Rochester, New York

Last updated
Rochester, New York
City of Rochester
(left to right, top to bottom) the Eastman Theater at the Eastman School of Music; First Federal Plaza building; Xerox, Legacy (formerly Bausch & Lomb), and Metropolitan (formerly Chase) towers; Downtown Rochester skyline; Rush Rhees Library at the University of Rochester; Sacred Heart cathedral; row houses in the Grove Place neighborhood
Flag of Rochester, New York.png
Seal of Rochester, New York.svg
Logo of Rochester, New York.svg
"The Flour City", "The Flower City", "The World's Image Center"
Monroe County New York incorporated and unincorporated areas Rochester highlighted.svg
Location in Monroe County and the State of New York.
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Rochester, New York
Location in Monroe County and the State of New York.
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Rochester, New York
Rochester, New York (the United States)
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Rochester, New York
Rochester, New York (North America)
Coordinates: 43°9′56″N77°36′41″W / 43.16556°N 77.61139°W / 43.16556; -77.61139 Coordinates: 43°9′56″N77°36′41″W / 43.16556°N 77.61139°W / 43.16556; -77.61139
CountryFlag of the United States.svg United States
State Flag of New York.svg New York
Region Western New York; Genesee Valley
Metro Rochester Metropolitan Area
County Monroe
Incorporated as a villageMarch 21, 1817 (as Rochesterville) [1]
Incorporated as a cityApril 28, 1834
  Type Mayor-Council
   Mayor Lovely Warren (D)
   City Council
Members' List
   City 37.17 sq mi (96.28 km2)
  Land35.77 sq mi (92.63 km2)
  Water1.41 sq mi (3.64 km2)  3.6%
Highest elevation
702 ft (214 m)
Lowest elevation
230 ft (70 m)
   City 210,565
(2019) [3]
  Density5,751.13/sq mi (2,220.50/km2)
720,572 (US: 60th)
1,067,486 (US: 52nd)
Demonym(s) Rochesterian
Time zone UTC−05:00 (EST)
  Summer (DST) UTC−04:00 (EDT)
ZIP codes
146xx (14604=downtown)
Area code 585
FIPS code 36-63000
GNIS feature ID0962684
Interstates I-390.svg I-490.svg I-590.svg

Rochester ( /ˈrɒɛstər,-ɪs-/ ) is a city in the U.S. state of New York, the seat of Monroe County, and the third-most populous in the state after New York City and Buffalo, with an estimated population of 205,695 in 2020. [4] The city of Rochester forms the core of a much larger metropolitan area with a population of 1 million people, across six counties.


Rochester was one of the United States' first boomtowns, initially due to the fertile Genesee River Valley, which gave rise to numerous flour mills, and then as a manufacturing center, which spurred further rapid population growth. [5] The city rose to prominence as the birthplace and home of some of America's most iconic companies, in particular Eastman Kodak, Xerox, and Bausch & Lomb (along with Wegmans, Gannett, Paychex, Western Union, French's, Constellation Brands, Ragú, and others), by which the region became a global center for science, technology, and research and development. This status has been aided by the presence of several internationally renowned universities (notably the University of Rochester and Rochester Institute of Technology) and their research programs; these schools, along with many other smaller colleges, have played an increasingly large role in Greater Rochester's economy. [6] Rochester has also played a key part in US history as a hub for certain important social/political movements, especially abolitionism [7] and the women's rights movement. [8] While the city experienced some significant population loss as a result of deindustrialization, strong growth in the education and healthcare sectors boosted by elite universities and the slower decline of bedrock companies such as Eastman Kodak and Xerox (as opposed to the rapid fall of heavy industry with steel companies in Buffalo and Pittsburgh) resulted in a much less severe contraction than in most Rust Belt metro areas.

Today, Rochester's economy is defined by technology and education (aided by a highly educated workforce, research institutions, and other strengths born in its past). [9] The Rochester metropolitan area is the third-largest regional economy in New York, after the New York City metropolitan area and the Buffalo-Niagara Falls Metropolitan Area. [10] Rochester's gross metropolitan product is US$50.6 billion—above those of Albany and Syracuse, but below that of Buffalo. [11] Rochester is also known for its culture, in particular its music culture; institutions such as the Eastman School of Music (considered to be one of the most prestigious conservatories in the world) and the Rochester International Jazz Festival anchor a vibrant music industry, ranked as one of the top-10 music scenes in the US in terms of the concentration of musicians and music-related business. [12] It is the site of multiple major festivals every year (such as the Lilac Festival, the aforementioned Jazz Festival, the Rochester Fringe Festival, and others that draw hundreds of thousands of attendees each) and is home to several world-famous museums such as The Strong National Museum of Play and the George Eastman Museum, the oldest photography collection in the world and one of the largest. [13] [ circular reference ] The Rochester metro is ranked highly in terms of livability and quality of life [14] and is often considered to be one of the best places in America for families [15] [16] due to low cost of living, highly ranked public schools[ dubious ] and a low unemployment rate. A great divide, though, exists between its inner-city component (which has at times had the highest child poverty rate in the nation) and its affluent, well-educated southern suburbs. It is considered to be a global city, ranked by the Globalization and World Cities Research Network as having sufficiency status. [17]


The Seneca tribe of Native Americans lived in and around Rochester until losing claim to most of this land in the Treaty of Big Tree in 1797. [18] Settlement before the Seneca tribe is unknown.

Nineteenth century

Rochester's development followed the American Revolution, and forced cession of their territory by the Iroquois after Britain's defeat. Allied with the British, four major Iroquois tribes were forced out of New York. As a reward for their loyalty to the British crown, they were given a large land grant on the Grand River in Canada. [19] [20]

Rochester was founded shortly after the American Revolution by a wave of English-Puritan-descended immigrants from New England, who were looking for new agricultural land. They were the dominant cultural group in Rochester for over a century. [21] On November 8, 1803, Colonel Nathaniel Rochester (1752–1831), Major Charles Carroll, and Colonel William Fitzhugh, Jr. (1761–1839), all of Hagerstown, Maryland, purchased a 100-acre (40-ha) tract from the state in western New York along the Genesee River. They chose the site because its three cataracts on the Genesee offered great potential for water power. Beginning in 1811, and with a population of 15, the three founders surveyed the land and laid out streets and tracts. In 1817, the Brown brothers 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, it 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. In the early 20th century, after the advent of railroads, the presence of the canal in the center city was an obstacle; it was rerouted south of Rochester by 1918 when the Barge Canal was completed. [22] By 1830, Rochester's population was 9,200, and in 1834, it was rechartered as a city.

Rochester was first known as "the Young Lion of the West", and then as the "Flour City". By 1838, it was the largest flour-producing city in the United States. [23] Having doubled its population in only 10 years, Rochester became America's first "boom town".

In 1830–31, Rochester experienced one of the nation's biggest Protestant revivalist movements, led by Charles Grandison Finney. The revival inspired other revivals of the Second Great Awakening. A leading pastor in New York, who was converted in the Rochester meetings, gave this account of Finney's meetings there: "The whole community was stirred. Religion was the topic of conversation in the house, in the shop, in the office, and on the street. The only theater in the city was converted into a livery stable; the only circus into a soap and candle factory. Grog shops were closed; the Sabbath was honored; the sanctuaries were thronged with happy worshippers; a new impulse was given to every philanthropic enterprise; the fountains of benevolence were opened, and men lived to good." [24]

By the mid-19th century, as the center of the wheat-processing industry moved west with population and agriculture, the city became home to an expanding nursery business, giving rise to the city's second nickname, the Flower City. Nurseries ringed the city, the most famous of which was started in 1840 by immigrants Georg Ellwanger from Germany and Patrick Barry from Ireland. [25]

In 1847, Frederick Douglass founded the abolitionist newspaper, the North Star in Rochester. [26] A former slave and an antislavery speaker and writer, he gained a circulation over 4,000 readers in the United States, Europe, and the Caribbean. The North Star served as a forum for abolitionist views. The Douglass home burnt down in 1872, but a marker for it is in Highland Park off South Avenue. [27]

Susan B. Anthony, a national leader of the women's suffrage movement, was from Rochester. The Nineteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, in 1920, which guaranteed the right of women to vote, was known as the Susan B. Anthony Amendment because of her work toward its passage, which she did not live to see. [28] Anthony's home is a National Historic Landmark known as the National Susan B. Anthony Museum and House. [29]

At the end of the 19th century, anarchist Emma Goldman lived and worked in Rochester for several years, championing the cause of labor in Rochester sweatshops. Rochester also had significant unrest in labor, race, and antiwar protests.

