About Us

The Little Italy Association of Rochester, Inc.

The Little Italy Association of Rochester, Inc., ("LIA"),  is a NY State non-profit corporation and 501(c)(3) tax-exempt public charity. 

 

LIA  has the consent of the Department of State and the NY State Attorney General, to act as a district  management corporation, and to undertake efforts to bring about, commemorate, and revitalize Rochester, NY's "Little Italy Historic District," located along the city's Lyell Avenue and Jay Street corridors.


The Little Italy Historic District was officially recognized and designated by the City of Rochester and Rochester City Council on June 2, 2019, and is located primarily in the Edgerton and Brown Square neighborhood areas, and forms part of both the Northwest and Southwest Quadrants of the City of Rochester.

  

(See the historic district's map, and the city's official district proclamation, in the downloads section of this website).


The City of Rochester's official website also features information about the Little Italy Historic District neighborhood area:


* Northwest Quadrant https://www.cityofrochester.gov/nwnsc/ 


* Southwest Quadrant https://www.cityofrochester.gov/swnsc/ 


Donations  made to the LIA are tax deductible, and help fund our organization's mission and cause.  LIA works with, and advocates on behalf of, district area residents and businesses, in relation to area revitalization; public safety; business improvement; promotions; beautification; and economic development. 

Rochester's Italian-American community and the Little Italy Historic District have over 150 years of history in the City of Rochester

Please  see the "Downloads" section of this website for a detailed historical narrative about Rochester's Italian-American community and its important history in the City of Rochester. 


City of Rochester Historian Blake McKelvey's informative article published in 1960, entitled: "The Italians of Rochester, an Historical Review," may also be found in this website's Downloads section.  It provides an official recount of Italian-American history in the City of Rochester, and specifically references "Little Italy", in reference to the year 1906 (see page 8 of his article), as the area of the city that the community referred to as "Little Italy" at that time, because it was the area of the city which was primarily inhabited by what was referred to as Rochester's "Italian colony" at the time, and was the area of the city where the Italian-American community began to form its civic organizations, such as the Italian Civic League (which was originally formed  in the area of State Street and Lyell Avenue) and others like the Charles Settlement House (originally formed in the Jay Street corridor, to provide aid and housing to Italian and German immigrants).   


The City Historian's article also tells the story of many Italian bakeries, churches and shops in the Little Italy area, (such as the Italian-American community's first church, built at the corner of Lyell Avenue and Plymouth Avenue in 1896, named "St. Anthony of Padua's Italian Catholic Church"); and  the story of the first Italian immigrant to seek American citizenship in the City of Rochester, an organ grinder named "Domenico Sturla", who became the city's first "Italian-American" resident to be officially registered in the city's directories in the year 1868. The article explains the plight of other more transient Italian immigrants who came to Rochester, even before Mr. Sturla, in the year 1860, but who never settled here, only working a few months as railroad laborers, and then moving on to other parts of the country.

The Little Italy Association's Mission, Goals & Vision

Rochester has a very rich and diverse history.  Italian immigrants made many positive contributions to the development of the City of Rochester, in the 19th and 20th centuries, and even today, in particular throughout the Lyell Avenue and Jay Street corridor, which saw the bulk of Italian-American settlement and migration, from the early 1900's to today.  


Our idea is for the Lyell area to become an inclusive, safe, and attractive "living storybook" in our city's NW and SW Quadrants, which re-tells the area's rich history, from its beginning to today.  


The implementation of new public art, gathering spaces ("piazzas"), special events, and other public amenities, along with much-needed public realm improvements, would help transform the area into a true destination place, and enable it to attract new business, housing and retail investment.  


By attracting new investment to the area, fixing its dilapidated public realm; and harnessing purchasing dollars to the area, it will help alleviate the area's poverty, crime, social and unemployment issues.  


Focusing on the area's true historical identity, rather than any current negative connotation which may be associated with Lyell area, is also an important aspect of our "place-making" initiative and revitalization efforts.  It provides the community with a more positive identity to rally behind, as we work together to revitalize this major Gateway Corridor of our city.  It is a genuine form of Economic Development, and a model that could also be used for other historic neighborhoods across the city.


While we are not attempting to build an Italian neighborhood again in the area, we are, however, attempting to bring about an inclusive revitalization initiative, which will commemorate over 150 years of history, in the form of an "historic district", which will serve to remember the "Old Neighborhood", with an eye on the future for the area, which will be inclusive of various restaurants and shops of all cultures, for the benefit and enjoyment of the entire community.


