• Photo: Andrew Zarivny / Shutterstock


First known as the Flour City in the early 1800s, for the mills that were powered by the Genesee River, Rochester became the Flower City when nurseries and seed production replaced the grain industry. Industrialists and entrepreneurs shaped the city at the turn of the 20th century, and photography pioneer George Eastman played a particularly key role. His Eastman Kodak Company is practically synonymous with the city and remains one of its top employers. Xerox and Bausch & Lomb were founded here as well, but today the city is as focused on its world-class educational institutions.

In downtown Rochester you can still see some nice examples of early-20th-century architecture, including the 1930 art-deco Times Square Building, topped with 42-foot aluminum wings pointing skyward. Neighborhoods east and southeast of the downtown core are worth a gander for their large Federal, Greek Revival, and Victorian homes. Corn Hill, Rochester's first residential neighborhood, is just blocks south of downtown. A mile or so to the east is the Park Avenue area of shops and restaurants, interspersed with tree-lined residential streets. To the north, the waterfront Charlotte (say it like a native: Shar-LOT) neighborhood has taverns, restaurants, and a rock-and-roll bar, but Ontario Beach Park is its point of pride.

Rochester is a vibrant city where theater, music, film, and visual arts flourish; almost every night there's a performance of some sort. This, along with the many parks, frequent festivals, professional sports teams, and proximity to the Finger Lakes wine trails make it a city worth visiting.

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