ROCHESTER , industrial city in New York State.
Established in 1812 as a mill town at the falls of the Genesee River in western New York, Rochester attracted its first Jewish residents some three decades later. The construction in the early 1820s of the Erie Canal, which crossed the Genesee at Rochester, opened a trade route west from the Hudson River and spurred migration to the area, including a number of Jewish merchants with packs on their backs. These young men, recently arrived from Germany, were located at first in the smaller canal towns of Brockport and Lockport, among others, but the booming settlement at the falls, which secured its first city charter in 1834, prompted several of these men to move there within the next decade.
Among four Jews listed in the city's 1844 directory was Meyer Greentree, generally regarded as Rochester's pioneer Jewish resident. Born in Bavaria in 1819, he had gone to Rochester as a peddler from New York in the early 1840s and soon married a local seamstress. They quickly combined their skills with those of three young newcomers, Joseph and Gabriel Wile and Hirsch Britenstool, in establishing Rochester's first ready-to-wear clothing firm.
As the number of Jewish residents increased, the need for religious services became more urgent, and twelve young men met in 1848 to organize Rochester's first congregation. The B'rith Kodesh Society eventually leased a former Baptist church, which it later purchased and remodeled as a temple. The number of Jews listed in the Rochester directories increased to 39 by 1850. Marcus Tuska became the first resident rabbi in 1851.
Increasing in numbers, the Jews of Rochester organized a Hebrew Benevolent Society which held its first public festival at Palmer's Hall in 1856. A half dozen of their most enterprising merchants had opened ready-to-wear men's clothing stores on the north side of Main Street bridge, a business that was rapidly becoming Rochester's second most important industry. A Hebrew, German and English Institute, also established in 1856, taught the increasing number of Jewish children until their parents decided, after the end of the Civil War, to rely on the public schools. A Harmony club, formed in 1868, assumed leadership in the social life of the Jewish community, which was now centered in the sixth ward on the city's northeast side. In 1865 the first Jewish alderman, Joseph Beir, was elected.
Modernizing tendencies at B'rith Kodesh prompted the withdrawal in the late 1860s of a conservative faction to form a second but short-lived synagogue. The original congregation brought Max Landsberg to Rochester as its rabbi. While Rabbi Landsberg progressively led his congregation, housed after 1876 in a new temple on the east side of town, into fuller conformity during the next decade with the Reform synagogues of Chicago and elsewhere, a group of newly arrived Polish Jews successfully established the more Orthodox Temple Beth Israel in 1879. A split in the old Harmony club produced the Phoenix club in the mid-seventies and the Eureka club a few years later, but while the German Jews who dominated these clubs hesitated to admit the newly arrived Polish and Russian Jews to membership, they quickly formed a committee in 1882 to raise funds for the relief of a new wave of destitute refugees from Eastern Europe. A move for the creation of the Western New York Jewish Orphan Asylum attracted its chief support at Rochester where it opened in 1885 on North St. Paul Street. Some of the sons of the first Jewish settlers joined two years later in establishing the Young Men's Jewish Association to assist newcomers in mastering the English language and adjusting to American ways.
East European Immigration
With the passage of years, as Beth Israel erected a new temple on Park Avenue on the city's more salubrious southeast side, where its members were moving, a new influx of Jews from Eastern Europe took their places in the old Jewish quarter and established several new Orthodox temples and institutions in that crowded district. The division between the several groups was aggravated after the turn of the century because of labor-management difficulties within the clothing industry. Many destitute newcomers, unable to find jobs except in the factories and sweatshops of their more fortunate predecessors, resented the proffered assistance of the United Jewish Charities and other German Jewish agencies and proceeded in 1908 to organize the Associated Hebrew Charities to maintain independent institutions of their own. The Jewish Sheltering Home they established gradually displaced the older Jewish Orphan Asylum and later, as the Jewish Children's Home, served the entire community until the growing demand for adoptions dispensed with the need for such shelters. A Jewish Home for the Aged, founded under Orthodox leadership in 1920, quickly expanded, and called the Jewish Home and Infirmary, maintains an enlarged and modern institution on St. Paul Street (1970). The rivalries among these and other Jewish welfare agencies were overcome and forgotten in 1924 with the establishment of the Rochester Council of Social Agencies, at which time the Community Chest assumed the fund-raising responsibility for all local welfare services.
Post-World War ii
Jews of Rochester achieved a stronger unity in the mid-1940s as the struggle for the establishment of a Jewish homeland developed. All supported the State of Israel in 1948, and thereafter. Most Jewish residents were clustered in the southeastern city wards and in adjoining towns where they built many substantial homes and three new synagogues and schools in the sixties. In 1970, the Jewish population was 21,500 (3% of the total population).
Numerous Rochester Jews have played active roles in the broader community. In 1892 Max Brickner, a member of one of the city's leading clothing firms, which were nearly all controlled and staffed by Jews, was elected president of the Chamber of Commerce, the first of several Jews in Rochester and elsewhere in America to hold that position. Isaac L. Adler, a leader of the Good Government forces, became acting mayor of Rochester in 1930, and a decade later Samuel B. Dicker held that office for 16 years. Congressman Meyer Jacobstein and Louis Wiley (who left Rochester to become publisher of the New York Times) were Rochester Jews who attained national distinction. Rabbi Philip Bernstein, head of B'rith Kodesh from 1926, was prominent in national and international Jewish causes. He was deeply involved with the post-liberation care of survivors. Rabbi Abraham J. *Karp of Temple Beth-El was an American Jewish historian and bibliophile. Sol Linowitz was a native of Rochester and headed the Xerox Corporation before entering American diplomacy.
The Rochester Jewish community of the new millennium continues to thrive. While stable in population – a demographic study sponsored by the Jewish Community Federation of Greater Rochester in 2000 records 22,850 Jewish residents – the community is characterized by a high degree of participation and affiliation in Jewish life.
The Federation, the modern center of Jewish philanthropy and community planning for the area, supports five beneficiary agencies in the Jewish community of Rochester: the Jewish Community Center, Jewish Family Service, the Jewish Home of Rochester, Hillel Community Day School, and Hillel of Rochester Area Colleges.
