Welcome, readers, to the first of a three part series on Charlotte. This first part will serve as an introduction to the series and a brief history of Charlotte. The second part will be a survey, in the engineering sense, of the current state of Charlotte. It will include the demographics of the neighborhood and the built environment, as they exist today. Finally, the third part will layout a vision for Charlotte that works to harness all of the potential of the neighborhood. This final part will be broken into recommendations for residential and commercial development, transportation, and governance.
The plans described here will be ambitious, but we shouldn’t let ourselves shy away from ambition – as you may know, Charlotte has recently been in the news over some redevelopment plans. While Filling-In believes both plans have virtues, they both have numerous weaknesses as well. Because we are unassociated with any of the plans currently in play, and will believe they are built when we see it, the plans presented here will assume they did not happen, and instead will show a different vision of Charlotte’s future.
But now, we present a brief history of Charlotte.
In 1801, Robert Troup named the nascent town Charlottesburgh, after his daughter. William Hincher had erected the first building in town some 10 years before. In 1805, Congress made the town an official port of entry to the US as the port of Genesee. Samuel Latta, namesake of the road, was appointed the first collector (tariffs, of course). Charlotte, do to greatly increased trade with Canada was well on its way to becoming a city until construction of the Erie Canal shifted the bulk of shipping through Rochester. (Peck, William (1908). History of Rochester and Monroe county, New York. The Pioneer publishing company. p. 44.)
This map shows how Charlotte looked shortly after the civil war.
It would soon become a resort destination. The Charlotte Beach Improvement Company formed in 1884 for the purpose of building a new, better resort, and by 1889, electric trolleys connected Charlotte to downtown Rochester.
Vehicular ferry service was started between Charlotte and Canada in 1907, and ran until 1949 – never to be resumed [sic].
In 1916, Charlotte was annexed by the City of Rochester. At the time, there were 2,000 people living in the town. This wasn’t the first time the idea of annexation had been raised, having come up in 1875 and 1893. Surprisingly, it was probably temperance that did Charlotte in. By 1900 there were 35 saloons for only 28 primary street corners. By 1915, the people of Charlotte were considered so disorderly (and heavens, drunk on Sundays), that the only way it seemed possible to clean the town up would be a city police precinct.1
By the 1936 Plat Maps, Charlotte was already a sea of parking (in the photos at the end, you’ll see this happened in 1921). I suppose that makes these lots historic, but maybe not worth preserving.
Here now, to close out the article, are some great photos of Charlotte throughout history.
The oldest house in Charlotte, located at 4435 Lake Avenue, was built in 1806 by Samuel Latta. British soldiers occupied this house during the War of 1812. In 1919 Mrs. Sarah Meech lived in the house with her brother and adopted son. Mrs. Meech was born in Parma, ca. 1839, and was the daughter of Elias Curtis.
A view of the corner of Lake and Beach Avenues where stores will be removed for a parking lot. Caption with photo reads: “Old landmarks to be removed for the betterment of Ontario Beach Park”. Author’s note: 1921 – barf.
A view of Beach Avenue west of Lake Avenue. Buildings to be torn down for an automobile parking space are pictured as well as Manitou Trolley tracks in the foreground and the Charlotte blast furnace and chimney in the background. Published caption reads: “Old landmarks removed for the betterment of Ontario Beach Park”. Author – still 1921 – still barfing.
These buildings still exist!
To be continued…
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Tags: Beach Avenue, Charlotte, Charlotte Beach, Filling In, Filling In Charlotte, Lake Avenue, Matthew Denker, old photos, old photos of Rochester NY, Ontario Beach, Ontario Beach Park, Port of Rochester/Charlotte, Rochester, Rochester history, Rochester NY
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