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About Rochester

Rochester, once known as The Flour City, and more recently as The Flower City or The World's Image Centre, is a city in Monroe County, New York, United States.

A portion of Rochester's skyline, looking north-northeast along the Genesee River from the Ford Street Bridge.


The City of Rochester is the county seat for Monroe County. It is at the center of a larger Metropolitan Area which encompasses and extends past Monroe County and includes Genesee County, Livingston County, Ontario County, Orleans County, and Wayne County.

This large metropolitan area had a population of 1,037,831 people as of the 2000 Census. As of July 1, 2005, this population rose slightly to 1,039,028, making Rochester the third largest city in New York State with around 216,000.

Principal suburbs of the city include Brighton, Chili, East Rochester, Fairport, Gates, Greece, Henrietta, Irondequoit, Penfield, Pittsford, Victor and Webster.

Rochester was ranked #6 among 379 U.S. Metro areas in the 25th edition of the Places Rated Almanac for Most Livable Cities.[2]

In 2007, Rochester was ranked the #1 city in the country by Expansion Management Magazine for best quality of life.

Founding and early history

Aqueduct of the Erie Canal as it was built in 1842, replacing the original construction from 1823. In the 1920s, the Broad Street Bridge was erected on top of it.
Aqueduct of the Erie Canal as it was built in 1842, replacing the original construction from 1823. In the 1920s, the Broad Street Bridge was erected on top of it.

On November 8, 1803, a one-hundred acre (ca. 40 ha) tract of land in Western New York along the Genesee River was purchased by Colonel Nathaniel Rochester, Major Charles Carroll, and Colonel William Fitzhugh, all of Hagerstown, Maryland. The site was chosen because of three cataracts on the Genesee, offering great potential for water power. Beginning in 1811, and with a population of fifteen, the three founders surveyed the land and laid out streets and tracts. In 1817, the Brown brothers (of Brown's Race) and other landowners joined their lands with the Hundred Acre Tract to form the Village of Rochesterville.

By 1821, Rochesterville was the seat of Monroe County. In 1823, Rochesterville consisted of 1,012 acres (4 km²) and 2,500 residents, and the Village of Rochesterville became known as Rochester. Also in 1823, the Erie Canal aqueduct over the Genesee River was completed, and the Erie Canal east to the Hudson River was opened. Later, after the advent of railroads, the presence of the canal in the center city became bothersome, and it was re-routed south of Rochester. By 1830, Rochester's population was 9,200 and in 1834, it was re-chartered as a city.

Rochester was first known as "The Young Lion of the West", and then as the "Flour City". By 1838, Rochester was the largest flour-producing city. Having doubled its population in only ten years, Rochester became known as America's first "boomtown."

In 1847, Frederick Douglass founded the abolitonist newspaper The North Star in Rochester. Douglass, a former slave and an antislavery speaker and writer, gained a circulation of over 4,000 readers in the United States, Europe, and the Caribbean. The North Star served as an important forum for abolitionist views.

In the early 20th century, Rochester also became a center of the garment industry, particularly in men's fashions. It was the home of such well-known enterprises as Fashion Park and Hickey-Freeman.

The population reached 62,386 in 1870, 162,608 in 1900, and 295,750 in 1920. By 1950, population of the city had reached an all-time high of 332,488. By 2000, the population had declined to 219,773.

Geography and climate

Barges on the Genesee River
Barges on the Genesee River
Rochester skyline from the Cobbs Hill water reservoir (Rochester, New York)
Rochester skyline from the Cobbs Hill water reservoir (Rochester, New York)
View of downtown from Blue Cross Arena
View of downtown from Blue Cross Arena

Rochester is located at 43°9′56″N, 77°36′41″W (43.165496, -77.611504).GR1 The city is east of Buffalo, west of Syracuse and sits on the southern shore of Lake Ontario. The Genesee River bisects the city.

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 96.1 km² (37.1 mi²). 92.8 km² (35.8 mi²) of it is land and 3.3 km² (1.3 mi²) of it (3.42%) is water.

Rochester's geography comes from the glaciers during the Cenozoic era. The retreating glaciers created the Genesee Valley and left rolling hills (drumlin fields) around it, including (from west to east) Mt. Hope, the hills of Highland Park, Pinnacle Hill, and Cobb's Hill. The glaciers also left behind Lake Ontario (one of the five fresh-water Great Lakes), the Genesee River with its waterfalls and gorges, Irondequoit Bay, Sodus Bay, Braddock's Bay, Mendon Ponds, numerous local streams and ponds, the Ridge, and the nearby Finger Lakes.

