High Falls EcoDistrict

Rochester, New York, United States

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Neighborhood Type: Mixed-Use

Size: 322 Acres

Website: Greentopia.org

Located in Rochester, New York, the High Falls Ecodistrict is a model for ambitious sustainability standards grounded in equity, resilience, and climate protection. As the first Ecodistrict in the state of New York, High Falls will be a visible representation of Rochester’s commitment to being a green leader among mid-sized cities.

The High Falls area is home to a 96-foot waterfall in the heart of downtown Rochester, establishing the city’s character and personality. When migrants settled in the Genesee watershed in the early 1900s, the waterfall promoted hydraulic powered-industries such as milling, shipping, and electricity. After the Rochester settlement transformed into a town, its industries and population boomed. Rochester became an early leader in clean energy production.

However, the current development around the Falls is not reflective of the waterfall and river. The trails are in need of maintenance, the parks adjacent to the falls are not user friendly, the bridge lacks vitality, and the riverfront is not accessible to the public. There is incredible potential to once again put the Falls at the forefront of the city’s pride. By having the Ecodistrict centered on the Falls, the community is reminded of its history as a city and the natural asset that gave Rochester its beginning. This unique urban ecosystem and history of clean, hydro energy serve as a catalyst and inspiration for sustainable urban redevelopment in future.

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