Memorial Art Gallery Midtown Plaza 1962 - 1987 by Edith Lunt Small

Rochester’s Fun Facts: Oldest, Original, Only, & More!

I’ve been gathering Rochester’s fun facts for several years. I’ve discovered these gems buried in books, websites, popular wikis, historic-place markers, and “hey, did you know…” conversations. 

And these are just the ones I’ve uncovered, so I invite you to share any that you know of in the comments below or contact me directly, and challenge the ones I’ve listed. I enjoy sharing this information with you as much as I do learning from you.

Best of Rochester - Day Trips Around Rochester book

Day Trips Around Rochester, New York

Best of Rochester Award-Winning Book for Best Published Literary Work of 2023.

First and/or Oldest

There is a difference between “first” and “oldest”, and for some of these facts, only one may apply. For example, our Charlotte-Genesee Lighthouse was not the first lighthouse, but it is America’s oldest surviving light on Lake Ontario.

And when it comes to people like Thomas Wilson Boyde Jr., he is the City of Rochester’s first black architect, but certainly not the oldest.

Ebenezer Watts House
Ebenezer Watts House on Fitzhugh

The Ebenezer Watts House on Fitzhugh, constructed between 1824 and 1827, is the oldest surviving residence in downtown Rochester. [source]

The Erie Canal made Rochester America’s first boomtown, earning her two nicknames: Young Lion of the West and The Flour City. On November 8, 1803, Col. Nathaniel Rochester, Maj. Charles Carroll and Col. William Fitzhugh, Jr. purchased a 100-acre tract along the Genesee River. In 1817, the Brown brothers and other landowners joined their lands with the Hundred Acre Tract to form the village of Rochesterville. It was renamed Rochester in 1823—the same year the Erie Canal aqueduct was completed.

VIP Pass: Stone Tolan House
Stone-Tolan House

Stone-Tolan House is the oldest standing structure in Monroe County and is maintained by The Landmark Society as a historic house museum. The beautiful building on East Ave was a household and a frontier tavern in Brighton between 1790 and 1820.

Latta House
Latta House

The Latta House is the oldest residence still in its original location in Rochester, dating back to 1809. It is the second-oldest structure in Monroe County after the Stone-Tolan House in Brighton. Although the 1805 Oliver Culver House is considered the oldest residential building in the city, it was relocated to its present position on East Boulevard in 1906, having previously been situated on Culver Road.

Landmark Society Home and Garden 2016 Rochester
Landmark Society Home and Garden Tours

The Oliver Culver House is the oldest residential structure in Rochester. Constructed in 1805, the house was originally located on the southwest corner of East Avenue and Culver Road. It was moved to its current location on East Boulevard and retains its springboard ballroom floor.

The oldest cobblestone home in the City of Rochester is at 1090 Culver Rd.

The Roe Cobblestone Schoolhouse in Butler (Wayne County) is believed to be the oldest cobblestone schoolhouse in North America circa 1824.

Martha Matilda Harper, a friend of Susan B. Anthony, opened her first beauty parlor in 1888, promoting her “Harper Method” of hair and skin care. Harper established factories to manufacture her organic hair products and cosmetics; she was also the first person in America to establish franchises and the first woman to join Rochester’s Chamber of Commerce. She mentored countless women and gave poor, working women an opportunity to own a business. Harper eventually had more than 500 shops in operation around the world.

The Niagara Falls Suspension Bridge stood from 1855 to 1897 across the Niagara River and was the world’s first working railway suspension bridge.

Belva A. Lockwood was the first woman to be permitted to practice law before the U. S. supreme court in 1879 and was the first woman to officially run for President of the United States in 1884. You can find the ruins of her homestead in Royalton Ravine Park.

Genesee County Park & Forest was established in 1915 and is recognized as the first County Forest in New York State. Black Creek, which runs through Churchville and Chili on its way to the Genesee River, begins its journey in this park.

Mail Chute Reynolds Arcade
Mail Chute in Reynolds Arcade

James Goold Cutler patented the mail chute in 1883. The first mail chute was installed in 1884 in Rochester’s Elwood Building, demolished in 1967. The mail chute was used in early multi-story office buildings, hotels, apartment buildings, and other high-rise structures over the following decades. Cutler was a prominent architect and businessman and served as the Mayor of Rochester from 1904 to 1907. He designed the William S. Kimball Tobacco Factory on Court Street and the Cutler Building on the corner of East Avenue and Stillson Street. Cutler Union—a historic building that is part of the Memorial Art Gallery—started life as the student union for the University of Rochester College for Women. James Gould Cutler and Anna Katharine Cutler were great supporters of higher education for women. [source]

In 1903, Grace Phillips of Wolcott delivered mail on a 25-mile route, making her the first female mail carrier in New York State.

American Cross Chapter One
American Cross, Chapter One

Clara Barton, Angel of the Battlefield, organized the first Red Cross in 1881 in Dansville. In May 1881, after working toward it for almost five years, Barton established the American Association of the Red Cross. On August 22nd of the same year, she started the first local Red Cross in St. Paul’s United Lutheran Church. The church still stands at 21 Clara Barton Street, and the Clara Barton Chapter No. 1 of the Red Cross remains active today.

Frank Lloyd Wright Edward E. Boynton House Rochester NY
Boynton House

Just a few houses down from the Oliver Culver House on East Boulevard is Rochester’s only Frank Lloyd Wright-designed home. The Edward E. Boynton House was constructed in 1908.

According to the New York State Canal Corporation, nearly 80% of the upstate New York population lives within 25 miles of the Erie Canal. The original “Clinton’s Ditch” was completed in 1825 and later updated to accommodate larger boats, leading to the creation of the Enlarged Erie Canal. Further modifications in 1918 allowed for self-propelled boats, which no longer required mules, resulting in the current Barge Canal. The entire waterway is commonly referred to as the Erie Canal. [source]

Before moving to the land that would become our fair city, Nathaniel Rochester built the first paper mill in Western New York on Mill Creek in Dansville in 1810.

When construed, the Erie Canal aqueduct was the longest stone arch bridge structure in America. It was 804 feet long with nine Roman arches. The aqueduct that runs under Broad Street today is the second iteration. Josiah Bissell’s house at 660 East Ave. was built using the red sandstone blocks from the ruins of the first aqueduct.

Richardsons Canal House historic marker
Richardson’s Canal House

Richardson’s Tavern in Bushnell’s Basin is the oldest original Erie Canal Inn.

St. Lukes Episcopal Church
1824 – The Church that Rochester built: St. Luke’s Episcopal Church

St. Luke’s Church, 17 South Fitzhugh Street, is the oldest public building in Rochester. Constructed in 1823, it was Nathaniel Rochester’s home church for many years. In 1988, St. Luke’s, the oldest Episcopal congregation in the city, and St. Simon Cyrene, the city’s traditionally African American Episcopalian congregation, merged, forming St. Luke & St. Simon Cyrene Episcopal Church, or Two Saints Church.

Founded at Memorial AME Zion Church on Clarissa Street, Troop 169 is the first African American Boy Scout Troop in Rochester. AEM Zion is also the oldest African-American church in the city of Rochester and Monroe County. Established in 1827, it played a pivotal role in Rochester’s history. From providing shelter for escaped slaves being led to freedom by Harriet Tubman to giving Susan B. Anthony a platform for her last public address to having the distinction of being the home church of Frederick Douglass. Its basement was the original home of The North Star.

Frederick Douglass Memorial Plaza
Frederick Douglass Memorial Plaza

In 1899, Rochesterians created the first statue in the US to memorialize an American citizen of African descent. It was first erected in front of the New York Central Train Station at the corner of St. Paul Street and Central Avenue in 1899. It was relocated to the Highland Park Bowl in 1941, a few hundred yards from where Douglass’s home once stood on South Avenue.

