Southeast Quadrant - Bensonhurst Neighborhood
The Bensonhurst Neighborhood nestles within a small rectangle of streets in Rochester’s Southeast Quadrant. It’s small enough that the Neighborhood Association calls itself, “a community of neighbors,” and lists each one individually: Bedford, Edgeland, Rocket, Martinot, Roseview, Laurelton, Longview, Salisbury, Lawndale, Mapledale, Pershing, Westchester and sections of Clifford Avenue and Culver Road.
Many homeowners have lived here for several decades, and they remember who stayed and who moved away. Many remember their neighborhood son, the late Rochester Mayor Thomas P. Ryan, J.R., who lived on Rocket Street. As 63rd Mayor of Rochester, he served from 1974-1994. Mayor Ryan is best known for his work on downtown redevelopment, and his campaign to change the city’s form of government that made the city manager the chief administrator and gave City Council the power to chose the mayor. He is also fondly remembered for having established the now annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade.
Most neighborhood homes were built between 1910-1920. Many of the older homes retain their hardwood floors and gumwood trim. The majority of the homes are owner occupied, and younger families are beginning to move into the neighborhood.
The Bensonhurst Neighborhood Association (BNA) members, several of whom are newcomers to the area, are working hard to improve the community. Their mission is to "improve the quality of life through improved relationships and positive action.”
Members walk PAC-TAC (Police and Citizens Against Crime). Each year, BNA holds a garage sale, a summer picnic and a holiday party. They are currently planning beautification projects that will place flowerpots around the neighborhood. A newsletter, website and monthly meetings at Johnny's Irish Pub (handicap accessible) keep members in touch. A BNA blog is also planned for the near future.
Many Bensonhurst merchants collaborate with the nearby Culver Merchants Association.
Savoia Pastry Shoppe on Clifford Avenue is neighborhood famous for its Italian pastries. Teresa and Michael Petrantoni, immigrants to Rochester, opened Savoia in 1929, when the area was the center of Rochester’s Italian community. The original shop started as a gelateria selling pastries and Italian ices. In summer, residents strolled to the shoppe and stayed until midnight. It continued as a community gathering place until World War II. After the War, Savoia’s famous tea cookies, and “cookie cake," high pyramids of pastel colored cookies, became a staple of area wedding receptions. In 1971, the store relocated closer to the Irondequoit suburb.
Other Clifford Avenue businesses are Fiorvanti Florist, founded in 1920 and Schum Florist, a family-owned business. A more recent addition to Clifford Avenue, the very popular El Conquistador Restaurant, offers Puerto Rican cuisine and catering.
St. Ambrose Church, located on the northeast border of the Bensonhurst neighborhood, was established as the 31st Parish in the Diocese of Rochester in 1921. In a diocesan reorganization, St. Ambrose joined with St. John the Evangelist and St. James to become Peace of Christ Roman Catholic Parish.
The Bensonhurst neighborhood is also served by NEAD, The North East Area Development Inc., a non-profit neighborhood organization. NEAD works with residents in community enhancing programs including an emergency residential repair program and a tool lending library.
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