.4] Education

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[2.4.5] Health Care

[2.4.5.1] General Information

The early 1900’s marked the beginning of organized medicine. New research was being conducted in a variety of fields which led to a greater understanding in what caused disease. Such advancements increased medical costs. “Sickness insurance” was put into effect, with its goal being to cover the wages lost in seeking treatment. During this time, doctors were moving away to the cities and large towns, no longer expected to provide free healthcare to their patients and moving to where there was a greater demand for their services.

[2.4.5.2] Causes of Illness

Common health problems stemmed from poor nutrition and hygiene. There were also issues derived from poor working conditions. Illnesses were often sometimes said to be the result of a “poor constitution” or blamed on the person’s deviant or “dirty” lifestyle. As a result, the poor were often associated with disease. Immigration also gave rise to the spread of disease. Due to the tight quarters on the ships, diseases would often be shared very quickly among the newly arriving immigrants. Tenement housing was also a breeding ground for illness, with the cramped, dirty housing being all new immigrants could afford.

[2.4.5.3] Mortality and Infection

In 1920, the most common causes of death were pneumonia, influenza, tuberculosis, stroke, kidney disease, cancer, accidents, diarrhea, premature birth and childbirth complications. Infant mortality rate was high and childbirth would sometimes lead to blood hemorrhages or bacterial infections in expecting mothers.The 1918 flu epidemic killed nearly 50 million people worldwide, and even before that was one of the leading causes of death in the United States.Tuberculosis and cancer were both death sentences, with treatment being limited and often led to painfully drawn-out deaths.Surgery was practiced more often at this time, but would often lead to infection. Without antibiotics and with penicillin not being in commercial use, infection was very likely to result in death. Blood transfusions were rare during this time and very likely to fail due to the inexperience and techniques of the doctors.

[2.4.6] Transportation

[2.4.6.1] Air Travel

Rochester’s transportation history includes two aviation fields. The first was built on Baker Farm. During World War I the farm was re-purposed for military use and renamed “Baker Field.” Although military use ceased in 1918, the field was still in use for a couple of years. Unfortunately, the airfield was unsuitable in the long run due to poor flooding conditions. Because of this Britton Field, used for aviation purposes since 1919, became the primary Rochester airport. Earl F. Beers urged the Rochesterian government to make Britton Field a municipal airport. He personally offered passengers flights for $1.00 a mile. In December of 1919, the Rochester City Council approved the purchase of Britton Field as a “municipal aviation station” and even proposed flights to Toronto in 1920.

[2.4.6.2] Canals

The Erie canal was a popular route for cargo and manufactured goods. Officially opened October 26, 1825, the canal was 363 miles long. Initially it was 40 feet wide and 4 feet deep. After being rebuilt in in the mid 1800's the canal was enlarged to 70 feet wide by 7 feet deep. The final modifications to the canal were made between 1905 and 1918 when a third canal system was created in order to allow large barges to pass and it also underwent major course changes in the final round of modifications. The canal greatly reduced shipping costs and cut travel time by half and was a popular method of transportation for manufactured goods, raw materials and people until it was overshadowed by new, more efficient technologies such as the train and automobile.

[2.4.6.3] Automobiles

The automobile became very popular not only in Rochester but throughout the rest of America by 1921. After the end of the Great War (WWI) many veterans returning home looked for comfort and extravagance in their lives, which they found in the automobile.The invention of Henry Ford’s Model T in 1908 would be considered the first affordable automobile and enabled many middle class families to purchase one. The Model T would become affectionately known as "Tin Lizzie." Car ownership also lead to a greater distinction between social classes and led to the creation of many new types of business including gas stations, motels, car repair shops, and roadside restaurants. These services added to the conveniences of the time and made travel and the use of cars more appealing.

[2.4.6.4] Trolleys

The trolley/streetcar was another important form of transportation in the early 1920's. The Rochester Railway Company operated a streetcar transit system in Rochester from 1890 until its acquisition by Rochester Transit Corp. in 1938. The streetcars in Rochester were originally all horse drawn but by 1921 they were all powered through electrical lines that run through the city. The trolley was used for transit in and around the city by many of its residents and allowed efficient use of roads as one trolley could take the place of up to 30-40 cars at the time.