In 2019, it was given a place of honor and greater visibility, still in Highland Park, at Frederick Douglass Memorial Plaza. In addition to the relocated statue, a sculpture symbolizing the North Star and other constellations was included in the memorial.

The North Star symbolizes the light that guided freedom-seeking African people. Frederick Douglass, having followed the star himself, gave his anti-slavery news publication the same name.

The Haudenosaunee Constitution is the oldest surviving government structure in the Western Hemisphere.

The oldest fossil tree known in the world was discovered in 1882 in Grimes Glen by D. Dana Luther.

The first European discovery of petroleum in the United States was in Seneca Oil Spring in 1627. Today, The spring is located near the spillway end of Cuba Lake on the Oil Spring Indian Reservation. The Seneca and earlier indigenous peoples had learned to use the petroleum-tainted water of the spring at this site for medicinal purposes.

Monroe Community Hospital Rochester NY

Thomas W. Boyde Jr. is Rochester’s first Black architect. Designed in the 1930s, one of Boyde’s most notable projects is Monroe Community Hospital, pictured here. Boyde also designed Fort Hill Terrace Apartments along with other multi-family apartment buildings, dozens of mid-century modern ranch homes, offices, and 13 Star Markets. The Greece Historical Society is the sponsor of The Boyde Project. Watch the presentation “A Legacy Deferred: the Architecture of Thomas W. Boyde, Jr.

Built in 1904, the landmark French Renaissance-style Hotel at the Lafayette was designed by Louise Blanchard Bethune, the first American female architect.

Hamlet Scrantom was the first Rochesterville settler who built his log cabin where the Powers Building stands today at State & Main—the Four Corners.

His grandson, Elbert Henry Scrantom, would become co-founder of Scrantom & Wetmore Booksellers & Stationers (more commonly referred to in my childhood as Scrantom’s). Their first location was in the Powers Building.

Antoinette Louisa Brown, later Antoinette Brown Blackwell, was the first woman to be ordained as a mainstream Protestant minister in the United States. Her childhood home is on Pinnacle Road in Henrietta. [source]

1825 Adams-Ryan House
1825 Adams-Ryan House

The Adams-Ryan house in Ogden, constructed in 1825 to support canal business, has the oldest intact barroom on the Erie Canal. By 1853, it was also serving as the local ticket office for the Rochester, Lockport, and Niagara Falls Railroad. In 1972, new owners refinished every piece in the bed and breakfast’s four bedrooms and added a “new” main entrance, salvaged from Nathaniel Rochester’s former house. Today, this is a privately owned residence.

Genesee Brew House Holiday Lights Keg Tree
Genesee Brew House Keg Tree

Established in 1878, the Genesee Brewing Company is one of the largest and oldest continually operating breweries in the United States and the oldest in New York State. It is also the largest independently owned beer company in the United States.

According to their website, in 1919, the 18th Amendment led to the closure of all American breweries, including Genesee. Louis A. Wehle then turned his talents to the baking business, and the Wehle Baking Company became a pioneer in the home delivery of fresh baked goods.

The website for the Genesee Country Village and Museum explains that the museum was the brainchild of John L. “Jack” Wehle, a passionate outdoorsman who had amassed one of the most significant collections of sporting art in the United States. Wehle had been the President of his family’s business, the Genesee Brewing Company in Rochester, NY, since 1945.

The first parcel of land sold by the Holland Land Company was to Asa Ransom in 1801. In the hollow of the ledge, near a pine grove, Asa built a log home and tavern. In 1803, he went on to construct the first grist mill in Erie County. You can visit his home in Clarence today; the 1853 portion of the home rests on brick walls covered in thick green vines that climb two stories up.

The National Technical Institute for the Deaf at RIT is the nation’s first and largest technical college for deaf and hard-of-hearing students.

The Rochester area has the largest per-capita deaf population in the country and is considered highly deaf-accessible.

Woodward Memorial Library LeRoy
Woodward Memorial Library

Ingham University was the first women’s college in NYS and the first chartered women’s university in the US. The stone from the Arts Conservatory, the last campus building to be dismantled, was used to build the Woodward Memorial Library at the same location in Le Roy.

Don Alhart has been recognized by the Guinness Book of World Records as having the longest career as a television news broadcaster.

Lovely Anne Warren is Rochester’s first female and second black mayor. Warren first made history in 2010 when she was elected as the youngest President of the Rochester City Council

Lockport was the first American city to have a fire hydrant system. Birdsill Holly, one of Lockport’s most prominent residents and the co-inventor of the steam fire engine, held more US patents than anyone except Thomas Edison.

30 day trips within 30 minutes of Rochester: Mount Hope Cemetery Rochester NY
Mount Hope Cemetery

Mount Hope was the first American rural cemetery planned, developed, and maintained by a municipality. There are more people buried in Mount Hope Cemetery (350,000+) than are living in the City of Rochester (~210,000).

Best New York Attractions - Niagara Falls American Falls
Niagara Falls

Niagara Falls is the oldest state park in America.

The Antique Boat Museum in Clayton hosts America’s oldest antique boat show and auction. The museum houses the largest collection of freshwater antique boats and engines in the nation.

Pittsford Village historic building

The Village of Pittsford is the oldest village in Monroe County, incorporated in 1827.

Old Fort Niagara State Park Youngstown NY
Old Fort Niagara State Park, Youngstown, NY

The Castle at Old Fort Niagara is the oldest building of any kind on the Great Lakes. According to the Old Fort Niagara website, “The architectural collection includes six 18th-century buildings, the oldest extant structures of any type in the entire Great Lakes region. The earliest, known as the French Castle, was built in 1726 and is the oldest building in North America situated between the Appalachian Mountains and the Mississippi River.”

Steuben County Fair in Bath is the oldest continually running fair in the United States, originating in 1819.

Finger Lakes Drive In
Finger Lakes Drive-In

Opened in 1947, Finger Lakes Drive-In is New York’s oldest continually running drive-in.

First Convention for Womens Rights in Seneca Falls NY
First Convention for Women’s Rights Held in Seneca Falls, NY 1848

The first Women’s Rights Convention was held at the Wesleyan Chapel in Seneca Falls, NY, on July 19 and 20, 1848.

Clark’s Gully, at the base of South Hill on the south end of Canandaigua Lake, is said to be the birthplace of the Seneca people.

Fox Sisters

Newark is the birthplace of spiritualism, thanks to the Fox Sisters

Elizabeth Blackwell was the first woman to receive the degree of Doctor of Medicine from a recognized medical school, in 1849, from Geneva Medical College, now Hobart and William Smith Colleges.

Charlotte Genesee Lighthouse
Charlotte-Genesee Lighthouse

Constructed in 1822, Charlotte-Genesee Lighthouse is America’s oldest surviving lighthouse on Lake Ontario. Marblehead Lighthouse in Ohio on Lake Erie is the oldest lighthouse in continuous operation on the Great Lakes and has guided sailors safely along the Marblehead Peninsula’s rocky shores since 1822. The oldest lighthouse on the Great Lakes is the Gibraltar Point Lighthouse (1808) located on the Toronto Islands, Toronto, Canada.

Laf-A-Lot restaurant on Loon Lake in Wayland, NY, in Steuben County, claims to have the oldest liquor license in the state.

Kings Landing cemetery
King’s Landing

King’s Landing Cemetery on Lake Avenue, across from Kodak, is Rochester’s first cemetery. The inscription reads, “Rochester’s first cemetery; site of first settlement. In its hallowed graves lie this rivers port’s pioneers and veterans of three wars.”

