Eastman Kodak’s Home and George Eastman’s Global Legacy
Creating popular photography—making photography available to the average citizen—is Rochester’s legacy created by its most famous citizen, George Eastman. He founded a process that let everyone take pictures and by doing so, literally changed how people saw the world. He then adapted his film for motion pictures, creating the film Thomas Edison needed for his new movie machines. Eastman used the resulting fortune in ways that helped change the world. The story is well-told in Rochester at Eastman’s magnificent National Historic Landmark estate, George Eastman House International Museum of Photography and Film.
The Strong: National Museum of Play and National Toy Halls of Fame ®
The museum blends the best features of both history museums (extensive collections) and children’s museums (high interactivity). At 282,000 square feet, the National Museum of Play at The Strong is the largest regional year-round family attraction, and the second largest children’s museum in the nation. Its philosophy—that play is essential to learning and human development—is reflected everywhere you look, beginning with its uniquely whimsical architecture. The museum is home to the region’s only indoor butterfly garden; the world’s largest and most comprehensive collection of dolls, toys, and games; and the prestigious National Toy Hall of Fame®. Amenities include a food court, indoor train and carousel, two museum shops, and an outdoor Discovery Garden.
In addition to the The Strong, visitors can enjoy the Rochester Museum & Science Center, where interactive activities make science fun and bring Rochester's heritage to life. At George Eastman House, families can experience the "Discovery Room," where one can learn about pre-cinematic toys, make "film strips" for a zoetrope and handle dozens of cameras. Genesee Country Village & Museum provides daily experiences including visiting with farm animals, and playing with 19th century toys. Seneca Park Zoo is home to New York State’s only Bornean orangutans and white rhinoceroses. As the 4th oldest operating amusement park in the country, Seabreeze Amusement Park offers four roller coasters including the thrilling 'woody" Jack Rabbit--the 3rd oldest operating wooden roller coaster in North America. Its water park is filled with tub slides, body flumes and a wave pool.
The Erie Canal
The Erie Canal and related legends are a part of every child’s education in the United States and for many others around the world. The Erie Canal literally opened up the western United States to expansion in 1825 when the canal was built and Rochester became the country's first "boomtown." The Erie Canal is credited for creating New York City as a major port and thus, one of the world’s foremost cities. Today, the Canal presents a fascinating story of an almost forgotten commercial waterway emerging as a major tourist destination and recreational resource. Party boats and replica canal boats now offer leisurely rides on the canal, while its towpath provides a popular walking and biking path.
Great Lakes Seaway Trail: National Scenic Byway
Rochester is near mid-point on this 518- mile scenic driving route. The Seaway Trail is a series of roads and jaunts that trace the southern shore of the Great Lake Ontario between Niagara Falls and the Thousand Islands region. Along the way, travelers experience nautical and natural history, agriculture and people culture, landside and waterside recreation of all types.
The Finger Lakes
“Lakes formed by the fingers of God,” is an ancient Indian description of how eleven pristine, glacial lakes formed just south of Rochester. With rolling hills and small towns nestled in between, the Finger Lakes region is a top travel destination. Today, as in the past 100 years, this area provides a year-round tourist experience and is the heart of the second-leading wine producing region in the United States.
The Rochester area is most appealing to many during the time of fall foliage (September-October), particularly Letchworth State Park (the "Grand Canyon of the East") located 30 minutes south of Rochester. It might be getting a bit cold for a dip in one of the eleven Finger Lakes, but the area is generally warm and the scenery amid the hills, valleys and gorges is breathtaking. It’s a time to celebrate the harvest, welcome visitors and prepare for the joys of the coming winter.
Women’s Suffrage: The Right to Vote
National Susan B. Anthony Museum & House
Upstate New York is where it happened. At the recently restored National Historic Landmark home of Susan B. Anthony, one can visit the living room where Anthony was arrested for voting in the 1872 presidential election. It’s the story of how women—Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton, among them—fought for their rights to be heard, to be represented and to vote. Nearby, in Seneca Falls, is the National Women’s Rights Historical Path, which celebrates the site of the 1st Women’s Rights Convention in 1848.
