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Connections – Center of a Neighborhood

Thirty years after the City was chartered, the land that would become what is now known as Ellwanger & Barry Park represented the southern boundary of the City of Rochester as well as a northern extent of the world famous Mt Hope Nurseries.

Halloween Parade in Ellwanger & Barry Park 2011. Photo by Michael E.Tomb. Click for Album.

In the late 1870s, a school occupied the site,  but a few years after that school moved across the street, the land was designated for a playground which eventually became a City Park. Now, beyond the weekly playgroups and day-to-day popularity among many residents, Ellwanger & Barry Park hosts a number of Neighborhood events: Easter Egg Hunts, Summer Concerts, Halloween Parades and the grandest event of them all, September’s annual Taste of the Neighborhood Celebration and Picnic.  And on any sunny day, so long as one doesn’t mind the laughter of children along with that of their caregivers, it is just a nice place to hang out.   So as part of our project of Connections with the History and Culture of  this area, this page has been designed as a visual history of the Ellwanger & Barry Park.   Most Images are linked to a detail descriptions or another scrapbook page.

Map Fragment from 1880 Panorama of Rochester        (Click for Details)

    • 1877 The first Ellwanger & Barry school#24  is constructed on land donated by the Ellwanger & Barry’s Mt Hope Nursery.
    • 1902 Led by Park Commissioner Lamberton,  the Children’s Playground League is organized to develop play areas and recreational facilities throughout the city.

City Map Showing Area Around School #24. (Click for Details)

    • 1909 The year’s attendance at 10 Rochester playgrounds estimated at 490,000.
    • 1910 The Playground Association of America  holds its  Fourth Annual Congress in Rochester.  In one of the presentations, the City’s Department of Education Supervisor for Playgrounds states: The children of the Rochester playgrounds have during the past year grown noticeably more courteous toward neighbors. During the year not a single complaint was received from citizens living in the vicinity of playgrounds on account of acts of discourtesy committed by children during the time when the playgrounds were open.”
    • 1913 The second Ellwanger & Barry School No. 24 is built on former nursery land donated to the city for the school.  It is designed by Edwin S. Gordon. The new school is located across Linden street the  from existing building and is considered a model of “safety-first” construction with an exit located in every classroom.
  • 1915 City of Rochester Playground Attendance Increases  to 688,481.

Detail from 1918 Aerial Photograph of Highland Park Area. From the Collection of the Rochester Municipal Archives.  Click for more detail

    • 1918 Servicemen training for the war effort, attending the  U.S. School of Aerial Photography conducted by Eastman Kodak, produce first aerial photographs of Highland Park area and both Ellwanger & Barry Schools.
1926 Plat Map of the area of School #24

1926 Plat Map of the area of School #24 (Click for Detail)

    • 1927 Attendance at 47 Rochester playgrounds estimated at 2,900,000.
    • 1930 According to the City Directory, the former school building at what will become the park contains “Old 24 School Repair Shop”

City PLAT Map from 1936 showing Neighborhood Playground (Click for Details)

    • ~ 1934 The  “Old School” building is removed and a playground park for school #24  is built in its place at the corner of Linden and Meigs Street.
    • 1949 The City’s budget for Park, Playgrounds and Cemeteries is over one million dollars per year.
    • 1979 Ellwanger & Barry School No.24 closes.

Playground redesign – 2001 Ribbon Cutting with the Mayor. Photo Courtesy Michael Thompson

    • 1999-2000 With cooperation of area residents, the playground and park are completely redesigned.
    • 2001 Ellwanger & Barry Neighborhood Association and its residents celebrate the re-opening of the redesigned playground with a ribbon cutting and a party.  Mayor Bill Johnson takes part in the festivities.
    • 2002 Ellwanger & Barry Neighborhood Association continues the tradition of a neighborhood celebration with picnic in August.  Mayor Bill Johnson returns as well.

Panorama of the first Taste of the Neighborhood Event in 2007.  Photo by Michael E Tomb.

    • 2007 Linden and Meigs Playground voted as Best of Rochester among City Newspaper Readers.   In September, the recently renamed Highland Park Neighborhood Association holds its First Taste of  the Neighborhood Celebration in the park. About 250 attend.
Google Map from 2008

Google Map from 2008 showing area of Ellwanger & Barry Park. (Click for details)

    • 2008 The now renamed Highland Park Neighborhood Association holds a 2nd Annual Taste of  the Neighborhood  at the Linden and Meigs Playground. Over 450 residents attend the picnic including the Mayor of Rochester, Robert Duffy .

Image used for Commemorative Pin during Dedication. Click on this image to go the page describing the 2009 event with videos

    • 2010 In July, the Neighborhood Association sponsors its first Mid-summer concert entitled “An Early Evening of Music.”

~130 Neighbors with Children Enjoy the Music of Book & Mike at a July 2010 Concert. Click for Video.

  • 2010 On September 19th, the Fourth Annual  Highland Park Neighborhood Association Taste of  the Neighborhood takes place in Ellwanger & Barry Park with over 600 residents attending.  Luis Burgos, the City Commissioner of the Department of Recreation and Youth Services, dedicates a new sculpture honoring the contributions of Ellwanger & Barry.  The sculpture, entitled “Pear Tree”, was designed by Artist Craig Wilson.   As part of an associated program to engage community members , a new “Connections” area is added, inspiring residents, both adults and children, to record visual and written responses to the neighborhood’s cultural events.  The sculpture and its garden as well as related programs were  made possible by a grant from the Arts & Cultural Council of Greater Rochester with support from the New York Council on the Arts and the New York State Legislature.  Additional funding was supplied by the City of Rochester, The Highland Park Neighborhood Association and support was also received from the SEAC  (South-East Area Coalition).


Dept of Parks Pamphlet: Parks and Playgrounds, Rochester, N.Y., January 1, 1919.

An Historical View of Rochester’s Parks and Playgrounds
in Rochester History Volume 11 No. 1 [Rochester, N.Y.: Rochester Public Library], 1949., Article

The Origin & Development of Rochester’s Park System by a Veteran Reporter
Union and Advertiser Press, 1908.

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