After the Civil War, Rochester had an expansion of new industries in the late 19th century, founded by migrants to the city, including inventor and entrepreneur George Eastman, who founded Eastman Kodak, and German immigrants John Jacob Bausch and Henry Lomb, who launched Bausch & Lomb in 1861. Not only did they create new industries, but Eastman also became a major philanthropist, developing and endowing the University of Rochester, its Eastman School of Music, and other local institutions.

Twentieth century

In the early 20th century, Rochester became a center of the garment industry, particularly men's fashions. It was the base of Bond Clothing Stores, Fashion Park Clothes, Hickey Freeman, and Stein-Bloch and Co. Carriagemaker James Cunningham and Sons founded the pioneer automobile company Cunningham. [30]

Rochester in the late 1930s Rochester Downtown - Late 1930s.jpg
Rochester in the late 1930s

Rochester's black population tripled to more than 25,000 during the 1950s. Casually employed by the city's iconic industries, most African Americans in the city held low-pay and low-skill jobs, and lived in substandard housing. Discontent exploded in the 1964 Rochester race riot. Triggered by the attempted arrest of a 19-year-old intoxicated black male at a street block party, order was restored after three days, and only after Governor Nelson Rockefeller called out the New York National Guard. By the time the disturbance was over, five were dead (four in a helicopter crash) and 350 were injured. Almost a thousand people were arrested and 204 stores were either looted or damaged. [31] [32]

In the wake of the riots, the Rochester Area Churches, together with black civil rights leaders, invited Saul Alinsky of the Industrial Areas Foundation to help the community organize. With the Reverend Franklin Florence, who had been close to Malcolm X, they established FIGHT (Freedom, Integration, God, Honor, Today), which successfully brought pressure to bear on Eastman Kodak to help open up employment and city governance. [33] [34]

The population reached 62,386 in 1870, 162,608 in 1900, and 295,750 in 1920. By 1950, the population had reached a high of 332,488. In 1950, the Census Bureau reported Rochester's population as 97.6% White and 2.3% Black. [35] With industrial restructuring in the later 20th century, and the decline of industry and jobs in the area, by 2018, the city's population had declined to 206,284 (although the metropolitan area was considerably larger) with 46.58% recorded as White and 40.71% as Black or African American. [36] [37]


High Falls in 2009 Highfallsrochester.jpg
High Falls in 2009

Rochester is located at 43°9′56″N77°36′41″W / 43.16556°N 77.61139°W / 43.16556; -77.61139 (43.165496, −77.611504) in Upstate New York. [38] The city is about 73 miles (120 km) east-northeast of Buffalo and about 87 miles (140 km) west of Syracuse. Albany, the state capital, is 226 miles (360 km) to the east; it sits on Lake Ontario's southern shore. The Genesee River bisects the city. Toronto, Ontario, Canada, is northwest 168 miles (270 km) and New York City is about 250 miles (400 km) to the southeast.

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 37.1 square miles (96 km2), of which 35.8 square miles (93 km2) are land and 1.3 square miles (3.4 km2) are covered by water (3.42%).

The Genesee River in 2013 GeneseeMist.jpg
The Genesee River in 2013

Rochester's geography was formed by the ice sheets during the Pleistocene epoch. The retreating ice sheets reached a standstill at what is now the southern border of the city, melting at the same rate as they were advancing, depositing sediment along the southern edge of the ice mass. This created a line of hills, including (from west to east) Mt. Hope, the hills of Highland Park, Pinnacle Hill, and Cobb's Hill. Because the sediment of these hills was deposited into a proglacial lake, they are stratified and classified as a "kame delta". A brief retreat and readvance of the ice sheet onto the delta deposited unstratified material there, creating a rare hybrid structure called "kame moraine". [39] [40]

The ice sheets also created Lake Ontario (one of the five freshwater Great Lakes), the Genesee River with its waterfalls and gorges, Irondequoit Bay, Sodus Bay, Braddock Bay, Mendon Ponds, numerous local streams and ponds, the Ridge, and the nearby Finger Lakes. [40]

Rochester 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 15 firehouses. The principal source of water is Hemlock Lake, which, with its watershed, is owned by the state of New York. Other water sources include Canadice Lake and Lake Ontario. The 30-year annual average snowfall is just above 100 in (2.5 m). [41] The monthly daily average ranges from 24.7 °F (−4.1 °C) in January to 70.8 °F (21.6 °C) in July. The high amount of snow Rochester receives can be accounted for by the city's proximity to Lake Ontario (see lake-effect snow).


Rochester has a number of neighborhoods, including the 19th Ward, 14621 Community, Beechwood, Browncroft, Cascade District, Cobbs Hill, Charlotte, Corn Hill, Dewey, Dutchtown, Edgerton, Ellwanger-Barry, German Village, Grove Place, High Falls District, Highland Park, Maplewood (10th Ward), Marketview Heights, Mt. Read, North Winton Village, Neighborhood of the Arts , Lyell-Otis, Park Avenue, Plymouth-Exchange, Southwest, East End, South Wedge, Swillburg, Susan B. Anthony, University-Atlantic, Upper Monroe, and more are all recognized communities with various neighborhood associations. Also, living spaces are available in downtown Rochester.


The Browncroft neighborhood is built on the former nursery grounds of the Brown Brothers nursery. The business district situated on Winton Rd has a mix of restaurants and shops. The neighborhood borders the nearby Tryon and Ellison Parks. The Browncroft Historic District was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2004. [42]


Historically an Italian-American neighborhood, this area of the City of Rochester is now home to citizens from across the globe. [43] [44] There have recently been efforts to improve the quality of life in this neighborhood, as the area has opportunity for redevelopment and renewal. [45] [46] [47] [48] [49] [50]

The Lyell-Otis neighborhood is in the City of Rochester, in the Northwest Quadrant. Bordering the suburbs of Gates and Greece, the Lyell-Otis boundaries are the Erie Canal (the City Line) on the west, Lyell Avenue on the south, Driving Park Boulevard on the north, and the old subway bed (long since filled-in, which previously was where the Erie Canal flowed) on the east - almost to Dewey Avenue.

19th Ward

The 19th Ward is a southwest neighborhood bordered by Genesee Street, West Avenue, and the Erie Canal, and is across the river from the University of Rochester. [51] Now known by its slogan "Urban by Choice", in the early 19th century, the area was known as Castle Town, after Castle Inn, a tavern run by Colonel Isaac Castle. By the early 1820s, however, the area was overshadowed by developments in the north that would become downtown Rochester. Due to a tumultuous bend in the Genesee, the area was home to skilled boatsmen who assisted boats traveling north to Rochester and the area was consequently known during this time as "The Rapids". In the 1890s, as Rochester expanded, the area became a prosperous residential area that thrived as the city grew. By 1930, it was a booming residential area for doctors, lawyers, and skilled workers; it includes the still prestigious Sibley Tract development. Homes in the originally upper-class neighborhood typically have gumwood trim, leaded glass, fireplaces, hardwood floors, and open porches. In the 1960s, property values fell as the population of Rochester did, the area experienced white flight accelerated by school busing, blockbusting, and race riots downtown, and crime increased, with violence, drug use, and neglected property further diminishing property values. [52]

To respond to these issues, the 19th Ward has had an active community association since 1965 and is now known for its ethnic, class, and cultural diversity.[ vague ] The "Brooks Landing" development along the Genesee River at the former "rapids" is bringing new economic development to the community, including an 88-room hotel, 20,000-square-foot (1,900 m2) office building, 11,000 square feet (1,000 m2) of new retail, two restaurants, and Brue Coffee shop. [53] Residential development is also increasing with completion of a 170-bed University of Rochester student housing tower at Brooks Landing in 2014, and 29 new market-rate homes nearby.