[2.4.6.5] Other Methods of Travel

Why do they call it steampunk? For one part, it has to do with steam. In terms of transportation, this was a period that was known for steamboats and steam blimps. There were many types of steamboats—some for transporting goods and others for passengers. Passenger steamboats were occupied by the wealthiest, who took cruises to their destinations that were often some sort of resort. Steam blimps were a method of air travel, and were powered by steam compressors. They were known for long-distance travel. This was also another resource for travel that the wealthy more often than the rest of society. While there were many new innovative ways of transportation, people did not let go of the traditional ways. The most common method of transportation was the usage of bicycles, which were used for short, quick distances. There were still horse and carriages around as a mode of travel, and these usually had a capacity of around two people and were used for short distances. Horse-drawn carriages started to die down when automobiles started to become more popular as the preferred way to get around.


3 "New Steam Society"

[3.1] The Great War and George Greene's Steam Movement

[3.1.1] Conditions for a Steam Society

In 191X, the population of Rochester hit 28X,XXX citizens. More than half were first-generation or native Germans and Irish, and help make up much of the budding middle-class. Money was on the cusp of breaching the floodgates, with giant industries beginning to pick up momentum. Aside from the Bausch & Lomb and Kodak powerhouses, rising beside them were Cunningham and Sons – an Irish-run steam carriage company – and Stein-Bloch & Co. – a German clothier that was pushing the boundaries on blending technology and aesthetics. Furthermore, an ever-growing presence of artisans and engineers continued to populate the city as it grew.

George Greene, a successful lawyer and politican, devised a plan for the “New Steam Society.” Recognizing the current atmosphere in Rochester and the resources at its disposal, Greene pushed for a revitalization of the city that hinged around the breaking advancements of technology from the war. Federal and state money was leveraged towards Rochester, incentivizing innovation and quality engineering, giving grants to both of Rochester’s prominent universities, and funding public projects that were to make the city, as Greene put it, “without equals from Detroit to Albany”.

At its base, the plan looked to bring in innovative talent, whether growing it at home or taking it from abroad. Advertisements were sent out in Europe, the leader in steam technology, that offered stipends and amenities for those who moved to Rochester. On the other hand, The University of Rochester and its practical counterpart, RAMI, received heavy funding for their engineering, mechanics, and research programs.

While he waited for the talent to arrive, Greene also put forward a series of civic projects and used Rochester’s sizable labor force to create more effective transportation and logistics of the city, the most ambitious of all being the Rochester Pneumatic Transportation System.

[3.1.4] The Great War on Rochester

(Inspired by: link)
Americans were outraged by the sinking of the Lusitania by German U-Boat, turning national sympathies to anti-German. By 1916, many n Rochester advocated for a system of universal military service. The local Chamber of Commerce voted on the measure with 250 of 273 members voting in favor. Rush Rhees, president of the University of Rochester was quoted to say ““a policy of universal military training is the only protection a democracy can have against the development of a militarist caste, and that the time has come for us to undertake it.” As Rochester’s belligerent attitude grew, a pacifisitic one grew as well under the banner of the American Union Against Militarism. When the war started, Rochester was quick to provide soldiers. 23,000 Rochester men took part in the war, with approximately fifty percent being volunteers.

On the homefront, Rochester provided wealth, medical and military supplies, as well as new technological developments. However, support of the war came at a cost with coal and food shortages plaguing Rochester. Only those with a connection to coal dealers could rely on a steady supply of coal. The authorities would work out a system where those in actual need of fuel would contact the police and, if the need was verified by an investigation, would receive a specific amount of coal. This restricted the growth of a large, independent tinkerer movement during wartime. Rochester had shortages with sugar, meat, wheat, egg and butter. To remedy this, victory gardens were grown to promote self-sustainability and food and fuel conservation classes were taught by the Mechanics Institute.

Rochester celebrated the end of the war November 11, 1918. No one, except newspaper employees, worked. Soldiers and civilians alike paraded. Bands played. All of Rochester was thankful that the war was over. However, soldiers who had left never returned or returned physically or mentally broken. Many, such as George Greene’s son Joseph, returned home missing limbs, disfigured, or with mental issues like post-traumatic stress disorder. Due to this, the prosthetics industry boomed in Rochester.

[3.1.5] William Tenerly

The United States' entry into the war prompted heavy responses by the Central Powers, as attacks on allied territory became more numerous and brutal. Inventor William Tenerly, championed by long time friend George Greene, was contracted into the United States war effort as lead of the Automilitary Project. His previous inventions, the ‘Automated Peacekeeper’, as well as the grossly incompetent summer toy the Liquid Pistol, acted as the backbone to the project. The first working prototype that came out of the Automilitary Project, the Tenmen, is considered one of the driving forces for the allied victory in the Battle of Cantigny. Later variants, such as the tank-busting ‘Meandering Giant’ are largely credited for ending the war.

