ROCHESTER1 —was taken from Brighton and Gates, and
incorp. as a village, by the name of “ Rochesterville,” March 21,
1817. Its name was changed April 12, 1822, and it was en¬
larged and incorporated as a city April 28,1834.2 It is located
n. of the center of the co., upon Genesee River, 7 mi. from its
mouth; and it contains an area of about 8 sq. mi. The surface
is level or gently undulating. The N. Y. C. R. R. track is 280
ft. above Lake Ontario; and Mt. Hope Ridge, the highest point
upon the s. border, is 160 ft. higher. The city has a solid founda¬
tion of Niagara limestone, cropping out along the course of the
river, but in other parts of the city usually covered with drift
deposits. The Genesee flows n., dividing the city into two nearly
equal parts. Its course through the city is mostly a succession of rapids and falls, affording an ex¬
tensive and valuable water-power, which is fully improved for manufacturing purposes.3
The city is quite regularly laid out, most of the streets crossing each other at right angles. The
n. and s. streets are parallel to the river, and upon the principal e. and w. streets bridges are
built across the river.4 The streets are usually well paved and bordered by commodious side¬
walks. The city is divided into 12 wards.
The immense water-power furnished by Genesee River gives to the city great advantages for
manufacturing.5 Mills were erected at an early period; and gradually other machinery was added,
until the present great amount and variety have been attained. The staple manufacture of the city
is flour. There are now in operation 24 mills and an aggregate of 125 runs of stone. The mills
have a capacity for grinding 800,000 bbls. of flour per annum; and the aggregate capital invested
is $700,000. Since the failure of the wheat crop in Western New York, a considerable portion
of the water-power has been directed to other manufacturing purposes.6
The culture of fruit and ornamental trees has for many years formed an important business
of the city; and now the nurseries are among the most extensive in the country.7
The commerce of the city is large, though of much less importance than the manufactures.
6 Flour Barrels form an important item in the manufacturing
interests of the city. There are now engaged in this business
41 firms, producing in the aggregate 250,000 bbls. annually, and
giving employment to 400 men.
Axes and Edge Tools are manufactured by 3 firms, with an
aggregate capital of $180,000, and employing to 200 men.
Machine Shops, 9 in number, have an aggregate capital of
$300,000, turn out goods to the amount of $600,000 per annum,
and employ 750 men.
Furnaces, 8 in number, employ 150 men, and have a capital
The Duryee and Forsyth Safe and Scale Manufacturing Co.
was incorp. in Dec. 1854, with a capital of $100,000. It gives
employment to 250 men, and produces goods to the amount of
$250,000 per annum.
Cotton Factories, 2 in number, give employment to 26 men,
and produce $230,000 worth of goods annually.
Breweries, 17 in number, have an aggregate capital of $130,000,
and produce $250,000 worth of ale and lager beer annually.
Boat Yards, 15 in number, have a capital of $70,000, and
manufacture $375,000 worth of boats annually.
Coach and Carriage factories, 8 in number, turn out $150,000
worth of carriages annually.
Boot and Shoe factories, 5 in number, give employment to 900
hands, and turn out goods annually to the amount of $500,000.
Cabinet Shops, 8 in number, employ 625 men, and turn out
work to the amount of $500,000 annually.
Chair Factories, 2 in number, employ 300 men, and turn out
chairs to the amount of $200,000 per annum.
Among the other articles annually manufactured are woolen
cloths to the amount of $50,000, soap and candles to the amount
of $60,000, carpets, paper, linseed oil, alcohol, paint, fire engines,
rifles, &c. A carpet manufactory was started in 1832; and in
1838 there were 2 in successful operation,—one at the Lower and
one at the Middle Falls. The first paper mill was built at the
Upper Falls, in 1819. A large paper mill below the Lower Falls
now produces paper to the amount of $150,000 annually. It is
chiefly engaged in the manufacture of printing paper. There
are several sawmills, planing mills, and tanneries in the city.
Besides these, there are many minor manufactories, in the aggre¬
gate giving employment to a large number of men and making
use of a great amount of capital. The city ranks among the
first manufacturing towns in the State.
1 EUwanger & Barry’s Mount Hope Nursery, occupying 500
acres, is probably the most extensive nursery in the world.
Samuel Moulson’s Old Rochester Nursery occupies 350 acres:
Alonzo Frost & Co’s. Genesee Valley Nursery, about 250; and
Hooker, Farley & Co.’s East Avenue Nursery, about 200. J. O.
Bloss & Co., Gould, Beckwith & Co., Mattison & Co., Wm. King,
and WTm. Bryan & Co.’s nurseries occupy 50 to 100 acres each.
Named from Col. Nath'l Rochester, one of the original pro¬
At the first village meeting, held May 13,1828, under charter,
Francis Brown was elected President, and Wm. Cobb, Everard
Peck, Dan. Mack, and Jehiel Barnard, Trustees. The village
corporation embraced 750 acres. The first city officers—elected in
June, 1834—were Jonathan Child, Mayor; Louis Brooks, Thos.
Kempshall, Elijah F. Smith, Fred’k F. Backus, and A.W. Ripley,
Aldermen; John C. Nash, Clerk; and E.F. Marshall, Treasurer.
The whole fall of Genesee River within the co. is 280 ft., of
which 265 are below the s. line of the city. The falls evidently
all once formed a single cascade; but the different degrees of
hardness of the several rocks over which the river flows have
caused an unequal retrograde movement of the falls, until they
have assumed their present position. The surface shales have
worn away gradually to a uniform slope, over which the water
flows in a series of rapids. At the Upper Falls the stream falls
a distance of 96 feet over the perpendicular edge of the Niagara
limestone underlaid by shale. Below' the Upper Falls the river
flows If mi., through a deep ravine bounded by nearly perpen¬
dicular sides, to the Middle Falls, where it has a descent of 25 ft.
One hundred rods below, it descends 84 ft. over a ledge of Me¬
dina sandstone to the level of Lake Ontario. Several sulphur
springs flow out of the rocks below the Middle Falls.
The river is crossed by 4 bridges, respectively at Buffalo,
Court, Andrew, and Clarissa Sts. The Court and Andrew St.
Bridges are of iron, and the others of wood. The first bridge
w'as built upon the site of the present Buffalo St. Bridge, in 1810-
12, under a special act. The cost—112,000—was raised by tax, in
Ontario and Genesee cos. The Court St. Bridge was first built
in 1826, by individuals. It was replaced by the present struc¬
ture in 1858, at the city expense. The Central R.R. Bridge
crosses the river a few rods above the Upper Falls. The canal is
crossed by 5 substantial iron bridges, built by the State. Other
bridges are built across the canal feeder and the various mill-
races extending through the city.
The situation of this water-power is very favorable for the
growth of manufactures. Vessels from Lake Ontario can come
up the river to the foot of the Lower Falls, 2 mi. below the
center of the city; and above the rapids the river is navigable to
Mount Morris, a distance of 53 mi. The first mill was built
by Ebenezer Allen, in 1788-89. He soon after sold out to Col.
Fish and removed to Canada. This mill and one other were
the only ones at this place until 1814, when Elisha and Henry
Ely and Josiah Bissell built another at the.Upper Falls. During
this year a few hundred bbls. of flour were sent to the Niagara
frontier,—the first flour ever exported from Rochester. The
Bhoenix Mills were built in 1818; since that time the number has
largely increased, until now Rochester is one of the largest flour
Taanufacturingplaces in the country. It is called the “ Flour City.”