Rochester, New York

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This is article is about the major United States city. For other communities with the same name see Rochester.
A portion of Rochester's skyline, looking north along the Genesee River from the Ford Street Bridge.  The Troup Howell Bridge, shown in the foreground, is in the process of being rebuilt as of late 2005.
A portion of Rochester's skyline, looking north along the Genesee River from the Ford Street Bridge. The Troup Howell Bridge, shown in the foreground, is in the process of being rebuilt as of late 2005.
Rochester, New York
Official flag of Rochester, New York Official seal of Rochester, New York
City flag City seal
City nickname: "The Flour City, The Flower City"
Location of Rochester, New York
Location of Rochester in New York State
City Rochester
Mayor William A. Johnson, Jr.
Physical characteristics
96.1 km²
     92.8 km²
     3.3 km²
     Total (2000)

Latitude 43°9'56" N
Longitude 77°36'41" W
Time zone
     Summer (DST)
     EDT (UTC−4)
Official website:

Rochester, also known as both The Flour City and The Flower City, is a city in Monroe County, New York, United States. As of the 2000 census, Rochester had a population of 219,773. As of 2004, the population given by the U.S. Census Bureau was 212,481, making this the third largest city in New York State. Rochester is also the county seat for Monroe County.

The City of Rochester 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 larger conurbation has a population of 1,037,831 people as of the 2000 Census. Principal suburbs of the city include Brighton, Irondequoit, Henrietta, East Rochester, Fairport, Penfield, Pittsford, Webster, Rush and Greece.


Geography and climate

Rochester is located at 43° 9′ 56″ N, 77° 36′ 41″ W (43.165496, -77.611504)1. Rochester is east of Buffalo and west of Syracuse.

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 is water. The total area is 3.42% water.

Rochester's scenic 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 rolling hills of Highland Park, Pinnacle Hill and Cobb's Hill. These glaciers also left behind Lake Ontario (one of the five fresh-water Great Lakes), the Genesee River with its waterfalls and gorges, Irondequoit, Sodus and Braddock's Bays, numerous local streams and ponds, the Ridge, and the nearby Finger Lakes.

Lake Ontario is sufficiently deep off-shore of Rochester that Rochester could have year-round access to a reservoir of cold water, which could be used for deep lake water cooling.

According to the City of Rochester, the city presently has 537 miles (864 km) of public streets, 585 miles (941 km) of water mains, 44 vehicular and 8 pedestrian bridges, 11 public libraries, 2 police stations (1 for the east side, 1 west (formerly 7)), 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 71.3 ºF (21.8 ºC), and the mean February temperature is 23.6 ºF (−4.7 ºC).


As of the census2 of 2000, there are 219,773 people, 88,999 households, and 47,169 families residing in the city. The population density is 2,368.3/km² (6,132.9/mi²). There are 99,789 housing units at an average density of 1,075.3/km² (2,784.7/mi²). The racial makeup of the city is 48.30% White, 38.55% African American, 0.47% Native American, 2.25% Asian, 0.05% Pacific Islander, 6.58% from other races, and 3.81% from two or more races. 12.75% of the population are Hispanic or Latino of any race.

There are 88,999 households out of which 30.0% have children under the age of 18 living with them, 25.1% are married couples living together, 23.3% have a female householder with no husband present, and 47.0% are non-families. 37.1% of all households are made up of individuals and 9.2% have someone living alone who is 65 years of age or older. The average household size is 2.36 and the average family size is 3.19.

In the city the population is spread out with 28.1% under the age of 18, 11.6% from 18 to 24, 32.2% from 25 to 44, 18.1% from 45 to 64, and 10.0% who are 65 years of age or older. The median age is 31 years. For every 100 females there are 91.6 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there are 87.3 males.

The median income for a household in the city is 27,123 USD, and the median income for a family is 31,257 USD. Males have a median income of 30,521 USD, versus 25,139 USD for females. The per capita income for the city is 15,588 USD. 25.9% of the population and 23.4% of families are below the poverty line. Out of the total population, 37.5% of those under the age of 18 and 15.4% of those 65 and older are living below the poverty line.


Rochester is a home to a number of international businesses, including Eastman Kodak, Bausch & Lomb and Paychex, all of which make Rochester their world headquarters. Xerox, while no longer headquartered in Rochester, has its principal offices and manufacturing facilities in the Rochester area. 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.

Rochester is also home to regional businesses such as Frontier Telephone of Rochester, Wegmans Food Markets, Inc., Roberts Communications, Inc., The Sutherland Group, PAETEC Communications and major fashion label Hickey-Freeman.

Nick Tahou Hots, creator of the world-famous garbage plate, also calls Rochester home.