Located in the 19th Ward are the Arvine Heights Historic District, Chili–West Historic District, Inglewood and Thurston Historic District, and Sibley–Elmdorf Historic District, listed on the National Register of Historic Places. [54] [55] [56]


Genesee River and the historic Aqueduct Downtown RocNightAqueduct.jpg
Genesee River and the historic Aqueduct Downtown

Charlotte (shar-LOT) is a lakefront community in Rochester bordering Lake Ontario. It is home to Ontario Beach Park, commonly known as Charlotte Beach, which is a popular summer destination for Rochesterians. A new terminal was built in 2004 for the Rochester-to-Toronto ferry service and was later sold after the ferry ceased operations in 2005. The Port of Rochester terminal still exists and has since been revamped. It now houses the restaurant California Rollin', a coffee shop named The Nutty Bavarian along with offices for the marina created around it. In summer 2016 a proposed redevelopment project for the Port of Rochester was put on hold due to the developers failing to meet financial obligations as set by the city. [57]

Susan B. Anthony Neighborhood

This neighborhood is a Preservation District on the National Register of Historic Places, known as the Madison Square-West Main Street Historic District. [58] It encompasses a three-and-one-half block area within walking distance from downtown Rochester, and comprises residential, commercial and industrial buildings. The center of the residential area is Susan B. Anthony Square, a 0.84-acre (3,400 m2) park shown on city maps from 1839, which was designed by the famous Olmstead Brothers. Also within the neighborhood is the Susan B. Anthony House, which was the suffragist's residence for the last decades of her life, now a museum, as well as the Cunningham Carriage factory built in 1848 on Canal Street. James Cunningham Son & Co. sold more carriages in the United States in the 1880s than all other manufacturers combined. The Canal Street property, which still stands, remained Cunningham's headquarters for more than 100 years. [59]


This wedge-shaped piece of the city is bordered by S. Clinton Avenue on the west, Field St on the south, and Interstate 490 on the east. [60] The neighborhood received its moniker when a 19th-century Rochester pig farmer utilized the area to collect swill for his swine. [61] The area has one of the highest rates of home-ownership in the city. [62]

The local elementary school is #35, Field Street, which often sponsors a community garden in its courtyard on Pinnacle Street.

Marketview Heights

Running east from Union Street just north of Main Street, Marketview Heights is best known as the location of the Public Market, which offers a variety of groceries and other goods from marketeers from farms and shops from surrounding areas, primarily on the weekends. [63] [64]

Homestead Heights

Homestead Heights is in northeast Rochester. It is bordered on the west by Goodman Street, on the north by Clifford Avenue, on the south by Bay Street, and on the east by Culver Road, which is also the border between the city and the town of Irondequoit. The neighborhood is a mix of residential and commercial. Real estate values are higher on the eastern end of the neighborhood near the Irondequoit border. The neighborhood is approximately 2–214 miles west of the Irondequoit Bay.


Climate chart (explanation)
Average max. and min. temperatures in °F
Precipitation totals in inches

Rochester lies in the humid continental climate zone (Köppen Dfa and Dfb) [65] and has four distinct seasons. Winters are cold (temperatures drop to 0 °F (−18 °C) on 4.2 nights annually) similar to other US cities of the same latitude. However, Rochester receives vast amounts of snow (primarily lake effect snow resulting from its location on the southern shores of Lake Ontario) occasionally setting records for annual snowfall among large US metros. [66] Spring sees plentiful rain with the rising temperatures, and occasional late snowstorms depending on the year. Summers are warm and sunny; there are occasional short periods of high heat and humidity but in general, Rochester is set apart from most of the continental US by comparatively cool, comfortable summers (ranking among the top five coolest summers among large metros alongside Seattle and Portland, Oregon [67] ). Autumn features brilliant foliage colors, cooling temperatures and occasionally an excess of rain depending on the year, though precipitation is generally plentiful and dispersed fairly evenly throughout the year.

Climate data for Rochester, New York (Greater Rochester Int'l), 1991–2020 normals, [lower-alpha 1] extremes 1871−present [lower-alpha 2]
Record high °F (°C)74
Mean maximum °F (°C)57
Average high °F (°C)33.4
Daily mean °F (°C)26.2
Average low °F (°C)19.0
Mean minimum °F (°C)−1
Record low °F (°C)−17
Average precipitation inches (mm)2.55
Average snowfall inches (cm)27.4
Average precipitation days (≥ 0.01 in)19.616.415.413.412.411.511.210.311.113.914.918.1168.2
Average snowy days (≥ 0.1 in)17.615.
Average relative humidity (%)
Average dew point °F (°C)16.3
Mean monthly sunshine hours 108.3118.1177.7216.5266.5297.6314.4273.4212.3154.481.577.52,298.2
Percent possible sunshine 37404854596568635745282852
Source: NOAA (relative humidity, dew point, and sun 1961–1990) [68] [69] [70]


Historical population
1810 1,001
1820 1,50250.0%
1830 9,207513.0%
1840 20,191119.3%
1850 36,40380.3%
1860 48,20432.4%
1870 62,38629.4%
1880 89,36643.2%
1890 133,89649.8%
1900 162,60821.4%
1910 218,14934.2%
1920 295,75035.6%
1930 328,13210.9%
1940 324,975−1.0%
1950 332,4882.3%
1960 318,611−4.2%
1970 296,233−7.0%
1980 241,741−18.4%
1990 231,636−4.2%
2000 219,474−5.3%
2010 210,565−4.1%
2020 (est.)205,695 [71] −2.3%
Historical Population Figures [72]
U.S. Decennial Census [73]
2019 Estimate [74]
Racial composition2010 [75] 1990 [35] 1970 [35] 1940 [35]
White 43.7%61.1%82.4%97.6%
—Non-Hispanic37.6%58.3%80.2% [76] n/a
Black or African American 41.7%31.5%16.8%2.3%
Hispanic or Latino (of any race)16.4%8.7%2.8% [76] (X)
Asian 3.1%1.8%0.2%

According to the 2010 census, the city's population was 43.7% White or White American, 41.7% Black, 0.5% American Indian and Alaska Native, 3.1% Asian, 0.0% Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander, 6.6% from some other race and 4.4% from two or more races. 16.4% of the total population were Hispanic or Latino of any race, mostly made up of Puerto Ricans. [77] Non-Hispanic Whites were 37.6% of the population in 2010, [75] compared to 80.2% in 1970. [35]

Although losing population since 1950, over the course of the past 50 years Rochester has become a major center for immigration, particularly for arrivals from Eastern and Southeastern Europe, sub-Saharan Africa, and the Caribbean. Rochester had the highest percentage of Puerto Ricans of any major city in the United States in 2013, [78] one of the four largest Turkish American communities, [79] one of the largest Jamaican American communities in any major U.S city [80] and a large concentration of Polish Americans along with nearby Buffalo, New York. [81] Rochester's Bhutanese and Nepalese communities are among the largest (top 3) in the United States, concentrated primarily in Jones Square and Edgerton with growth fueled by recently arrived migrants and refugees. [82] In addition, Rochester was ranked number 9 in the nation for the largest Italian population in the United States in 2018. [83]

In 1997, Rochester was reported to have the largest per capita deaf population in the United States, [84] likely because it is home to the National Technical Institute for the Deaf.

In 2010, of 88,999 households, 30.0% had children under 18 living with them, 25.1% were married couples living together, 23.3% had a female householder with no husband present, and 47.0% were not families. Of all households, 37.1% were made up of individuals, and 9.2% had someone living alone 65 or older. The average household size was 2.36, and the average family size was 3.19. The age distribution was 28.1% under 18, 11.6% from 18 to 24, 32.2% from 25 to 44, 18.1% from 45 to 64, and 10.0% who were 65 or older. The median age was 31. For every 100 females, there were 91.6 males. For every 100 females 18 and over, there were 87.3 males.

The median income for a city household was $27,123, and for a family was $31,257. Males had a median income of $30,521, versus $25,139 for females. The per capita income for the city was $15,588. About 23.4% of families and 25.9% of the population were below the poverty line, including 37.5% of those under age 18 and 15.4% of those age 65 or over.


