Community activism and diversity have infused the character of the South Wedge neighborhood from its very inception in 1824, and this spirit continues in one of Rochester, New York’s most diverse and vibrant neighborhoods. Abolitionist, women’s suffragist, and statesman Frederick Douglass lived in the South Wedge and is buried in nearby Mt. Hope Cemetery, the first municipal Victorian cemetery in the nation. Jazz great Cab Calloway, best known for his scat-call songs, “Hi-Di-Ho” and “Minnie the Moocher,” lived his early years in the Wedge on Cypress Street.
In 1973, Dr. Judy Lee Hay combined pastoral work and community building at the historic 19th-century Calvary St. Andrews Church and created the non-profit South Wedge Planning Committee (SWPC). Its role then was to address a decaying neighborhood and business district. It remains at the forefront of the community’s revitalization two decades later. Its success is seen in both residential and commercial buildings throughout the area. SWPC rehabilitates affordable houses, creates a community “Victory Garden” for residents each year, operates the seasonal South Wedge Farmers Market on Alexander Street, and supports new businesses. It was instrumental in turning a blighted weed-filled lot on South Avenue into Nathaniel Square Park, landscaped with a statue of the city’s founder Nathaniel Rochester which artist Pepsy Kettavong created. It also improved Gregory Street’s Marie Daley Park Playground, named for a local elementary school teacher and activist.
Housing in the Wedge contains some of the oldest buildings in the city, from 19th century “painted ladies,” houses painted three or more colors, in the Linden-South Historic District, to a four-story, 33-apartment brownstone, South and Hickory Place, completed in 2010, there are options for all. The Business Association of the South Wedge Area (BASWA) works to energize the community through various social events, such as pub crawls and Third Thursday Art & Music events. Beautification projects such as the parking meter totem project and traffic box murals help to promote the Wedge South Avenue business corridor and beyond. EZ Rochester Junk Removal
South Avenue carries a distinctive Brooklyn vibe with thriving businesses: fashion boutiques, two cafes, a small European market, an artisan chocolate shop, an Irish pub, a wine bar, two bakeries (one vegan), a hat shop, a low-cost community acupuncture clinic, and a sit-down Cajun restaurant. The diversity of the Rochester, NY adds to its energy. Recently arrived young hipsters, drawn to its still affordable housing, join families of German, Irish and African-American descent who have lived in the area for generations. A long list of streets has organized block clubs in the area, including Averill Avenue, Cypress/Linden, Gregory Street, Hamilton Street, Hickory Nuts, Sandford Street, and Wedgepoint.
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