Southeast Quadrant - Upper Monroe Neighborhood
The Upper Monroe neighborhood exemplifies the best of the Monroe Urban Village. Residents can easily access the ingredients essential to comfortable city living - retail, restaurants and recreation resources - within walking distance of their homes. Its boundaries are marked at the north by Route 490, south at the city line with the Town of Brighton, east on Culver Road, and west to Field Street.
Neighborhood housing varies among expansive early 20th century single-family homes, half doubles, row houses and sturdy brick apartment buildings. Many homes overlook large landscaped yards or on some streets, the steep, shaded sloping terrain of Pinnacle Hill rises above them. Pinnacle Hill’s 748-foot summit makes it the city’s highest point. Residents can walk to Cobbs Hill and a short car ride away Highland Park.
Hundreds of years before houses filled the orderly streets of Upper Monroe, native people and European explorers traversed the area. A huge boulder at the base of Cobbs Hill marks the spot where the eighteenth century “Portage Trail” passed. This trail began at Irondequoit Bay and followed in the direction of what is today Highland Avenue and on to Red Creek in Genesee Valley Park.
C.F. Crossman is credited with helping to build the neighborhood. In 1838, Crossman founded a small seed company on the Avenue. Serendipitously, two years later George Ellwanger and Patrick Barry, famed nurserymen, would start their business on what is today’s Mt. Hope Avenue. Fifty years later, Crosman’s business - the American Seed Company, later the Crosman Brothers - would be one of the largest seed houses in the world. The Upper Monroe neighborhood residences grew up around Crossman’s land, with the majority of homes built in the early 1900s.
Today the community of 3,300 residents and property owners benefit from the very active Upper Monroe Neighborhood Association (UMNA). Each month Association members meet to discuss ways to vitalize the neighborhood and maintain the one trait they most appreciate - the “inclusivity” that welcomes newcomers and supports long-time residents and promotes local businesses.
In 2010, UMNA worked with the Southeast Area Coalition (SEAC) in hiring a Monroe Avenue street manager charged with increasing the Avenue’s appeal. UMNA has been a steadfast participant in current plans to redevelop the World War I era Culver Road Armory Building. The group is working with the developer to protect the integrity of the original structure while transforming into residential, office, retail and restaurant spaces. In 2014, SEAC joined with the South Wedge Planning Committee (SWPC) www.swpc.org and today shares facilities and staff.
Each spring, the Association holds a plant sale on the grounds of New Life Presbyterian Church, built 1901, on the corner of Monroe Avenue and Rosedale Street. It also organizes an annual Spring Clean up in conjunction with City Southeast Clean Sweep.
Recently, UMNA celebrated the creation of Wide Water Community Gardens, the city’s largest community garden, located at Rosedale and Hinsdale Streets. Using a NeighborGood grant from the Rochester Area Foundation, the group designed and built some 28 garden beds in the growing season of 2010. The Garden is named after a historic section of the Erie Canal, near Lake Riley on Culver Road, that was wide enough to allow boats to turn around. The Wide Water Gardens is a joint project between the UMNA, Third Rochester Enterprises Corporation (TREC) and the City of Rochester. Its mission is to bring “a new urban agricultural, educational and recreational resource to the residents of the City of Rochester and surrounding communities.”
UMNA is in the forefront in promoting a greener, more livable community. It was the first neighborhood in Rochester to support a City plan to develop Bicycle Boulevards. These “Boulevards” are specially designed to provide safe routes for bicyclist and pedestrians by slowing traffic, making crosswalks safer and promoting alternative means of transportation. In May 2010, UMNA organized a demonstration ride through the Upper Monroe neighborhood to study possible routes, and over 40 bicyclists pedaled their support.
The Upper Monroe neighborhood works to sustain both old and new businesses. Jeremiah’s Tavern has been a neighborhood mainstay for over 30 years (its Buffalo chicken wings have been voted the city’s best in the Democrat & Chronicle’s Rochester’s Choice Awards for eight years). The Monroe Avenue Strip, inside the Monroe Upper Village, includes a pet store, shoe repair, family market, hair salon, a gaming store and much more.
Many Upper Monroe neighbors enjoy the weekly walk to the Monroe Village Farmers' Market, held each Wednesday at the Blessed Sacrament Church parking lot at Monroe Avenue and Oxford Street. They come not only for produce, but for community. Most satisfying, they report a walk back home can be equally satisfying - seeing their urban landscape improving as it changes.
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