By the 1920s and 1930s, Rochester's population was roughly half Protestant and half Catholic, although a significant Jewish population also was present. [85] In 1938, the city had 214 religious congregations, two-thirds of which had been founded after 1880. [85] At that time, the city added, on average, 2.6 new congregations per year, many founded by immigrants from Southern and Eastern Europe. [85] During peak immigration from 1900 to 1920, dozens of churches were established, including four Roman Catholic churches with Italian clergy, three Roman Catholic churches with Slavic clergy, a Polish Baptist church, 15 Jewish synagogues, and four small Italian Protestant mission churches (Baptist, Evangelical, Methodist, and Presbyterian). [85] Additionally, several Buddhist temples are in the city, one Cambodian, two Lao, and one Vietnamese.


In 2012, Rochester had 2,061 reported violent crimes, compared to a national average rate of 553.5 violent crimes in cities with populations larger than 100,000. [86] That same year, Rochester had 827 personal-crime incidents and 11,054 property-crime incidents.

In 2018, Rochester reported 28 murders (13.9 per 100,000 residents). [87] In 2012, 95 sexual assaults, 816 robberies, 1,104 aggravated assaults, 2,978 burglaries, 7,694 larceny thefts, 111 forcible rape, 622 auto thefts, and 152 acts of arson occurred. [88] [89]


Kodak is headquartered in Rochester. Kodak Eastman II.jpg
Kodak is headquartered in Rochester.
Rush Rhees Library at the University of Rochester, the largest employer in the six-county metropolitan area. Rush Rhees Library (8695462255).jpg
Rush Rhees Library at the University of Rochester, the largest employer in the six-county metropolitan area.

Rochester is home to a number of Fortune 1000 and international businesses, including Paychex ( [90] Fortune #662), as well as several national and regional companies, such as Carestream Health. Xerox was founded in Rochester in 1906 as the Haloid Company, [91] and retains a significant presence in Rochester, although its headquarters are now in Norwalk, Connecticut. Bausch & Lomb moved to Bridgewater, New Jersey, in 2014. [92] The Gannett newspaper company and Western Union were founded in Rochester by Frank Gannett and Hiram Sibley, respectively, but have since moved to other cities. The median single-family house price was $135,000 in the second quarter of 2015 in greater Rochester, an increase of 5.4% from a year earlier, according to the National Association of Realtors. [93]

Tech Valley, the technologically recognized area of eastern New York, has spawned a western offshoot into the Rochester and Finger Lakes areas. Since the 2000s, as established companies in Rochester downsized, Rochester and Monroe County's economy has been redirected toward high technology, with new, smaller companies providing the capital necessary for business foundation. The Rochester area is important in the field of photographic processing and imaging, as well as incubating an increasingly diverse high-technology sphere encompassing STEM fields, in part the result of private startup enterprises collaborating with major academic institutions, including the University of Rochester and Cornell University. [94]

Other organizations such as High Tech Rochester provide local startups with mentorship, office space, and other resources. [95] Given 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 and the Rochester Institute of Technology in nearby Henrietta have imaging programs. [96] In 2006, the University of Rochester became the Rochester area's largest employer, surpassing the Eastman Kodak Company. [97]

A white hot Garbage Plate from Nick Tahou Hots Nick Tahou's Garbage Plate.JPG
A white hot Garbage Plate from Nick Tahou Hots

One food product Rochester calls its own is the "white hot", a variant of the hot dog or smoked bratwurst made by the local Zweigle's company and other companies. [98] [99] Another local specialty is the "Garbage Plate", a trademark of Nick Tahou Hots that traditionally includes macaroni salad, home fries, and two hot dogs or cheeseburgers topped with mustard, onions, and their famous meat hot sauce. Many area restaurants feature copies or variations with the word "plate" commonly used as a general term. Rochester was home to French's Mustard, whose address was 1 Mustard Street. [100]

The Ragú brand of pasta sauce used to be produced in Rochester. Some of the original facility still exists and produces products for other labels (including Newman's Own) as Private Label Foods. [101]

Other local franchises include: Bill Gray's, DiBella's, Tom Wahl's, American Specialty Manufacturing (producers of Boss Sauce), Salvatore's Old Fashioned Pizzeria, Mark's Pizzeria, Cam's Pizzeria, Pontillo's Pizzeria, Perri's Pizzeria, Jeremiah's Tavern, and Abbott's Frozen Custard. Dinosaur Bar-B-Que, which originated in Syracuse, also operates its second franchise downtown in the former Lehigh Valley Railroad station on the Genesee River.

Government and Politics

Rochester City Council
Seal of Rochester, New York.svg
Seal of Rochester
1907 (current form)
Council President
Loretta Scott (D)
Willie J. Lightfoot (D)
Seats9 (4 district seats and 5 at large seats)
United States Rochester City Council 2021.svg
Political groups
  •   Democratic (6)
  •   Democratic and Working Families (3) via Fusion Voting
Length of term
4 years
First past the post
Last election
November 2019
Next election
November 2021
Meeting place
Rochester City Hall
Rochester City Council
Rochester City Charter.

Rochester is governed by a mayor serving as chief executive of city government and a city council consisting of four district members and five at-large members. [102] Mayor Lovely A. Warren was first elected mayor in November 2013 defeating incumbent Thomas Richards in both a Democratic primary and general election. Warren took office in January 2014, becoming both the youngest and first female mayor in Rochester history. The city's police department is the Rochester Police Department.

Neighborhood Service Centers

Enforcement of property code violations in Rochester had been handled by the Neighborhood Empowerment Team (NET). Rather than using a centralized code-enforcement office, 10 sectors in Rochester were assigned a total of six NET offices by the city government. However, complaints have been made about the lack of consistency in the manner and severity of enforcement between NET offices. On July 16, 2008, the city announced two of the NET offices would be closed and another relocated, due to what it had found to be the high cost and low value of operating the decentralized network. [103] Following the restructuring, the remaining offices were renamed Neighborhood Service Centers. Now, one office per city quadrant helps resolve quality-of-life issues, works with neighborhood groups, and paves the way for appropriate housing and economic development. [104] Most code enforcement processes were consolidated into the Bureau of Inspection and Compliance within the Department of Neighborhood and Business Development located centrally in City Hall.

Representation at the federal level

The city is covered by New York's 25th congressional district currently represented by Democrat Joe Morelle of Irondequoit, Monroe County, in Congress. From 1987 until 2018, the city was represented by longtime Democrat Louise M. Slaughter of Fairport, Monroe County, in Congress.

Representation at the state level

New York State Senate

After redistricting based on the 2010 United States Census, the city was split between three state senate districts:

DistrictArea of the citySenatorPartyFirst took officeResidence
55 Northeastern [105] Samra Brouk Democratic2021Rochester, Monroe County
56 Northwestern [106] Jeremy Cooney Democratic2021Rochester, Monroe County
61 Southern [107] Edward A. Rath III Republican2021 Amherst, Erie County

New York State Assembly

After redistricting based on the 2010 United States Census, Monroe County was split between three state assembly districts:

DistrictAreas of the cityAssemblypersonPartyFirst took officeResidence
136 Brighton, Irondequoit, northwest portion and easternmost tip of the City of Rochester [108] Sarah Clark Democratic2021Rochester, Monroe County
137 Gates, center of the City of Rochester [109] Demond Meeks Democratic2021Rochester, Monroe County
138A question-mark-shaped region sandwiched between districts 136 and 137 [110] Harry B. Bronson Democratic2011Rochester, Monroe County


Rochester is part of

Representation at the county level

Rochester is represented by districts 7, 16, and 21–29 in the Monroe County legislature (a 29 seat body with legislators elected to two-year terms). [111] Rochester is also under the jurisdiction of the county executive (currently Democrat Adam Bello) along with the rest of Monroe County. The District Attorney is also elected at the county level along with several other offices (such as Sheriff and Clerk) which in part govern the city.



Rochester has played an important role in both regional and national politics at various points over the past 150 years (particularly as a hub for American Progressivism and sweeping social and cultural movements). It was one of the key centers of Abolitionism and a top destination for freed and escaped slaves, most notably Frederick Douglass, who settled in Rochester and did most of his work and writings there, including publishing The North Star. Many other prominent abolitionists hailed from and/or operated in the area, such as Thomas James, Austin Stewart and many others. [112] [ circular reference ] [113] [114] [115]

Around the same time, Rochester and the wider finger lakes region was the birthplace of the Women's Suffrage movement. A critical suffragettes’ convention was held in 1848 in nearby Seneca Falls, and Rochester was the home base of Susan B. Anthony [116] (the most prominent American leader in the fight for women's voting rights) along with other notable Suffragettes like Abigail Bush [117] and Amy Post. [118] The city itself played host to the Rochester Women's Rights Convention in 1848.