Research for the designs of the Tenmen and beyond yielded results for the practical application of steam and pneumatics outside of automation, as well as outside of military. Tenerly’s research into rapid hand-crank compression lead to the development of early pneumatic rifles which, with their low cost for development as well as cheap ammunition, became one of the signature weapons of the American military and are still in use today. The ‘ReBoil’ systems designed for the Meandering Giant have become the basis for many modern automobile and steamship.

[3.1.6] Rochester Athenaeum and mechanics institute (RAMI)

With George Green’s push for steam technology, RAMI began to push themselves to be on the forefront of developing new inventions, as well as students who would continue to drive the development of them in the coming years. With many different fields of research to be undertaken, the institute chose to take a primary focus on the development of new means of transportation; some focusing on the war effort and others on catching the United States up to the advances made by the rest of the world in recent years.

Seeing the practical use and application of automatas in the war, by other countries, many inventors and researchers aimed to build off said model for how to advance. Following the example of inventors such as William Tenerly, RAMI began working on various, statue-esque, feats of steam engineering, referenced from real world creatures, that overcame various conditions of weather and terrain. Inventions such as lightweight couriers, in the shape of various birds and other small animals, were some of the original creations; as they aided in stealthy transport of information during the war. With their success, as well as advances in other areas of study across Rochester, most of RAMI continued with similar inventions, based in more a more natural appearance, while others aimed for a more industrial style, with a focus on further developing inventions like the automobile and steamship.

[3.2] Rochester Pneumatic Transportation System (RPTS) and Rochester Underground (RU)

[3.2.1] History of the Rochester Underground

The Rochester Underground traces its roots back to the construction of the RPTS when the foundation of the city itself had to be essentially gutted and rebuilt in order to make way for the revolutionary pneumatic tube system. The first underground community sprouted around the Main & Oak Station when workers, mostly immigrants, began converting old basements and tunnels leftover from gutted buildings into makeshift living quarters in order to adapt to the long hours of work.

As construction continued into the cold winter months, more and more immigrants began migrating into these subterranean tenements to find work and keep warm. Without codes in place controlling the development of these communities, landlords and developers seized the opportunity to exploit the demand for underground development beneath the dense city core and began building their own network of housing and businesses, often without knowledge of the city or each other. This development with reckless abandon would lead to the underground becoming as dense and even more haphazard than the streets in some areas, specifically around the Lyell Ave and Miegs-Goodman Stations.

Communities would typically resemble cramped, hive-like structures that sprawled deep into the earth, with crooked facades mimicking the brick and mortar structures one would see above ground. This "Wild South" of Rochester would bring in everything from makeshift cathedrals to speakeasies to regular crime dens, all strewn together with ad hoc pipes, electricity and other fundamentals to make life below the surface as normal as possible. The underground villages would often incorporate existing infrastructure such as sewage pipes and the ever expanding RPTS itself as a foundation for the below-ground dwellings. The Rochester Underground was noted for its hazy amber glow as a result of the thousands of flimsy lights strewn throughout the tunnels.

The poor were not alone in their migration to the Rochester underbelly. An influential yet eccentric billionaire, T. Edgar Twombly, embraced the future of the RPTS and firmly believed the future lay not in the skies, towards which other cities were focusing their development, but below the ground, where the air could be filtered and where the skin would be free from the harsh effects of the elements. Following a holiday in Iceland, Twombly became convinced that living closer to the earth's core made the spirit stronger and enhanced the powers of the mind. Twombly's estate would become the first of a handful of estates around Rochester that would extend and connect underground, forming its own monumental and extravagant upper class borough beneath the East Side.

[3.2.2] Class Tensions

As the rich began to expand downward, tensions between the upper and lower classes began to rise. The rich saw the underground as a leisurely and exotic estate and were slowly expanding towards the densely populated areas the poor reside in. Feeling the pressure of expansion, the poor began to feel as if there was no place for them. It would only be a matter of time before the wealthy in Rochester seized the entirety of the underground and forced the poor to relocate elsewhere.

