For more than half a century this film sat untouched in the News 8 Archives, and it might have stayed that way had the date and location not caught our eye.
Manhattan Street, Rochester.
Our film shows a neighborhood picnic in a place that no longer exists.
At the Rundel Library in Rochester, historian Emily Morry gathered old maps, newspaper clippings and aerial photos to track the neighborhood’s fate. Manhattan Street was one of a handful of streets in the southeast corner of the center city, tucked just inside the highway we now know as the Inner Loop. “Manhattan street was a short, two-block street,” she says. “The neighborhood was working class, low-income, and racially diverse.” In July 1964 the loop was brand new, but the neighborhood was run down. “It was just two months later, in September 1964, that the city announced that whole area would be part of an urban renewal initiative and completely razed,” Morry says.
It’s a story that’s all the more remarkable for what happened 50 years later. The eastern loop was torn down and filled in to make way for a return to city living and new development. What was once the southern half of Manhattan street is now the back entrance of the Strong Museum. The northern half is home to apartment bildings .
In the summer of ’64 no one could have envisioned the changes. Back then, the neighborhood was celebrating the opening of a new playground and raising money to keep it going. The Inner Loop was fully built by 1968, and Manhattan Street remained intact. Three years later, in 1971, the street was razed and its residents were relocated to other parts of the city. The archive film offers a rare glimpse of a Rochester neighborhood, long gone.