In 1776, the Gideon King Family were the first Europeans to settle in this area, now known as King’s Landing. The King settlement lasted until 1803 when they were purportedly wiped out by “The Genesee Fever,” or malaria.

The area was settled again in 1803 by the Hanford family of Rome, NY. The new settlement became known as Fall Town and eventually Hanford’s Landing.

The Hanfords built several warehouses near the dock and erected the Steamboat Hotel on the bank above, supporting increased migration and trade along the Ridge Road.

The Empty Closet is New York State’s oldest gay newspaper. It has been published by the Gay Alliance since 1972.

Rochester's Fun Facts - Whispering Pines Mini Golf
Parkside Whispering Pines

Established in 1930, Parkside Whispering Pines near Seabreeze Amusement Park is America’s oldest miniature golf course still in use. According to their website, the course was constructed using fossil stones purchased from out west during the miniature golf boom.

Gerry, NY, is home to the oldest consecutive rodeo east of the Mississippi.

New York hosts the oldest state fair in the United States, established in 1841 and settling in its current Syracuse location in 1890. Ours is also one of the largest, with roughly one million visitors annually, some days seeing over 100,000 people.

Chautauqua Literary Scientific Circle is the oldest continuous book club in America.

Rochester International Film Festival is the world’s oldest continuously held short-film festival.

Established in 1819, the Erie County Agricultural Society is the oldest civic organization in Western New York.

George Eastman House Museum garden
George Eastman Museum

The George Eastman Museum is the world’s oldest photography museum, with one of the largest film archives. The Museum holds the largest corpus of original Technicolor negatives, including those of Gone With the Wind and The Wizard of Oz; the personal collections of film directors such as Kathryn Bigelow, Ken Burns, Cecil B. DeMille, Norman Jewison, Spike Lee, and Martin Scorsese; and more than four million film stills, posters, and film-related documents.

Dryden Theater is one of the very few theaters in the world equipped for the projection of original nitrate film that also makes nitrate film screenings part of its regular program.

Griffis Sculpture Park bathers
Griffis Sculpture Park

Founded in 1966, Griffis Sculpture Park is the largest-sized sculpture park in the USA, spanning 450 acres.

Midtown Plaza 1962 – 1987 by Edith Lunt Small

Midtown Plaza (opened 1962, closed 2008, demolished 2010) holds the title of America’s first indoor, urban mall, we think. After much research by Emily, a Historical Researcher/Library Assistant for the Rochester Public Library, it was confirmed that Rochester’s 1828 Reynolds Arcade (Rochester’s first commercial building), Providence, RI’s 1828 Westminster Arcade (who also claims the title of America’s oldest indoor mall), and Boston’s 1743 Faneuil Hall are not considered because they were of an era of arcades and marketplaces, precursors to the mall as we know it today. Oh, marketing.

This painting, Midtown Plaza 1962 by Edith Lunt Small, was previously on display at the Memorial Art Gallery but is now archived from public view.

National Memorial Day Museum Waterloo NY
National Memorial Day Museum

Waterloo is recognized as the host of America’s first Memorial Day, celebrated on May 5, 1866.

Events Around Rochester - Red Wings Baseball
Rochester Red Wings Baseball

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.

The longest game in Organized Baseball history occurred in 1981 between the Pawtucket Red Sox and Rochester Red Wings of the International League at Pawtucket’s McCoy Stadium and lasted 33 innings. The game began on April 18 and lasted 32 innings before being stopped, with play to resume later in the season. On June 23, the game resumed, with it only taking one additional inning to settle the game as Pawtucket won it by a score of 3 – 2 in the bottom of the 33rd inning. The game included future Hall of Famers Wade Boggs and Cal Ripken Jr. as the two third basemen. Bob Ojeda and Marty Barrett also went on to notable careers in the major leagues.

America’s first railroad was a tramway built along the Niagara River to portage cargo from Lake Ontario around the falls at Lewiston. “In 1763, the British improved the road and built several stockades along the route where troops were stationed for the protection of the wagon trains. Capt. Montresor of the Royal Engineers, began to construct a 400 foot tramway which, by some accounts, is considered the first railway in North America. The cars were counterbalanced for easier operation up the steep incline from the river.”

The first Hamburger served in America was in Hamburg at the Erie County Fair.

Caledonia Fish Hatchery
Caledonia Fish Hatchery

Established in 1864 and purchased by New York State in 1870, Caledonia’s is the oldest Fish Hatchery in the Western Hemisphere. Created by Seth Green, known as the father of fish culture, pioneered the use of hatcheries to rear fish.

In 1821, the first well specifically intended to obtain natural gas was dug in Fredonia by William Hart. Hart is regarded by many as the ‘father of natural gas’ in America. Expanding on Hart’s work, the Fredonia Gas Light Company was eventually formed, becoming the first American natural gas company.

On July 4th, 1908, Curtiss gained notoriety when he flew his flying machine, named the “June Bug”, a distance of over 5000 feet to win the Scientific American Trophy. This was the first pre-announced public flight in America – a feat that earned him pilot’s license # 1. A full-sized reproduction of the “June Bug” is one of several historic aircraft on display at the Glenn H. Curtiss Museum in Hammondsport. The Wright/Curtiss fight was never completely resolved, though W. Benton Crisp was instrumental in setting up cross-licensing. In 1929, the two companies merged to form Curtiss-Wright Corp. Their website states, “Curtiss-Wright Corporation (NYSE: CW) has a long history with its roots dating back to Orville and Wilbur Wright’s first flight in 1903, and Mr. Glenn Curtiss, the father of naval aviation.”


Strong Museum of Play Dancing Wings Butterfly Garden Rochester skyline
Strong National Museum of Play Dancing Wings Butterfly Garden

Strong Museum has the only year-round indoor butterfly garden in Upstate NY.

The Howe House in Phelps boasts a rare, two-story brick outhouse.

The Rochester Rhinos won the U.S. Open Cup against Major League Soccer competition in 1999, being the only non-MLS team to win the US Open Cup after MLS was formed. “Only once since then has a team from below the summit of the United States’ soccer pyramid won the competition, when the Rochester Rhinos beat four MLS teams to claim the crown in 1999.”

Tim Hortons Roastery
Tim Horton’s Roastery

Every single cup of Tim Hortons coffee sold in the United States, as well as parts of Canada, is roasted in Rochester. According to an article by Rochester’s D & C, “The plant, which churns out 20 to 30 million pounds of beans per year, services all U.S. stores and some in Canada. A Canadian sister plant processes beans for the remaining stores in the chain’s home country. “The 40,000-square-foot Henrietta processing facility offers a one-stop shop location for roasting, grinding, and packaging beans that ship all over the country. The plant had previously been used by Chock Full o’Nuts.”

And, since 1957, every Milk-Bone® is made in Buffalo.

Art Park is the only state park devoted to visual and performing arts.

Colored Musicians Club is the only AfricanAmerican musicians club in the country.

Marion Steam Shovel
Marion Steam Shovel

This Marion Steam Shovel on Gulf Road in LeRoy, just west of the Genesee Country Village, is the last known to exist in the world. It may also have inspired Virginia Lee Burton’s illustrations of Mary Ann in the book, “Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel.” Learn More

Alcoa Care-free Home, a historic home located at Brighton, is one of 24 Alcoa houses listed in their sales brochure of 1957 that were built for a demonstration project and the only one located in New York State.

Rush Oak Openings Unique Area
Rush Oak Openings Unique Area

Rush Oak Openings Unique Area is the easternmost remaining oak opening in the country and the last known intact oak opening in New York State.

