Length of stay: 1 day
Visited: July 2023
Rochester is located in upstate New York near the southern shores of Lake Ontario. It’s known as both the Flour City (as it was once the largest flour-producing city in the United States) and Flower City (due to its abundance of nurseries and growing seed industry). It has an interesting history in manufacturing and photography and became the first boomtown in the United States when its population doubled in size in the 1830s.
While visiting Buffalo for a few days we decided to take a day-trip to Rochester since it’s reasonably nearby. We had actually booked our accommodations here since it was significantly less cheaper than in Buffalo (largely because we made our reservation a day before our trip). After spending the morning taking a tour through Frank Lloyd Wright’s Darwin D. Martin House in Buffalo, we returned to Rochester for the remainder of the afternoon. But it turns out that this afternoon coincided with Rochester’s Pride Parade, which made driving through the city quite painful.
Given all the traffic and road closures, we had to prioritize what we wanted to see and do. We started at the George Eastman Museum which contains a museum dedicated to the history of photography and a self-guided tour through the Colonial Revival mansion to learn more about George Eastman.
Our visit to the museum started in the section dedicated to photography and contains one of the oldest film archives in the world. The collection showcases how photography has evolved over time and includes an impressive display of antique photographs and cameras dating back to the 19th century.
We made our way over to the mansion, stopping to first check out the gardens. George Eastman was an American entrepreneur who is famous for founding the Eastman Kodak Company which helped make photography more accessible to the general public through the Kodak camera.
Eastman lived in Rochester for most of his life. He resided in the mansion from 1905 until his death in 1932. The estate was bequeathed to the University of Rochester to be used as the residence of the university president. It was later converted into a museum. The mansion and gardens were restored and the majority of Eastman’s original furnishings were returned.
While we had other attractions on our itinerary, we had to scrap a couple items given the traffic situation from the parade. We headed to High Falls Terrace Park which is reputed to provide the best view of the city. From the parking lot, there’s a viewing platform that provides an overlook of the waterfall with several skyscrapers in the background. There’s a paved path that follows the edge of the gorge to a bridge that leads to the other side of the river. But the bridge was closed for construction at the time of our visit.
Darker clouds were rolling in. We quickly made our way over to Maplewood Park for a view of the lower falls. There’s a few different trails here and we picked the one that follows the edge of the river. Much of the views were obstructed by all the greenery though. There might have been a better viewpoint further ahead, but it started to lightly rain, so we called it quits.
We drove back downtown and made one more stop to check out the Central Library of Rochester. The building is rather unique as there’s a spillway for diverted water following into the Genesee River. We didn’t linger long as it started to rain again.
We took the gloomy weather as a sign to return to our accommodations.