Stories of African-American history and today’s culture are well-told in Rochester and upstate New York. The Underground Railroad is depicted clearly here, as is the work of famous slavery abolitionist Frederick Douglass. Douglass spent 25 of his most active years in Rochester and published his newspaper The North Star here. He is buried in Rochester's Mt. Hope Cemetery.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (the Mormons) began here. Historical sites abound in the Palmyra area. Every July tens of thousands of Mormons and visitors descend upon Palmyra, located about 30 minutes from downtown Rochester, for the two-week Hill Cumorah Pageant--the world's largest outdoor theatrical production.
Festivals & Foods
Celebrations of all aspects of American life abound in and around Rochester. A visitor to the area at almost any time is sure to have a choice of events centered on food, music, the arts and culture. Many major festivals are held throughout the year including the Lilac Festival (May), Xerox Rochester International Jazz Festival (June), Corn Hill Arts (July) Park Avenue (August) and Clothesline Festivals (September), and ImageOut Film Festival (October.)
Home to the only golf course in America to have hosted all six major men’s championships-- the prestigious Oak Hill Country Club -- the Legends and future stars come to test their mettle in the major championships of the PGA Championships and LPGA. With 60+ courses within a 45- minute drive including resort, semi-private and public courses, Rochester is a prime golf destination. Golf Magazine and the National Golf Foundation named Rochester one of the 10 Best Golf Cities in America. The ranking is based on seven factors including affordability and number of quality courses, as well as the weather. "You can play more gorgeous golf for less than in any other big American city."
Today, Rochester’s rich music heritage is revealed at the renowned Eastman School of Music, where Rene Fleming, Chuck Mangione, Wynton Marsalis, and Mitch Miller preceded the soon-to-be-famous musicians that graduate each year. The Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra and several other predominant musical groups can be found performing almost any night, in either the newly renovated Kodak Hall or the more intimate Kilbourne Hall. The teaching of music extends to other schools like Hochstein Music School, and Nazareth College with coursework in music as therapy.
Art at the Memorial Art Gallery
Centennial Sculpture Park
In 2008, mindful of its 2013 Centennial, the Gallery initiated a master planning process for its grounds that would extend its mission, “Connecting People with Art”, to include great works of art both inside the building and out. Considered one of the finest regional art museums in the country, Rochester’s Memorial Art Gallery has served as a community resource for nearly a century. Among its treasures are a rare pair of ancient Egyptian coffins and a beautifully detailed suit of Renaissance armor. In recent years, MAG has put Rochester firmly on the map by offering world class exhibitions devoted to such masters as Winslow Homer, Maxfield Parrish, Edgar Degas and Georgia O’Keeffe. MAG also celebrates the rich arts tradition of the region at the Rochester-Finger Lakes Exhibition and Rochester Biennial, as well as at its annual Clothesline Festival.
Industry and Innovation in America
The industry and innovation of America is exemplified in and around the Rochester area. Kodak, Bausch & Lomb, and Xerox were all started in Rochester, as was Western Union and the Cutler Company--makers of the mail chute. Today, Rochester remains home to the world headquarters for Kodak and Bausch & Lomb, and Xerox maintains a large manufacturing presence. Rochester leads the world in photography, optics and imaging, in the training of the deaf and in the precision manufacturing of products shipped around the world. The cottage industries begun here during a past generation are now global concerns, and small businesses just starting out glow with a promising future to change the world. Biomedical research is at the leading edge here and inventions of Rochester citizens are evident in every corner of the globe.
American Snapshot: The Early Years
There are many places nation-wide to visit to learn in-depth about the early days of America. However, the Rochester area holds its own in telling the story about how the people of this nation lived and grew. The area is rich in preserved history and in programs that depict life from then until now. The Genesee Country Village & Museum is the largest living history museum in New York State. This 19th century village features The Intrepid, a one-of-a kind, Civil War-era gas balloon and Silver Base Ball Park, the first and finest replica 19th century base ball park in the country.