The jcc of the early 21st century is a modern facility in which a high percentage of Jews in the area hold membership, taking advantage of family programs, summer camps, senior activities, cultural arts, and athletic facilities. The old Jewish Home and Infirmary on St. Paul Street was a precursor to the Jewish Home of Rochester, a state-of-the-art nursing home with rehabilitation facilities, day treatment programs for seniors, and a separate complex for independent living.
There are a total of 12 synagogues in the Rochester area and a comparatively high number of residents (54%) belong to synagogues. This family-oriented community also has a high (20%) number of residents who are 65 or over. The Rochester Jewish community, which comprises about 3% of the Greater Rochester area of over 1 million, is relatively affluent and gives generously to Jewish and other charitable causes.
The migration from city neighborhoods to Rochester's eastern suburb of Brighton that took place in the 1960s–1970s led to the significant presence of Jewish institutions and synagogues in that area. As of the year 2000, 48% of Jews lived in the community of Brighton, down from 55% in the late 1980s; Jews were dispersing to other eastern suburbs as well as communities in western Monroe county and areas of the city of Rochester.
The Rochester Federation, in addition to funding local Jewish agencies and social and humanitarian programs in Israel and around the world, houses the Center for Holocaust Awareness and Information (chai), which supports Holocaust education in the public schools. chai also sponsors educational workshops and events commemorating the Holocaust in the community. The Federation has a Jewish Education Services department that provides programming for families, teens, and Jewish adults; area synagogues also sponsor many programs in Jewish education. The Rochester Jewish community is heavily involved in Israel affairs and interfaith initiatives.
Professions among Jewish residents of Rochester are manifold. In addition to contributing to the high tech industries that have a foothold in Rochester (such as Xerox, Kodak, and Bausch & Lomb), Jews are counted among the faculty of several area colleges and universities. Jews in Rochester are well represented in the professions of medicine, law and finance, in addition to real estate.
A professorship at the University of Rochester was named after Rabbi Phillip Bernstein; William Scott Green was named the Phillip S. Bernstein Professor of Judaic Studies in 1991. Joel Seligman, a leading authority on securities law, took on the presidency of the University of Rochester in 2005. Dan Carp set Kodak onto the path of becoming a digital photography powerhouse as ceo of the company from 2000 to 2005.
[Margot Cohen (2nd ed.)]
S. Rosenberg, The Jewish Community in Rochester: 1843–1925 (1954); A. Wile, The Jews of Rochester (1912); A.J. Karp, Jewish Experience in America (1969), 316–34; B. McKelvey, in: ajhsp, 40 (1950/51), 57–73.
The city of Rochester is especially noteworthy for its architecture—both new and historic—and for its scenic parks. Rochester's City Hall, a national landmark, is a Romanesque structure featuring an elaborate three-story atrium where concerts and other entertainments are often staged. The East Avenue Preservation District, where the city's manufacturers and businessmen built their homes after the Civil War, offers a mix of architectural styles popular in the period, the most common being American Tudor. It was in this district that George Eastman built his 49-room Georgian mansion in 1905, designed from photographs he had taken of other homes; it is now part of the International Museum of Photography & Film. The Woodside Mansion, built in the Greek Revival style in 1839, is now the headquarters of the Rochester Historical Society. The society's collection includes nineteenth-century paintings, costumes, furnishings, and toys.
On the west side of the city, the Corn Hill district is a neighborhood of restored nineteenth-century homes, including Campbell-Whittlesey House, a fine example of the Greek Revival style. Nearby is Susan B. Anthony House, the site of her arrest in 1872 for attempting to cast her vote. Now a National Historic Landmark, it contains original furnishings, photos, and documents relating to her work. Anthony and Frederick Douglass are buried in Mount Hope Cemetery, one of the oldest Victorian cemeteries in the country. Mount Hope is noted for its funereal art, pastoral landscaping, and cobblestone pathways; guided tours are offered on Sunday afternoons during the summer.
Many visitors to Rochester make it a point to visit the area's parks, some of which were designed by noted landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted. Highland Park and Maplewood Park are famous for their stunning floral displays. Ellwanger Garden, the former private garden of famed horticulturalist George Ellwanger, is known as a "living museum." Cobbs Hill Park offers a view of Lake Ontario and the Finger Lakes region. The 96-foot waterfall of the Genesee River is known as High Falls and is in an urban cultural park area and part of the High Falls Entertainment District. The River of Light laser, light, and sound show at High Falls runs Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights, midMay through September. Boat tours and bike trails along the Erie Canal allow quiet thoughts in a peaceful setting.
Sightseeing Information: Greater Rochester Visitors Association, 45 East Avenue, Suite 400, Rochester, NY 14604-2294; toll-free (800)677-7282
Arts and Culture
Rochester is a music-oriented city. The Eastman School of Music, one of the country's most prestigious, presents symphonic, wind, chorale, jazz, chamber, and opera concerts year-round at the Eastman Theatre. Eastman Theatre is also home to the acclaimed Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra, founded by George Eastman in 1922. The orchestra is heavily involved in community outreach and education programs; it also offers a wide variety of performances ranging from children's concerts to Broadway shows during its extensive season. The Rochester Opera Factory is a volunteer, not-for-profit opera chorus featuring local, professional-quality musicians. Hochstein School of Music and Dance offers regular recitals and performances. Area parks offer free concerts during the summer.
Theater offerings range from small groups to Rochester's major professional theater, Geva, which presents eight productions annually, including A Christmas Carol, in a renovated historic building. Shipping Dock Theatre presents award-winning plays at a new location in the Visual Arts Workshop. Downstairs Cabaret Theatre is a not-for-profit troupe with a focus on non-traditional material.
The star of the Rochester dance scene is the Tony Award-winning Garth Fagan Dance Troupe, one of the most famous modern dance companies in the world. Rochester City Ballet performs classic favorites with the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra.