The dawn of the 20th century in Rochester saw rapid growth, driven in large part by waves of immigrants arriving from Ireland, Italy, Poland and elsewhere [119] which (as in other American cities) had a major impact on the political landscape. The surge in new arrivals, along with increased industrialization resulted in the city becoming a hotbed of labor activism. [120] From the 1920s and continuing into the post-war era Rochester grew into a power center for newly formed industrial unions, [121] which steadily began accumulating influence within local and state government. It was only one of a very few American cities where the labor movement was powerful enough to mount a General Strike (and one of even fewer where it was successful) when in 1946 when an estimated 50,000 workers across multiple sectors walked off in support of hundreds of city employees fired for attempting to unionize. [122] After that point local unions played a decisive role in area politics, primarily by partnering with the area Democratic Party.

Later, Rochester saw the arrival of a great many black southerners as part of the Great Migration and large numbers of Hispanics (primarily from Puerto Rico. [123] This coincided with White flight, leading to dramatic changes in the social, cultural and demographic makeup of Rochester (changes that were reflected in the city's politics). Racism, Segregation, Redlining and similar problems caused a great deal of racial tension and resentment, culminating in the 1964 Rochester race riot (as well as the city's black community playing a role in the national Civil rights movement).

Present Day

The ethnic and economic makeup of Metro Rochester (with poorer blacks, Hispanics and Asian-americans heavily concentrated either within the city proper or a few inner-ring suburbs and wealthier white residents predominantly in the suburbs) continues to impact the area's modern day political situation. Like in many other large American cities, traditionally the city government has been completely dominated by the Democratic Party whereas the suburbs have reliably voted for Republican officials (at least on the local and state level). In recent decades the result of this has almost always been Democratic control of city government, Republican control of county government and Rochester's state senate seats and Democratic control of Rochester's primary congressional district (with a similar overall pattern in area state assembly districts). Fusion Voting has allowed several third parties to have some impact on the local and state level; the Working Families Party plays a role particularly in city politics, and the Conservative Party endorses candidates primarily in the suburbs.

In recent years, the urban area's traditional partisan dynamic appears to have begun shifting in the Democratic Party’s favor (see “Blue Wave”). A Democrat won the 2017 race for county sheriff for the first time in decades, in 2019 Democrat Adam Bello was elected county executive after over 30 years of Republican control, in 2020 democrats Samra Brouk and Jeremy Cooney flipped state senate districts long held by the GOP and the traditionally Republican county legislature is now split 15-14. It is not possible to say whether or not this trend will continue; though it is in keeping with a broader national trend of increased Democratic success in suburban areas. [124] [125] [126] [127] [128]

Fire department

Rochester is protected by about 500 professional firefighters in the Rochester Fire Department (RFD). It is the third-largest fire department in the state of New York. It operates from 16 fire stations throughout the city, under the command of two battalion chiefs and a deputy chief per shift. The department operates 13 engines, six ladders, one heavy rescue, two hazardous material units, a fireboat, and a salvage unit (Rochester Protectives), as well as many other special and support units. Usually, 87 front-line members work each shift, including chief officers and fire investigation (not including staff divisions such as Fire Safety, the Training Academy, and Supply Depot). RFD responds to around 40,000 emergency calls annually. Around 90% of RFD personnel are certified NY State EMTs and roughly 50% of the calls each year are for EMS. The RFD also operates its own apparatus repair division at the Public Safety Training Facility. The chief of department is Willie Jackson. [129]


The City of Rochester is served by the Rochester City School District, which encompasses all public primary and secondary education. The district is governed by a popularly elected seven-member board of education. Also, parochial and private primary and secondary schools are located within the city. Rochester City Schools consistently post below-average results when compared to the rest of New York, although on-time graduation rates have improved significantly during the past three years. However, the high-school graduation rate for African-American males is lower in Rochester than in any city in the United States (9%). [130] Charter schools in the city include Rochester Academy Charter School.

Colleges and universities

Nazareth College NazarethCollegeAutumn.jpg
Nazareth College

Rochester and the surrounding region host a high concentration of colleges and universities, which drive much of the economic growth in the five-county area. The University of Rochester is the only large research institution primarily within the city limits, although Monroe Community College and SUNY Brockport operate campuses downtown. The Highland Park neighborhood is home to Colgate Rochester Crozer Divinity School (part of whose facility is leased by Ithaca College's Department of Physical Therapy) and an office maintained by the Cornell University School of Industrial and Labor Relations.

University of Rochester

The University of Rochester is the metropolitan area's oldest and most prominent institution of higher learning, and one of the country's top research centers. It was ranked as the 34th-best university in the nation by U.S. News & World Report for 2021 [131] and was deemed "one of the new Ivies" by Newsweek. [132] The nursing school has received many awards and honors [133] and the Simon School of Business is also ranked in the top 30 in many categories. [134]

The university is also home to the Eastman School of Music, which was ranked the number-one music school in America. It was founded and endowed by George Eastman in his years as a philanthropist. [135] He also contributed greatly to the University of Rochester from wealth based on the success of Eastman Kodak.

Former colleges

Four institutions began operations in the city and later moved to Rochester's inner-ring suburbs:

Rochester was the host of the Barleywood Female University, a short-lived women's college from 1852 to 1853. The Lutheran seminary that became Wagner College was established in the city in 1883 and remained for some 35 years before moving to Staten Island. [139]

Secondary education

The Rochester City School District operates 13 public secondary schools, each serving grades 7–12. In addition, one charter secondary school operates.

Charter schools

Rochester charter schools are free public schools for children in grades K-12. No tests or entrance fees are needed and charter schools accept students who need extra help in school, have IEPs, and are English language learners. Through the website, parents and caregivers can learn more about academic and extracurricular offerings. Families can apply to all of the 12 schools in 21 locations through GoodSchoolsRoc .

SchoolGrades served


Address and websitePhone number
Academy of Health Sciences 5-6 (will expand to Grade 8)1001 Lake Ave., Rochester, NY 14613585-207-0590
Discovery Charter School K-6133 Hoover Dr., Rochester, NY 14615585-342-4032
Eugenio Maria de Hostos
Zimbrich CampusK-527 Zimbrich St., Rochester, NY 14621585-544-6170
Joseph Campus6-81069 Joseph Ave., Rochester, NY 14621585-697-7115
Kodak Tower Campus9-125th Floor – Building 10

343 State St., Rochester, NY 14650

Exploration Elementary Charter School for Science & Technology K-3 (will expand to Grade 5)1001 Lake Ave., Rochester, NY 14613585-498-4700
Genesee Community Charter School K-6657 East Ave., Rochester, NY 14607585-697-1960
Renaissance Academy Charter School of the Arts K-6299 Kirk Rd., Rochester, NY 14612585-225-4200
Rochester Academy
Elementary SchoolK-3 (will expand to Grade 5)125 Kings Highway S., Rochester 14617

(Bishop Kearny location)

Middle School6-8841 Genesee St., Rochester, NY 14611585- 235-4141
High School9-121757 Latta Rd Greece, NY 14612585-467-9201
Rochester Prep 585-235-0008
Elementary SchoolK-4899 Jay St., Rochester, NY 14611585-235-0008
Elementary School - West CampusK-485 St. Jacob St., Rochester, NY 14621585-368-5100
Elementary School #3K-485 St. Jacob St., Rochester, NY 14621585-368-5100
Middle School - Brooks Campus5-8630 Brooks Ave., Rochester, NY 14619585-436-8629
Middle School - West Campus5-8432 Chili Ave., Rochester, NY 14611585-368-5090
High school9-12305 Andrews St., Rochester, NY 14604585-368-5111
University Preparatory Charter School for Young Men 7-121290 Lake Ave., Rochester, NY 14613585-672-1280
Urban Choice Charter School K-81020 Maple St., Rochester, NY 14611585-288-5702
Vertus High School 9-1221 Humboldt St. Rochester, NY 14609585-747-8911
Young Women's College Prep 7-12133 Hoover Dr., Rochester, NY 14615585-254-0320

Private schools

Former schools

Culture and recreation

The city of Rochester is home to numerous cultural institutions. These include the Garth Fagan Dance, the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra, the Rochester City Ballet, George Eastman Museum International Museum of Photography and Film, Memorial Art Gallery, Rochester Contemporary Art Center, Rochester Museum & Science Center, the Rochester Broadway Theater League, Strong National Museum of Play, the Strasenburgh Planetarium, Hochstein School of Music & Dance, the Auditorium Theater, and numerous arts organizations. Geva Theatre Center is the city's largest professional theater.

