Rochester evolved from Flour City to Flower City to Image City when George Eastman invented a way for the masses to capture everyday moments on film.
These “Quintessential Rochester” places are the ones we photograph and share. The places where Rochester’s historic foothold was established. The buildings that make up our skyline. The vistas that fill tourist must-see lists & “wish you were here” postcards.
Have you see them all for yourself, Rochestarians? What would you add?
Table of Contents
- Welcome to Rochester
- Rochester’s Skyline
- The 100-Acre Tract
- Rochesterville – 1817-1822
- Young Lion Of The West & the Flour City – 1822-1850
- Flower City – 1850-1888
- Image City – 1888-present
- Natural Sights
- Innovative & Noteworthy Architecture
- Quintessential Rochester Establishments
- Rochester’s Signature Events
- A Few More Sights
Welcome to Rochester!
Great selfie ops around the Image City
The Hideaway restaurant on Park Ave.
Behind the Rochester Public Market on Scio Street.
Just a taste of the art surrounding the Frederick Douglass library on South Ave.
Head northbound on South Clinton Ave for this quintessential Rochester welcome next to Geva Theater.
Picture-perfect views day or night!
Rochester skyline view from Genesee Gateway Park.
Skyline view from Corn Hill Landing.
Rochester skyline from Court Street.
Rochester skyline from a boat on the Genesee River.
Rochester skyline view from Cobbs Hill.
Rochester skyline view from High Falls Terrace.
Rochester skyline view from the First Federal Plaza Building.
View from the Rundel Building rooftop.
The 100 Acre Tract
In 1792, Ebenezer “Indian” Allen sold the property he was gifted in 1788 by the Phelps and Gorham Co. The mills he built utilized Rochester’s 4th waterfall, located where the Broad Street bridge is today.
By 1803, the land found its way into the hands of Col. Nathaniel Rochester, Maj. Charles Carroll, and Col. William Fitzhugh, all of Maryland.
In 1811 Rochester began the process of establishing a town, laying out streets and establishing plots of land for municipal, church, and business use. Later that year, he began to offer the plots for sale.
In 1812, Nathaniel Rochester moved his family here from Dansville, envisioning a prosperous future. And the War of 1812 brought soldiers marching through the area who would eventually return to purchase land.
The Church that Rochester built: St. Luke & St. Simon Cyrene Episcopal Church, 1824
Bevier Memorial Building, where Nathaniel Rochester’s home once stood, 1910
In 1815, the Brown Brothers created “Brown’s Race”, a riverside canal used to harness the power of the waterfall for mills. Evidence of this time in our history can be explored in the High Falls Historic District.
In 1817, when Rochesterville was officially chartered, it included the original 100-acre tract and the Brown Bothers land, plus several other parcels owned by others.
Nathaniel Rochester’s plot at Mount Hope Cemetery (1752-1831).
Young Lion Of The West & the Flour City
The 3rd & Current Monroe County Office Building
In 1821, Monroe County was formed, with Rochesterville as the county seat, and the first courthouse was built. In 1894, the cornerstone for our third and current Monroe County Office Building was laid, and displays the construction date of all three buildings.
Rochester’s Erie Canal Aqueduct and Subway, mural “Child’s Basin 1830: Through the Looking Glass”
In 1823, Rochester dropped the “ville”. The first aqueduct to carry the Erie Canal over the Genesee River at Rochester was also completed in 1823. The aqueduct pictured above is the second iteration, constructed between 1836–1842.
Jonathan Child House, 1837-38.
In 1834, the City of Rochester was incorporated, three years after Nathaniel Rochester’s death in 1831. Jonathan Child, Nathaniel Rochester’s son-in-law, was the first Mayor.
The Flower City
Several seed companies in Rochester had grown to become the largest in the world, with Ellwanger & Barry Nursery Co. (1840) the largest. Other notable flower city innovators include Vick’s Seed House (1860, sold to Burpee Seeds in 1920), Crossman’s Seeds (1838), and Harris Seeds (1879).
The Image City
Also known as Kodak City, Photo City, and Picture City
Entrepreneur, philanthropist, and the pioneer of popular photography and motion picture film
George Eastman’s inventions relating to film and cameras were essential to Rochester’s growth in the late 19th and early 20th century. Modern photography made capturing moments easy for the mass public, and mass production made it affordable. For decades, Kodak was Rochester’s largest employer.
In addition, Eastman was a passionate and engaged supporter of art and education. His contributions to Eastman Theatre, Eastman School of Music, Eastman Dental, Eastman Savings & Loan, United Way of Greater Rochester, Center for Governmental Research, and Durand-Eastman Park are still appreciated today! Learn more by visiting the George Eastman Museum located in his East Ave estate.
Quintessential Rochester Sights
Enjoy Rochester’s natural side
River and Canal crossing at Genesee Valley Park
Lower Falls in Maplewood Park. Follow the Genesee River View Trail south to Middle Falls, managed by RG&E.
Turning Point Park boardwalk is a segment along the Gensee Riverview Trail.
Port of Rochester at the mouth of the Genesee River in Charlotte.
Mount Hope was the first American rural cemetery planned, developed, and maintained by a municipality, est. in 1938. Fun fact: There are more people dead in Mount Hope Cemetery than living in the City of Rochester!
Innovative & Noteworthy Architecture
The most recognizable buildings in Rochester
Times Square Building and The Wings of Progress, 1929
Statue of Mercury, 1881
Frank Lloyd Wright’s Boynton House on East Blvd., 1908 (private)
Powers Building at the Four Corners, 1869
Rochester City Hall, 1885 -1889
French Quarter in the Brewster-Burke House, 1849
Ebenezer Watts House, built in 1825, is the oldest residential building in Center City.
Charlotte-Genesee Lighthouse, built in 1822, is the oldest active surviving lighthouse on Lake Ontario.
Oliver Culver House, the oldest residential structure in Rochester, built in 1816.
Warner Castle and its sunken garden, 1854
Monroe Community Hospital, 1931, designed by Siegmund Firestone along with Rochester’s first African American architect, Thomas Boyde, Jr.
Susan B Anthony House, 1866
Quintessential Rochester Establishments
Long-standing local favorites!
Original Abbott’s Custard on Lake Ave
Wegmans Food Markets, established in Rochester, 1916.
The Record Archive has largest vinyl Record collection in the Northeast. They are also the only record store in NY that serves wine and beer.
The Rochester Red Wings are minor league baseball’s oldest continually-operating franchise, dating back to 1899. The club is also part of the longest professional baseball game ever played. They lost.
Strong National Museum of Play has the only year-round indoor butterfly garden in Upstate NY.
Rochester’s Signature Events
Drawing visitors from across the country & around the world!
“Festival season” in Rochester runs from mid-May to early-September. There are, of course, hundreds of annual events throughout the greater Rochester area, even in the middle of winter. For now, we’ll just focus on the six most popular summertime Rochester festivals!
A few more sights to see around Rochester
Unique, photo-worthy spots, from historic to quirky
Exceptional and thought-provoking street art throughout the city!
The Rochester logo
According to a Post article:
“The waterwheel was our first device for harnessing the life force of the Genesee, and the Flour City was born of prospectors Charles Carroll, William Fitzhugh, and Nathaniel Rochester’s eye for milling opportunities. This is articulated in the five-spoked dissection of the logo as a waterwheel.
“According to the Highland Park Conservancy, the sections make up a five-petaled white lilac (a sign of good luck) rather than four. The lilac was designated as Rochester’s official flower on May 11, 1948.”
What do you think? Did we all the photo-worth spots the Image City?
Share your thoughts with us in the comments. Your insight and experience is invaluable!