Rochester offers a variety of museums and historical sites. The International Museum of Photography & Film at George Eastman House contains a massive collection of prints, negatives, films, movie stills, and cameras. The Strong Museum, gift of Margaret Woodbury Strong, an avid collector who sometimes acquired items by the freight-car load, features more than 500,000 items documenting late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century middle-class lifestyles. The collection also includes the National Toy Hall of Fame. The natural and cultural history of Upstate New York is depicted through exhibits at the Rochester Museum & Science Center; the center's Strasenburgh Planetarium offers daily and nightly shows combining theater and astronomy. Many smaller museums are located near the city, including the Stone-Tolan House in Brighton, a 1792 pioneer homestead, the Genesee Country Village and Museum in Mumford, an authentic nineteenth-century village, and the Victorian Doll Museum, located in North Chili.
Rochester's major art museum, the Memorial Art Gallery of the University of Rochester, explores art through the ages in a collection ranging from ancient relics to Rembrandts and Monets. Recent traveling exhibitions included works by Maxfield Parrish and Edgar Degas.
Festivals and Holidays
Rochester's famous Lilac Festival takes place each May in Highland Park. In June, the nine-day Rochester International Jazz Festival draws thousands of fans. Maplewood Rose Festival is also held each June in historic Maplewood Rose Garden. The Corn Hill Arts Festival brings more than a quarter million people to the city in July; this two-day event features the country's finest artists and craftspeople, outdoor music and acrobatics, and food from around the world. Rochester MusicFest takes place in July at Genesee Valley Park. August brings the Park Avenue Summer Art Fest, one of the city's most popular summer events; and the Fiddler's Fair, featuring continuous fiddling and dancing on four stages. Rochester's longest-running event, the Memorial Art Gallery Clothesline Festival, has taken place each September since 1957.
Sports for the Spectator
Rochester loves baseball—it is said that the first curve ball in history was launched there by Red Wings' pitcher Richard Willis. Today this team, an International League affiliate of the Minnesota Twins and the first municipally-owned baseball team in the country, entertains fans at Frontier Field from April to September. Frontier Field is also home to the Raging Rhinos minor league soccer team from May through August. From January to March the Blue Cross Arena is home to the Knighthawks, Rochester's indoor lacrosse team. The Rochester Rattlers play major league outdoor lacrosse at Bishop Kearney Field. The Rochester Americans, an American Hockey League affiliate of the Buffalo Sabres, call the Blue Cross Arena home. Bowling fans are treated to an annual Lilac City Bowling Tournament, and the men's Professional Bowlers Tournament and women's pro circuit make annual stops in the city. Nearby racetracks offer horse and auto racing as well as off-track betting.
Sports for the Participant
Recreational opportunities abound for water sports enthusiasts in the Rochester-Finger Lakes region. The Genesee River is a popular canoeing site; canoeing and rowing are also possible at several other locations, including the Erie Canal. For sailors, Lake Ontario is favored for large craft; many yacht clubs, launches, and lakeside parks are available for smaller craft. Anglers may take advantage of Lake Ontario and local bays, ponds, and lakes, as well as the Genesee River, which is stocked with salmon. Rochester is the scene of the Empire State-Lake Ontario Trout and Salmon Derbies, held in fall and spring; this competition awards more than $80,000 in cash and prizes annually.
Golf enthusiasts will find over 50 golf courses in the area; Rochester also maintains 66 baseball fields, 47 tennis courts, 7 soccer pitches and an extensive network of walking, jogging and bicycling paths. Cold weather brings opportunities for ice skating, cross-country and downhill skiing, and snowboarding.
Shopping and Dining
Shoppers may choose from a wide variety of experiences in the Rochester area. Several major malls, factory outlets, and discount designer stores are located throughout the region. Off East Main and North Union streets is Rochester's open-air Public Market. The parallel "Avenues"—Park and Monroe—offer an eclectic mix of fashionable boutiques, specialty shops, and restaurants. Of unique interest is Village Gate Square, a collection of antique, leather, and jewelry shops and art galleries housed in a historic printing factory. Northfield Common and Schoen Place offer boutiques, boating, and dining along the Erie Canal in the village of Pittsford.
Rochester diners may choose from an assortment of cuisines ranging from American to Cajun, Thai, Italian, Greek, Chinese, French, and Indian. Settings vary from modern to historic; an 1848 gristmill, an 1842 railroad station, an 1818 Erie Canal tavern, and a gas station are among the structures that Rochester restaurateurs have converted to dining establishments.
Visitor Information: Greater Rochester Visitors Association, 45 East Avenue, Suite 400, Rochester, NY 14604-2294; toll-free (800)677-7282. Arts & Cultural Council for Greater Rochester, 277 North Goodman St., Rochester, NY 14607; telephone (585)473-4000
Major Industries and Commercial Activity
Rochester is one of the leading manufacturing centers in the United States, dominated by Eastman Kodak, Bausch & Lomb, Inc., Delphi Automotive Systems and Xerox Corporation. The area is home to more than 1,500 small and mediumsized manufacturing companies, most of which are involved in high technology sectors such as computer and electronic products, machinery and chemicals. In 2004, companies in Greater Rochester exported more than $14 billion worth of products and services, exceeding 40 states. Rochester also benefits from the Monroe County Foreign Trade Zone, which offers tax advantages for international trade.
Items and goods produced: photographic and optical products, telecommunication system software, pharmaceuticals, automotive equipment, fibres and plastics
Incentive Programs—New and Existing Companies
A variety of incentives is available from city and county government organizations. The County of Monroe Industrial Development Agency (COMIDA) offers funding for industrial and non-industrial projects through tax-exempt bonds and sale/leaseback transactions; it also administers the JobsPlus tax abatement program for employers who increase full-time employee base by 10 percent or more. Over the last two decades COMIDA has financed more than 500 projects totaling $2 billion in investment and thousands of new jobs. The Monroe County Industrial Development Corporation (MCIDC) provides long-term financing for the purchase of land or equipment through the SBA 504 Program, interest rate subsidies on loans or capital leases, equipment purchase rebates, and gap financing. The Monroe Fund is a private venture capital fund investing in startup and turnaround businesses. Monroe County Economic Development provides customized advice, connecting businesses with the most advantageous programs or incentives.