Letchworth Council Grounds
Letchworth Council Grounds

The last council house of the Seneca Nation was moved from Caneadea – an Indian village across from today’s Houghton College – to Letchworth. In 1872, it was the scene of a notable gathering, “The Last Council” of the Nations. Former President Fillmore, WP Letchworth, and descendants of Red Jacket, Joseph Brant, and Mary Jemison were invited to bury the hatchet of their ancestor’s grievances. The Council Fire was held on October 1, 1872. After the speeches and the rededication of the Council House, the Senecas held another ceremony, adopting Letchworth as Hai-wa-ye-is-tah, the “Man who always Does Right.”

Fairport Lift Bridge
Fairport Lift Bridge

Fairport’s lift bridge, which celebrated its centennial in 2014, is the only bridge in the world built on a bias. The south end is higher than the north end. It is built in a way that no two angles in the bridge are the same, and no corners on the bridge floor are square.

New York Museum of Transportation trolley maintenance
New York Museum of Transportation

The New York Museum of Transportation in Rush offers the only trolley ride in New York State.

George Eastman is the only person represented by two stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, recognizing the same achievement for his invention of roll film.

Willard Memorial Chapel alter Auburn NY
Willard Memorial

Willard Memorial Chapel in Auburn is an extremely rare example of the work of Louis C. Tiffany and Tiffany Glass and Decoration Co. It is the only complete and unaltered Tiffany chapel known to exist.

Wayne County Butterfly Trail Lock 30
Wayne County Butterfly Trail at Lock 30

The only place where all three canals converge together—the original 1825 canal, the expanded canal, and the Modern Barge canal—is at the end of the Butterfly Trail in Macedon’s Lock 30 Canal Park.

Dr. Mary Walker is the only female Medal of Honor recipient. Out of the nearly 3,500 Medal of Honor recipients, only one was a woman — just one — and her medal was actually rescinded just before she died. Walker was born in Oswego to abolitionist parents who encouraged her to pursue an education. In 1855, Walker graduated as a medical doctor from Syracuse Medical College.

Culvert Road in Medina Under the Erie Canal
Culvert Road in Medina Under the Erie Canal

Culvert Road in Medina is the only place you can drive under the Erie Canal.

The Original American Kazoo Company was established in 1916 and is now the only metal Kazoo factory in North America. The factory is one of the few remaining working museums.

The Chittenango snail is listed as Endangered because of its extremely limited range and apparently declining numbers since discovery. Its existence at only one site makes it extremely vulnerable to a catastrophic event that could destroy the entire population.

One Of Few

Historic Small Movie Theaters Around Rochester Strand Theater Brockport
The Strand

The Strand Theater in Brockport has been in operation since 1908, making it the second-oldest active movie theater in the United States. The Strand showcases first-run, single-feature movies. According to an article by Rochester’s D & C, “Village officials tout The Strand, which opened in 1916, as the second-oldest motion picture venue in the country, but that comes with a caveat. Another theater, The Lyric, opened in the downstairs of the Winslow Block building in 1908, but closed shortly after. The Strand moved in upstairs. Counting the origins back to 1908 makes the theater second in longevity only to one in Newtown, Pa., Andrews says. ‘After The Lyric closed, a sweet shop was downstairs for years,’ said village historian Jacqueline Morris. In 1946, a building reconstruction resulted in The Strand taking over the entire Winslow Block, with a street entrance and a two-story-high ceiling.”

Despite many commercial stations being absorbed into larger conglomerates, three local radio stations remain independently owned:

  • The call letters for WDKX were inspired by the initials of Frederick Douglass, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and Malcolm X. [source]
  • WBER is a listener and school district-supported community radio station owned and operated by the BOCES, Monroe #1. The call letters correspond to BOCES Educational Radio. Through the BOCES partnership, WBER programming originates in part from area school radio clubs. [source]
  • WITR is the authoritative source of new and undiscovered music, providing the public with a unique media experience and serving as a public face of the Rochester Institute of Technology. [source]
Seabreeze Amusement Park Jack Rabbit exit tunnel

Seabreeze Amusement Park is 4th oldest in the USA and the 12th oldest in the world. It is also one of only thirteen trolley parks still operating in the United States. The Jack Rabbit is the 4th oldest operating roller coaster in the world.

Highland Park November yellow leaves
Highland Park

Rochester is one of only a handful of cities with a Frederick Law Olmsted-designed park system. Rochester’s system—including Genesee Valley Park (originally South Park), Seneca Park (originally North Park: Seneca East), Maplewood Park (originally North Park: Seneca West), Highland Park, and Seneca Parkway—was designed at the end of his career in 1888.

Olmsted’s Buffalo Parks are the first municipal parks in the nation. He designed Niagara Falls State Park in 1886. His final project was the Biltmore Estate in Asheville, NC, between 1889-1895.

The Rochester Antiquarian Book Fair, held each October, is one of the longest-running regional book fairs in the United States.

Lockport BIg Bridge
Lockport BIg Bridge

Lockport’s “Big Bridge” over the canal is one of the widest bridges in the world, measuring 399 feet wide. Because of the bridge’s central location in the city of Lockport, also within a very short walk to emergency services such as ambulance and the local fire department, and above all, its clear open airspace, the bridge is often used as a helipad for medevac services.

The city was one of the first four in the United States to provide public golf facilities. Its first course of nine holes was at Genesee Valley Park In l899. The second, which no longer exists, was created in Maplewood Park. The third was created in 1917 for Durand Eastman Park.

Powers Building Rochester
Powers Building

The Powers Building had one of the earliest elevators in the USA. “The building was the first in upstate New York to have a passenger elevator (then called a vertical railroad), gas illumination and marble floors. In 1861 it became the first commercial structure in Rochester to have electricity, utilizing its own power generating boilers.”

In addition, “in 1875 Daniel Powers opened the largest private art gallery in the country occupying the entire 5th floor of his building. His collection consisted of over 1,000 pieces of both original work and reproductions of masterpieces acquired during his numerous trips to Europe.”

For years, it remained Rochester’s tallest building as Daniel Powers continued to add floors to literally one-up the competition.

The elevator was powered by water from Rochester Water Works at Browns Race. The waterworks fed 105 hydrants with high-pressure water, greatly enhancing the city’s ability to fight fires. 

Wadsworth Homestead
Wadsworth Homestead

The Wadsworth Homestead in Geneseo is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is the oldest continually owned private estate west of the Hudson River.

The Pink House in Wellsville, built in 1868, is also one of the oldest, most historic houses in the country that is still in the family of the original builders.

Medina Railroad Museum train
Medina Railroad

Medina Railroad Museum depot is one of the largest, last surviving wooden freight depots in the United States and one of the largest freight museums in New York State.

Silver Lake is one of few in the United States that has its inlet and outlet at the same end.

The 1896 Braddock Point Lighthouse is one of few privately owned, fully functioning lighthouses in the United States.

New York Routes 5 and 20 sign
New York Routes 5 and 20 sign

Routes 5 & 20 is the second-longest concurrency in the state, stretching from Avon east to the city of Auburn in Cayuga County. The “Great Genesee Road” is one of the earliest state roads in New York.

Salmon River Selkirk Light
photo by Cady McMaster

The 1838 Salmon River (Selkirk) Lighthouse is one of only four in the United States that retains its original birdcage design. It is also a vacation rental, along with several cottages on the property.

Theodore Roosevelt’s Inaugural Site is one of only four places where a president was inaugurated outside Washington DC.

Wyoming NY Gas Lamp
Gas streetlight

The Village of Wyoming was one of the earliest locations where natural gas was developed. While the field was never a large producer, it still provides gas for the “Gaslight Village” streetlights and some homes to this day.

Maplewood Park Kelseys Landing
Kelsey’s Landing in Maplewood Park

Kelsey’s Landing in today’s Maplewood Park would have been one of the last stops on the Underground Railroad where freedom-seeking African people—including Frederick Douglass—could board a boat to Canada.

