Corn Hill- Rochester’s oldest neighborhood

Corn Hill is the oldest residential neighborhood in Rochester built just southwest of Downtown and still has homes standing from the 1830s and 1840s. Fortunately much of the neighborhood’s historic residential architecture has been preserved. Its unclear if Corn Hill ever had a vibrant business district. The Southeast quadrant of the neighborhood was redeveloped in the early 2000s with generally historic looking and contextual development. A decent but auto centric mixed-use shopping plaza and apartment development was built in 2008 called Corn Hill Landing. At least this development brought much needed retail to the community.

Additional population and commercial amenities is the biggest need for Corn Hill. Other areas in which it could improve include more walkable schools, better cultural amenities, and better ADA infrastructure. 

Click here to view my Corn Hill album on Flickr


* Good public transit access and very convenient to Dwtn Rochester.
* Nice dedicated bike lane along the River front.
* Excellent racial and economic diversity. Average family diversity with about 31% of households as families.
* For sales homes are generally pretty affordable. Because of the newer townhouse development there are is a good # of 1-bedrooms selling in the 100Ks. 2-beds sell in the 100Ks and 200Ks 3-beds sell btwn 150K-300K and 4-beds with the same + some larger homes selling in the 300Ks.
* Significant % of the new housing was preserved for affordability.
* Park amenities are pretty good including a couple playfields, basketball courts, playgrounds, a rec center, waterfront trail, and the historic Lunsford Circle Park.
* Solid tree canopy.
*Good number of churches and a local public library branch.
* Generally a safe district but still some rough/dead spots.
* Excellent set of historic homes. The urban form of the in-fill housing is pretty good but architecture a bit tacky. The shopping center is very tacky and rather auto centric.


*An ok grade school is located in the neighborhood. Several other schools in surrounding neighborhoods but not really walkable.
* Rentals are limited. What is listed is generally moderately priced.
* A handful of restaurants, bars, and shops thanks to the Corn Hill Landing shopping center. Major retail amenities missing include a supermarket, pharmacy, banks, and post office.
* Other than several restaurants & bars a couple art galleries limited cultural options. At least you are a 5 minute car ride to Dwtn though.
* Sidewalks are generally in tact but current ADA curbs hit or miss.
* Really no biz districts to speak of. The main arteries Ford St. and Exchange Blvd. function more like Blvds in the suburbs.
* Very quite neighborhood. Not a lot of vibrancy.

Rochester’s Brown Square- Home to Kodak’s World Headquarters

Brown Square is one of Rochester’s oldest neighborhoods and home to much of Rochester’s early industrial development of the 1830s. Widespread development occurred in the mid-late 1800s as Brown Square was settled by Italian, German, Irish, and  most recently Puerto Rican immigrants. Along the Genesse River near High Falls many warehouses and industrial uses were constructed. Historically State Street was a major north-south arterial in the City, and Kodak built their headquarters here in 1915. Sadly like many Rochester neighborhoods, Brown Square has not recovered since its post WW-II fall and is considered part of Rochester’s ” Crescent of Poverty”, a cluster of neighborhoods centered around the northern border of Downtown Rochester characterized by extreme poverty and crime.

Some revitalization has come to Brown Square including the repurposing of the Kodak Campus, renovating many warehouse buildings overlooking High Falls into lofts, restaurants, and creative stores, and two new stadiums. The stadiums unfortunately led to the demolition of large swaths of the district thanks no only to the stadium’s footprint but also to the ample amount of parking that surrounds them. Fortunately the neighborhood has held on to two attractive parks spaces (i.e. Brown Square Park and Jones Square Park).

What Brown Square needs is the intentional purchasing and redevelopment of the majority of the neighborhood. That is the type of intervention really needed to bring this neighborhood back. As so much of its fabric has been demolished, it can’t be affectively redeveloped piecemeal.