The City of Rochester offers a range of incentives for new and growing businesses. Loans from $25,000 to $500,000 are available to manufacturing or industrial businesses seeking to expand; approved projects must create or retain jobs and promote investment in the city. Similar loans are available to companies in the service, wholesale or retail sectors. The city offers 90/10 matching grants for exterior improvements in distressed commercial districts and will match up to $5,000 in advertising funds for businesses in low- or moderate-income areas. The City of Rochester administers the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Section 108 Loan Program, which provides fixed asset and working capital financing to eligible businesses. The city also offers job growth credits which can be used to reduce payments on city loans.
The New York State Empire Zone Program offers incentives for developing new businesses, expanding existing operations or increasing human resources; incentives include wage tax credits, sales tax refunds, utility discounts, investment tax credits, and property tax abatements. New York also offers tax credits to businesses that create jobs and invest in production property or equipment. A nine percent corporate tax credit is available to businesses investing in research and development, and such companies may also be eligible for three-year job creation credits. Sales tax exemptions may be granted on equipment purchases, research and development property, and fuels or utilities. Empire State Development administers the Export Marketing Assistance Service, which helps businesses find distributors overseas, and the Global Export Market Service, which provides up to $25,000 of export marketing consultant services for small and medium sized businesses. New York State's Division of Minority- and Women-owned Business Development provides access to capital, procurement assistance, and loans from $20,000 to $500,000.
Job training programs
New York State offers funding for up to 50 percent of any employee training project and its Workforce Development Liaison helps coordinate employers and job seekers. RochesterWorks! provides on-the-job training incentives for companies who hire or retrain employees lacking in experience or credentials. The Rochester Corporate Training Initiative provides access to internal training programs of successful local companies as well as funding opportunities. Specialized job training programs are also available through Monroe Community College and various other agencies throughout the area.
The $230 million Renaissance Square project is underway on East Main Street; plans call for a performing arts center, underground bus terminal, and Monroe Community College satellite to revitalize the downtown area. The Strong Museum has begun a $33 million expansion that will double its current size, making it the second-largest children's museum in the nation. The museum's new "whimsical" design is a nod to its mission of learning through play. Eastman Theatre has completed a $5 million renovation to improve acoustics, lighting and rigging and enlarge the orchestra pit. A $52 million renovation of Xerox Tower is scheduled for completion in 2005. The Hyatt Regency Rochester Hotel will complete a $4 million renovation in 2006. Bausch & Lomb has announced a $35 million expansion of its research and development center, creating 200 new jobs.
Economic Development Information: Monroe County Department of Planning and Development, Economic Development Division, 50 West Main Street, Suite 8100, Rochester NY 14614; telephone (585)428-2970. County of Monroe Industrial Development Agency, 50 West Main Street, Suite 8100, Rochester NY 14614; telephone (585)428-5260
Greater Rochester International Airport is served by a number of air cargo companies. Rail freight service is available from CSX, Norfolk Southern and Canadian Pacific railways. Rochester boasts an extensive network of highways. Shipping of oversize and bulk commodities can be arranged through the Lake Ontario New York State Barge Canal system.
Labor Force and Employment Outlook
According to the Manpower Employment Outlook, Greater Rochester has the third-highest job growth rate in the nation. More than half of the region's employers expect to increase staffing in the immediate future. Telecommunications is one of the fastest growing sectors, with over 85 companies in Rochester's "Telecom Valley." Manufacturing continues to play a major role in the local economy, while Rochester's high-tech output ranks 20th out of 319 metropolitan areas in the United States.
The following is a summary of data regarding the Rochester metropolitan area labor force, 2004 annual averages.
Size of nonagricultural labor force: 508,300
Number of workers employed in . . .
construction and mining: 17,900
trade, transportation and utilities: 84,500
financial activities: 21,800
professional and business services: 56,700
educational and health services: 98,600
leisure and hospitality: 38,700
other services: 18,800
Average hourly earnings of production workers employed in manufacturing: $17.29 (statewide, 2004)
Unemployment rate: 4.5% (April 2005)
|Largest employers||Number of employees|
|Eastman Kodak Company||23,900|
|University of Rochester||12,690|
|Wegmans Food Markets||5,469|
|Unity Health System||3,073|
|Delphi Automotive Systems Corp.||3,000|
|Rochester Institute of Technology||2,555|
Cost of Living
Rochester prides itself on offering a high quality of life, from affordability of homes to recreational opportunities. In 2003, Rochester was one of three cities in the nation to receive top honors in the City Livability Awards Program, which recognizes mayors for their efforts to improve quality of life.
The following is a summary of data regarding several key cost of living factors in the Rochester area.
2004 ACCRA Average House Price: Not reported
2004 ACCRA Cost of Living Index: Not reported
State income tax rate: 4–6.85%
State sales tax rate: 4%
Local income tax rate: None
Local sales tax rate: 4%
Property tax rate: $37.11 per $1,000 of assessed value
Major Industries and Commercial Activity
The health care industry dominates Rochester's economy, with more than 2 million people coming to the Mayo Clinic each year to seek treatment. The clinic admitted 127,300 patients in 2003. Mayo Medical Ventures licenses medical products and treatments worldwide that are developed at Mayo.
Wholesale and retail trade is the second-largest employment sector in the county. Many local industries sell their goods to the local International Business Machines (IBM) plant and to Mayo Medical Center.
Rochester has been rated by Inc. magazine as one of the top entrepreneurial cities in the country. The manufacturing industry employs almost 15 percent of the work force. Production includes food and dairy processing, computer and computer components, electronics, and precision machining. Strong areas of growth in the economy are agricultural, metal fabrication, and distribution companies. Other businesses having a major impact on the local economy are construction, printing, packaging, hotels, restaurants, communications, and entertainment facilities. The continuing growth of the economy is evidenced by the addition of some 20 firms over the past several years.
Agriculture still plays an important role in Rochester's economy, along with food processing and dairy production. Area farms produce annual crops of soybeans, corn, and a variety of fruits and vegetables, and dairy farms generate more than 2 million pounds of milk each year. Rochester is the home of Marigold Foods, which produces the well-known Kemps brand of ice cream.