Because Xerox manufactured its copiers in Rochester, the city was one of the original 25 cities that FedEx served on its first night of operations on April 17, 1973.

Largest or Most

Highland Park November Katsura Tree
Katsura Tree in Highland Park

Overlooking the Pansy Bed in Highland Park, you will find the largest Katsura Tree in New York State. It is second only to one found in Harvard University’s Arnold Arboretum for the largest in the nation. Our Katsura is a direct descendant of Boston’s.

Highland Park lilac

Highland Park also preserves the nation’s largest collection of lilacs, with more than 500 varieties across 1200 bushes.

Rock City Park in Olean has the world’s largest exposure of Quartz Conglomerate.

Strong Museum Kewpie
Strong Museum

Margaret Woodbury Strong passed away at home on July 17, 1969. At the time of her death, she was the largest individual shareholder of Kodak stock in the world, thanks to her parents’ early investments. In her will, she provided for the transfer of her collections and estate to the museum corporation and entrusted her executors to determine how best to use her collections for a “Museum of Fascination.”

Lily Dale Assembly
Lily Dale Assembly

Lily Dale Assembly is a spiritualist community in Lily Dale, New York, approximately two hours from Rochester and one hour south of Buffalo. Established in the late 19th century, it is renowned as one of the oldest and most prominent centers for spiritualism in the United States. Lily Dale is a quaint lakeside village featuring Victorian-style homes and a serene ambiance. The district covers a small area near Cassadaga Lake and has become a destination for those interested in spiritualism, mediumship, and metaphysical practices.

cobblestone museum
Cobblestone Museum

NY-104 has the most cobblestones in the world outside England. The oldest cobblestone church in North America, built in 1834, is part of the Cobblestone Museum, which is the only one of its kind in the world. Ninety percent of all of the cobblestones in America are within 90 miles of Rochester.

Genesee Country Village Museum
Genesee Country Village Museum

Genesee Country Village & Museum is a living history museum with 68 structures on 700 acres, making it the largest and most comprehensive museum of its kind in the state and the third largest in the country.

The 19th-century village features a range of buildings that were moved to the museum’s grounds starting in 1966, such as frontier homesteads, Victorian mansions, churches, schools, shops, and taverns.

Visitors can learn about the history of each building and take part in events such as Highland Days, Civil War Days, Novel Weekend, and Independence Day. The museum also hosts the Agricultural Fair and Spirits of the Past in October and Yuletide in the Country storytelling tours in December.

Marshall Farms, based in North Rose, New York, is the largest breeder of the world’s friendliest ferrets in the United States.

Hemlock Lake
Hemlock Lake

The Hemlock Water System is the most extensive gravity-pressurized municipal water system in the United States. Because the Finger Lakes are higher in elevation than the city and easier to protect, engineers were able to utilize gravity to reduce the cost and complexity of piping the water 25 miles to Rochester’s local reservoirs along the Pinnacle Range. [learn more]

When Kittleberger first opened in 1928, supporting our apple industry along the Hojack Line, it was one of the largest basket factories in the world.

Lewiston NY Silo Restaurant
Silo Restaurant

During America’s bicentennial celebrations in 1976, President Jimmy Carter deemed Lewiston as the most historic square mile in America.

Canandaigua Lake’s property value is second only to that of Lake Tahoe.

Buffalo Central Terminal
Buffalo’s Central Terminal

Buffalo’s Central Terminal is the tallest train station in the world.

Tuscarora Heroes Monument
Tuscarora Heroes Monument

The Tuscarora Heroes Monument in Lewiston is recognized as the largest War of 1812 bicentennial monument project in the United States. It stands as a testament of thanksgiving from the people of Lewiston to the Tuscarora Nation for saving the lives of dozens of local residents during the War of 1812 British attack on December 19, 1813. It consists of three 110% life-size bronze sculptures that depict a tableau of two Tuscarora men rescuing a local woman and her baby from the British attack.

State Parks Taughannock Falls

Taughannock Falls is the tallest single-drop waterfall east of the Rocky Mountains, taller than Niagara Falls.

Maplewood Lower Falls
Rochester’s Lower Falls

Rochester’s Lower Falls is the highest waterfall within a city boundary in the United States.

You’d think by looking at them that High Falls is taller, but High Falls is 96 feet, while Lower Falls is 110 feet. But wait. Is that even true? There is a wide discrepancy of claims on how tall Lower Falls is and whether it is actually taller than High Falls. So, I’ll just leave this here until the experts agree.

Colonial Belle
Colonial Belle

The Colonial Bell is the largest tour boat operating on the Erie Canal, with a capacity for 149 passengers. On the three-hour lock tour, you’ll experience firsthand the meaning of “Low bridge, everybody down!” The round trip covers nine miles, going west on the canal through Fairport, Bushnell’s Basin, Pittsford, and Lock 32 Canal Park before returning to Fairport.

Green Lakes State Park Round Lake
Round Lake

Green Lakes State Park preserves the largest stand of old-growth forest in Central New York, and Round Lake has been designated as a National Natural Landmark by the U.S. Department of the Interior. One particularly impressive grove of trees, lying immediately to the southwest of Round Lake, has been called the Tuliptree Cathedral. Green Lake itself is perhaps the most studied meromictic lake in the world.

Record Archive vinyl collection

The Record Archive has the largest vinyl record collection in the Northeast. They are also the only record store in NY that serves wine and beer.

Yates is the largest wine grape growing county in the United States outside of California and is home to more wineries than any other county in New York State

Chautauqua Lake
Chautauqua Lake

Chautauqua Lake is the largest inland lake in western New York. At an elevation of 1,308 feet (399 m) above sea level, it is higher than any of the Finger Lakes. It is also one of the highest navigable lakes in North America.

Oneida Lake is the largest lake entirely within New York State, with a surface area of 79.8 square miles.

public wall art Lyons peppermint oil
Peppermint Museum

The long success of H.G. Hotchkiss Company in peppermint and other essential oils made Lyons, New York, the Peppermint Capital of the world for many years. In the 1860s, the Hotchkiss Company supplied the United States with more than one-third of its peppermint oil. Seventy-five percent of all Lyons farmland was producing peppermint.

Adirondack Park is the largest publicly protected area in the contiguous United States, greater in size than Yellowstone, Everglades, Glacier, and Grand Canyon National Park combined. It is not a state park, regardless of popular belief.

The largest New York State Park is Allegany State Park.

Chimney Bluffs State Park
Chimney Bluffs State Park

Wayne County and the surrounding area contain one of the largest drumlin fields on the North American continent, consisting of some 10,000 drumlins located between Lake Ontario and the Finger Lakes. The most recognizable of these drumlins is Chimney Bluffs, a truncated drumlin like many along the Lake Ontario shoreline. Looking at the Chimney Bluffs from the water is like looking through a window into our geologic history.

newark rose mural

In 1945, Newark, NY, was America’s Rose Capitol, boasting the largest field of growing roses in the world.

Palmyra’s Alling Coverlet Museum houses the largest collection of hand-woven coverlets in America. It is named for Mrs. Merle Alling, Rochester, New York resident, and coverlet collector, and is housed in a 1901 newspaper printing office. All styles of hand-woven coverlets from 1820 to 1880 are represented in an extraordinary collection, which takes over six years to rotate through public display.

Letchworth Mount Morris Dam

Constructed in the late 1940s by the US Army Corps of Engineers to reduce flooding on the lower Genesee River and in the city of Rochester, the Mount Morris Dam is the largest concrete dam east of the Mississippi River.