Click here to view my Browns Square Album on Flickr


* Excellent public transit access. One of the best served neighborhoods in Rochester.
* Very convenient access to Dwtn as it sits just north of the western half of Dwtn.
* Several disjointed bike lanes in the neighborhood.
* Excellent racial diversity and average generational spread.
* Decent park amenities with the medium size Jones and Brown Square Parks and the outdoor Edgartown Rec Center.
*Some good cultural amenities including the Minor League ball park, a soccer stadium, a major artist center, several restaurants, a handful of bars& cafes, and a couple historic sites along the falls.
* Some nice warehouse buildings remain along the Falls and the old Kodak Highrise is great. Some decent in-fil apartments along the Falls as well.


* Very poor district as the medium household income is around 15K.
*A decent grade school is located in the neighborhood. Several other schools in surrounding neighborhoods but not really walkable.
* Housing is very limited. Not many rentals on the open market here.
* What for sale housing exists is very affordable. For sale product sells anywhere btwn 25k-100K. A couple loft conversions along the river sell in the 100Ks and 200Ks but very limited product.
* Other than the river front and Jones Square and Brown Square Parks trees are pretty limited.
* Because of the High Falls redevelopment there are several boutiques, home goods, and creative stores near the river. There is also two banks. But overall neighborhood retail options aren’t great. No pharmacy, supermarket, library, photo office, etc.
* Sidewalks are generally in tact but current ADA curbs hit or miss.
* Not sure Brown Square is unsafely but its very blighted and abandoned.
* Urban massing is pretty bad. Large surface parking lots surround the stadiums and the urban fabric along the historic biz district of State and Lyell is pretty bad.

Downtown Rochester, NY

After the opening of the Erie Canal in the early 1820s, Dwtn Rochester boomed. By 1834, some 20 flour mills were producing 500,000 barrels annually, and the City’s population reached 13,500. Following the Civil War, many post-war industrial companies were founded including the likes of Kodak, Bausch & Lomb, Western Union, and Gleason Works. This led to the construction of many mid-sized skyscrapers in the late 19th century. Many of these buildings are still preserved along West Main Street in what is now called the Four Corners neighborhood. A subway was opened in 1927 on the old Erie Canal bed that ran through downtown but this was closed in the 1950s as public transit systems were replaced with cars and buses.

In the 60s Rochester, still a very corporate town, witnessed several ambitious urban renewals projects. This resulted in the Midtown Plaza mall, one of the first shinning new urban malls trying to compete with suburban malls. And new modern towners for Xerox, Bausch & Lomb, and several banks. Kodak actually built their major high rise and complex in 1915 just outside of Dwtn in the Brown Square district. Sadly these ambitious urban renewal projects sucked the vibrancy and energy out of Dwtn creating several nodes of activity (West Main Steet, the Saint Paul Quarter [a warehouse district], East End [where Eastman School of Music is located], Grove Place [an attractive residential area], and East Main Street) that are quite disconnected from each other.  After many years of stagnation, Midtown Plaza mall closed in the 2007. The tower still remains and is now a mixed used bldg, and the mall was converted to a pretty attractive park. The 2010s have been a good decade for Dwtn Rochester as businesses, people, and entertainment are starting to return to downtown. The East Inner belt was converted to a street in 2018 resulting in many new apartments and townhomes and the restoration of a seamless connection to the attractive East Rochester neighborhoods.

But there is still much work to do as many parts of Downtown Rochester remain either dead or blighted. The best untapped potential for Dwtn lies in the Four Corners district where an amazing concentration of gorgeous unspoiled late 1800s buildings lie waiting to be renovated. North of East Main street around the St. Paul Quarter district is a sea of parking lots and underutilized buildings. South of Broad street has almost all been cleared by urban renewal and is generally pretty dead. Plenty of East Main St. bldgs that could be repurposed as well.

