The Charlotte Pier: A Reminder of Rochester's Economic Past

The Charlotte Pier is one of Rochester's most recognized landmarks. Along with the George Eastman House and the remnants of a few flour mills along the Genesee River, the pier is a reminder of the area's economic past when the city of Rochester was a hub of international trade.

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The pier defines the neighborhood of Charlotte, a neighborhood that occupies the north side of Rochester and runs from the edges of the downtown area to the shores of Lake Ontario. It is one of two piers that once greeted ships entering the Genesee River from the lake. It is the more famous of the two piers and the one on the west side of the river.

Local residents and visitors alike can enjoy the Charlotte Pier year-round. They can walk the 2,360 feet from the shore to the end of the pier for a spectacular view of Lake Ontario. The pier is also a popular spot for local anglers and bird watchers.

Rochester's Economy Before the Pier 

The city of Rochester wasn't established until after an early 19th century land purchase from the Seneca Indians. However, the tract of land that would eventually become known as Charlotte was already a busy area for trade as early as the late 1780s.

By the turn of the century warehouses had begun appearing along the lake shore to receive goods shipped in from Canada and a number of towns along the southern shores of Lake Ontario. The area was eventually renamed the Port of Charlotte to signify the large volume of shipping it was accommodating. From this port flowed inland the supplies that eventually built Rochester into major a commercial city.

The Pier's Many Iterations

Trade was so strong in Charlotte at that time that the British felt the need to occupy the region during the war of 1812. Trade resumed after the war in grand fashion, leading to the construction of both the Charlotte Pier and its sister pier on the east side of the Genesee. A light was built at the end of west pier to guide boats in as they made their way toward the mouth of the river.

A series of severe storms over the next several decades wreaked havoc on the pier and its light tower. Ongoing decay eventually led to the tower's demolition and a replacement in 1854. Along with the new tower came a catwalk that made access a lot easier for keepers, especially during sever weather. Things remain unchanged until 1881, when a cast iron light tower was built to replace the nearly 30-year-old tower standing at the end of the pier.

Today you can still see remnants of the foundation of that cast-iron tower. The tower itself was replaced with a red and white cylindrical structure in 1995. It reminds locals of the booming economy of the past, when the Port of Charlotte was one of the most important shipping destinations on the south side of Lake Ontario.

The Charlotte Pier is represented in the Rochester, NY Shirt offered by Gods N Gladiators. Check it out here!