South Wedge

InfoInfo TalkTalk

wedge.jpgMonument and Handbill Board at South and Gregory, 12-2010 SouthGregory.JPGIntersection of South and Gregory, the center of South Wedge action.

Southeast Quadrant, near downtown and the river.
North - I-490
East - I-490
South - Linden Street
West - Genesee River
Neighborhood Association and Websites
[WWW] - Social network for residents
[WWW] - Business Assoc. of the South Wedge
[WWW] - South Wedge Planning Committee
[WWW]r/SouthWedge - Reddit

The South Wedge is a city neighborhood comprised of a triangular wedge of land bordered by the Genesee River on the west, and the Erie Canal (now I-490) on the east. It is sometimes considered to include the adjacent Swillburg and Highland Park neighborhoods, as well as parts of the Lilac Neighborhood. Both the Wedge and the Highland Park Neighborhood share the Linden-South Historic District.



The neighborhood we know as the South Wedge began in the 1820s as a series of small houses owned by families tied to the Erie Canal trade. The Old Stone Warehouse, the oldest commercial building in Rochester, was built here in 1822. The area was actually part of Brighton until Rochester annexed it in 1834 as a buffer region for future growth. In the 1840s George Ellwanger and Patrick Barry of Ellwanger and Barry fame founded their nursery on what was then Grand Avenue (South Avenue today). By the time Frederick Douglass moved to South Ave in the 1860s, the area was flourishing, with the city's first street railway, a plank road, and a hospital. Douglass's house still stands at the corner of Hamilton and Bond Streets.

After World War II, however, the Wedge began a slow decline as residents moved to the suburbs. Businesses closed until the Wedge hit rock bottom in the 1970s. Nearly 200 homes and over 25% of all housing units were vacant and prostitution was "rampant" on South Avenue. Still, long-time residents took a stand against the decay and founded the [WWW]South Wedge Planning Committee in 1973. The Wedge was first published five years later to document the neighborhood's fight against crime, blight, and vacancy. By placing an emphasis on safety and neighborhood pride, the SWPC brought about a gradual but highly successful renaissance.1

Revitablization work continues to the present. In 2006 neighborhood groups transformed a vacant lot populated by drug dealers into Nathaniel Square Park. A sculpture of city founder Nathaniel Rochester was unveiled in 2008 as the park's centerpiece. The sculpture, which shows Rochester sitting in reflection, was the work of Pepsy Kettavong.2 Two years later, the Linden-South Historic District, comprised of 81 properties on South Avenue and Linden Street, was named "significant in history, architecture, design, archeology and culture" by the State and National Registers of Historic Places. Additional streets being considered for this designation are Ashland Street and sections of Gregory, Hickory and Averill. The process takes at least a year.

In the Winter 2015 issue of The South Wedge Quarterly, editor Philip Duquette-Saville noted that, "We've reached a tipping point for the neighborhood. By next summer, the business district from Bryon Street to Linden Street will be filled in and occupied. When BASWA was formed 10 years ago we lacked the diversity of businesses we have today. There were gaps in the street, vacant lots, empty spaces, lots of hair salons. Today, much has been filled in with pocket parks, new construction like South and Hickory Place and renovation of existing spaces. All have helped to stabilize the district." An upcoming tenant of that district is Abundance Cooperative Market, who will be taking over the large, prominent building recently vacated by Echo-Tone Music.

The Wedge Today

Today the South Wedge is said to be the fastest-growing urban neighborhood in the state outside New York City3 and is highly regarded for its strong sense of community. It boasts several neighborhood organizations and two newspapers (The Wedge and The South Wedge Quarterly). The majority of homeowners take pride in the neighborhood, and it has an ever increasing number of interesting shops and bars. Several streets are lined with multicolored "painted ladies" homes reminiscent of San Francisco. The South Wedge is also noted for having the most public art in the city outside the Neighborhood of the Arts. South Avenue and surrounding streets have a bright variety of art totems created by area artists, transforming parking meters into sculptures. In 2013 the Wall\Therapy project added nine murals to blank walls throughout the Wedge.

The South Wedge also holds several popular festivals throughout the year. South Wedge-Ucation and the Harvest Hootenanny are held in September, followed by the Night of the Living Wedge pub crawl in October. It's a Wonderful Life in the South Wedge closes the year each first Saturday of December. The South Wedge Farmers Market, open Thursdays from May through November, has become a popular meeting place for the neighborhood. Along with produce and flowers, the market features a changing cast of musicians and craftspeople.

Many apartments have comparatively lower rents but more space and amenities than other areas in town. There are a decent number of rooms to rent in the area and very few studios, but two-bedroom units and complete houses abound. Although most residential options tend to be in vintage buildings, the Wedge in recent years has also seen a major construction boom. South and Hickory Place, The Hamilton Apartments, and Erie Harbor were all completed between 2010 and 2012, offering both market-rate and affordable units. The Hamilton and Erie Harbor also promise to revitalize a tired stretch of Mount Hope Avenue from Ford Street to Alexander. In 2013 another mixed-use development called Wedge Point was announced, followed by the Edge of the Wedge in 2014.

Still, for all its strides and successes, it should be noted that the South Wedge continues to struggle with crime, mostly burglaries and mugging. In 2013 concerned residents formed an anti-crime group "to address what they say is poor police response and follow-through, as well as a failure by the local media to report the truth about crime in their neighborhood." Statistics provided by the Rochester Police Department, however, do not support the perception of an upsurge in criminal activity.4

Transportation for University of Rochester Students

The South Wedge is a short bike ride to the River Campus and a slightly longer one to the Medical Center. (Most people associated with the latter live in the Upper Mount Hope Neighborhood.) UR also operates its own [WWW]shuttle buses, which are free to all students, staff, and faculty. The Orange Line services a wide swath of the Southeast Quadrant with stops at South and Alexander, South and Gregory, and Mount Hope and McClean.


banners.JPGBanners along South Ave listing South Wedge businesses (2013)

Houses.JPGHouses along Alexander Street. SM.JPGBuilding painted for Wall\Therapy (2013) Coordinated.JPGColor-coordinated houses on Cypress Street. South Avenue and Gregory Street converge in the heart of South Wedge. This intersection marks the centerpoint of the locally-owned retail shops, restaurants, cafes and bars the Wedge is known for. The area also has many small green spaces, nifty old buildings, and it is in walking distance to Highland Park and Mount Hope Cemetery.

Also check out nearby South Clinton Avenue, the border between the Swillburg and Highland Park neighborhoods, for even more local restaurants and retail.

Bars and Clubs

Food & Drink



Retail - Grocery and Convenience

Salons and Spas


Tattoo Parlors





Note: You must be logged in to add comments