Murphy's Law, a large, iconic bar and club at the corner of East & Alexander in the East End Murphyslaw.jpg
Murphy's Law, a large, iconic bar and club at the corner of East & Alexander in the East End

The East End Theater is on East Main Street in the theater district. The Rochester Association of Performing Arts is a non-profit organization that provides educational theater classes to the community.


Rochester's East End district, located downtown, is well known as the center of the city's nightlife. It is the stopping point for East Avenue, which along with the surrounding streets is occupied by nightclubs, lounges, coffee shops, bars, and high-end restaurants. The Eastman School of Music, one of the top musical institutes in the nation, and its auditorium are also within the neighborhood. The Eastman Theatre is host to the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra and other musical/drama events.

The Little Theatre in the East End LittleTheatreRochesterNewYork.JPG
The Little Theatre in the East End
Monroe Avenue bars at night Monroenight.jpg
Monroe Avenue bars at night

There are other, smaller enclaves of after-hours activity scattered across the city. "Southeast" is the center of Rochester's prosperous arts scene, particularly in and around the Park Avenue neighborhood (which is known for its many coffee shops, cafes, bistros and boutique shops). Nearby on University Avenue can be found several plazas, like the Village Gate, which give space to contemporary bars, restaurants and art galleries that stay open late into the night. Monroe Avenue, several streets over, is filled with pubs, small restaurants, smoke shops, theaters and several clubs as well as cigar bars and hookah lounges. These neighborhoods are home to many artists, musicians, students, and Rochester's large LGBT community.

The South Wedge district, directly south of downtown, has seen significant gentrification in recent years and now is the site of many modern cafes and bars that serve the student community attending the University of Rochester several blocks away from the neighborhoods. The "Wedge" is quickly becoming one of the most vibrant areas within the city limits; its numerous nightspots keep the streets active with college students and young professionals, many of whom live there due to the abundance of affordable housing and proximity to many of the region's major hospitals, parks, and colleges.

Park lands

Rochester's parks include Highland, Cobb's Hill, Durand Eastman, Genesee Valley, Maplewood, Edgerton, Seneca, Turning Point, and Ontario Beach; four of these were designed by landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted. [140] The city's Victorian-era Mt. Hope Cemetery includes the final resting places of Susan B. Anthony, Frederick Douglass, George B. Selden, and many others. Other scenic sites are Holy Sepulchre and neighboring Riverside Cemetery.

Throughout its history, Rochester has acquired several nicknames; it has been known as "the World's Image Center", [141] "the Flour City", "the Flower City". [23] As a legacy of its time as "The Flower City", Rochester hosts a Lilac Festival for ten days every May, when nearly 400 varieties of lilacs bloom, and 100,000 visitors arrive.


Rochester hosts a number of cultural festivals every year, including:


Former Federal Building, now Rochester City Hall since the 1970s FederalBuildingRochesterNewYorkFrontView.JPG
Former Federal Building, now Rochester City Hall since the 1970s

The Democrat and Chronicle, a Gannett newspaper, is Rochester's main daily newspaper. There are numerous other publications and magazines that cater to many of the city's different people groups or special interests such as Insider magazine, City Newspaper, Rochester Business Journal, and the Minority Reporter. Former publications serving the city include the Rochester Post Express [149] and Rochester Evening Journal. [150] Rochester is also served by several local television and radio stations, with WROC-TV as the oldest television station serving the Rochester metro area.

Several movies have been filmed at least in part in Rochester, NY , including The Amazing Spiderman 2 (2013), [151] The Tomorrow Man (2019), [152] and Wonder Boys (2000), [152]

Points of interest

Circle at Bausch & Lomb headquarters with the Xerox Tower in the background. Bausch & Lomb Place west entrance.jpg
Circle at Bausch & Lomb headquarters with the Xerox Tower in the background.
Former City Hall in the City Hall Historic District Rochester City Hall.JPG
Former City Hall in the City Hall Historic District
Colgate Rochester Crozer Divinity School Colgate Rochester Crozer Divinity School1.jpg
Colgate Rochester Crozer Divinity School
Geva Theatre Center downtown Rochester - Geva Theatre - Rear Angle.jpg
Geva Theatre Center downtown


Rochester was named the top minor league sports market in the country by Street & Smith's Sports Business Journal in July 2005, the number 10 "best golf city" in America by Golf Magazine in 2007, [154] and the fifth-best "sports town" in the country by Scarborough Research in September 2008.

Professional sports

Rochester has several professional sports teams: [155]

Frontier Field, including the Rochester skyline. Frontier Field 2.jpg
Frontier Field, including the Rochester skyline.
Marina Auto Stadium PAETEC Park overview.JPG
Marina Auto Stadium
ClubSportBegan playLeagueVenueTitles
Rochester Red Wings Baseball 1899 Triple-A East Frontier Field 20
Rochester Americans Ice hockey 1956 AHL Blue Cross Arena 6
Rochester Rhinos Soccer 1996 USL TBA5
Rochester RazorSharks Basketball 2005 PBL Blue Cross Arena 8
Rochester Knighthawks Indoor lacrosse 2019 NLL Blue Cross Arena 0
Flower City Union Soccer 2021 NISA Marina Auto Stadium 0

In addition, there are numerous other amateur and club sports such as rowing and rugby. Rochester and its surrounding area also has a rich golf history and has hosted numerous professional tournaments on its local golf courses. [156] The city also boasts other facilities such as 13 full-time recreation centers, 19 swimming programs, 3 artificial ice rinks, 66 softball/baseball fields, 47 tennis courts, 5 football fields, 7 soccer fields, and 43 outdoor basketball courts. The Rochester Royals (now the Sacramento Kings) were a professional basketball team in Rochester from 1948 to 1957. They won the NBA title in 1951, defeating the New York Knicks in 7 games. [157]

College sports

Rochester is the largest Metropolitan Statistical Area in the U.S. which does not include at least one college or university participating at the NCAA Division I level in all sports. Almost all area college sports are played at the NCAA Division III level. The only exceptions are the RIT men's and women's ice hockey teams and Nazareth College's Rugby team, which compete at the Division I level, and the University of Rochester men's squash team, which is consistently ranked top 5 in Division I. RIT and UR's other sports, as well as both institutions as a whole, are in Division III. The men's team made it to the NCAA Frozen Four in 2010 [158] and the women's team won the Division III national championship in 2012, just before switching over to Division I. [159] [160]

As of the 2014–2015 academic year, the only college in the Rochester area not officially classified at the Division III level is Roberts Wesleyan College, which completed its transition from membership in the National Christian College Athletic Association (NCCAA); Roberts Wesleyan was granted full membership in NCAA Division II beginning with the 2014–15 year. [161]


Maritime transport

Packet boats on the Genesee River RochesterCanal RochesterNY.jpg
Packet boats on the Genesee River

There is marine freight service at the Port of Rochester on Lake Ontario, which is connected to the Atlantic Ocean via the Saint Lawrence Seaway.

A short-lived, high-speed passenger/vehicle ferry Spirit of Ontario I built in Australia, nicknamed The Breeze or The Fast Ferry, linked Rochester to Toronto across Lake Ontario. Canadian American Transportation Systems (CATS) was the company in charge of the Fast Ferry operations. The Spirit of Ontario I had a delayed arrival on April 29, 2004, as a result of hitting a pier in New York City on April 5, 2004, and was finally officially christened on June 16, 2004, at the Port of Rochester. The Fast Ferry was bought by the City of Rochester in an attempt to save the project. The Fast Ferry operated between June 17, 2004, and December 12, 2005, and cost the city $42.5 million. The project was initially well received by the inhabitants of Rochester.

