The current East Rock neighborhood remained unsettled farmland into the 1800s, when its largest landowner was Abraham Bishop, a prominent New Haven lawyer and businessman. The southernmost streets were developed first, between the late 1830s and 1860, as these were nearest to the industrializing city center. Following Bishop's death in 1844, the rest of the neighborhood was gradually subdivided and developed.
Sub-neighborhoods developed as New Haven continued to industrialize and grow, with immigrants arriving to take newly available jobs. An Irish community developed in Goatville (around Upper State Street) and a Polish population formed around St. Stanislaus Roman Catholic Church. A commercial district developed on Upper State Street. By 1900 most of the neighborhood's land was developed. The final blocks, near East Rock Park, were developed in the first decades of the 1900s.