One food that Rochester is proud to call it's own is the famous "white hot," made by the local Zweigle company which can be found at any of the 4 locations of a local franchise called Schallers.

The area takes the most pride in the Wegmans Grocery store chain, which now has locations throughout the Northeast and Northern Virginia, and was recently rated the best company in America to work for by Forbes Magazine. Other local franchises include: Bill Grays (a summertime hamburger hotdog joint that lays claim to having "The world's Greatest Cheeseburger"), and Abbotts Frozen custard.

Major area shopping centers

Top 5 employers

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


Colgate Rochester Crozer Divinity School
Colgate Rochester Crozer Divinity School

Education is a primary industry in Rochester. The city and its suburbs are home to a number of colleges and universities, including the University of Rochester, Rochester Institute of Technology, Saint John Fisher College, Roberts Wesleyan College, Nazareth College, Monroe Community College, and the Eastman School of Music. Together with Alfred University, SUNY Brockport, and SUNY Geneseo, each within an hour of Rochester, these institutions comprise the Rochester Area Colleges consortium.

The University of Rochester's Laboratory For Laser Energetics (LLE) is home to the highest energy laser in the world, the OMEGA. The LLE is currently constructing the OMEGA EP laser, which will be 50 times more powerful than the OMEGA and will be the most powerful laser in the world, able to manifest power densities high enough to examine hawking radiation-like phenomena in the laboratory.

Culture and recreation

Rochester is home to a number of cultural institutions including the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra, the George Eastman House International Museum of Photography and Film, the Memorial Art Gallery, the Rochester Museum of Arts and Sciences, the Strong Museum, the Strasenburg Planetarium, and numerous arts organizations. Rochester's Geva Theatre Center is the city's largest professional theatre.

The city's Victorian era Mt. Hope Cemetery includes the final resting place of several famous Americans, including Susan B. Anthony and Frederick Douglass (see List of Rochesterians). Rochester is also known for its extensive park system, including the Highland Botanical Park, Cobb's Hill Park, Durand-Eastman Park, Genesee Valley Park, Maplewood Park, Edgerton Park, Seneca Park and Ontario Beach Park.

The city also has 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. Echoing its famous history as the Flower City, Rochester still has a yearly lilac festival for ten days in May, when nearly 400 named varieties of lilacs bloom, and 100,000 visitors arrive from as far away as Europe and Japan.

South of Rochester is the scenic Letchworth State Park with its spectacular canyon and waterfalls. Also to the south and southeast is the glacially-formed Finger Lakes Region, with its numerous lakes and summer cottages.

Rochester has developed a number of festivals that celebrate the many aspects of Rochester life. These include the Rochester International Jazz Festival, now (2005) in its fourth year; the Corn Hill Festival (arts, crafts, and food in this historic Third Ward neighborhood); the High Falls Film Festival (held at the George Eastman House's Dryden Theatre and the Little Theatre downtown); the Image Out/Gay & Lesbian Film Festival (also held at the Little Theatre); the Clothesline Art Festival (artists from the region display their works on the grounds of the Memorial Art Gallery); the Park Avenue Merchants Festival; the Lilac Festival at Highland Park (world famous for its lilac bushes); the Rochester Music Festival; and the Cold Rush Winter Celebration (celebrating the wide variety of winter sports in the Rochester area). There is something for everyone in these festivals.

Also of interest is the local vernacular. Soft drinks are called "pop" (at least among the older generations), while hotdogs are called "red hots" or "white hots". In decreasing usage is the Can of Worms, referring to a dangerous intersection of Interstate 490 and a northbound expressway (NY 590) on the eastern edge of the Rochester city limits, bordering the suburb of Brighton. In the 1980s, a multimillion dollar project created a system of overpasses and ramps that reduced the danger but resulted in the loss of certain exits.


Rochester has one daily newspaper, the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle. There are two free weekly publications as well: City Newspaper, which is an alternative news weekly; and Rochester Insider, a weekly paper geared towards the under 35 crowd. Other publications include the Rochester Business Journal, covering the local business community, and the monthly Empty Closet, New York's oldest gay and lesbian community newspaper.

Rochester has 6 Broadcast television stations:

Rochester's cable television provider is Time Warner Cable, which also provides a 24-hour local news channel called RNEWS

Points of interest


Rochester has five professional sports teams: the Rochester Red Wings (International League) (AAA) baseball club, Rochester Americans (AHL) hockey club (known commonly as the "Amerks"), and Rochester Raging Rhinos USL 1st Division soccer club. All these franchises are minor league level teams although the Rhinos have long been rumoured to be moving up to Major League Soccer in the near future. There are also two professional lacrosse teams in Rochester. The Rochester Knighthawks club plays box lacrosse in the National Lacrosse League during the winter/spring seasons. Meanwhile, during the summer, the Rochester Rattlers club plays field lacrosse in the Major League Lacrosse organization. From 1920-1925, Rochester was home of the Rochester Jeffersons, a charter member of the National Football League. Rochester was also the home of what is now the Sacramento Kings, from 1948-1957 having won an NBA Championship in the 1950-51 season. They were called the Rochester Royals while playing there. The city will soon have a new basketball team called the Rochester Razorsharks.