Considerable effort was spent by inhabitants of Rochester to build up the waterfront to embrace the idea as well as to capitalize on potential tourism which was estimated to be an additional 75,000 tourists per month. In the first three months of operation, the fast ferry had carried about 140,000 people between Rochester and Toronto. A second Fast Ferry was proposed by CATS on August 27, 2004, which would have cost an additional $100 million. There were a number of problems concerning the ship's engine, the lack of mutual building up of waterfronts in Toronto and the inability of the city to put pressure on the company responsible for the production of the Fast Ferry. This resulted in the failure of the project. It was sold to Förde Reederei Seetouristik, a German company, for $30 million.

Air transport

Aerial View of the Greater Rochester International Airport Greater Rochester International Airport May 2007 Aerial View.jpg
Aerial View of the Greater Rochester International Airport

Rochester is served by the Greater Rochester International Airport (GRIA). Scheduled air service is provided by American, Allegiant, Delta, Frontier, JetBlue, Southwest, and United.

In 2010, the GRIA was ranked the 14th-least expensive airport in the United States by Cheapflights. [162] This was considered a major achievement for the county and the airport authority; as recently as 2003, Rochester's ticket prices were among the highest in the country, ranking as high as fourth in 1999. [163] [164]

FedEx founder Fred Smith has stated in several articles that Xerox's development of the copier, and its need to quickly get parts to customers, was one of the economic issues that led him to pioneer the overnight delivery business in 1971. [165] [166] Because Xerox manufactured its copiers in Rochester, [167] the city was one of the original 25 cities FedEx served on its first night of operations on April 17, 1973. [168]

In 2016, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced a $63.4 million project to renovate the GRIA. [169] The renovations include a large canopy extending over both main entrances, solar panels, a rainwater collection system, and modern communication and security enhancements. [170] All construction was completed by October 2018. [171]

Rails and mass transit

Louise M. Slaughter Rochester Station New Rochester station - October 2017.jpg
Louise M. Slaughter Rochester Station

Rail service to Rochester is provided by the Louise M. Slaughter Rochester Station, served by Amtrak's Empire Service between New York City and Niagara Falls, the Maple Leaf between New York City and Toronto, and the Lake Shore Limited between New York City/Boston and Chicago. Prior to 1965, Rochester had a smaller station reminiscent of New York City's "Grand Central Terminal". It was among Claude Fayette Bragdon's best works in Rochester, New York. The current station is modeled after Bragdon's work and named in honor of former longtime congresswomen Louise Slaughter. [172]

Rochester used to be a major stop on several railroad lines. It was served by the New York Central Railroad which served Chicago and Buffalo to the west and Albany and New York City to the east and southeast. The Buffalo, Rochester and Pittsburgh Railway (absorbed by the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad) served Buffalo and Pittsburgh until 1955. A rail route to Salamanca in southern New York State afforded connections in Salamanca to southwestern and southeastern New York State. [173] The last long-distance train in a southern direction was the Northern Express/Southern Express that went to Harrisburg, Pennsylvania via Canandaigua, Elmira and Williamsport; service ended in 1971. [174] Also serving Rochester was the Erie Railroad and Lehigh Valley Railroad.

Amtrak (passenger) and freight lines provide rail service to Rochester. Rochester has intercity and transcontinental bus service via Greyhound and Trailways.

Local bus service in Rochester and its county suburbs is provided by the Rochester-Genesee Regional Transportation Authority (RGRTA) via its Regional Transit Service (RTS) subsidiary. RTS also provides suburban service outside the immediate Rochester area and runs smaller transportation systems in outlying counties, such as WATS (Wayne Area Transportation System). All RTS routes are based out of the RTS Transit Center on Mortimer Street.

The Broad Street Aqueduct was used as a subway tunnel Aqueduct under Broad St.jpg
The Broad Street Aqueduct was used as a subway tunnel

From 1927 to 1957, Rochester had a light rail underground transit system called the Rochester Subway. It was the smallest city in the world to have one. [175] The subway, which was operated by the Rochester Transit Corporation, was shut down in 1956. [176] The eastern half of the subway past Court Street became the Eastern Expressway with the western end of the open cut being filled in 1976. The tunnel was last used for freight service by Gannett Company to bring paper to the printing presses for the Democrat and Chronicle in 1997. Over the years there have been privately sponsored proposals put forth that encourage the region to support a new system, possibly using some of the old tunnel. [177] One includes converting the Broad Street bridge tunnel—the former canal aqueduct—into an enhanced pedestrian corridor, which would also include a Rochester Transportation Museum, and a tram system. [178]

The former canal and subway tunnel have become a frequent source of debate. People experiencing homelessness use the tunnels for shelter. The city has considered multiple solutions for the space including recreating a canal way, putting the subway system back in or filling the tunnels entirely. [179] [175] The plan to fill the tunnels in completely generated criticism as the cost of filling would not generate nor leverage economic development. The western end of the tunnel was filled in to the former Baltimore and Ohio Railroad turnout in 2010 as part of a redevelopment of the above street and the eastern end of the tunnel is undergoing redevelopment. The Broad Street aqueduct and most famous part of the tunnel is on the National Register of Historic Places being added in 1976. [180]

Major highways and roads

Main Street looking east Rochester - Main Street looking east.jpg
Main Street looking east

Three exits off the New York State Thruway (Interstate 90) serve Rochester. Rochester has an extensive system of limited-access highways (called 'expressways' or just 'highways', never 'freeways') which connects all parts of the city and the Thruway.

Rochester's expressway system, conceived in the 1950s, was designed as two concentric circles with feeder expressways from the west, south and east. The system allows for quick travel within the metropolitan area and a lack of the traffic gridlock typically found in cities of comparable size; in part this is because the system was designed to accommodate rapid travel between the suburbs and downtown, [181] and also because it was built when the city's population was over 330,000 whereas today it is an entire third less. [182]

The Outer Loop circles just outside the city limits while the former Inner Loop once circled around the immediate downtown area within the city (the easternmost sector was closed in 2015). From the west are Lake Ontario State Parkway, NY-531 and I-490; Interstate 390 feeds from the south; and NY-104, NY-441, and I-490 approach from the east.

In 2016, the City of Rochester launched the Pace Car Program. "Pace Car drivers sign a pledge to drive within the speed limit, drive courteously, yield to pedestrians and be mindful of bicyclists and others on the street." [183]

Later expressway proposals

In the early 1970s, the Genesee Expressway Task Force, City leaders, and NYSDOT studied the feasibility of connecting the outer and inner Loops with a new southern expressway. The proposed route extended north from the I-390 and I-590 interchange in Brighton, cutting through Rochester's Swillburg neighborhood. In 1972, consultants Berger Lehman Associates recommended a new 'Busway', an expressway with dedicated bus lanes, similar to Bus Rapid Transit. [184] The expressway extension was never built.

Three Interstate Highways run through the City of Rochester:

I-390.svg Interstate 390 (Genesee Expressway)

I-490.svg Interstate 490 (Western/Eastern Expressway)

I-590.svg Interstate 590

New York State Route Expressways:

NY-104.svg New York State Route 104 (Irondequoit-Wayne County Expressway, West Ridge Road)

NY-390.svg New York State Route 390

NY-590.svg New York State Route 590

Rochester Inner Loop.svg Inner Loop

New York State Parkways:

Lake Ontario State Parkway.svg Lake Ontario State Parkway

Notable people

See List of people from Rochester, New York

Notable individuals who were born in and/or lived in Rochester include American social reformer and women's rights activist Susan B. Anthony, African-American social reformer and abolitionist Frederick Douglass, and Kodak founder George Eastman.

Sister cities

Rochester has twelve sister cities, [185] as designated by Sister Cities International. They are all dedicated by a branched concrete walkway over the Genesee River, dubbed the Sister Cities Bridge (known as the Frank and Janet Lamb Bridge since October 2006): [186]


  1. Mean monthly maxima and minima (i.e. the expected highest and lowest temperature readings at any point during the year or given month) calculated based on data at said location from 1991 to 2020.
  2. Official records for Rochester kept January 1871 to September 1940 at downtown and at Greater Rochester Int'l since October 1940. For more information, see Threadex

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Genesee River

The Genesee River is a tributary of Lake Ontario flowing northward through the Twin Tiers of Pennsylvania and New York in the United States.