More fun facts: Contrary to popular belief, the Genesee River is not one of the few rivers flowing north globally. At least five rivers in New York State alone flow north: Genesee, Niagara, Black, and Oswego, which drain into Lake Ontario and La Chute, connecting Lake George to Lake Champlain, ultimately draining into the St Lawrence.

But it is the only river that flows across the entire state of New York—it’s origin in Gold, PA at the Triple Continental Divide. This area is the start of three major waterways: the Allegheny River, the Genesee River, and Pine Creek. When rain falls in this area, as it was when I visited, the water will flow from this spot into the Gulf of Mexico, the Chesapeake Bay, and the Great Lakes.

But I digress. Back to the dam: All of the limestone used in the dam’s construction came from a quarry in LeRoy. There are 400+ stairs inside the dam—more than are inside the Statue of Liberty.

Birkett Mills Penn Yan largest pancake
Birkett Mills

Birkett Mills in Penn Yan is the largest producer of buckwheat products in the world. They are also home to the World’s Largest Pancake Griddle at 28 feet across, weighing 10 tons. It was used on September 27, 1987, to cook the world’s largest pancake. The batter was churned in a cement mixer and flipped using a crane.

Kayaking Canandaigua Lake
Skenoh Island

Skenoh Island Wildlife Management Area is an 11,000-year-old island in Canandaigua Lake, New York. “Skenoh” is Seneca for “peace”. Skenoh is one of only two islands in the Finger Lakes and the smallest state-managed protected area in New York.

Invented / Started Here

If you enjoy this topic, check out the patents from Rochester, NY between 1800-1900, or create your own search queries using Google Patents.

George Eastman Patent Camera
Patent US388850

George Eastman invented the first flexible film camera, which made photography available to the masses. On January 1, 1881, George Eastman and Henry Strong formed a partnership called the Eastman Dry Plate Company. In 1892, the name changed to Eastman Kodak Company. In 1884, he patented the first film in roll form to prove practicable; he had been tinkering at home to develop it. In 1888, he perfected the Kodak Black camera, which was the first camera designed to use roll film. In 1889, Eastman first offered film stock. View patents

Frederick Fick patented the first Pipe Cleaner in 1896.

Three members of the Feinbloom family came together with a vision to create a new, exciting sportswear business in Rochester, NY. Their company—Champion—was started in 1919 as Knickerbocker Knitting Mills.

kum ba yah
West Barre Cemetery, Orleans County

Inscription reads: Kum Ba Yah (Come By Here) – Gravesite of Rev. Marvin V. Frey (1918-1992), composer of Kumbaya; He Is Lord; Peace Like A River; Isn’t He Wonderful; Alleluia

“Kum Ba Yah” was written while he was attending a Christian Crusade camp while he was only 17. He titled it “Come By Here,” but a youth at the camp took it to his parents, who used it in their missionary work in Angola, where it acquired its more popular title. [source]

The electric chair was invented by Buffalo, New York, dentist Alfred Southwick during the 1880s. It was used to execute anarchist Leon Czolgosz, the assassin who shot President William McKinley at the Pan-American Exposition in Buffalo in 1901. [more info]

Nick Tahou Hots Depot
Nick Tahou Hots

In 1918, Alexander Tahou opened a restaurant in Rochester called Hots and Potatoes. On the menu was a dish that included just about everything the kitchen could cook—meat and potatoes with a few other things thrown in to make a one-plate meal that would really stick to your ribs. Alexander’s son, Nick, took over the restaurant operations and updated the name to Nick Tahou Hots Garbage Plate.

Zweigles—a fifth-generation, family-owned business—originated in Rochester’s German community in the 1920s. Zweigles’ white hots are beloved by Rochesterians, especially on a Garbage Plate.

Cobb Preserving Company in Fairport developed the open-top sanitary can.

High Falls Rochester Plumbing Supply Co
Rochester Marshmallow Company is written on the back side of this building

Joseph B. Demerath was the first confectioner in America to commercially distribute marshmallows through the Rochester Marshmallow Company.

By 1904, French’s Mustard had developed its signature item—French’s Cream Salad Brand Mustard. The recipe has remained essentially the same since, while the name has slightly changed. Hillside Family of Agencies now occupies the iconic One Mustard St. address near East Main and Goodman Streets.

American Specialty Manufacturing Company opened its first location on Canal Street in 1983, manufacturing Boss Sauce. The popularity of the sauce grew. After several years of tremendous growth, they moved to their current, larger facility at 272 Hudson Avenue.

Country Sweet was first developed in a home kitchen in Rochester.

Salt potatoes originated in Syracuse during the 1800s when Irish miners would soak potatoes from home in brine from the salt mine.

Wegmans Fruit Vegetable Company

Wegmans – John Wegman peddled fresh produce from a pushcart, and in 1916, he opened the Rochester Fruit & Vegetable Company, which marked the beginning of Wegmans Food Markets. In the 1930s, they opened their first store in Bulls Head, near the intersection of West Main and Genesee Streets.

Inside Reynolds Arcade

Bauch + Lomb – In 1853, John Jacob Bausch, a German immigrant, set up a tiny optical goods shop in Rochester. When he needed more money to keep the business going, Bausch borrowed $60 from his good friend, Henry Lomb. Bauch + Lomb produced the first optical quality glass made in America, developed ground-breaking sunglasses for the military in World War I, and created the lenses used on the cameras that took the first satellite pictures of the moon. In 1971, Bausch + Lomb introduced the first soft contact lenses and is still the largest global provider of eye care products.

Xerox – Founded in 1906 as The Haloid Photographic Company, Xerox originally manufactured photographic paper and equipment.

RAGÚ – In 1914, Assunta Cantisano left Italy with little more than her family’s pasta sauce recipe to her name and settled in Rochester with her husband, Giovanni. In 1937, they began selling homemade tomato sauce right from their front porch. By 1946, the Cantisanos outgrew their kitchen and opened the first RAGÚ factory in Rochester.

Fisher Price store front
Fisher Price – East Aurora

Fisher Price Toys – Herm Fisher and Irving Price jointly established their company in 1930. Fisher-Price’s international headquarters are located on Girard Avenue in the Village of East Aurora.

pledge of allegiance mount morris new york
Art by Shawn Dunwoody

Mount Morris is the birthplace of Francis Bellamy, author of “The Pledge of Allegiance“. Bellamy died in 1931 before the US Congress adopted the Pledge in 1942. [source] On the corner of Main and Chapel Streets, you’ll find this incredibly detailed mural by Rochester’s Shawn Dunwoody.

According to,, and, in its original form, it read, “I pledge allegiance to my Flag and the Republic for which it stands, one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”

In 1923, the words “the Flag of the United States of America” were added. At this time, it read, “I pledge allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America and to the Republic for which it stands, one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”

In 1954, in response to the Communist threat of the times, President Eisenhower encouraged Congress to add the words “under God,” creating the 31-word pledge we say today. Bellamy’s daughter objected to this alteration. Today, it reads, “I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”

The first plate of Buffalo Chicken Wings was served in 1964 at Anchor Bar in Buffalo.

Tiny Tree Air Fresheners were invented in 1952 in Watertown.

In 1935, the Janik brothers (Stephen, Walter, and John) founded the Johnnie Ryan Bottling Company in Niagara Falls, producing a line of Johnnie Ryan Soda.

Jell-O Museum
JELL-O Gallery

The original “Jello” gelatin dessert began in LeRoy in 1897 after carpenter and cough syrup manufacturer Pearle Bixby Wait and his wife May trademarked the name, using an 1845 patent for the mixture. There’s even a JELL-O Gallery Museum in LeRoy.

JELL-O Museum
JELL-O Museum

Cool Whip was created in 1966 by either George Lorant or William A. Mitchell, both food scientists at General Foods; Lorant’s name is on the 1969 patent. It is still manufactured by Kraft Heinzin Avon today. Avon is known as the Cool Whip Capitol of the World. It’s the perfect complement to your JELL-O!

