#19: You Can Walk Alongside History

Sign at Maplewood Park

“You can experience most of the sequential great themes of American history simply by walking/biking along the south Genesee River corridor from Elmwood Avenue to Main Street:

Native American contributions: Elmwood Avenue & Genesee Valley Park (Algonquin village).

Colonial history: Prior to 1776, the east side of the Genesee River was British Colonial America; west side was “New France” (until Louisiana Purchase).

Canal development: Genesee Valley Canal (1830s to 1878) west riverfront; Feeder Canal (19th Century) east riverfront; Erie Canal (Genesee Valley Park) and Erie Canal Harbor Extension (riverfront from Elmwood Avenue to Broad Street’s Second Erie Canal Aqueduct).

Temperance: Early 1800s period at Brooks Landing; distilleries along riverfront.

Flour City & Flower City: Wheat fields and horticultural nurseries [Brooks Avenue to Ford (Clarissa) Street formerly on both sides of river corridor].

Sign at Maplewood Park

Sign at Maplewood Park

Early industrialism: Milling (waterpower from east riverfront Johnson-Seymour raceway and west Fitzhugh-Carroll mill race).

Rail transportation: Three separate rail lines (some shared) along south river corridor; subway system under Aqueduct until 1950s).

Abolition and Underground Railroad: South river corridor “stations” and sites associated with Frederick Douglass and Harriet Tubman.

Public safety: Early jail and later public safety complex near Court Street (west riverside).

Civil War: Camp Fitz-John Porter recruit training (west riverfront near Flint Street); Camp Hillhouse (east riverfront at University of Rochester Medical Center).

Spiritualism: The Fox Sisters (Corn Hill neighborhood); religious revivalism of 1800s.

Closing of the American Frontier: Buffalo Bill Cody resided in Rochester 1874-76 near southwest riverfront; wrote and performed stage plays; prototyped his Wild West Show locally.

Women’s and voting rights: Susan B. Anthony at Brooks Avenue and later Madison Street.

Highland Park

Energy development: Waterpower along river; 1866-1930 Vacuum Oil Refinery (west riverside near Flint Street) developed motor oil enabling local patent of the internal combustion engine automobile by George Selden); coal yards on east and west river corridors.

Media: Newspaper (east and west riversides near Broad Street); Al Neuharth (USA Today).

Municipal Parks: Frederick Law Olmsted designs for Genesee Valley Park, Highland Park, and Mt. Hope Cemetery.

Chemical processes: Eastman Kodak’s earliest dry film production (east riverside near Court Street).

Optics/optical developments: Early Kodak; Xerox and Bausch & Lomb offices.

Transportation vehicle development: Horse-drawn carriages and sleighs; early custom-built automobiles and aircraft (all at Cunningham factory at Canal Street).

Mass-marketing infrastructure: 1930s Sears transportation and distribution hub near Flint and Violetta Streets.

Washington Square Park's Soldiers and Sailors monument

Soldiers and Sailors monument in Washington Square Park

Arts & mass entertainment: Former Cook’s Opera House, Genesee Amusement Center, Armory (Geva) (east riverside area South Avenue near Main Street); Blue Cross Arena and Convention Center today.

Higher education: 1930s University of Rochester River Campus.

Natural and man-made disasters: Annual flooding along river corridor until Mt. Morris Dam; Naptha (illumination gas) Explosion 1887; 1964 civil unrest.

Unions: Garment workers (rallies held at Washington Square Park near Court Street).

Urban development: Founder Nathaniel Rochester’s “100 Acres” (west riverside) and its evolution to the present day.

Migration patterns: European, African American, contemporary.

Environment: Reclaiming the riverfront from obscured brownfields to waterfront resources today.”

—Submitted by the Plymouth-Exchange Neighborhood Association
For further information contact John E. Curran.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s