Neighborhoods change. Ours was changing when my single parent mom managed to buy a modest house for cash in Rochester’s Near Northside in 1952. My mom was an immigrant from Toronto whose own mother had emigrated from England. She had grown up in this working-class immigrant neighborhood somewhat northeast of downtown. In 1937, she graduated from Vocational High, located in the Bausch and Lomb plant. In 1952 she was newly divorced and had been hired to work on an assembly line – she could walk to work.
Settlement of the neighborhood for worker housing had begun in 1874 when Bausch and Lomb opened the plant. The late 19th century immigrants who came for work opportunity were Irish and German Catholics, German Lutherans, and German Jews. They built wood frame homes on new streets north of the New York Central railway tracks that arced northeastward through the area, separating it from downtown. Once the tracks were elevated and underpasses constructed, there was more settlement by immigrants from southern and eastern Europe and, by 1900, Italian and Jewish families from Poland and Russia. Subdividing deep lots increased housing density; stores, churches, synagogues, schools, and small factories lined the major streets. [Read more…] about Rochester’s Near Northside and Neighborhood Change