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It’s Park Avenue Festival weekend, a time to celebrate one of Rochester’s most vibrant neighborhoods. The city website tells us about its history:

Park Avenue’s history is long. It was first laid out as an avenue in 1852, but it took shape, albeit erratically, in 1860 as three separate streets. Park Avenue ran from Alexander Street to Goodman Street. “Crescent Street,” ran between Vick Park A and B. “Bates Street, named for an early East Avenue resident, ran from Barrington toward Culver Road.” The three were joined in 1875 and renamed Park Avenue.

James Vick, a successful horticulturalist, “seedsman,” publisher and businessman owned a business on East Avenue. Vick built Union Park Racetrack on his nursery’s land, and the track’s two straight-aways eventually became Vick Park A and B. (The curve in Park Avenue between the two streets was the racetrack’s southern end.)

It wasn’t always so nice on the avenue. Starting in the Depression and continuing through the 1950s, East and Park avenues saw decline. People were moving to suburbs. The advent of cars brought noise and parking problems. Mansions deteriorated and were broken up into ill-fitting apartments. In 1969, the Park Avenue neighborhood association was formed, focusing on code enforcement, preservation, beautification and business.

The Park Avenue Festival was born in 1976.

Today, Park Avenue has far more white people with money and far fewer children than the rest of the city. It has more bars and restaurants. It has few chain stores. It has more rental properties.

Some facts from the U.S. Census (Census tracts 29 & 31):

  • Population: 8,366
  • White Residents: 88% (44% for entire city)
  • Renters: 81% of all households (62% for entire city)
  • Families with Children: 5% of all households (26% entire city)
  • Income: Median income for Census Tract 29: $35,769 Census Tract 31: $49,935 ($30,138 entire city)

Zip Code 14607:

45 restaurants – That’s 27 per 10,000 households (Metro area has a whole has 19 per 10,000 residents.)

18 bars – That’s 11 bars per 10,000 households (Metro area as a whole has 4 per 10,000 residents.)


7 Responses to About Park Avenue

  1. True the out-migration from Park Ave to the southeast suburbs caused many of the properties to be convrted into multiple rentals.

    It was accelerated by the post-WWII housing crunch created by all the troops coming back and forming families that needed reasonable housing near neighborhood amenities and trolley/busllines.

    Many of the old estate homes were divided illegally or under a previous code which was more lax than today’s reqitement for 2 means of egress for residential structures of 3 or more units on 2 or more floors.

    That’s why there are so many ugly fire escapes on some of the old mansions in Park Ave due to apts. up in attics and the inability to fit or afford second stairtowers on the property. Also, as later allowed, fire sprikler systems were very difficult and expensive to plumb throught the structures due to their heavy construction and walls.

  2. Of course, there are fewer children on Park Avenue. How many people want to raise children on upper floors of shops with nowhere to park? My daughter lived there for two years and her parking tickets cost her a fortune!

    This brings up a memory. My grandparents lived in an apartment in one of the East Avenue mansions. When I first starting driving, in the early seventies, I was leaving their apartment, and my grandfather cautioned me not to make a wrong turn or I’d end up on Park Avenue. Yes, it was an area to warned about back then!

    My friends and I only went to Park Avenue in the mid-seventies to buy gauze blouses at Parkleigh Pharmacy.

  3. August 4, 2012 at 3:02 pm Mittens responds:

    Park Ave was a bad area in the ’70s? Wow. You learn something new every day.

    • Yes, neighborhoods definitely change…for better and for worse. You know how nice the Art Walk area is? I walked home from downtown one time in 1974. My mother yelled at me for taking the University/Atlantic Avenue route home to the east side, as it was considered a dangerous way to walk home.

  4. It’s strange that this article is about how “white” Park Avenue is, yet the Park Ave Fest poster shows all dark-skinned people.

  5. Pingback: Rochester - West Side vs East Side - Page 2 - City-Data Forum

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