Insulated both from downtown and other neighborhoods by the inner loop, Union Street, and Monroe Avenue, the Wadsworth Square area seems at first to have been transported from an earlier time. While a closer inspection revels an eclectic mix of housing styles, periods and sizes, the impression of historical unity is supported by the high concentration of older homes built before 1900 (76%) on shaded streets around a landscaped green. Almost all structures in the neighborhood have been rated historically significant and 65% of all those surveyed by the Landmark Society were judged to be “Superior” or “above average” in importance. Many have already been and continue to be charmingly restored and improved.
The following excerpt is taken from an article about Rochester’s Southeast Quadrant Neighborhood on the City of Rochester’s website:
In 1823, the village of Rochesterville held a celebration to mark the opening of the western section of Erie Canal and the completion of the aqueduct, which carried the canal across the Genesee River. The Wadsworth Tract was located southeast of the village along the northern bank of the canal (currently Route 490). Owned by General James Wadsworth of Geneseo, it consisted of 28 acres of land and was bounded by the present- day Howell Street, Monroe Avenue, Griffith Street and South Avenue. The first streets to be built were Broadway and Wadsworth Street (now Howell Street), which were completed in 1827. In the early 1830’s, General Wadsworth laid out a square in the center of the tract. Designed in the New England town commons tradition, the square was donated to the city for use as a park and became known as Wadsworth Square. Between 1851 and 1875, the building boom hit Wadsworth Square. Fifty-three percent of the structures that stand today were constructed before 1875. Another 23 percent were completed before the turn of the century. Houses on the northern part of the neighborhood were generally larger and of greater architectural detail than those built south of Griffith Street. The homes along Marshall & Griffith Streets were primarily the residences of prosperous business and professional people. Homes situated next to the canal at the western end of Marshall & Griffith Streets were usually more modest in character and housed canal boatmen and their families. Many of the houses south of Griffith Street were built in the 1850’s and 60’s as rental properties. About 50% of the buildings that are located there today date from that period. Beginning in the 1970’s, rehabilitation of residential and commercial properties by private owners, together with the City’s sidewalk and landscaping improvements, are a reflection of renewed confidence in the area by both private and public sectors. In the 1980’s, the Wadsworth Square Neighborhood association was formed and successfully persuaded the city to re-establish the square. The new square had no specific design; it is a lawn with randomly scattered trees, but it again became a place where people gather, to sunbathe, walk dogs, or toss Frisbees. Wadsworth Square Park is renown as a great location to view Rochester’s fireworks.