Rochester started as a farming town but became a metropolis when the Erie Canal came through. It then was famous for twentieth century companies like Eastman Kodak, Bausch and Lomb, Birdseye, and Xerox. Rochester even had a subway. Predictably, it was destroyed after only thirty years of operation.
If there was a wrong turn to make in city planning and particularly in public transportation, Rochester made it. It is a textbook example of what went wrong with American cities when the 'convenience' of the car was considered to be paramount.
All the big companies in Rochester but Birdseye are currently in retreat, with massive layoffs. The largest employer currently are the University of Rochester.
There are five colleges in the city limits.
The Eastman School of Music is one of the great conservatory schools in the country. The Eastman Theatre and Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra are justly famous.
Pros: There are TWO waterfalls in the downtown area (hidden by ghastly buildings) and some very nice parks along the river alternating with ghastly areas of urban blight
The George Eastman House is a World class museum of photography that is well worth the visit. There are also some excellent smaller museums including the Strong Museum of Play that has to be seen to be believed.
History: Susan B. Anthony House, Frederick Douglass sites. Rochester was the last stop on the Underground Railroad and has many homes still standing with secret rooms.
Rochester is near the superbly beautiful Finger Lakes and just by Lake Ontario, where there is a nice little park and one of the world's most beautiful surviving carousels.
Climate is pretty bad in winter, good all the rest of the year. It is much cooler there in summer than on most of the East Coast.
River, canal, and lake all in the city limits (the first two severely underutilized, the last polluted)
Some lovely neighbourhoods including Park Avenue, Corn Hill, and the up and coming Southwedge are pleasant places in which to live and they are affordable.
Rochester is one of the 'greenest' cities in the area, with numerous organic and farmers' markets and strong grassroots support for green initiatives.
Two landmark parks designed by Central Park designer Frederick Law Olmstead.
East Avene, with beautifully restored and preserved mansions and even an early Prairie house by Frank Lloyd Wright, is a showplace.
Housing is cheaper here than in most other locations. A good house in a safe neighbourhood can be purchased for well under $100,000.00 and apartment rents are reasonable. Heating bills may be horrid; none of the old houses are insulated.
CONS: Aforementioned horrible political management. The last Mayor spent forty million dollars on a useless ferryboat to Toronto and never tried to publicize any of the good features of Rochester to the Canadians so that they would come here. Those that did want to come did not find any sort of cheap accomodation or bed and breakfasts for short trips, so they just didn't take the boat. The boat has now been sold, wasting a great deal of taxpayer money.
The downtown area was destroyed in the sixties when Robert Moses rammed a 'ring road' right through the RIT campus and business district. The road is hideous and underutilized, but it effectively treebarked the downtown businesses, which then were replaced by big box stores in the suburbs. Way to go, Bob. Parts of the downtown area are isolated by pockets of concrete and traffic, and very little of this area is accessible on foot or by bicycle.
The current administration has the ridiculous notion of having the Italian government buy the horrible, decaying Midtown Centre in an attempt to revitalize the poorly designed, underutilized structure. Tearing it down and building a garden would make more sense.
Rochester has the dubious distinction of being the first city to go up in flames during a race riot in the Long Hot Summer. For Rochester, this Summer was in 1964. The riots started over a bungled arrest. The aftermath was a general exodus from the city including the relocation of the Rochester Institute of Technology from downtown to the boring and stripmalled 'suburb' of Henrietta.
Many of the pleasant neighbourhoods have freeways jammed rudely through them. Fortunately Corn Hill was saved (at least fifty per cent) from the wrecking ball, but there was much that was lost forever.