This tension sprung up many resistance groups within the underground. Labelled anarchists and ruffians by their upper class counterparts, these groups would raid and interrupt the rich’s expansion efforts and occasionally steal a pie or two. The rich saw these transgressions and became irate with the denizens of the underground and began to start hiring illicit help from the local crime syndicates, which gave even more power to the organized crime of Rochester.

[3.2.3] The RPTS

The Rochester Pneumatic Tube System is a system of large pipes that are pressurized with steam that act as an alternate form of transportation to the Rochester Subway. The passengers ride in capsules that are insulated to prevent the heat of the steam from cooking them in their seats. The stations are similar to airlocks where capsules enter an area where the tube has an opening where the capsule can be open to the outside area without the steam in the tube escaping causing the pressure to fall. Once the passengers are in the capsule the tube shuts the hatch closing it off from the outside station which then allows the pressure in the tube to build again. The low pressure in front of the tube in combination with the high pressure in the rear propels the capsule forward.

The Rochester Pneumatic Tube System is made up of a public tube system with several private tube branches. The public tube is generally used by the merchant or middle class which has the luxury of riding in the tube system instead of the cramped subway system which many of the lower class rides. The private tube branches are owned by the upper class members of society who wish to have their own fast and efficient way to travel the city while avoiding the public tubes frequented by the middle class.

Opponents of the RPTS claim that the pneumatic tube system is dangerous not only for the users of the system but for the health of the city itself. The Rochester Aboveground Society, or RAS, points to the RPTS Crash near Lyle Ave, when a Tube weakened by the underground construction around it crashed through the protective barriers and barreled into an oncoming Rochester Underground train. The disaster resulted in an unprecedented loss of life and a major delay on the factories expecting the trains full of workers. The RPTS and proponents of the system argue that this was only due to the haphazard and illegal construction in the RPTS tunnel system and around the tubes themselves, calling for stricter regulations around the Rochester Underground.

[3.2.4] Rochester Subway

The subway is a series of tunnels that branch off of the main line that runs through what was the Erie Canal. It is used by the factory workers who live in the Rochester underground. There are a station near the factory locations. Dozens and dozens of workers pile into the train cars to get to work every morning and take this subway system home at night. The stench of the subway comes from the heat of the steam-power train engine car, mold of the underground, and the workers sweat from the steam’s heat in the condensed tunnel. With few outlets for where it can go, the stench makes for a very unpleasant experience for workers when commuting.

[3.3] Steam-powered "Industrial Renaissance"

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[3.3.1] Industrialists and Investors

In the wake of The Great War came a wave of new technology that many did not understand the fullest potential of. The creative passions of the select individuals who began exploring these new possibilities fueled what would become a massive Industrial Renaissance, powered by steam. Fragile, inefficient human workers could be phased out and replaced with precise, cheap technology. Many savvy investors saw this potential and started backing what was sure to be the future of industry. For some, this technology was the herald a brighter future. For others, it brought profits beyond imagination. Though, many just found ways to utilize this technology to occasionally steal a pie or two.

[3.3.2] Notable Inventors and Inventions

[3.3.2.1] Prosthesis

Following the Civil War, the demand for prosthesis began to increase, with people being able to reconstruct entire facial features and limbs. However, such prosthesis proved cumbersome and uncomfortable. This changed with World War I, where the abundance of wounded encouraged more research. With the rise of steam technology, many inventors jumped on the opportunity to innovate. Before the war, artificial arms were limited. The wounded only had a choice of either the immobile, wooden "Sunday Arm" or the "work claw", which allowed the victim to hold objects but lacked a human aesthetic. Now, with the use of steam prosthetics, people would not have to compromise style for practicality. Steam limbs proved superior to the mostly wood based pieces, allowing for greater flexibility, style, and ease of use.

Due to the glass shortage around this time, a greater emphasis was put on metal and rubber for prosthetic construction. Special masks were made to replace missing parts of a soldier's face using photographs as models. The masks were then painted to emulate the victim's skin tone. Among the greatest pioneers of this budding trend was Dr. Varaztad Kazanjian, "The Miracle Man of the Western Front." In October, 1895, Kazanjian was an Armenian immigrant who immigrated to the United States. After balancing work in the wire mill with night classes, he was accepted into Harvard's Dental School in 1902 and graduated in 1905. In 1915, he participated in World War I, using prosthetic dentistry to reconstruct soldier's faces. Using dental wires, Kazanjian was able to hold together numerous bones fragments, recreating some faces without the need for a mask. Following the war, he made numerous inventions, including the Kazanjian clamp to stop artery hemorrhages, the Kazanjian button to immobilize jaw bones during surgery, and the Kazanjian split to help with nose fractures.