Henry Wells of Aurora played a major role in the development of two well-known companies, teaming up with William Fargo to form American Express, then Wells Fargo. His home, called Glen Park, was designed by noted architect A.J. Davis, with grounds by Andrew Jackson Downing, another notable architect. The property later became part of Wells College, which Wells founded as one of the first women’s colleges in the United States.

I voted today
I Voted Today sticker

The voting machine was patented by inventor Alfred J. Gillespie and manufactured by the Standard Voting Machine Company of Rochester, New York, in the late 1890s.

Jolt Cola was a beverage originally made by The Jolt Company, Inc. of Rochester in 1985. The initial slogan was “All the sugar and twice the caffeine;” this slogan survived for 24 years.

William Beldue invented the eyelash curler while working at the Kurlash Company at 77 South Avenue.

In 1846, Seymour, Morgan & Co. produced 100 reapers, bringing the Industrial Revolution to agriculture.

As the chief of survey for the Holland Land Company, Joseph Ellicott was the first to use 12 inches as the standard for a foot in the United States.

J. Hungerford Smith invented the root beer formula for A&W. You can still buy J. Hungerford Smith “Rochester Root Beer” through Conagra, an Illinois-based company.

Interesting Finds

Genesee Country Village Nathaniel Rochester home
Nathaniel Rochester’s Dansville Home
Genesee Country Village and Museum Mumford NY George Eastman Childhood Home
George Eastman’s Childhood Home

Nathaniel Rochester’s last home was torn down in 1901 to build the Bevier Memorial Building at Spring and South Washington Streets. His Dansville home was relocated to the Genesee Country Village and Museum, just down the street from George Eastman’s boyhood home.

And speaking of Nathaniel Rochester, he was 66 years old when he moved his family to Rochesterville.

Geva (as in Geva Theatre Center) is short for Genesee Valley. From their website, “What is a ‘Geva’? Originally founded as the Genesee Valley Arts Foundation, Geva’s name (pronounced ‘JEE-vuh’) was first coined in 1972 by our founder, Cynthia Selden, by taking the first two letters of ‘Genesee’ and ‘Valley’—the area in which Rochester is located. In fact, our name was spelled ‘GeVa’ until 1997 when artistic director Mark Cuddy downsized the big ‘V.’ Now, we’re just like other famous Rochester brands, Kodak and Xerox, who have made-up names, too. They seem to have done all right with theirs, like Geva Theatre Center.”

On July 12, 1954, the U.S. Post Office issued a three-cent commemorative stamp marking the 100th anniversary of George Eastman’s birth, which was first issued in Rochester, New York.

public wall art Ramon Santiago graffiti
Ramon Santiago at WXXI

There is an original Ramon Santiago on the wall of WXXI loading dock, witnessed on a guided tour during the Landmark Society’s 2018 Inside Downtown tour of High Falls.

Dinosaur Bar B Que
Dinosaur Bar B Que
Nick Tahou Hots Depot
Nick Tahou Hots

Dinosaur Bar-B-Que and Nick Tahou Hots are located in former railroad depots.

Genesee Valley Park gazebo
Genesee Valley Park

There used to be a Dentzel Carousel in Genesee Valley Park, similar to the one at Ontario Beach. The ride closed in 1965, though Roundhouse Pavilion is still there and used for small gatherings.

In the book, “Carousel History: Genesee Valley Park, NY,” author Linda Bartash-Dawley states, “Genesee Valley Park … was never known as an amusement area. However, it did host three carousels, starting with the first in 1894, which was damaged by flooding. The second carousel burned in 1953. The second carousel was followed by a Dentzel carousel which came from New Bedford, MA.” The author details all three carousels and tracks the third carousel’s history from New Bedford to Rochester, Atlanta, and Chattanooga, where they used the frame for a newly carved carousel. I assume that it is the Coolidge Park Antique Carousel in Chattanooga. [source]

Port Gibson Erie Canal
Port Gibson

Port Gibson, a small hamlet in Ontario County, interrupts Wayne County’s otherwise continuous hold of the Erie Canal. Situated between Palmyra and Newark, the port is Ontario County’s only access to the Erie Canal.

Pinnacle Hill
Pinnacle Hill view from Cobb’s Hill

The Pinnacle Range along Rochester’s southern border is a glacial moraine created by the retreating Wisconsin Glacier 12,000 years ago. Learn More

Amelia Jenks Bloomer was an early suffragist, editor, and social activist in Seneca Falls. Bloomer was also a fashion advocate who worked to change women’s clothing styles from tight corsets to the loose-fitting pantaloons that now bear her name—Bloomers.

The Empire State Trail is a 750-mile trail that connects New York City with the Canadian Border via the Hudson River Valley Greenway and Champlain Canalway Trail and Albany with Buffalo via the Erie Canalway Trail, making it the longest state-shared-use trail in the nation.

East Avenue was originally the eastern half of Main Street. However, East Main Street was not designed until after West Main Street (then Buffalo Street) and East Avenue. You can easily notice this while traveling on Goodman Street, as it switches from North to South Goodman Street at East Avenue instead of Main Street. At the Liberty Pole, East Avenue and Main Street meet at a 140-degree angle, which can be confusing. This is because when East Avenue was being constructed to link Pittsford and the high falls, one of the Brown brothers redirected the road away from Nathaniel Rochester’s plot in Rochesterville and towards his own plot of land at Brown’s Race. When Nathaniel Rochester returned to town, the road was almost complete. He realized that the redirection had taken place and directed it once again towards his plot. This is the reason for the change of angle at the Liberty Pole. If Nathaniel Rochester hadn’t returned in time, downtown Rochester would have looked very different. If you trace East Avenue to the river at the angle it runs up to Main Street, you will see that it leads directly to Brown’s Race. [source]

Filmed Around Rochester

This is a new category for our Rochester Fun Facts page. We’d love to learn about more filming locations or even mentions of Rochester in movies and television. Drop us a comment below! Here’s what we have so far:

A scene from Hulu’s Four Weddings and Funeral was filmed in Geneseo. Their Main Street was used for the setting of Duffy’s hometown in Jersey in S1, E10.

A chase scene featured in The Amazing Spider-Man 2 was partially filmed along Rochester’s Main Street between South Plymouth and East Avenues.

Released in 2020, Drunk Bus is the most recent film to be shot in Rochester, with scenes including RIT, The Strathallen, and High Falls.

Tomorrow Man, featuring John Lithgow and Blythe Danner, was filmed in 2018 using a home on Crittenden Road in Brighton, with several other scenes filmed in Lyons, East Rochester, Pittsford, Fairport, and Gates. John Lithgow was born in Rochester, NY.

Lady in White had film locations in Rochester, Lyons, Phelps, Newark, Bristol, and Canandaigua, The story is loosely based on our legend of the Lady in White or the paranormal activities surrounding White Lady’s Castle in Durand-Eastman Park, which is not a castle at all but the remnants of a beach-side dining hall.

The Alphabet Killer is based on the true story of the double initial murders in Rochester, NY, between 1971 and 1973. Film locations include Rochester and East Rochester. I was born in ’73, so my parents have odd memories of discussing what my name should be.

Plains, Trains, and Automobiles had several filming locations in WNY, like the train tunnel in Dayton, NY, near Zoar Valley, and the Thruway in Batavia.

The Quiet Place I and II were both filmed throughout WNY, including Buffalo, Akron, and Olcott.

Check out even more movies filmed in Buffalo and Syracuse.

Famous People Born or Raised in Rochester, or called Rochester “Home”

If we’re going to add filming locations, we might as well mention a few celebs that got their start in Rochester, NY. Comment below if you know of ones we should add.

