Clarissa Street

Southwest Quadrant
North - Troup Street
South - South Fitzhugh
Approx. 0.6 miles

Clarissa Street today is a short residential street in the Corn Hill area. It wasn't always that way. The street is curved and near the Genesee River.

Clarissa Street History

The original street was on the edge of the the Corn Hill area and extended into the Plymouth-Exchange (PLEX). It was a black neighborhood as early as the 1820's. From that point on it grew as one of the centers for the Third Ward's black neighborhood.

By the mid-20th century, Clarissa Street had become a main commercial district of the Third Ward. Businesses included the Gibson Hotel, Latimer's Funeral Home, Ray's Barbershop, Scotty's Pool Hall, Smitty's Birdland, LaRue's Restaurant, and Vallot's Tavern.

As it grew, Clarissa Street became famous for jazz clubs like Pythodd Club, the Elk's Club, and Dan's Restaurant and Grill. In 1964 the riots happened in the area, which drew some unwanted attention to it. Due to the riots, and other factors, the area was slated to be part of an 'Urban Renewal program'.

Clarissa Street Today

Unfortunately, this urban renewal involved tearing down the buildings, changing street layouts, and in the process it destroyed the neighborhood and broke up traffic patters that gave Clarissa Street the nickname "Rochester's Broadway". Today, the area stands out due to its layout consisting of several empty blocks dividing a poorer area in PLEX from a cookie-cutter suburban-development style development in Corn Hill.

Starting in 1996, neighborhood groups have held a Clarissa Street Reunion, held the 3rd Saturday of August, to celebrate the importance of the street, and to try to keep alive the memory of the once vibrant neighborhood that stood where empty lots and cookie-cutter housing now stands. The Flying Squirrel Community Space and Clarissa's are important centers of activity.

This pattern of tearing up poor or minority sections of town, putting them in control of outside developers, continues today in the Brooks Landing Project, and the High Falls District. As they say, "Those who do not learn from the past are doomed to repeat it".


This is written from my POV, with no attempt at a "Neutral Point of View". If you don't like it, rewrite it yourself. -FarMcKon

Well, I like the Brooks Landing Project, but otherwise I think you were spot-on. I did change mentions of the 19th Ward to PLEX, however, since I believe that was the area you had in mind. PLEX is often mistaken for the 19th Ward. -EileenF

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2005-08-16 13:45:02   Nice article. It actually reads with a nice NPOV sound—I don't think your final disclaimer is necessary (and that applies to everything on the wiki anyway, pretty much). BTW, how'd you find the list of places? —TobinFricke

2006-10-24 14:28:44   While I agree with your assessment of the Urban Renewal of the 1970's I disagree with your assessment of the two projects today. I think without too much background that the High Falls area was revitalized from basically vacant industrial buildings. The Brooks Landing project also is re-using almost exclusively vacant space, and is widely supported by the community. You could argue about the benefits of the project or the possible gentrification, but I don't think that comparing it to 1960's-1970's Urban Renewal is a fair assessment. —DanApfel

2006-10-24 14:29:10   I just want to note, I like the word assessment. —DanApfel

2017-01-27 09:45:55   was there in the 60,s worked frank hennens Harley,bmw shop hung out the skating rink where I seen bb king play,the pythod jazz club and a coffee joint hippie place was there in the riots also —chetholmes