Items and goods produced: hospital/surgical equipment, electronics, metal fabrication, food processing, agricultural-related products, home pasteurizers, silos, beverages, toilet preparations, computer equipment, grain, poultry
Incentive Programs—New and Existing Companies
It is the mission of the Rochester Area Economic Development, Inc. (RAEDI) to assist new and existing companies with expansion, location, or research efforts. RAEDI has a corporation to provide better access to the U.S. Small Business Administration's 504 Loan Program, which finances long-term assets for 10- or 20-year terms. The program normally leverages a bank loan with a 504 loan to finance up to 90 percent of the project costs. RAEDI also administers the MicroEnterprise Loan Fund, which aids eligible businesses that are located in the city, five or fewer employees, a written business plan, and an owner or 51 percent of the employees who are at low or moderate income levels. The maximum loan amount is $7,500.
The Tax Increment Financing Program, a state authorized financing mechanism, is offered by the city to assist basic businesses in financing their local expansion or location. Funds may be used to purchase land and make public improvements that support business development projects. Minnesota offers programs to provide a mechanism for businesses to sell bonds at tax-exempt interest rates, allowing firms to receive long-term, low interest financing for fixed assets.
Job training programs
The Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development operates a network of workforce centers throughout the state. This WorkForce Center System, which has an office in Rochester, partners with local businesses to provide customized job training and other workforce development services.
The Mayo Foundation is currently undergoing major expansion and renovation. A series of projects, which began in 1997, are integrating patient care facilities on Mayo's downtown campus, from Rochester Methodist Hospital on the north to the Mayo Building on the south, into an interconnected facility. The projects involve adding about 850,000 square feet of new space as well as renovation of existing space. When completed, costs will reach well over $125 million.
The new Rochester Art Center opened in May 2004 and is the most recent addition to the downtown Rochester Cultural Campus. The creation of Cascade Lake Park will support a lake with the best possible water quality and will provide residents and visitors with a variety of recreational and educational opportunities. The refurbishment of Highway 52 has been recently completed.
Rochester Area Economic Development, Inc. (RAEDI), Rochester's one-stop shop for businesses seeking economic assistance, has as its goal the development of a varied economy. It reports that Rochester and environs have the highest concentration of high-tech industries among all U.S. metropolitan areas. Rochester' technology base has continued to grow over the past decade with the addition of more than 20 new technology firms.
Economic Development Information: Rochester Area Economic Development, 220 S. Broadway, Ste. 100, Rochester, MN 55904; telephone (507)288-0208
Daily freight rail service is offered by the Dakota Minnesota & Eastern Railroad. Rochester has more than 20 motor freight carriers.
Labor Force and Employment Outlook
The following is a summary of data regarding the Rochester metropolitan area labor force, 2004 annual average:
Size of nonagricultural labor force: 101,900
Number of workers employed in . . .
construction and mining: 4,700
trade, transportation, and utilities: 15,600
financial activities: 2,700
professional and business services: 5,300
educational and health services: 35,900
leisure and hospitality: 8,500
other services: 3,700
Average hourly wage of production workers employed in manufacturing: $13.56 (statewide)
Unemployment rate: 4.2% (February 2005)
|Largest employers||Number of employees|
|International Business Machines (IBM)||4,400|
|Rochester School District 535||2,120|
|Olmsted Medical Center||974|
Cost of Living
The cost of living in the Rochester area is slightly below the national average, except for housing prices, which tend to be slightly above the median. Nevertheless, Rochester residents can be assured that real estate is a good investment; Rochester's home appreciation rate is in the top quarter of all metropolitan areas.
The following is a summary of data regarding several key cost of living factors for the Rochester metropolitan area.
2004 (3rd Quarter) ACCRA Average House Price: $234,900
2004 (3rd Quarter) ACCRA Cost of Living Index: 95.8 (U.S. average = 100.0)
State income tax rate: Ranges from 5.85% to 7.85%
State sales tax rate: 6.5%
Local income tax rate: 1.0% of first $72,000; 2.0% over $72,000
Local sales tax rate: 0.5%
Property tax rate: tax capacity (1.0 to 1.25%) multiplied by 118.794%
Economic Information: Rochester Area Chamber of Commerce, 220 S. Broadway, Ste. 100, Rochester, MN 55904; telephone (507)288-1122; fax (507)282-8960
Mayo Clinic, Rochester's most famous institution, offers general tours Monday through Friday. Self-guided tours of St. Mary's Hospital and Rochester Methodist Hospital are also available. Mayowood Mansion is the former home of Doctors Charles H. and Charles W. Mayo. The 50-room mansion is full of many beautiful objects collected by the Mayos throughout their lifetime. It is open for viewing throughout the year, and is especially popular during the holiday season, when Christmas at Historic Mayowood is presented. Two local residences, the 1856 Heritage House in Town Square and the Plummer House of the Arts, are open to the public. The 49-room Tudor-style Plummer House is set on an 11-acre site with beautiful gardens.
Arts and Culture
The major setting for arts activities in Rochester is the Mayo Civic Center, with its 7,200-seat arena. Throughout the year the center presents artistic performances of all sorts, as well as sports, exhibitions, and conventions. Rochester Civic Theater offers nine performances yearly, including comedies, dramas, and musicals. The Rochester Repertory Theatre presents contemporary and classic productions. Hill Theatre, at the University Center Rochester, offers theatrical programs and productions in conjunction with classes. Children's plays are the focus of the Masque Youth Theatre.
Music thrives in Rochester, and the Rochester Civic Music–Riverside Concerts presents live concerts, featuring local, national, and international acts in rock, pop, R&B, and many other genres. Riverside Live! is a series of outdoor concerts held from May to September in the Mayo Civic Center. Talented young musicians participate in the Southern Minnesota Youth Orchestra. Recently privatized, the Rochester Orchestra and Chorale offers six concerts of chamber, symphonic, and pops programs featuring local talent.
The Mayo Clinic Collection displays throughout its facilities works of art that were donated by benefactors and former patients. Traveling exhibits of arts and crafts are on view at the Rochester Art Center, which opened a new facility in May 2004. The center also offers classes for adults and children, as well as films and other special events. Famed Rochester sculptor Charles Eugene Gagnon has more than 40 bronze sculptures on display at his studio and galleries. The Southeastern Minnesota Visual Artists Gallery presents a rotating display of works by more than 80 artists, including basketry, paintings, sculpture, pottery, wearable art, and jewelry. The Museum of the History Center of Olmstead contains more than 600,000 items, including photos, books, and maps related to Rochester and the county.