MISSION:

 

Our mission is to commemorate the rich history of Rochester's 150 year-old "Little Italy Historic District", and promote and facilitate its revitalization and preservation, to benefit all cultures, and for the enjoyment of the entire community.  


Our efforts are modeled upon the very successful Little Italy in San Diego, California.  Please visit:  www.LittleItalySD.com for more information on their "Community Benefit District" model.  


The Lyell Corridor is a primary Gateway to the City of Rochester, and it ushers-in thousands of people each day to the city's downtown area.  The Lyell area is ripe for revitalization and investment, and its current state of affairs affects neighboring projects, such as the city's new "ROC the Riverway" project; the adjacent High Falls District; the Genesee Brewery; the Greentopia Eco-District, and the new "MCC Student Campus" operating right next door at Kodak's global headquarters on State  Street.  


Our mission also includes helping the less fortunate, by raising funds to benefit other 501 (c)(3) charities, which serve the needs of children, the elderly, the hungry, poor, needy and homeless. 


GOALS:   


Our goals include, but are not limited to, the following:  


1) Attracting new business, housing and retail investment to the area; 

2) Helping create jobs and promoting greater economic prosperity;  

3) Raising funds for the needy, hungry, homeless and less fortunate;  

4)  Helping alleviate poverty through economic development;  

5) Promoting recreational, cultural and culinary opportunities;  

6)  Fostering unity, solidarity and collaboration within the community; 

7) Promoting cultural exchange and information-sharing, and most importantly, promoting diversity and inclusiveness.   


VISION: 


Our  longer-term vision foresees some very exciting potential developments, such as a  new downtown "Little Italy Welcome Center"; a Little Italy Federal Credit Union; an authentic Italian Café and an International Bazaar-Retail Market, which would feature coffee, beverages, and walkable access to fresh food for area residents and visitors; an arts theatre and conference center; a Little Italy Sunday Farmer's Market; and a Little Italy Newsletter, to be published quarterly, with news updates on the area's exciting events, programs, and store openings, as well as other interesting initiatives, which could enrich the lives of all Rochesterians and improve Quality of Life in the area.  


The Rochester area is ranked 2nd in NY State, and 9th in the entire nation, for its number of Italian-Americans.  The  Italian culture continues to flourish in Rochester, and many other new cultures are also migrating to the area.  They utilize the same Lyell Avenue Corridor as a place to first settle-into when they arrive to this city.  They seek the same American Dream as Italian immigrants did -- and still do -- to this day.    


A  fantastic "Little Italy Festival" was held on Aug 12 & 13, 2017, for the first time in over 30 years in Downtown Rochester, demonstrating the strength of the Italian-American community.  It was ranked as a "Best Cultural Festival" of Rochester, by the readers of City Newspaper, in both 2017 and 2018. 


The 5th Annual Little Italy Festival was held on June  16, 2018, at Marina Auto Stadium, to celebrate the official 150th Anniversary of Italian American community in the City of Rochester (1868 - 2018).  The event succeeded in its mission of being the first major public event held in the Lyell area in over four decades, and it helped draw attention to the area's urgent need for revitalization.


Our most sincere hope is that all those who collaborate with our association, and our events and programs, feel the true warmth and friendship of the Italian-American people and culture.


In October 2018, our exciting Little Italy Revitalization Initiative received national recognition, and was named "Rochester's Best New City Center Revitalization Strategy," by Revitalization: The Journal of Urban, Rural and Environmental Resilience, which is published by a leading urban planning group from the Washington, D.C. area.  Read all about it by clicking on the following web-link: 


https://revitalization.org/article/is-creating-a-little-italy-historic-district-rochesters-best-downtown-revitalization-strategy/#.W4_M8xwpCdM


On June 2, 2019, (Italian Republic Day -- "Festa della Repubblica"), we held our first-ever "Little Italy Street Festa", presented by Cinzano, a global wine and spirits brand from Torino, Italy, established in 1757.  


We are very honored that such major global brands from Italy are interested in supporting our efforts, public events, and programs in Rochester, NY.  (Please see the festival section of this website for a full list of past and present sponsors.)


This year's Little Italy Street Festival promises to be even better!


Please follow us on our Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram pages for updates about our exciting programs and events.   @LittleItalyROC

 

Thank you sincerely for your kind support!  


Grazie tante e cordiali saluti a tutti!

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