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. NY.
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 corridors, which saw the bulk of Italian-American settlement and migration, from the early 1900's to today.
Italian Americans are, and always will be, an important part of the diverse cultural fabric of the City of Rochester, NY.
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 cultural history.
The implementation of a "Community Benefit District" with new public art, new gathering spaces ("piazzas"), special events, and other public amenities, along with much-needed public realm improvements, would help transform the area into a destination place, and "enable" it to attract new business investment.
By attracting new investment to the area, fixing its dilapidated public realm; and harnessing/attracting 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 the Lyell Avenue area, is also an important aspect of our "place-making" initiative and revitalization efforts.
The area's true historical identity, 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.
NOTE: While we are not attempting to re-build an Italian neighborhood again in the area, we are however, attempting to bring about an inclusive revitalization initiative for the area, which will commemorate and memorialize over a century of Italian American history in the city of Rochester and the Lyell/Jay area, in the form of an Historic Little Italy Neighborhood, which will serve to remember and memorialize the "Old Neighborhood", with an eye on the future for the neighborhood area, which will be inclusive of various restaurants, businesses and shops, of all cultures, for the benefit and enjoyment of the entire community.
Our goal is to eventually implement a "Community Benefit District" (CBD) in the area, which will be run by a non-profit Board comprised of area property owners, area businesses and Little Italy area residents. The CBD will eventually employ people from the area, therefore also addressing the poverty issue and will help increase public safety in the neighborhood, as well as help beautify the area.
(Please see the "DOWNLOADS" section of this website for more info on "Community Benefit Districts" and how they may benefit the neighborhood and the Lyell corridor.)
Our mission is to help preserve and promote the Italian and Italian American cultures in the Greater Rochester area, and to help facilitate the development and revitalization of Rochester's Historic Little Italy Neighborhood, while commemorating over a century of Italian-American history, culture and contributions in the city of Rochester. We advocate for district area businesses and residents in the areas of economic development, public safety, promotion, events, and area revitalization. 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, abused and homeless.
Our historic neighborhood is located in the city's NW & SW quadrants. It's borders are Lorimer St to Jay St (including Jones Square Park) and Broad St to State St.
Our efforts are modeled upon the very successful Little Italy neighborhood in San Diego, California. Please visit: www.LittleItalySD.com for more information on their "Community Benefit District" model, which we are working towards implementing in Rochester..
The Lyell Avenue Corridor is a primary Gateway and major thoroughfare into the City of Rochester, and it ushers-in thousands of people each day, and over 200,000 vehicles per week, to the city's downtown area.
The Lyell area is ripe for revitalization and investment, and its current neglected state of affairs affects adjacent neighborhoods and 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.
The Rochester area is ranked 2nd in NY State, and 9th in the entire nation, for its number of Italian-Americans. The Italian American culture continues to flourish in Rochester and its nearby suburbs, 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. All seek the same American Dream as Italian immigrants did -- and still do -- to this day.
After the Little Italy Festival's original inception in the town of Gates in 2015 (following a very successful "Abruzzi Festival"), a fantastic "Little Italy Festival" was held in the city of Rochester on Aug 12 & 13, 2017, for the first time in over 30 years, demonstrating the strength of the Italian-American community. Our festival has been nominated as "Best Cultural Festival" of Rochester, by the readers of City Newspaper, in both 2017 and 2018.
The 4th Annual Little Italy Festival was held on June 16, 2018, at Marina Auto Stadium, to celebrate the official 150th Anniversary of the 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 Ave area in over four decades, and it also helped draw attention to the Lyell area's urgent need for revitalization and investment.
In 2018, Our Little Italy Neighborhood revitalization initiative 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:
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.
In 2021 , our exciting Little Italy Neighborhood received NATIONAL RECOGNITION as a "historic Italian Enclave!"
In 2022, after a two year pandemic hiatus, we held our 6th annual Little Italy Festival at Parcel 5 in downtown Rochester. It too succeeded in bringing together the entire community, for a very special interfaith Prayer Ceremony and an inclusive Community Peace Celebration honoring St Padre Pio and St Michael.
See WHEC's News coverage of our 2022 festival here: https://www.whec.com/top-news/little-italy-festivals-holy-mass-and-celebration-unites-community-members/
It is our most sincere hope that all those who collaborate with us, and who participate in our events and programs, feel the true warmth and friendship of the Italian-American people and culture.
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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Thank you for your support!