Festivals and Holidays
Rochester salutes spring with its annual Daffodil Days, sponsored by the American Cancer Society, and the Rochester World Fest, a celebration of the cultures of the world. April brings the Arts and Craft Show at Graham Arena, and the Gingerbread Craft show at Mayo Civic Center. The Rochester Art Fair in Central Park, the Covered Bridge Festival, and Rochesterfest, with its food, street dances, parade, music, and crafts displays enliven the summer.
July brings the Independence Day celebration at Silver Lake; the two-day threshing show, with hayrides, food, and demonstrations of early crafts; and the Olmsted County Fair at Rochester Fairgrounds, which continues into August and features a midway, grandstand shows, livestock competitions, and the largest county draft horse show in the country.
The Fall Festival is held at Mayowood, and features an open-air market of Minnesota produce, a flower show, and woodworking exhibits and demonstrations. During Thanksgiving weekend the Festival of Trees spotlights special displays and holiday foods.
Sports for the Spectator
The Minnesota Ice Hawks Junior B U.S. Hockey league plays its games at the Rochester–Olmstead Recreation Center from November through May. Rochester Honkers collegiate baseball league takes place at Mayo Field downtown from June through August. The Rochester Giants semi-professional football team plays at Soldiers Field.
Sports for the Participant
Rochester has approximately 100 parks on more than 3,200 acres, 11 golf courses, four swimming pools, seven tennis courts, and a state-of-the-art Recreation Center and Athletic Club. The Quarry Hill Nature Center offers hiking and biking trails on more than 270 acres of parkland, including a pond, stream, quarry, cave and restored prairies, as well as deciduous pine forests. Every year, more than 30,000 Canadian geese make their home at Silver Lake Park, which is the summertime site of canoeing and paddle boat rentals, walking paths, and picnicking. Whitewater State Park offers camping, trout fishing, picnic grounds, and hiking trails.
The Rochester Amateur Sports Commission spotlights the many amateur sporting events that take place in the area throughout the year. From May through September patrons enjoy activities at the Skyline Raceway & Waterslide, while bowling is offered year-round at Colonial Lanes and Recreation Lanes.
Shopping and Dining
Apache Mall, with 100 specialty shops, is the city's premier shopping site. The Kahler Plaza, located beneath the Kahler Grand and Marriott hotels, offers 60 shops and businesses, as well as eight restaurants. Small, unique shops are the focus of Rochester's Historic Mercantile District, and the Centerplace Galleria Mall is at the center of the skyway system. Other popular shopping centers include Crossroads, King's Row, Maplewood, Miracle Mile, and Silver Lake. Contemporary fine art is offered at Callaway Galleries, and Wild Wings Gallery features the work of local wildlife artists.
Rochester has restaurants to appeal to every taste—from informal bar and grills to more formal dining rooms. Ethnic cuisine runs the gamut from American barbecue to Greek and Mexican, and just about everything in between. At the Lord Essex in the Kahler Hotel, patrons can enjoy fine dining in a pub atmosphere. The Henry Wellington is another popular restaurant.
Visitor Information: Rochester Convention and Visitors Bureau, 150 S. Broadway, Ste. A, Rochester, MN 55904; telephone (507)288-4331; toll-free 800-634-8277; fax (507)288-9144
Rochester: Education and Research
Rochester: Education and Research
Elementary and Secondary Schools
Rochester City School District has begun reorganizing its elementary, middle and high schools into a two-tiered system comprised of elementary (grades pre-K to 6) and secondary (grades 7-12) facilities. The redesign is expected to provide a more stable learning environment for students, alleviate overcrowding, and help develop a strong base for increased academic achievement.
Despite challenges such as high poverty rates and student mobility, Rochester's public school system was ranked among the ten best in the U.S. by Places Rated Almanac. Fourteen Rochester elementary schools were named among the state's most improved in language arts or math in 2005; and Newsweek listed Wilson Magnet High School 49th among the nation's top 100 high schools based on advanced curriculum.
The following is a summary of data regarding the Rochester public schools as of the 2003–2004 school year.
Total enrollment: 35,659
Number of facilities
elementary schools: 39
secondary schools: 16
Student/teacher ratio: 11:1
Funding per pupil: $12,552
The Rochester City School District also supports approximately 200 private, parochial and charter schools, urban-suburban sites, and home-based schools.
Public Schools Information: Rochester City School District, 131 West Broad Street, Rochester, NY 14614; telephone (585)262-8100
Colleges and Universities
Rochester's best-known institution of higher education is the University of Rochester, which includes the renowned Eastman School of Music, the School of Medicine and Dentistry, the School of Nursing, and the William E. Simon Graduate School of Business Administration, considered one of the best in the country.
Rochester Institute of Technology offers graduate and undergraduate degrees, certificates and diplomas through its eight colleges. The school is internationally known for its College of Imaging Arts and Sciences, School for American Crafts, and National Technical Institute for the Deaf.
Monroe Community College offers 83 professional degree and certificate programs; students may also transfer to a four-year institution. Other post-secondary facilities in the city include Rochester Business Institute, St. John Fisher College, Nazareth College of Rochester, and Roberts Wesleyan College.
Libraries and Research Centers
The Rochester Public Library System is made up of the Central Library and ten branch libraries, with a yearly circulation of nearly 1.7 million titles. The Central Library, housed in the Bausch and Lomb Public Library Building and the Rundel Memorial Library Building, includes a reading garden, children's center, and meeting space; special collections are maintained on such topics as art, business, education, history, local history, science and technology. The Toy Resource Center at the Lincoln Branch offers educational toys for infants, young children, and children with special needs. Rochester Public Library is part of the Monroe County Library System.
