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
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