Click here to view my Downtown Rochester album on Flickr


* Good dwtn population here.
* Good number of dedicated bike lanes within Dwtn. Ok access to Rochester neighborhoods and suburbs. No dedicated bike stations yet in Rochester.
* Residential population is one of the most diverse in Rochester. Good economic diversity esp. when you consider the incomes that work Dwtn. About 25% of those living Dwtn are below the poverty line.
* Within Dwtn a large okay rate high school. Several pretty well rated schools located with 1 mile of Dwtn.
* An okay number of rentals dwtn and a mix of affordable and moderately priced ones. Studios around 750K, 1-beds lease btwn 900K and $1,600. and 2-beds in the $1,000s. Really no 3-bedrooms.
* Some for sale units Dwtn but very few 1-bedrooms. 1 bed condos sell in the 200Ks & 300Ks. 2-bedrooms anywhere in between 200Ks-500Ks depending on size  and condition. 3 & 4 beds selling for anywhere btwn 300K-700K. These are mostly town homes.
* A fair # affordable rents Dwtn. Medium rent is only $868.
* A good number of small and medium sized plazas and parks but no great stand out parks. MLK Plaza and now Midtown Commons are the best recreational spaces with some programming.
* Several nice smaller colleges dwtn including the Eastman School of Music, Monroe Community College, and Brockport Dwtn amount to about 3K students.
* An overall solid skyline due to Dwtn Rochester’s spreadout modern high rises.
* Great historic architecture Dwtn. Some much potential for wonderful bldg conversions.
* Culturally Dwtn has a decent # of restaurants, bars, cafes, and a few breweries, several art galleries, many performing arts, music, and cabaret theaters (both historic & modern), an indie cinema, several museums (auto, children’s, Modern. Art, etc.). Dwtn also host the convention center, a hockey/basketball arena and minor league ballpark, and a good # of gov’t bldgs on the west side.
* Almost 50K employees work Dwtn. Pretty good for a metro its size. Office vacancy is around 8%.


* Public transit is only so  within the City. Even poorer transit outside the City limits. Only Brighton has decent public transit as a suburb.
* Dwtn has a lot of wide Blvds but also plenty of intimate narrow streets.
* Only 10% of households are families. This is low even for Dwtn standards. Some adult diversity with Dwtn host a lot of young professionals and empty nesters.
* Safety is generally ok but certainly some very dead spots in Dwtn Rochester and plenty of vacant buildings.
* Modern in-fill is a tough one evaluate in Dwtn. Lots of corporate modern high, which to some are quite interest, but too many very ugly. Some more recent modern in-fill especially along Union Ave where the inner belt once stood.
* Some good blocks of urban form but plenty of surface parking lots and poor urban form due largely to the expensive urban renewal efforts Dwtn.
* Overall vibrancy is great but good with some spots Dwtn.
* Parts of the Eastern half of Dwtn are gaining positive momentum and buzz but the western half is very dead.
* Retail amenities are not great. No dwtn supermarket nor pharmacy. Shopping limited to a handful of boutiques, plenty of banks, a bookstore, some salons a family dollar, and the main public library and post office.

Highland Park- a comfortable middle-class neighborhood and home to a Fredrick Law Olmstead park

The neighborhood is named after Highland Park, an expansive park located on the neighborhood’s southern border that is one of several in Rochester originally designed by Frederick Law Olmsted,

Highland Park was developed mostly between the 1980s and 1930s and is a comfortable historic middle class streetcar neighborhood friendly to families but also very economically diverse. The district shares a border with South Wedge along South Avenue giving it convenient access to the main retail amenities located there. Clinton Ave is another urban biz district running along the northern edge of Highland Park. This is a decent urban biz district with a good amount of services but quite a lot of auto centric development too. Other urban areas that could improve in Highland Park include better public transit access, more intersections with ADA compliance ramps, more dedicated bike lanes, several schools located within the neighborhood, more cultural amenities and more rental housing options.