Among the dozens of special libraries in Rochester are the collections of the Rochester Institute of Technology on the topics of chemistry, graphic arts, deafness, and printing technology, and Eastman Kodak's collection on various topics, including business, photography, chemistry, engineering, health and environment, and computer science. More than a dozen libraries are operated by the University of Rochester, focusing on such topics as Asian history and literature, chemistry, art history, music, engineering, geology, laser energetics, management, microcomputers, astronomy, and medicine. The University maintains an extensive rare book collection dating from the seventh century. The Sibley Musical Library at the University of Rochester is one of very few libraries in the country devoted exclusively to music.
The International Museum of Photography at George Eastman House contains a large research library of more than 43,000 volumes on photography and cinematography and special collection of rare books and images. Visual Studies Workshop maintains a research library on the topic of contemporary imaging. The Rochester Civic Garden Center has a 4,000-volume library dedicated to horticulture.
The concentration of scientists and technicians engaged in research in Rochester is said to place the region on a par with California's Silicon Valley. A major center for this activity is the University of Rochester, which has committed funding for the construction of new biotechnology research facilities. Among the more than two dozen other research facilities at the University are the Laboratory for Laser Energetics, the Rochester Theory Center for Optical Science and Engineering, and the Wireless Communication and Networking Group.
More than a dozen research centers at the Rochester Institute of Technology conduct studies in such areas as user-controlled video applications, imaging sciences, microelectronic and computer engineering applications, printing, and photographic preservation.
Public Library Information: Rochester Public Library, 115 South Avenue, Rochester, NY 14604; telephone (585)428-7300
Location Favorable for Flour Milling
The Five Nations of the Iroquois hunted, fished, and foraged for minerals in the Genesee River region until 1779, when, weakened by the destruction of their villages by Revolutionary War General John Sullivan, they were induced to sell to speculators a large tract of land known as the Phelps and Gorham Purchase. Part of this tract was the site of a flour mill acquired by Nathaniel Rochester of Maryland in 1803. More flour mills were built, powered by the Genesee River and its falls; by the time the Erie Canal reached the area in 1825, Rochester's concentration of flour mills caused the settlement to be dubbed Flour City. The pioneering horticultural efforts of George Ellwanger and Patrick Barry, begun in the 1840s, brought the city international recognition; many beautiful parks and gardens were developed, and Rochester's nickname became Flower City.
Rochester has been home to a remarkable collection of Americans. In 1853 John Jacob Bausch and Henry Lomb opened a small optical shop there; today the company they started, Bausch & Lomb, is a world leader in optics and health care. In 1888 George Eastman introduced the camera he had developed in his mother's Rochester kitchen. Susan B. Anthony, a prominent suffragist, made Rochester her home for the last 40 years of her life. Frederick Douglass, escaped slave, abolitionist orator, and newspaper publisher (The North Star ), lived in Rochester for 25 years until his home burned down in 1872.
Throughout the nineteenth century Rochester was a thriving commercial center. The men's clothing industry there was given a boost by the Civil War of 1861 to 1865 and by the subsequent demand for ready-made suits in the West; eventually this industry ranked second only to flour milling in importance. In 1866 the Vacuum Oil Company, which later became Mobil Oil, was founded in Rochester, and in 1906, the Haloid Company, now known as Xerox Corporation, began in a loft above a shoe factory.
City Responds to Twentieth-Century Challenges
While these new industries were developing, music and art were flourishing in Rochester, assisted greatly by the philanthropy of George Eastman, whose Eastman Kodak Company was expanding rapidly. But industrial growth was taking its toll on the Genesee River; by the early twentieth century this once beautiful resource had become little more than an open sewer lined with decaying industrial buildings.
The increasing attainability of the automobile in Rochester prompted a middle-class exodus to the suburbs. By the 1950s the city's population consisted largely of the poor and jobless. Rochester's reputation was tarnished by violent race riots in 1964. In response to those riots and the forces behind them, city leaders began major renovations of the downtown area. The long-neglected Genesee River was cleaned up. The expansion of Eastman Kodak, Bausch & Lomb, and Xerox Corporation protected upstate New York from the economic problems that beset many other industrial cities in the 1970s. In recent years many middle- and upper-income residents of the suburbs have been lured back to the city, which today thrives as a high-technology center and a cosmopolitan oasis surrounded by outstanding natural beauty.
Rochester is currently implementing a comprehensive renewal strategy called Rochester 2010: The Renaissance Plan. Affordable health care, attractive neighborhoods, progressive public schools, and an appealing downtown are just a few target of this ambitious campaign; the goal is to transform Rochester into a world-class cultural, social and economic center by the end of the decade.
Historical Information: Rochester Historical Society, 485 East Avenue, Rochester, NY 14607; telephone (585)271-2705. City historian Ruth Rosenberg Naparsteck, Office of the City Historian, 115 South Ave., Rochester, NY 14604-1896; telephone (585)428-8095; fax (585)428-8098
Long before the coming of Europeans, members of the Chippewa and Sioux nations lived in the area of the Minnesota Territory. Rochester was founded in 1854 when a group of U.S. surveyors staked claims on the banks of the Zumbro River. George Head began a pioneer settlement there, and by 1888, the settlement, which Head named in honor of his hometown in New York, had grown to 1,500 people. Many of those drawn to the area came because of the fertile farmland. In 1863 William Worall Mayo, examining surgeon for the Union Army Enrollment Board, settled in the town and, along with his sons, founded a medical practice. The Mayo Medical Center, which started out in a five-story brick building, now occupies about 10 million square feet.
The coming of the east-west railroad in the 1880s, which provided an excellent distribution system for the local farmers' products, added to the growth of the community, and agriculture has continued to be an important part of the local economy. A terrible tornado struck the city in 1883, and doctors were forced to treat its many victims under inadequate, makeshift conditions. Mother Alfred Moes, founder of the Sisters of St. Francis, proposed the building and staffing of a hospital, in which W.W. Mayo would provide the care. In 1889 St. Mary's Hospital opened with 27 beds.
Beginning in 1892, new staff members were added to the Mayo Clinic team. Dr. Henry Plummer, from a nearby small town, joined the Mayos in 1892, and designed many group practice systems that are the basis for those used today. They include the use of a common medical record, X-rays, conveyors for moving records, a registration system, and one of the first telephone paging systems. In 1907 the first patient registration number was assigned.
