Saturday, July 04, 2009

Rochester's South Park (a/k/a Genesee Valley Park)

Living and growing up in Rochester's 19th Ward in the city's southwest area, the nearest large park was Genesee Valley Park. To visit the swimming pools in the summer or the skating rink in the winter, I would head south on Genesee Street to Brooks Avenue, turn left on Brooks and walk (or ride my bike) almost to Plymouth Avenue. I say 'almost' to Plymouth Avenue because anyone could walk up Plymouth to Elmwood Avenue on the sidewalk but if you could walk (or ride) the 'trail' in the 'woods' along the railroad tracks that paralleled Plymouth Avenue . . . you can almost guess which way a 10 or 11 year old would go.

When I was young I recall my mother always referred to Genesee Valley Park as 'South Park.' As I grew older, I never heard anyone refer to it as 'South Park' but apparently the name of the park was originally South Park. Because the name was changed in about 1892 the old name stuck for quite a while because my mother referred to as South Park in the 1940s and 1950s!

If there was a South Park, was there also a North Park? You bet your life there was, pardner!

In the 1880s, the City of Rochester engaged the firm of Frederick Law Olmsted, designer of New York's Central Park (and Rochester's Mount Hope Cemetery) to design three parks and these were Highland Park, South Park and North Park. Highland Park is still Highland Park; South Park is now Genesee Valley Park; and North Park is now Seneca Park.

An interesting historical article on Frederick Law Olmsted and the Rochester parks is online as a part of the Rochester Public Library's Rochester History series.

1 comment:

Ed Graham said...

My parents refered to Genesee Valley Park to South Park also