Prosthetic limbs and masks were quite popular following the war, with the affluent being able to afford numerous custom products of various styles and uses. Some even had additional features, such as hidden compartments or built-in watches. Engineers were thrilled with the chance to innovate, with many trying to see how many gadgets and enhancements they could include. It's hard to say who was the first to incorporate steam technology into prosthesis, as many jumped on the opportunity, each inventor had their own unique style and construction. There is no "right" way to make these mechanical parts, so how these worked depended entirely on the inventor's preference. Because of the variety in prosthesis, many people started coveting or collecting the various models from esteemed machinists. Of course, some prosthetic parts were mass produced, but those tended to be less popular with the wealthy, who preferred the ornate, unique designs of specialized craftsmen. The mass produced parts were also less comfortable, not tailored to the individual needs of the consumer, making the customs crafts the better option. Having one of these custom parts was a sign of status, with some people even having several parts for each outfit or occasion. Those who could not afford their services were often stuck with poor fitting, awkward moving limbs, assuming they could even afford any prosthetic in the first place.

[3.3.2.2] Marie Curie


[3.3.2.3] John A. Larson

John Larson was a police officer in Berkley, California, credited with the invention of modern polygraph use in forensic investigations and law enforcement. Of Canadian descent, Larson’s family moved to New England while he was a child. He earned a master’s degree in biology in 1915 from Boston University and went on to obtain a Ph.D in physiology from the University of California, Berkley. In 1920, Larson also joined the Berkley Police Department where he developed a device that integrated a blood pressure test invented by William Moulton Marston, with pulse, respiration, and skin conductivity tests to create a comprehensive lie detection device. Larson began using this device in police investigations, with great success, in 1921. While Larson’s work was focused in California, the ‘lie detector’ would radically affect law enforcement, and the criminal underworld, across the country.

[3.3.2.4] Nikola Tesla


[3.3.2.5] Gerald Schliske


[3.3.3] Other Influences

[3.3.3.1] Bulldog Boys (Irish Gang)

Before prohibition the Irish street gangs were never organized. As soon as prohibition started it was too lucrative to pass up. Mickey “Bulldog” Enright of the Bulldog Boys began meeting with other gangs and organized a merger with many other Irish gangs. Within the Irish and Catholic community little support was given to prohibition. Although wine was still allowed for religious purposes, it was still seen as an infringement upon their rights. The Italian mafia had control of the drugs beyond your standard bottle, and was much more powerful than the newly united Irish. They knew they couldn’t directly compete with the Italians, who were much bigger and well organized. Mickey counted on the fact that many Irish pubs would continue their bars in hiding, and began production of alcohol. It was made in tubs, and often spiked with other chemicals to give it an extra “bang”. This booze was cheaper than the higher quality alcohol from the Italians. The Bulldog Boys have a steady demand from the Irish community, and their goal is to find some supplier for booze in Canada. Outright conflict with the Italian Mafia hasn’t started yet, but it could the moment the Italians try to take their customers. They have around 30 members now, but other Irish street gangs are starting to think about joining.

[3.3.3.2] The Falcones

The Falcone family had a presence in Rochester before Prohibition. Before Prohibition they dealt mostly with forcing stores to pay protection money and drugs such as heroin, opium, and cocaine. When the Prohibition happened the Falcone family started to Bootleg alcohol from Canada. This kept them in control of most of the drugs and higher quality booze. The Falcone family is lead by Don Emilio Falcone he immigrated to Rochester before 1900 and was able to build his family to become a major family to be recognized in Rochester. They are well organized and funded, they have not gotten into open conflict with the Irish gang, the Bulldog Boys due to not having running into them during their runs. The Falcone family have been known to some controversy in the town and the police seemed to not pursue them.

[3.4] Opposition to the New Steam Society

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The subway is a series of tunnels that branch off of the main line that runs through what was the Erie Canal. It is used by the factory workers who live in the underground of steam punk Rochester. There are a station near the factory locations. Dozens and dozens of workers pile into the train cars to get to work every morning and take the subway home at night. The stench of the subway comes from the heat of the steam-power train engine car and the workers sweat from the steam’s heat in the condensed tunnel. The subway’s steam itself is not very toxic, but with few outlets for where it can go, the steam makes for a very unpleasant experience for workers when commuting.[2.