Portland, Seattle, Brooklyn…and now Rochester? It’s no secret the hipster population is growing locally. But now there’s proof. The 14620 zip code in Rochester was recently ranked fifth in Yelp’s Hottest Hipster Markets in America behind zip codes in major cities Seattle and San Diego. The local zip code includes areas near Highland Park and in the South Wedge neighborhood.
What's a hipster? For the most part, hipsters are people who like trends and fads outside of the mainstream. They flock to vinyl records, trendy restaurants, local, non-chain coffee stores and underground musicians. But they aren’t limited to one age group, economic background or education.
“In a weird way, no, I wasn’t surprised,” said Rory-Stefan Affoon when asked about the report. He said as a former student at the University of Rochester, he’s familiar with the local hipster scene. “When I used to go to school here, we used to have this joke amongst ourselves. There was always- this stretch [in the South Wedge] especially, was very ‘hipster-y’ and a weird mesh between West Coast hipster vibes meets New York City hipster vibes. It was like this weird amalgamation, which I guess in turn created something very unique about Rochester’s hipster scenery being on the rise.”
To rank the zipcodes, Yelp scoured the reviews on its site, counting how many labeled a place “hipster” and compared that to the establishments’ total reviews. 14620 had a high ratio of reviewers who used this term. However, researchers also worked with realtor.com to analyze the local housing market, which found that homes are selling fast due to affordability and attraction.
For reference, 14620 stretches from the start of South Avenue in downtown Rochester to the edge of College Town. The area boasts Highland Park, Mt. Hope Cemetery and some of the city’s most popular restaurants and bars.
“So the great thing about this neighborhood is that we are the hub of so much great stuff,” said Chris Christopher, a resident the area. “Within a few minutes you could ride your bike to a festival. We can walk to great restaurants. My goodness we have a beautiful park right in our backyard that people come from all over the country. And it’s right in our back yard.”
Christopher helps organize Mulberry Street’s annual porchfest. The street is closed and residents party on their porches and get to know each other. She said there’s a strong sense of identity and pride.
“It really is a wonderful balance of people so you have people who live in the South Wedge, people who are over in Swillburg, us in Highland Park. We’re people that share one thing: we all truly value our little corner of the world and think it’s a wonderful place to live.”
And according to realtor.com, being popular for hipsters could boost the entire regional market.
“Based on our research, there’s clear evidence that ‘hipster’ popularity- in markets like Austin, Texas- has led to mainstream interest and higher home prices over time. Whether it’s the farm-to-table restaurants or urban renewal projects that were already underway, a concentration of hipsters seems to be an indicator of a hot housing market,” said Javier Vivas, director of economic research for realtor.com, in the report's summary.
David Bergmann said he’s lived in the zip code his entire life and saw the area transform heavily. He said years ago, the South Wedge portion of the area was mired in crime and drug use but now it's one of the safest and most popular areas just outside of downtown.
His advice for new residents was simple: get out and take advantage of what’s in the neighborhood.
“For newcomers they should come down in this area- not just in the South Wedge but all the way as far as Park and really check out the area. Check out the different businesses that are around and patronize. You'll find out that it’s a very different environment to be in but it’s a good environment.”
The report listed Highland Park and The Playhouse Swillburger as the top attractions but with dozens of restaurants and trendy retail, there's a lot more to do.