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A Mountain Town
Originally known as Stone Road and changed to Concession Street in 1909. As well, the Hamilton mountain was a separate community from the Lower city Hamilton and known as "Mount Hamilton" but by 1891, properties north of Concession Street were annexed by the city of Hamilton and were serviced with water, sewers and sidewalks. Note: Aberdeen Avenue in the Lower City was originally known as Concession Street.
Concession Street is the oldest settlement area on the Hamilton mountain. It was once an African American neighbourhood settled by slaves escaping the U.S. via the underground railroad Underground Railroad. This part of Hamilton Mountain was then known as "Little Africa". Canada in general and Hamilton in particular received these refugees with great sympathy and understanding. They were illiterate and took up education in the "Mission", a union church and school building, erected in 1860. The Union Mission was situated on the south-side of Concession between Twenty-Second and Twenty Third Streets. The adults would sit in with the children and spell out words and hoped that they might some day be able to read the Bible. They also liked to display pictures of Queen Victoria alongside that of Abraham Lincoln. They also took on new surnames to avoid being identified and recaptured. Many of the families there favoured the name "Johnson" as well as "Atkins", "Murdoch" and "Green". Over the years these families abandoned the homes they had established, to be seen no more on the hilltop. They didn't like the long cold winters and eventually returned to the United States. Today it is a predominantly white neighbourhood.
During the 19th century it did not occur to inhabitants of Hamilton that the mountain top would become thickly populated. Concession Street had been a deer run, then a cow path, at last evolved into a stoned road and had a toll-gate placed on it. All other roads on the mountain were left in a state of nature, where wagons sank to the hubs in the sticky mud for which Barton Township was famous.
From the year 1910, (interrupted by the outbreak of World War I in 1914), a great building boom was enjoyed on the mountain area, when many farms were cut into lots and many streets opened. Immigration flowed and the newcomers were chiefly from the British Isles. They were industrious workingmen who soon built comfortable homes for themselves. When the city water came to the mountain, followed by sewers, there was no restraint on the building program. Since then the growth has been phenomenal.
In 1949 Mayor Sam Lawrence went on record as favouring a separate mountain ward. The city's focus was now to grow south with the eastern boundary, at the time, now established at Red Hill Creek.