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Introducing the Logo of the Highland Park Neighborhood

September 1, 2007
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Long before the park and lilacs came to be, there existed an arboretum and nursery known throughout the world. The logo for the newly re-named Highland Park Neighborhood pays homage to this history, even while presenting a striking and modern design. This is important because Rochester’s newest neighborhood (albeit in name only) is also one of its most storied. It is the area from which one of Rochester’s nicknames, “The Flower City” was derived in tribute to the thousands of acres of nursery stock and the millions of specimens of trees that grew within the city’s borders in the later 1800s. So when, in early 2007, volunteers from the Highland Park Neighborhood formed a “Logo Committee”, the committee’s charter was to create a design that embraced the history of the area as well as the vibrant present day community. While the eclectic, family friendly neighborhood may be one of Rochester’s best kept secrets, the park within its borders is a well known treasure. The Logo Committee decided early on that a new logo should incorporate a reference to the historic arboretum that makes Highland Park a special place every month of the year (and not just for the lilac festival!). In addition, the new symbol needed to convey that the neighborhood was an inviting and fashionable place to put down roots. These decisions eventually evolved into the stylized tree that gracefully anchors the current design.

Weeping Willow Illustration from Ellwanger & Barry Catalog

Trees are more than just significant to the neighborhood’s lore. Within this region of the city, two immigrants to Rochester, George Ellwanger and Patrick Barry created a nursery of such botanical diversity and worldwide fame that it contained thousands of varieties of trees and shipped extensively to destinations all over the continent and beyond…extending even to Australia and Korea. The apple farms of western New York as well as the fruit laden valleys of California, in fact nearly every substantial planting of well known or unusual trees and shrubs throughout 19th century America can be traced back to Rochester’s nursery industry. In a sense, these city fathers, Ellwanger and Barry, (in whose honor the neighborhood was formerly named,) also contributed to its updated name. For it was the donation of their “Highlands”, and their dream that the hilltop acres should serve as a living museum of all the rare varieties of trees and shrubs available through the Ellwanger & Barry Nursery, that served as the basis for Highland Park.

"Tree of Life" 1911 by Gustav Klimt

In a nod to this history, the swirling design of Highland Park Neighborhood’s logo is reminiscent of the style of Art Nouveau. The Art Nouveau movement, expressed through the genius of Gustav Klimt, Candace Wheeler or Louis Comfort Tiffany, was a worldwide sensation contemporary with birth of Highland Park. So in this sense, while the logo is most apparently a design for the 21st century, it still retains echoes of the late 19th and early decades of the 20th; for that was the era when the neighborhood first began to thrive. Even as Ellwanger and Barry turned much of their nursery grounds into housing developments for the booming city, the decorative arts were also evolving into a timeless standard that is reflected within the logo.

1910 Advertisement for Trees by Ellwanger & Barry

The exceptional design was the work of the Christopher Communications agency under the direction of owner (and Highland Park Neighborhood resident) Chris Christopher. In total Chris’s staff submitted four basic designs for consideration and then, working with the Logo committee, went on to develop several more variants. While the quality was such that any one of the designs would have served a neighborhood proud, the logo committee eventually settled on the most whimsical and friendly of them all. In the coming days wherever the logo appears, such as on stationary, flags or t-shirts , it is hoped that the exciting design will serve as the new symbol of the Highland Park Neighborhood.

from The Highland Park Buzz    – Volume 7, Issue 3 December 2007

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