Is a Little Italy historic district Rochester's best city center revitalization strategy?

Apr 09, 2019 302

There has been a strong Italian presence in Rochester, New York for over 150 years, with Irish and German being the other two dominant immigrant cultures. The first Italian immigrant to Rochester arrived in 1860. As this ethnic population grew, it migrated to and settled in the neighborhood along the streets of what is now known as Lyell Avenue. Rochester’s city historian Blake F. McKelvey documented references to the area’s being called “Rochester’s Little Italy” going back to 1906.

This area of Rochester has a much-neglected past. It has chronic serious crime issues, prostitution and ever-present drug dealing. Property values are lower than other locations in the community and it has one of the higher levels of per capita poverty in the City. Blanketing all of these issues is the lack of any group or organization to be able to gain traction with municipal officials in the same way as other part of the city have been able to do.

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