Southeast Quadrant - ABC Streets
ABC Streets neighborhood residents enjoy the best of city living. Within walking distance from their quiet, tree-filled historic streets, they can find a wealth of retail, restaurant and recreation opportunities.
The area was formerly called the CHAP21 Neighborhood, an acronym that combined the names of streets--Culver/Colby (C), Harvard St. (H), ABC Streets (A), Park Ave. (P)--and its Ward, the 21st. Ward is an older term that was used to identify City neighborhoods. CHAP21 residents organized in 1985 in response to the possible impact on their homes from the Can of Worms (Interstate 490/Interstate 590/Route 590) re-construction project (Route 490) and sound barrier construction. The expressway had replaced the subway bed that replaced the old Erie Canal that once followed the route of 490 behind many homes on Harvard St. A remnant of this historic waterway can still be found in the ABC Streets neighborhood between the Pedestrian Bridge and the Culver Road Route 490 exit.
The ABC Streets Neighborhood Association was formed in 1986 with nine officers. At the end of the decade, most neighborhood issues revolved around parking or noise problems. By 2005, an active Association in partnership with other neighborhood associations helped to get the City’s Noise Ordinance amended.
In time, the neighborhood was renamed the “ABC Streets,” in recognition of its alphabetical collection of names of famous scientists, naturalists and inventors. In orderly fashion, streets commemorate Audubon, Ericsson, Faraday and Gerard. Other renowned names as streets continue bordered by Park Avenue on one side and Harvard Street on the other. The academic connection doesn’t continue with Harvard Street, however. According to the Neighborhood Association’s online historic timeline, Harvard Street, laid out in 1870, was named for a developer's brother-in-law, not for the Ivy League University in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Today its formal boundaries extend north to University Avenue, south to Park Avenue, west to Culver Road (Park Avenue to University Avenue) and east to Winton Road.
As for its population, the ABC Streets neighborhood is known for long-time residents who prefer to stay put, and others lucky enough to find rentals in the huge homes-turned-apartment, or those who wait for residents to move on.
Notable ABC Streets neighbors included the legendary dentist to George Eastman, who was known to walk his pet cheetah around the neighborhood on a leash in the early 20th century. Nationally respected Gannett Newspaper film critic Jack Garner and wife Bonnie have lived in the neighborhood for many years.
The non-profit ABC Streets Neighborhood Association’s website publicizes events and shares information among neighbors both social and practical, including a “Contractors We Like” page. It also holds an annual summer picnic and a winter holiday party and neighborhood caroling along with wine tours and beer tastings.
While nearby Cobbs Hill offers plentiful green space and picnic grounds beside Lake Riley, the neighborhood takes proud ownership of a small triangular-shaped green space located on the corner of Culver Road and Harvard Street. The Park was first listed in the City of Rochester Parks Directory in 1917. In 1975, it was redesigned and dedicated by then Mayor Tom Ryan.
In 2010, the James Morrison Park had its second makeover through a partnership between the Neighborhood Association and the City Department of Recreation and Youth Services. Well-known landscape firm Zaretsky and Associates donated a design that incorporated the Association’s desire to “enhance the classic aesthetics of the neighborhood and minimizes the maintenance costs.” Along with a new dogwood and american elm tree and hydrangea and forsythia bushes, neighborhood Artist Dick Lubey, assisted by Mary Nicosia, transformed a traffic control box into a faux cobblestone park column.
The Neighborhood Association continues to grow community spirit through communal planting days or through a recent “Morrison Park Weed and Feed.” Residents met to weed the Park and later share a meal together to celebrate work well done.
If you would like additional information on this neighborhood, please contact the Southeast Quadrant Neighborhood Service Center:
320 N Goodman St - Suite 209
Rochester, New York 14607