Colonel Josiah Bissell, 1818-1891

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Josiah Bissell was an engineer and  the state contractor in charge of constructing the second Erie Canal Aqueduct over the Genesee River. 

Colonel Josiah Bissell - Mount Hope Cemetery Rochester, NY

When he demolished the crumbling 1823 aqueduct, he salvaged stone from it to build his home at 666 East Avenue. The stone was so porous that the aqueduct leaked.  He lined the exterior walls of his home with lead to prevent dampness.

He also planted horse chestnut trees on East Avenue from his home all the way to today’s Liberty Pole.  This began the custom of planting stately trees along avenues.

He is given credit for naming East Avenue, originally called the “Road to Pittsford.”  He put a sign painted with “East Avenue” on every street corner.  The city did not take the signs down, and that is how the street got its name.

Patricia Corcoran