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


Rochester is served by the Greater Rochester International Airport. Daily scheduled air service is provided by Air Canada / Air Georgian, AirTran Airways, American, Continental, Delta, Independence Air, jetBlue, Northwest, United, and US Airways.

Mass transit

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

A high speed passenger/vehicle ferry across Lake Ontario linking Rochester to Toronto, Ontario commenced service on June 17, 2004. Using the vessel Spirit of Ontario I, the service was marketed using the name "The Breeze," and had its first sold-out trip from Toronto to Rochester on Canada Day, July 1, 2004 despite many skeptics' claims that this would never happen. However, on September 7, 2004, Canadian American Transportation Systems abruptly suspended service for financial reasons. At a public auction held on February 28, 2005, Rochester Ferry Company LLC, a subsidiary of the City of Rochester, purchased the vessel for $32 million. In April 2005 it was announced that Bay Ferries Great Lakes Limited would operate the vessel using the marketing term "The Cat". Daily service between Rochester and Toronto restarted on June 30, 2005.

From 1927 to 1957, Rochester had an underground transit system. At the time, it was the smallest city in the world to have one. Sites that describe the system call it the Rochester Subway, but pictures show that it used single streetcar vehicles. By today's standards, then, it would be called a light-rail system. There are proposals to put in a new system, possibly using some of the old tunnels. One proposal includes converting the old Broad St. tunnel into an underground pedestrian walkway, which would also include a Rochester Transportation Museum.


There are three exits off the New York State Thruway (Interstate 90) that serve Rochester. Rochester has an extensive freeway (expressway) system which connects all parts of the city and the city with the Thruway.

Interstate 390 runs north-south, spurring north from I-90 and routing through Rochester's western suburbs. Its northern end is at I-490, however it continues north as State Route 390 until it merges into the Lake Ontario State Parkway. South of I-90, I-390 runs to Avoca, New York, where it meets up with U.S. Highway 15 and the Southern Tier Expressway, I-86.

Interstate 490 runs east-west through Rochester, starting at Le Roy, New York and ending in Victor, New York. It interchanges with the two other Interstates in Rochester: I-390 at the western city limit and I-590 at the eastern limit, as well as connecting at both ends with the Thruway, I-90.

Interstate 590 runs north-south through Rochester's eastern suburbs. Its southern end is at I-390, while the northern end is at I-490; the highway continues north to the shore of Lake Ontario as State Route 590.

Citizens of note

See also List of Rochesterians

Famous Rochesterians (native and long-time residents): Johnny Antonelli, John Ashbery, Philip Barry, John Jacob Bausch (native of Germany and co-founder of Rochester's Bausch and Lomb Company, William Seward Burroughs, Cab Calloway,Francis Pharcellus Church, Julie Lynn Cialini, David Diamond, Taye Diggs (actor, born in New Jersey, but raised in Rochester), Pete Duel (actor), Frederick Douglass (born in Maryland, but a long-time Rochester resident and interred in Rochester's Mt. Hope Cemetery), George Eastman, Garth Fagan (Choreographer, native of Jamaica, and long-time Rochester resident), Renee Fleming (Opera singer, born in Pennsylvania, but raised in Rochester), Robert Forster (actor), Steve Gadd (Jazz drummer),Melanie Good, Kim Gordon, Lou Gramm (lead singer, Foreigner, internationally-renowned rock band),Heinie Groh, Walter Hagen, Garson Kanin, Philip Seymour Hoffman (actor), Mimi Kennedy, Joanie Laurer (a.k.a. Chyna), John Lithgow (born in Rochester, but raised in Ohio), Joe Locke (Jazz vibraphonist, born in California, but raised in Rochester), Henry Lomb (native of Germany, and co-founder of Rochester's Bausch and Lomb Company), Lydia Lunch, Chuck Mangione, Mitch Miller, Audrey Munson, Gerry Niewood (Jazz saxophonist), Hugh O'Brien (actor), William F. Quinn, Charley Radbourn, Joe Romano (Jazz saxophonist), Joel Seligman, Hiram Sibley (Western Union), Bill Stern, William Warfield (born in Arkansas; raised in Rochester).

Sister cities

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