Southwest Quadrant - High Falls
High Falls neighborhood residents may not be as plentiful as the employees who arrive by day to work in the 19th century commercial buildings within this Nationally Registered Historic District, but that number is changing as more people recognize the area’s remarkable past and contemporary possibilities.
Indisputably, Rochester’s commercial life began here in 1815 when brothers Matthew and Francis Brown built the area's first riverside canal, Browns Race, to harness the High Falls rushing water. Soon flour mills flourished, joined by other commercial enterprises. Add the Erie Canal to the mix and Rochester’s boomtown ethos led to its nickname, the “Young Lion of the West.”
Over time, the 19th century buildings in the High Falls neighborhood were abandoned, but thankfully not demolished, and today they offer residential, commercial and entertainment opportunities.
Within its small 0.140-square-mile boundary which extends north to Smith Street, south to the Inner Loop, east to the Genesee River, and west to Oak Street, visitors find renovated button factories, saw mills and water works along with the iconic Kodak Office Tower (1914). Rochester communication organizations are also located here: WXXI and Entercom Rochester.
The best view of the High Falls can be found here on the Pont de Rennes pedestrian bridge and park, a modern landmark recreated in 1982 from the former Platt Street bridge (1891), an 858-foot-long, truss bridge.
Since 1992, the New York State Heritage Area Visitor Center and the High Falls Museum and Gift Shop and Art Gallery have been housed in the former Rochester Water Works, on Browns Race. Architect Andrew J. Warner designed the High Victorian Gothic building (1873) to provide high-pressure fire fighting water and hydraulic power for downtown elevators.
Currently, two historic buildings have been renovated to include one to two-bedroom apartments and lofts in the neighborhood. Private developers transformed the former four-story 1826 Seyle Fire Engine Company, a manufacturer of Rochester’s first fire engines on Mill Street, now called the Parazin Building, into residential and office space. The Parry Building (1851) also offers housing and commercial space. New construction of affordable housing, The Mills at High Falls, has also added neighbors to State Street.
Entertainment is also an essential draw to the Historic District. Frontier Field (1996) on North Plymouth Avenue is home to the Rochester Red Wings baseball team, the oldest and longest running minor league franchise (1899) in the history of professional sports. Its first team, the Rochesters, began play in 1877. The Red Wings have been the farm team of the St. Louis Cardinals and the Baltimore Orioles. They became affiliated with the Minnesota Twins in 2003.
Along with a varying landscape of restaurants, bars and coffee shops, the High Falls area attracts thousands each year to the free weekend Laser Shows that illuminate the Genesee River gorge with laser animation, special fireworks and music.
If you would like additional information about this neighborhood, please contact the Southwest Quadrant Neighborhood Service Center:
923 Genesee Street
Rochester, NY 14611