Actors & Performing Artists


Other Notable Celebs

This page contains affiliate links. If you choose to purchase after clicking a link, I may receive a commission at no extra cost to you.

Any of Arch Merrill’s books
by Arch Merrill

Library | Yesterday’s Muse

Cobblestone Quest: Road Tours of New York’s Historic Buildings
by Rich and Sue Freeman

Library | Amazon

Rochester Routes: Tours of Monroe County’s Historic Places
by Patricia Braus

Library | Amazon

Roadside Geology of New York
by Bradford B. Van Diver

Library | Amazon

The Finger Lakes Region: Its Origin and Nature
by O. D. von Engeln

Library | Bookshop | Amazon

Rocks That Rock: An Explorer’s Hiking Guide to Amazing Boulders and Rock Formations of Central & Western New York (Interesting Rock Formations, Geology, and Hikes)
by Russell Dunn

Library | Bookshop | Amazon

Do you know of more of Rochester’s fun facts?

Your insights and experiences are valuable. Please share them in the comments.

Debi Bower, Day Trips Around Rochester NY

Debi Bower is the founder and creative director of and author of the award-winning book Day Trips Around Rochester, New York.

People often ask me if I get free access to places while exploring. The answer is no unless I’m invited to previews or granted behind-the-scenes access as part of my media role. Generally, I don’t mention my project, Day Trips Around Rochester, NY, because I want the same experience you would have. I create and share content simply because it brings me joy. I would appreciate your support—a cup of coffee or two to help fuel future field trips—if you have found valuable information here that has helped you explore the Rochester area.

15 thoughts on “Rochester’s Fun Facts: Oldest, Original, Only, & More!”

  1. Debi
    Bill Pullman is from Hornell NY…,_New_York

    I grew up in a little burg called Scio NY…on rt19 in the Southern Tier.
    The pink house in Wellsville NY is a GOTTA see in person. Pictures do not generally do the home justice. There used to be a fountain out front where there is a raised raised garden now. The Grandmother was an confined to a wheel chair or something and the grand daughter drowned in the fountain. The Grandmother had the fountain filled in.

  2. LOL, I just put Pearle Bixby Wait & wife May Marie Davis 1874 LeRoy – 1956 LeRoy on my Ancestry tree (not a close relationship though) – May is my 7th cousin 3x removed. Her roots are Dutch, descended of Schermerhorns & Veeders. Find Pearle & May in Find-A-Grave, buried in Machpelah Cemetery in LeRoy.

    2. Florence Bertha (Brooks) Hamburg, 1891 Rochester – 1982 Rochester was the first woman graduate of the University of Buffalo School of Pharmacy. She was employed by the County of Monroe and upon the opening of Monroe Community Hospital, there employed in the pharmacy. Miss Hamburg became the first female Head of Pharmacy at Monroe Community Hospital, and continued in this position until her retirement. Miss Hamburg is buried in Mt. Hope Cemetery. Her obituaries are posted on her Find-A-Grave page.

    3. And speaking of whom… Miss Hamburg’s grandfather was Calvin Brooks. Calvin is one of 2 individuals who there seems to be a dispute regarding the naming of Brooks Avenue in Rochester – Calvin Brooks or Micah Brooks. Micah Brooks, 1775 CT – 1857 Allegany Co, NY, was a surveyor, an engineer on the Erie Canal design, and a politician. I read somewhere not long hence that at Micah Brooks’ (possibly) granddaughter was head of the Rochester Historic Society at one time. Micah lived in Livingston County, NY and never in Rochester. Calvin Brooks lived in the 19th Ward in “The Rapids,” on what is now the corner of Brooks Avenue & Genesee Street, Brooks Landing. There are a few pages dedicated to Brooks and his family in the Images of America series book on the 19th Ward, one of several locations which state Brooks Avenue was named for Calvin. I might also add that streets adjacent to Brooks Avenue and the Brooks home include Marsh Street and Paige Street – Calvin’s wife was the former Harriet Marsh and his daughter Fannie Ella Brooks married Augustus A.B. Paige. So which man do you think Brooks Avenue is named for? Calvin Brooks & family are all buried in Mt. Hope Cemetery. There is one gravestone on a hill but it’s unreadable. Florence Hamburg and her mother are buried in a separate location in Mt. Hope. I don’t believe there are any other descendents of this family in this area named Brooks. There is a Find-A-Grave page for Calvin Brooks.

    1. Sue, I would tend to agree with you that, although Micah was a predominant citizen he was most influential in Livingston County, having purchased a good deal of Mary Jemison’s reservation property when she moved to the Buffalo Creek reservation. Brooks Grove on the east bank of the Genesee. You’ll actually find many Brooks Grove structures at the Genesee Country Villàge. But I’ve never read about any activity in Rochester.

      1. Debi, I appreciate that information. I have heard of Brooks Grove and hadn’t been able to find any information on it’s origin – it’s located near present-day Mt. Morris. But there is other information on the naming of Brooks Avenue. I was sent a newspaper article from the early 1900s by someone in the Rochester Genealogy Society which names Calvin Brooks as the person Brooks Avenue is named for. Also, the Images of America series book titled The Nineteenth Ward dedicates 2 or 3 pages of a chapter on Calvin Brooks and his family. It states that Brooks was an early settler and gave significant time helping develop the area. He also ran an early grocery store on State Street.

      2. Debi,
        I found this article on General Micah Brooks & family. I believe the location of his death to be incorrect – I believe he died in Livingston County, NY.
        Apparently one of his daughters, Cornelia Brooks, married one George Ellwanger, of Rochester.

        I also had seen that one of his family members, perhaps Cornelia, was a president of one of our local historical societies, which may account for conflicting information on how Micah’s name may have been considered the honoree for whom Brooks Avenue was named (actually named for Calvin Brooks, we believe). Happy New Year.

      3. Debi, I’ve done a small amount of research on Brooks Landing on the Genesee at The Rapids lately. Brooks Landing is said to be named for General Micah Brooks, but I’ve also found that Calvin Brooks’ grocery store was very near that location. I find it odd that someone would name the location around Calvin Brooks’ grocery store for General Brooks, unless someone was very angry with Calvin. If that was the location of the only grocery store in the area, and boats would stop there to get supply’s at Calvin’s grocery store, why name the location for Micah? I could be wrong but it simply seems odd to me. As I’ve stated, Micah’s granddaughter was president of the Rochester Historical Society, which could have been a factor. Happy Holidays and I hope your book is doing well.

  3. From the D&C website:

    13. We could’ve been first. According to the U2 setlist archive, the band’s first gig in the United States was supposed to have been at Rochester’s Penny Arcade on Dec. 5, 1980 but was canceled for an unknown reason and the band went to New York City and played before 25 people at the Ritz. There is also the well-known story about U2’s scheduled show at the Red Creek Inn in 1981 that was canceled over a disagreement with club management over clearing the bar for a soundcheck. The band did come back to Rochester and play RIT’s Ritter Arena, a stone’s throw from the Red Creek, as part of the War tour on April 28, 1983.

  4. Greg Richardson

    The band U2 had their first scheduled North American gig at what is now Hot Shots in Henrietta, in (June?) 1982. The story goes that at sound check, the band manager asked for everyone to clear out, but a woman who was a regular at the bar door not want to leave and bar management refused to kick her out. So the band packed back up and cancelled their show, to okay their first North American gig in Syracuse the next night.

    1. Now I could be wrong since I am referencing a wiki, and there ares always fine lines where “first” is concerned, but Wikipedia says: “6 December: U2 play their first American concert at The Ritz in New York City as part of a 14-date tour.” Thoughts?

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