As physicians from around the world came to observe how the Mayo Clinic was operated, the clinic in 1915 initiated one of the world's first graduate training programs for doctors, called the Mayo Graduate School of Medicine. In 1919 the Mayos turned over all their profits and established the nonprofit Mayo Properties Association. Both of the Mayo brothers died within months of one another in 1939, but their work continued.
The local economy developed in a new direction with the establishment of an International Business Machines (IBM) plant in the 1950s. In 1990 that plant earned the prestigious Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award.
The Mayo Medical School opened in 1972. The integration of Mayo Clinic Rochester, Saint Mary's Hospital, and Rochester Methodist Hospital took place in 1986, and that same year the clinic expanded with the opening of Mayo Clinic Jacksonville (Florida). In 1987 Mayo Clinic Scottsdale (Arizona) opened, and St. Luke's Hospital in Jacksonville became part of Mayo.
In 1992 a merger took place between Mayo Clinic and Luther Hospital and Midelfort Clinic in Eau Claire, Wisconsin. That same year Mayo affiliated with Decorah Medical Associates in Decorah, Iowa, and Community Clinics in Wabasha, Minnesota. Today, the Mayo Clinic along with a symphony orchestra, museums, and other amenities contribute to Rochester's livability. Since the turn of the century, Rochester has become the new home for more than 2,000 citizens each year. As a result, the city's mayor adopted a "smart growth" program to accommodate these newcomers into Rochester's existing population.
Historical Information: History Center of Olmstead County, 1195 W. Circle Dr. SW, Rochester, MN 55902; telephone (507)282-9447
Rochester: Education and Research
Rochester: Education and Research
Elementary and Secondary Schools
Independent School District #535 covers 205 square miles and has the sixth-largest enrollment in the state. Rochester students consistently rank higher than average on standardized test scores.
The following is a summary of data regarding the Rochester School District as of the 2003–2004 school year.
Total enrollment: 16,013
Number of facilities
elementary schools: 16
junior high/middle schools: 4
senior high schools: 3
Student/teacher ratio: elementary, 17:1; middle school, 26:1; high school, 27:1
Funding per pupil: $7,772 (2003–2004)
Public Schools Information: Rochester Public Schools, 615 7th St. SW, Rochester, MN 55902; telephone (507)285-8551
Colleges and Universities
Rochester is the home of an impressive number of quality educational institutions. The Mayo Foundation conducts formal education in five areas: Mayo Graduate School of Medicine, Mayo Graduate School, Mayo Medical School, Mayo School of Health-Related Sciences, and Mayo Section of Continuing Medical Education. In 2003, well over 1,000 residents and students were enrolled full-time.
The University of Minnesota–Rochester offers more than a dozen graduate degrees in a variety of programs, as well as several post-baccalaureate licensure and certificate programs. This school draws on the faculty of University of Minnesota–Twin Cities, and enrolls more than 1,500 students. Winona State University–Rochester Center, with 8,236 students in 2003, offers a variety of undergraduate programs, and participates in the "2 plus 2" program, whereby students can complete an undergraduate degree in Rochester by transferring credits from other institutions. Rochester Community and Technical College provides its 3,300 students with technical and transfer programs in a wide variety of majors, including business, trade/industry, allied health, human services, science, and social science.
Other colleges are the Minnesota Bible College, which enrolls nearly 100 students in courses that fulfill associate of art, bachelor of art, and bachelor of science degree requirements for the professional ministry and related areas, and Saint Mary's College Rochester Center.
Libraries and Research Centers
The Rochester Public Library houses a material collection of 370,183. These include films, multimedia resources, and in-house CD-ROMs, and magazines. The library is a document depository for the City of Rochester.
The Mayo Clinic research budget exceeds $300 million annually. Research is performed at several institutes associated with the Mayo Clinic, including the Mayo Biomedical Imaging Resource, Mayo Cancer Center, a $15-million broad-based cancer research institute, and Mayo Clinic and Foundation, which studies allergic diseases. Other research institutes in Rochester are the Center for Basic Research in Digestive Diseases and the North Central Cancer Treatment Group.
Public Library Information: Rochester Public Library, 101 2nd St. SE, Rochester, MN 55904; telephone (507)285-8011; fax (507)287-1910
Newspapers and Magazines
Gannett Rochester Newspapers publishes the city's daily newspaper, the morning Democrat and Chronicle. City Newspaper is a weekly alternative journal. Other locally published newspapers include Golden Times, a publication aimed at mature citizens, The Daily Record, for business and legal professionals, as well as Greater Rochester Advertiser, The Greece Post, and several religious newspapers. About a dozen magazines are published in Rochester on topics ranging from antiques to business.
Television and Radio
Five television stations—four network affiliates, and one public—serve Rochester. Time Warner Communications provides cable service. The city is served by five AM and eight FM radio stations. Two college stations broadcast alternative music. Rochester Radio Reading Service on WXXI sponsors a program of readings for the sight-impaired from local and national newspapers and magazines.
Media Information: Democrat and Chronicle, 55 Exchange Blvd., Rochester, NY 14614; telephone (585)232-7100. City Newspaper, 250 North Goodman St., Rochester, NY 14607; telephone (585)244-3329
Arts & Cultural Council for Greater Rochester. Available www.artsrochester.org
City of Rochester. Available www.ci.rochester.ny.us
Greater Rochester Visitors Association. Available www.visitrochester.com
Monroe County Industrial Development Agency. Available www.growmonroe.org
Monroe County Planning & Economic Development. Available www.monroecounty.gov
Rochester Business Alliance. Available www.rochesterbusinessalliance.com
Rochester City School District. Available www.rcsdk12.org
Rochester Democrat and Chronicle. Available www.democratandchronicle.com
Rochester Public Library. Available www.rochester.lib.ny.us
Johnson, Paul E. A Shopkeeper's Millennium: Society and Revivals in Rochester, New York, 1815-1837 (New York: Hill & Wang, 1990)
Lanni, Clement Garibaldi, George W. Aldridge, Big Boss, Small City (Rochester, N.Y., Rochester Alliance Press, 1939)