According to the 2000 census, Rochester's population was around 250,000, and the Metro population was 1,079,000. Situated on the Genesee River from the southern edge of Monroe County to the river's mouth on Lake Ontario, the city of Rochester and its metropolitan area sit on a beautiful glacial plain a scant 90 miles across the lake from Toronto, Ontario. The main features, geographically speaking, are:
One of the Great Lakes, Ontario is famous for being part of one of the world's vital commercial waterways, part of a system of lakes, rivers and canals connecting the great US and Canadian cities of the interior (Toronto, Rochester, Buffalo, Chicago, Windsor, Detroit, Cleveland, Toledo and Milwaukee to name a few) to the Atlantic Ocean and the rest of the world.
Its source buried in the Allegheny foothills of Pennsylvania, the Genesee enters Rochester and drops through a series of gorges and falls called the Genesee Escarpment to reach its terminus in the aforementioned lake at a place called Ontario Beach. It was on the Genesee and particularly the area around High Falls that Rochester was born as an industrial 18th Century grist mill and Seneca Indian crossroads.
Long, thin tendrils of water which lie in the valleys to the south of Rochester, the Finger Lakes are famous for their recreational and vinticultural (wine-related) attractions. Among other wineries in the area, some of the most well known are Canandaigua Brands (including the following labels: Widmer, Taylor, Manischewitz, Paul Masson Brandy, Inglenook, Dunnewood and Arbor Mist), Dr Konstatin Frank's, and Casa Larga.
Kettles, Drums and Bowls
Unusual geological formations resulting from a rapid recession of polar ice at the end of the last ice age, these give Rochester a distinctively 'hilly' look and feel.
The Flour City
Our first nickname, deriving from the many mills which sprang up along the Genesee.
The Flower City
At first a bastardisation of 'flour', it has come to represent the enormous horticultural contributions of Rochester, whose Ellwanger-Barry nurseries rank with the best in the world. Many Frederick Law Olmsted parks are in the area, and the largest city festival is a celebration of Rochester's symbol, the lilac.
The World's Image Centre
This is a result of Rochester being the birthplace and corporate headquarters of Xerox, Kodak, Bausch and Lomb, Western Union and countless telecom companies.
Rochester is home to one of the most rabidly followed soccer teams in North America, the Raging Rhinos. The city is besotted with the team in a manner quite disproportionate to its size, regularly outdrawing such big name soccer teams as the New York/New Jersey Metrostars and the Chicago Fire. Winners of three A-League Championships and one US Open Cup victory1, the Rhinos regularly defeat MLS teams as well as their A-League opponents, and plans for a soccer-specific stadium and MLS membership are in the works at the time of writing.
As mentioned above, Rochester is a centre of international commerce. Among the companies which call Rochester home are:
- Bausch and Lomb
- French's (mustards, relishes, etc)
- Ellwanger-Barry Nurseries
- Global Crossing Communications/Frontier Communications
- Western Union2
- Hickey-Freeman Clothiers
- High Falls Brewing Co (Michael Shea's, JW Dundees Honey Brown, Genny 12-Horse)
- Gordon S Black Corp
- The Sutherland Group
- Valeo USA
- Gannett News Service
Famous Faces from Rochester
Rochester has seen many of its sons and daughters ascend to fame and fortune. A brief list would include:
- John Lithgow (Actor)
- Cab Calloway (Musician)
- Gap, Chuck Mangione (Musicians)
- Rudy Boesch (Survivor)
- Josh Brolin (Actor)
- Taye Diggs (Actor)
- Phillip Seymour Hoffman (Actor)
- George Eastman (Founder of Eastman Kodak)
- Robert Forster (Actor)
- Rod Serling (The Twilight Zone)
- Frederick Douglass (Abolitionist)
- Susan B Anthony (Suffragette)
- Lauren Holly (Actress)
- Mimi Kennedy (Actress)
- Cheyna (WWF Wrestler)
Things to Do
Thinking of paying a visit? Passing through on your way to Niagara Falls or New York City, and want to make a day of it? Here are a few of the more popular things to do:
Lilac Festival - The premiere festival held annually in mid-May, the Lilac Festival takes place at Highland Park and celebrates Rochester's place as a horticultural Mecca. Also, as with other festivals, it is a fine time to sample Rochester's culinary specialities, such as White Hots, Garbage Plates, Funnel Cakes and Artichoke French.
Park Ave Festival - Held on trendy, hip Park Avenue and surrounding streets, the festival is notable primarily for its street vendors and Mardi Gras-type atmosphere. Sidewalk tournaments of Beiruit/Beer Pong are not uncommon.
Corn Hill Festival - See Park Ave festival entry above, and stress the neighbourhood's gorgeous architecture.
Maplewood Rose Festival - Maplewood's Rose Gardens bloom to life in mid-June.
Eastman Theatre - The University of Rochester's Eastman School of music is housed in a beautiful downtown concert hall, where you can catch great classical, jazz and eclectic music almost every night of the week. The Eastman School consistently ranks at the top of the list of Music Education Institutions nationwide, eclipsing some notable places like Juliard and Berklee in Boston.
The George Eastman House and Museum of Film - The world's largest and most complete museum devoted to film, both moving and still, housed in the gracious mansion of Kodak founder George Eastman.
The Rhinos Game - See Soccertown, USA section above.
Wegmans Supermarket - 'Super-Wegmans' is a supermarket of epic proportions, boasting (among other things) a full-time Belgian Patissière, Japanese Sushi Chefs, and a five-star restaurant. 3195 Monroe Avenue Rochester, NY 14618 (716) 586-6680. The Wegmans superstore in Pittsford is located about a mile south of I-590, next to Pittsford Plaza. Open 24 hours.
Jazz and Folk buskers downtown - products of the aforementioned Music School.
Bar and Nightlife districts - St Paul, High Falls, Park Ave, Monroe Ave, Alexander St, Chevy Place, Gregory St, Liberty Pole.
The Great Great House of Guitars - Its owners have not been proven to not be aliens, but it is the greatest music store in the world, and is a favourite among famous musicians.
Nearby: Buffalo Bills/Sabres; Toronto Maple Leafs/Blue Jays/Raptors games, Niagara Falls, Adirondack Mts, Montreal, 1000 Islands, Toronto in general.
For more additional statistical and otherwise useful data, check out the City of Rochester website.