Click here to view my Highland Park Album on Flickr


* Very convenient access to Downtown.
* Excellent diversity esp. economic.
* Nice diversity of affordability & moderately priced for sale housing. 1-bed homes sell in the 100Ks, 2-beds in the 100Ks & mid 200Ks, 3 & 4 bedrooms anywhere between the 100Ks and mid 300Ks depending on size & condition.
* The expansive Highland Park sits squarely within the southern portion of the neighborhood’s boundaries. Also a nice but small neighborhood park called Ellwanger and Berry Park.
* Culturally there is a good array of restaurants, bars, and cafes. There is also the Lamberton Conservatory Warner Castle within Highland Park.
* Retail amenities include a small local Grocery store, a Pharmacy, a butcher, a decent # of boutiques, several dessert joints, and local stores.. There is also a local public library and a major hospital.
* Good urban massing along South Ave but its more residential here than in South Edge. Clinton is a mix of urban and auto centric massing. 


* Public transit access is so  here.
* Good sidewalk coverage but most intersections don’t have current ADA ramps.
* Only on dedicated bike lane and not dedicated bike stations in Rochester.
* Rental housing is very limited but generally moderately priced.
* No schools within Highland Park but a couple goods schools in adjacent districts that are quasi walkable.
* No art galleries, live music venues, theaters, and few museum sites here.
* Modern in-fill is limited mostly to crummy auto-centric buildings.

South Wedge- Rochester’s Oldest Neighborhood

South Wedge is one of Rochester’s oldest neighborhoods outside of Downtown and began in the 1820s as a series of small houses owned by families tied to the Erie Canal trade. By the time Frederick Douglass moved to South Wedge along South Ave in the 1860s, the area was bustling and hosted the city’s first street railway.

After World War II the Wedge began a slow decline as residents moved to the suburbs. Businesses closed until the Wedge hit rock bottom in the 1970s. At this time around 25% of all housing units were vacant and crime was high along on South Avenue. But the fortunes of South Wedge really started to rise in the 2000s. Neighborhood groups worked hard to remove crime hot spots on South Ave and bring businesses back. Today South Avenue is one of the most interesting business districts in Rochester with lots of creative and locally owned shops. Architecturally the neighborhood has a nice variety of homes built between the 1840s and 1920s. Many handsome mixed-use buildings line South Avenue as well some decent urban in-fill development.

Main areas for South Wedge to improve upon include more rental housing options (something that is partially being helped with the new infill development along the River), better walkable schools, better cultural amenities, improved urban form along Mt. Hope Avenue, and a full service grocery store.

Click here to view my South Wedge album on Flickr


* Very convenient access to Downtown.
* 2 nice north to south dedicated bike lanes but no dedicated bike stations in Rochester.
* Nice diversity of affordability & moderately priced for sale housing. 1-bed homes sell in the 100Ks, 2-beds in the 100Ks & low 200Ks, 3 & 4 bedrooms anywhere between the 100Ks and mid 200Ks depending on size & condition.
* Several affordable housing buildings in the neighborhood..
* Great park amenities including the Genesse Riverway Trail/Gateway Park, Highland Park to the south, and a couple smaller parks within the neighborhood. Solid tree canopy as well.
* Culturally there is a good array of restaurants, bars, cafes, and a brewery. There is also the Lamberton Conservatory, Warner Castle, Sunken Garden within Highland Park along with walkable access to some cultural amenities Downtown.
* Retail amenities include a Co-Op and local small Grocery store, a Pharmacy, a bookstore, a butcher, a decent # of boutiques, several dessert joints, local stores, and home good stores. There is also a local public library and a major hospital.
* Some decent infill with several new mixed-use buildings along South Ave and new MF housing along the river.
* Generally good urban massing along the main biz district (South Avenue). Much less so along Mt. Hope and Clinton Avenue which often have a mix of auto centric and industrial uses.


* Rental housing is very limited but generally moderately priced.
* A couple walkable schools within or nearby but generally not great ratings.
* Only 1 art gallery, live music venues, theaters, and few museum sites here.
* Retail wise only a couple banks and no chain supermarket, nor local post office.

Park Avenue- One of Rochester’s best Urban Neighborhoods

Park Avenue itself was first laid out in 1852 but did not assume its current form until 1875. Park Avenue became one of downtown’s earliest suburbs, filling out by the early 20th century. Decline began in the neighborhood as early as the Great Depression when many of the larger homes were subdivided into apartments. Revitalization efforts took off in 1969 with the creation of the Avenue Neighborhood Association in 1969 to focus on codes, preservation, and revival. Park Avenue, however, never experienced the same amount of decline as other Rochester neighborhoods and by and large retained its urban fabric and buildings.

