Rochester ( or ) is a city in Monroe County, New York, south of Lake Ontario in the United States. Known as the World's Image Center, it was also once known as the Flour City, and more recently as The Flower City, annually hosting the Lilac Festival. It is the county seat for Monroe County.
Rochester's city population according to the 2010 census is approximately 210,565, making it New York's third most populous city after New York City and Buffalo. It is at the center of a larger metropolitan area which encompasses and extends beyond Monroe County and includes Genesee County, Livingston County, Ontario County, Orleans County and Wayne County. This area, which is part of the Western New York region, had a population of 1,079,671 people at the time of the 2010 Census. As of July 1, 2012 Estimates indicated that this population rose to 1,082,284. Rochester was one of America's first "boomtowns" and rose to prominence initially as the site of many flour mills located on the Genesee River, then as a major manufacturing hub. Rochester is now an international center of higher education, as well as medical and technological development. The region is known for many acclaimed universities, and several of them (notably the University of Rochester and the Rochester Institute of Technology) are nationally renowned for their research programs. In addition, Rochester has been and continues to be the site of many important inventions and innovations in consumer products. The Rochester area is currently home to corporations such as Kodak, Bausch & Lomb and Xerox that conduct extensive research and manufacturing in the fields of industrial and consumer products. The Rochester metropolitan area is the second largest regional economy in New York State according to the U.S. Internal Revenue Service, after the New York City metropolitan area.
Rochester was ranked as the "most livable city" among 379 U.S. metropolitan areas in the 25th edition (2007) of the Places Rated Almanac. The Rochester area also received the top ranking for overall quality of life among U.S. metros with populations of more than 1 million in a 2007 study by Expansion Management magazine. In the same study, Expansion Management rated the area's public schools as sixth best nationwide. In 2010 Forbes rated Rochester as the third best place to raise a family. In 2012 Kiplinger rated Rochester as the fifth best city for families, citing low cost of living, top public schools, and a low jobless rate.
Rochester has the least expensive real estate prices of any city in New York; the median house price is $83,186 there, considerably lower than the state's median housing price of $306,000.
Founding and early history
The Seneca tribe of Native Americans lived in the area in and around Rochester until they gave up their claim to most of this land in the Treaty of Big Tree in 1797. Settlement before the Seneca tribe is unknown.
Development of modern Rochester followed the American Revolution, and forced cession of their territory by the Iroquois after the defeat of Great Britain. Allied with the British, four major Iroquois tribes were essentially forced from New York. As a reward for their loyalty to the British Crown, they were given a large land grant on the Grand River in Canada.
On November 8, 1803, Col. Nathaniel Rochester (1752–1831), Maj. Charles Carroll, and Col. William Fitzhugh, Jr. (1761–1839), all of Hagerstown, Maryland, purchased a 100-acre (ca. 40 ha) tract from the state in Western New York along the Genesee River. They chose the site because its three cataracts on the Genesee offered great potential for water power. Beginning in 1811, and with a population of 15, the three founders surveyed the land and laid out streets and tracts. In 1817, the Brown brothers and other landowners joined their lands with the Hundred Acre Tract to form the village of Rochesterville.
By 1821, Rochesterville was the seat of Monroe County. In 1823, Rochesterville consisted of and 2,500 residents, and the Village of Rochesterville became known as Rochester. Also in 1823, the Erie Canal aqueduct over the Genesee River was completed, and the Erie Canal east to the Hudson River was opened. (In the early 20th century, after the advent of railroads, the presence of the canal in the center city was an obstacle; it was re-routed south of Rochester.) By 1830, Rochester's population was 9,200 and in 1834, it was re-chartered as a city.
Rochester was first known as "the Young Lion of the West", and then as the "Flour City". By 1838, Rochester was the largest flour-producing city in the United States. Having doubled its population in only ten years, Rochester became America's first "boomtown". Rochester experienced one of the nation's biggest revivalist movements, led by Charles Finney.
By the mid-19th century, as the center of the wheat-processing industry moved west with population and agriculture, the city became home to an expanding nursery business, giving rise to the city's second nickname, the "Flower City." Large and small nurseries ringed the city, the most famous of which was started in 1840 by immigrants Georg Ellwanger from Germany and Patrick Barry from Ireland.
In the early 20th century, Rochester became a center of the garment industry, particularly men's fashions. It was the base of enterprises such as Bond Clothing Stores, Fashion Park Clothes, Hickey Freeman, and Stein-Bloch & Co. The carriage maker James Cunningham and Sons founded a pioneer automobile company - Cunningham.
The population reached 62,386 in 1870, 162,608 in 1900 and 295,750 in 1920. By 1950, the population had reached a high of 332,488. In 1950, the Census Bureau reported Rochester's population as 97.6% white and 2.3% black. With industrial restructuring in the later 20th century, and the decline of industry and jobs in the area, by 2010, the population had declined to 210,565 in the city, although the metropolitan area was considerably larger.