According to the City of Rochester, the city has 537 miles (864 km) of public streets, 585 miles (941 km) of water mains, 44 vehicular and eight pedestrian bridges, 11 public libraries, two police stations (one for the east side, one for the west), and 16 fire stations. The principal source of the city's water is Hemlock Lake, which, with its watershed, is wholly owned by the city. Other water sources are Canadice Lake and Lake Ontario. The 30-year annual average snowfall is 95.0 inches (2.4 m). The mean July temperature is 71.3 °F (21.8 °C), and the mean February temperature is 23.6 °F (−4.7 °C).

Rochester has four distinct seasons, although its often cold and snowy winters may garner the most attention. Autumn features brilliant foliage colors, and summer sees warm comfortable temperatures that usually stay in the low to mid 80s.


The Rochester area is home to a number of international businesses, including Fortune 1000 companies Eastman Kodak, Constellation Brands, and Paychex, as well as several national and regional companies. Because of the high prevalence of imaging and optical science among the industry and the universities, Rochester is known as the world capital of imaging. The Institute of Optics of the University of Rochester is ranked number one in the country, and the Rochester Institute of Technology has one of the best imaging science departments in the country. In 2005, the University of Rochester became the largest employer in the Rochester area, surpassing Kodak.

The Gannett newspaper company and Western Union were both founded in the Rochester area by Frank Gannett and Hiram Sibley respectively.


Rochester's most famous and unique cuisine - the "Garbage Plate".
Rochester's most famous and unique cuisine - the "Garbage Plate".

One food product that Rochester is proud to call its own is the famous "white hot," made by the local Zweigle's company, which can be found at numerous area restaurants and hot dog stands. The white hot is essentially a German weisswurst.

Another local specialty is the "garbage plate," first served at Nick Tahou Hots. Fitting with its impact on the world of hot dogs and burgers, Rochester is also home to French's Mustard, whose eponymous address is 1 Mustard Street. Boss Sauce, another condiment is also manufactured in Rochester.

Rochester is also home to Wet Planet Beverages, producer of Jolt Cola and other premium beverage products. High Falls Brewing Company, maker of the Genesee brands of beers and JW Dundee's brand (Honey Brown) also calls Rochester home. Arbor Mist wines are also produced in nearby Canandaigua, NY by owner Constellation Brands.

National frozen food manufacturer Birds Eye is headquartered in suburban Rochester. Helluva Good Cheeses and Seneca Foods are headquartered in nearby Wayne County. The Ragu brand of pasta sauce was originally produced in Rochester, and the Francesco Rinaldi brand of pasta sauce is currently manufactured in Rochester.

Other local franchises include: Bill Gray's (a hamburger/hotdog joint that lays claim to having "The World's Greatest Cheeseburger"), Country Sweet (known for their chicken wings and unique BBQ sauce), Tom Wahl's, Dibella's, Great Northern Pizza Kitchen, Zebb's, Don's Original, and Abbott's Frozen Custard. Dinosaur Bar-b-que also operates their second ever franchise downtown in an old Lehigh Valley Railroad station on the Genesee River.

The Rochester area is the birthplace of the Wegmans Grocery store chain, which now has locations throughout the Northeast and Northern Virginia. In 2005, they were rated the #1 best company in America to work for by Fortune Magazine.

Major area shopping centers

Top Five employers

As of 2005, the top employers in the city are:


The city and its suburbs are home to a number of colleges and universities:

Together with Alfred University, SUNY Alfred, SUNY Brockport, Empire State College, SUNY Geneseo, and Hobart and William Smith Colleges, each within an hour of Rochester, these institutions comprise the Rochester Area Colleges consortium.

Culture and recreation

Rochester is home to a number of cultural institutions including the world renowned Garth Fagan Dance, the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra, (a full philharmonic orchestra being unusual for a city the size of Rochester) the George Eastman House International Museum of Photography and Film, the Memorial Art Gallery, the Rochester Museum & Science Center, the Strong - National Museum of Play, the A|V Room, the Strasenburgh Planetarium, and numerous arts organizations. Rochester's Geva Theatre Center is the city's largest professional theatre.

Points of interest

The pier at Ontario Beach Park offers views of Lake Ontario and is a popular walk for Rochesterians
The pier at Ontario Beach Park offers views of Lake Ontario and is a popular walk for Rochesterians



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