Now Park Avenue is one of the most urban desirable neighborhoods in Rochester and especially caters to college or young professional. I would argue that the division of many large homes into apartments boosted its urbanity allowing more density and diverse housing options. Park Avenue hosts two attractive biz districts along Park Avenue (a collection of many urban nodes mixed with residential) and Monroe Street. Park Avenue also hosts decent schools, great cultural and retail amenities, great access to Dwtn , and is generally very safe.

Main areas where Park Avenue could improve include more park space. Yes, Cobb Hill Park is large and within a mile of the neighborhood, but there are really no other parks within the neighborhood. Racial and generational diversity is also very limited as this is a very white and young district. Public transit should also be much better considering how close Park Avenue is to Downtown and Monroe Street should have an overlay district to promote more urban and mixed use development to replace auto centric uses.

Click here to view my Park Avenue Album on Flickr


.* Decent # of schools ranked moderately well. Several large specialty high schools here.
* Solid tree canopy and very safe district overall.
* Generally quality sidewalk and ADA infrastructure.
* Gorgeous historic architecture.
* Generally quality urban form in biz district. Monroe does have some auto centric spots but overall is pretty good. Park Avenue is great!
* Pretty vibrant district, especially for a midwestern City.
* Public transit is ok but pretty sub-par for an inner ring neighborhood.
* A couple north-south bike lanes but no bike share yet in the City.
* Excellent economic diversity.
* Even for a higher end district medium rent is quite affordable hovering around $1,000. A moderate amount of dedicated afford. units here.
* Only a handful of condos available. They sell in the 100Ks. 2 & 3 beds sell for anywhere btwn 200K-400K depending on size and condition. 3& 4-beds 200K-500K. 4 & 5 beds are a bit more expensive but top out at 500K.
* 1 bedroom rentals are a bit limited. 1-beds lease around 900K, 2-beds in the low-mid $1,000s, 3 beds in the mid to high $1,000s.
* Very good cultural amenities in Park Ave including many restaurants, bars, & cafes. Also many art galleries, a couple community theaters and convenient access to many museums in neighboring East Ave and Downtown.
* Retail amenities include 2 supermarkets, a couple drug stores, There are also several gyms, a rock claiming wall, tons of boutiques, home good stores, and dessert shops.


* The expansive Cobb’s Hill sits on the SE border of district. This an excellent park with lots of amenities but virtually no other parks exist within Park Avenue. For most residents this isn’t walkable.
* About 85% of the population is white so pretty poor racial diversity here. Not very many family households either.
* Public transit access is so . Very underwhelming for an neighborhood so close to downtown.
* Limited in-fill housing, and what exists is mainly auto centric.
* Okay racial diversity. Limited family households here.

East Avenue- Home to the George Eastman Estate and Many of Rochester’s Cultural Treasures

East Avenue is home to the City’s best collection of large 19th and early 20th century homes,  historic churches, and museums. This is the neighborhood where George Eastman constructed his mansion and estate in the early 1900s. It also is located just east of Downtown and has several nice urban biz districts (i.e. Park Avenue, East Avenue & Union, and University & Atlantic Ave.). The district also hosts a vibrant food and beverage scene, quality retail amenities, and a diverse array of often moderately priced housing options.

But there are also several areas that the East Avenue neighborhood does not excel at from an urban perspective. Its urban density of around 8,000 people per square mile creating many dead spots, its public transit service is wanting, there are several very autocentric stretches along University Avenue, and it has a very low percentage of family households. An ambitious densification plan and urban form overlay along University Avenue could go a long way towards improving the urbanity of this neighborhood.

