Northwest Quadrant - Barker Street / U.N.I.T.
The U.N.I.T. (United Neighbors Involved Together) and Barker Street Neighborhood points to its close proximity to the Erie Canal for its origin in the 1800's as homes and businesses built up around the long waterway of commerce. The Erie Canal still marks U.N.I.T.’s boundary on the west, with Lyell Avenue on the north, Glide Street on the east and Buffalo Road/West Avenue on the south.
One of the earliest names for the Neighborhood was “Basket Town.” Older residents remember nearby marshes filled with a plentiful collection of reeds that lent themselves to basket weaving.
After the post World War II housing boom, quiet residential streets co-existed with a bustling commercial mecca that surrounded it. Many descendants of the neighborhood’s original families stayed in the area, and it remains largely filled with homeowners today.
The U.N.I.T. Neighborhood Association has been a strong presence in the community for over 28 years. The Barker Street Block Club, in particular, worked for many years to make streets more hospitable, including lobbying to get the sound barriers now installed on Barker Street, which abuts Interstate 490.
Neighborhood loyalty persists and extends beyond private homes to the local elementary school and businesses along Lyell Avenue, the main commercial corridor.
Theodore Roosevelt School Number #43, a public magnet school, focuses on instrumental music, vocal chorus and visual arts. To develop community engagement, the school holds a monthly “breakfast with the principal” and in return enjoys active Parent Teacher Association participation. It looked for additional participation from the academic community and built educational partnerships with area colleges, such as Nazareth College, St. John Fisher College and SUNY Geneseo. Each school year, volunteer tutors work with School #43 students.
Neighborhood loyalty also extends to community businesses. Favorites include Matella’s, a family-run Italian restaurant on Lyell Avenue that opened for business in 1980. Wilshire Restaurant and Catering, also on Lyell Avenue, is another local landmark restaurant that has been owned and operated by the Putrone family since 1960.
In August, residents and business owners come together to celebrate their neighborhood, promote local businesses and build community with the Lyell Avenue Street Fair.
If you would like additional information about this neighborhood, please contact the Northwest Quadrant Neighborhood Service Center:
71 Parkway - First Floor
Rochester, NY 14608