Cornerstone Park: The Dilemma With Urban Greenspaces of Yesterday

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By ArianDavidPhotography

Small green spaces in urban areas, often referred to as “parklets” are all the rage in our surging downtown landscapes. While the movement toward blending trees and plant life with the brick and concrete of our downtowns is not altogether a new concept, the execution is slightly different today with less emphasis on traditional parks and more on park-like amenities throughout your walking experience (benches, tiny green spaces, tall grasses, smaller trees, sculptures and structures that welcome play, relaxation or exercise).  This change, in part, has come with the realization that larger parks, even ones around 1,000 square feet with grass that needs mowing, trees that need trimming and gardens that need tending are costly to keep up.

Still, cities are littered with these small, older, dedicated greenspaces that are often left under-maintained due to budgetary constraints. Enter Cornerstone Park in Rochester New York, a 1,300 square foot spot off of Broad Street, smack in the middle of downtown. Formally maintained by Rochester Telephone (now Frontier Communications), this nearly 40 year old park is now a sort of “greenspace orphan.”


Crumbling brick, rotting wood and a water fountain that has not worked for a decade are clear signs that this otherwise very nice little piece of land could use some help.


Still, it is a place where you can watch the world go by from under a shade tree. You can read a book on your lunch break and feel like you’re miles away from concrete. While not perfect, these parks still have a place in our communities.


Thankfully, Cornerstone is due for a facelift this summer, as the City of Rochester will make significant upgrades, breathing life into this well placed park once again.

So many urban parks in Rochester and around the country, however, are not so fortunate. What will happen to these spaces? Many communities develop grassroots organizations to help revitalize these areas of green. In other situations, grants and funding allow for local government upgrades. Business and corporate involvement is also key to bringing these parks back to their former glory.

Have a park that needs an upgrade in your community? Maybe you’ve seen park upgrades in your city? Share it with TheUrbanPhoenix by emailing I would love to hear from you!