A Tower to Rival Eiffel's Designed in Rochester NY?

A Tower to Rival Eiffel's Designed in Rochester NY?

This article was scraped from Rochester Subway. This is a blog about Rochester history and urbanism has not been published since 2017. The current owners are now publishing link spam which made me want to preserve this history.. The original article was published March 09, 2015 and can be found here.

A Great Tower of London designed by an M.T. Otis in Rochester NY.

     By       Mike Governale

The Atlantic's CityLab recently     posted

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some late nineteenth-century designs for a Great Tower of London. The first one in the stack was a 1,355 foot sky scraping behemoth designed in Rochester USA...

The design was submitted to a design competition for a tower that would rival Eiffel's in Paris.

   In 1889 the 1,000-foot Eiffel Tower had just been unveiled at the Paris Exposition. And although the Brits said they thought it hideous, they wanted one of their own. So a design competition was launched which drew     68 proposals

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from around the world, all of them at least 200 taller than Eiffel's.

The tower by Otis was to be 1,355 feet tall. 355 taller than Eiffel.

The design from Rochester was attributed to an M.T. Otis. But just who this Otis person was has me scratching my head.

Maps of Rochester are littered with references to an Otis, but that would be     General Elwell Stephen Otis

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. General Otis commanded American forces in the Spanish-American War. Rochester even had an arch and an official "Otis Day" (June 15, 1900) for him.

Could M.T. Otis have been some relation to Elisha Otis and his famous elevator company? Otis Elevator Company did have offices in Rochester at 527 East Main Street, but I couldn't find a connection there.

Emily Morry, Historical Researcher at Rochester Public Library was able to find a George T. Otis in the city directory of 1890. And as it turns out, George     was    an architect, and had a firm named "G.T. Otis and C.F. Crandall" located in the Ellwanger and Barry Building. Hmmm... G.T. but no M.T.

Perhaps the M.T. Otis in the catalog of design submissions had been a typo? That would be some insult added to injury after his design for the Great London Tower didn't even get picked. Then again, the London tower never was built either so, humpf.

The Y.W.C.A. building on North Clinton Avenue may have been designed by the same Otis of Rochester. At least this one was actually built.

   If it's any consolation, George did get the opportunity to design Rochester's Y.W.C.A. building on North Clinton Avenue and it DID get built in 1912. Aaaand then it was replaced by a much larger building in 1951. Doh!    * * *

UPDATE: Matt Denker correctly points out that these designs may have been from some other "Rochester USA" not necessarily NY. The search continues for the real M.T. Otis.

Chris Gemignani

Chris Gemignani

Rochester, NY, USA