Interstate 390 (I-390) is a 75.86-mile (122.08 km) north–south auxiliary Interstate Highway located entirely within New York in the United States. The southern terminus of the route is at the Southern Tier Expressway in the town of Avoca. Its northern terminus is at I-490 in Rochester. North of I-490, the expressway continues as NY 390 to the Lake Ontario State Parkway in Greece. I-390 connects to its parent, I-90, in Henrietta, a southern suburb of Rochester. The route is known as the Genesee Expressway from Avoca to I-590 in Brighton, where it becomes part of the Rochester Outer Loop.

History of Rochester, New York

This article documents the history of Rochester, New York, in western New York State. Settlement began in the late 18th century, and the city flourished with the opening of the Erie Canal. It became a major manufacturing center, and attracted many Italians, Germans, Irish and other immigrants, as well as a dominant group of Yankees of New England origin. The Yankees made Rochester the center of multiple reform movements, such as abolitionism and women's rights. It was famous as the center of the American photography industry, with headquarters of Eastman Kodak. In the 1970s it became fashionable to call the industrial cities along the Great Lakes 'rustbelt cities' following the move away from steel, chemical and other hard goods manufacturing. Rochester, with the presence of Ritter-Pfaulder, Bausch and Lomb, Eastman Kodak, Xerox, Gannett and other major industries, defied the trend for many decades following WWII.

Interstate 490 (I-490) is an auxiliary Interstate Highway that serves the city of Rochester, New York, in the United States. It acts as a northerly alternate route to the New York State Thruway (I-90), leaving it at exit 47 in the town of Le Roy and rejoining the highway at exit 45 in the town of Victor 37.40 miles (60.19 km) to the east. I-490 connects with I-390 and New York State Route 390 (NY 390) on the western side of Rochester and I-590 and NY 590 on the east side of the city at an interchange known as the Can of Worms. The highway comprises the southernmost portion of the Inner Loop, a beltway around the interior of Rochester. Outside of the city, I-490 serves several suburban villages, such as Churchville and Pittsford.

New York State Route 390 (NY 390) is a north–south state highway located along the western edge of the city of Rochester, New York, in the United States. The route, a limited-access northward continuation of Interstate 390 (I-390), extends for 8.00 miles (12.87 km) from I-490 in Gates to the Lake Ontario State Parkway in Greece, less than 1 mile (1.6 km) from the Lake Ontario shoreline. Between I-490 and NY 104, NY 390 makes up the north–south segment of the northwest quadrant of the Rochester Outer Loop, a series of expressways encircling Rochester. At NY 104, the Outer Loop departs NY 390 and follows NY 104 east into the city.

New York State Route 590 (NY 590) is a 4.98-mile (8.01 km) north–south state highway located in the eastern suburbs of Rochester, New York, in the United States. The route is a limited-access northward extension of Interstate 590 (I-590) that begins at the Can of Worms, an interchange between I-490, I-590, and NY 590 on the boundary between the town of Brighton and the city of Rochester, and ends at a roundabout with Titus Avenue in the town of Irondequoit. NY 590 is known as the Sea Breeze Expressway, a name derived from the small community of Sea Breeze located near the highway's former northern terminus at Culver Road near the southern shore of Lake Ontario.

New York State Route 104 (NY 104) is a 182.41-mile-long (293.56 km) east–west state highway in Upstate New York in the United States. It spans six counties and enters the vicinity of four cities—Niagara Falls, Lockport, Rochester, and Oswego—as it follows a routing largely parallel to the southern shoreline of Lake Ontario, along a ridge of the old shoreline of Glacial Lake Iroquois. The western terminus of NY 104 is an intersection with NY 384 in Niagara Falls, Niagara County, while its eastern terminus is a junction with NY 13 in the town of Williamstown, Oswego County. The portion of NY 104 between Rochester and the village of Webster east of the city is a limited-access highway known as the Keeler Street Expressway west of NY 590 and the Irondequoit–Wayne County Expressway east of NY 590; from Williamson to Oswego, NY 104 is a super two highway.

New York State Route 47 (NY 47) was a 19.34-mile (31.12 km) long state highway around Rochester in New York, in the United States. It formed a semicircle through the inner suburbs of Rochester, following expressways west and east of the city and surface streets south of Rochester. The western terminus of the route was at an interchange with NY 104 west of the city limits in Greece. The eastern terminus was at an intersection with Culver Road in Irondequoit mere yards from Lake Ontario. In between its western and eastern extents, NY 47 met Interstate 490 (I-490) twice. The limited-access highway portions of the route were known as the Rochester Outer Loop in contrast to the Inner Loop around downtown Rochester.

New York State Route 404 (NY 404) is an east–west state highway located in eastern Monroe County, New York, in the United States. It extends for just over 10 miles (16 km) from an interchange with NY 590 in Irondequoit to an intersection with NY 104 on the Monroe–Wayne County line in the town of Webster. The route traverses the southern tip of Irondequoit Bay and passes through the village of Webster, where NY 404 intersects NY 250. Most of NY 404 passes through commercial areas; however, the western and eastern extents of the highway serve areas more residential in nature. The westernmost 3 miles (5 km) of the route is part of the Seaway Trail, a National Scenic Byway.

Ridge Road is a 121.5-mile (195.5 km) east–west road that traverses four counties in Upstate New York in the United States. The road begins adjacent to the Niagara River at an intersection with Water Street in Lewiston, Niagara County, and passes through several towns, villages, and the city of Rochester before arriving at its eastern terminus at a junction with New York State Route 370 (NY 370) southwest of Red Creek, Wayne County. It is named for the rise atop which the road was built, a mound of sand and gravel that was formed when it was the shoreline of ancient Glacial Lake Iroquois. The ridge is often confused with the nearby Niagara Escarpment, which is much taller, geologic in origin, and lies a few miles to the south.

Irondequoit Bay

Irondequoit Bay is a large body of water located in northeastern Monroe County, New York. The bay, roughly 0.5 miles (0.80 km) wide and 4 miles (6.4 km) in length, is fed by Irondequoit Creek to the south and flows into Lake Ontario at its northern end. On average, the surface of Irondequoit Bay rests at 245 feet (75 m) above sea level and is 80 feet (24 m) deep at its deepest point a short distance north of the Irondequoit Bay Bridge carrying the six-lane New York State Route 104 over the bay.

Durand Eastman Park County park in Monroe County, New York

Durand Eastman Park is a 977-acre (3.95 km2) park located partly in Rochester, and partly in Irondequoit, New York. It is administered by the Monroe County Parks Department under agreements with the City of Rochester and the Town of Irondequoit.

Rochester metropolitan area, New York Metropolitan statistical area in New York, United States

The Rochester metropolitan area, denoted the Rochester, NY Metropolitan Statistical Area by the United States Census Bureau, is a metropolitan statistical area consisting of six counties in Western New York, anchored by the city of Rochester, New York. Many counties are mainly rural with various farming communities scattered throughout the metropolitan area. As of the Census 2019 estimates, the MSA had a population of 1,069,644. The Rochester MSA is the 3rd largest in New York state, and the CSA of Rochester is the 4th largest in New York after New York City, Buffalo, and Albany.

Lake Road is an east–west roadway in western New York in the United States. It extends for 29 miles (47 km) from the Irondequoit Bay Outlet Bridge in the Monroe County town of Webster to New York State Route 14 (NY 14) in the Wayne County village of Sodus Point. As its name implies, it follows the southern shore of Lake Ontario for its entire length. Lake Road serves as the northern terminus of NY 250 and was once the northern terminus of NY 21. The entirety of the roadway east of Bay Road in Webster is part of the Seaway Trail, a National Scenic Byway.

Downtown Rochester Neighborhood in Rochester, New York, United States

Downtown Rochester is the economic center of Rochester, New York, and the largest in Upstate New York, employing more than 50,000 people, and housing more than 6,000.


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Further reading