Click here to view my East Avenue album on Flick


* Quality sidewalk infrastructure, but plenty of intersections without ADA compliant ramps.
* Excellent access to dwtn.
* Excellent economic diversity.
* Even for a higher end district medium rent is quite affordable hovering around $1,000. A moderate amount of dedicated afford. units here.
* Very diverse array of for sale price points. Several condo buildings selling 1 bedroom units in the 100Ks. 2-beds sell for anywhere btwn 150K-400K depending on size and condition. 3& 4-beds 200K-500K. The large historic mansions sell btwn 500K-800K.
* Rentals are a bit limited but moderately priced. 1-beds lease around 1K, 2-beds in the low-mid $1,000s, 3 beds in the 2Ks.
* Decent # of schools ranked moderately well. Several large specialty high schools here.
* Excellent Tree canopy.
* Very good cultural amenities in East Ave including many restaurants, bars, & cafes. Also several theaters & live music venues, a handful of art galleries, and a concentration of the best museums in Rochester.
* Retail amenities include 2 supermarkets, a couple drug stores, a mix of chain and local retail. Chain retail is mostly along auto centric biz district and local retail in more urban biz districts. There are also several gyms, a rock claiming wall, and home good stores.
* Very safe district.
* Gorgeous historic architecture.


* Transit is only so . Rather disappointing for a neighborhood adjacent to Dwtn.
* A couple north-south dedicated bike lanes but not bike share yet. Apparently this will come soon.
* This is a very young and childless district. Very few families reside here. Racial diversity isn’t’ much better as around 80-85% of all households are white.
* The expansive Cobb’s Hill sits on the SE border of district. This an excellent park with lots of amenities but virtually no other parks exist within East Avenue. For most residents this isn’t walkable.
* Mix of quality urban form and auto centric form in the biz districts.
* Most in fill is auto centric buildings. But new MF apartments replacing the inner belt along Union (district’s western edge), and these are of some urban quality.
* Vibrancy along Park Avenue and East & Union but rest of neighborhood is pretty dead.

Rochester, PA a Ohio River Town with a great History of Glass Innovation

Like many places around Pittsburgh, Rochester was a former industrial hub especially with glass production. In 1897 the National Glass Company helped revolutionize glass production by inventing a glass mold as opposed to the traditional technique of cutting glass by hand. At its height, the company employed over a 1,000 people but its bankruptcy during the Great Depression began Rochester’s long decline. In 1930 Rochester held 7,700 residents but now has around 3,400.

While the town still retains decent walkability and retail assets, its downtown along Brighton St. is in rough shape with little investment in its buildings and streetscape. Town planners also decided to install a traffic circle around the town’s historic town square really hurting Rochester’s sense of place and desirability. This would be the first thing I’d change to improve Rochester before even embarking on a major downtown investment campaign. There is also need for bike infrastructure, better parks, and cultural amenities.
Click here to review the full album on my Flickr page


* Good street grid and connectivity.
* Solid economic and generational diversity with over 50% of households as families.
* While Rochester doesn’t have a great cohesive main street there are some good retail and neighborhood amenities including: a post office, library, supermarket, drug store, and several antiques and specialty retail.
* Rochester Middle and High School are located just east of the borough’s borders, but still pretty walkable to the community.
* As the borough is generally flat sidewalks are consistent through. ADA updated curbs are limited especially outside of the downtown area.


* The retains decent density even after losing more than half its population.
* No bike infrastructure.
* Public transit access is ok but not great routes to downtown Pittsburgh. About a 40-45 minute drive.
* The for sale market is pretty depressed with half of all housing selling below 50K. Some more stable housing selling in the 100Ks. Rental options are pretty limited and inexpensive.
* Recreational space consists mostly of several ball fields ringing the edge of town. Also a couple a decent plazas downtown but they are surrounded by high traffic street and not well integrated into the town’s urban fabric.
* Cultural amenities are pretty limited and include a handful of restaurants & bars. Also a couple local theaters. Important to keep in mind that Downtown Beaver is only a 5 minute drive.
* Crime is pretty high here and a significant amount of blight.
* Some infill but most of it is crummy autocentric stuff.
* Street trees are very limited in the downtown area and spotty in the residential areas.