Not above name dropping 


Rochester can boast a fair number of interesting citizens who continue to walk among us, but many that have shuffled off this mortal coil remain the subject of endless fascination. These former Rochesterians may not be as well known as groundbreaking giants like abolitionist Frederick Douglass, activist Susan B. Anthony, and inventor George Eastman, but their place in history is nonetheless guaranteed.

William F. Cody, aka Buffalo Bill, kept a home in Rochester for few years, and he was off plying his trade as the greatest showman of all time when he received word in April of 1876 that scarlet fever had claimed the life of his only son, Kit Carson Cody, at the age of five. Young Kit is buried in MountHopeCemetery, as are two of Kit's sisters, who were returned to Rochester upon their deaths to be with their brother. After the heartbreaking loss of his son, Buffalo Bill developed a fatherly attachment to a 7-year-old orphan named Johnny Baker, who would become a world-famous sharpshooter in his own right known as the Cowboy Kid. Baker and his wife are also, for some reason, interred in MountHope, despite the fact that he died in 1931, well over a decade after Buffalo Bill Cody went to that great Wild West Show in the sky.

The chief suspect in history's most famous unsolved serial killings is buried in Rochester. Irish-born Francis Tumblety moved here as a young lad, eventually earning a very good living selling very questionable health remedies. In late summer 1888 the number of breathing prostitutes was on the decline in London's Whitechapel district, and Tumblety, who had arrived in England sometime the previous year, was arrested on suspicion of the murders. He was released thanks to a dearth of evidence, though the butchery coincidentally ceased a couple of weeks after he left for France in the fall of 1888. The grave marker in Lake Avenue's HolySepulchreCemetery spells his name as Tumuelty, and more than a few historians have called him Jack the Ripper.

Sam Patch, the first renowned US daredevil, never lived in Rochester, but he didn't exactly get to leave it either. After Patch became the first man to successfully jump Niagara Falls, he decided to try his hand at our 99-foot HighFalls. A crowd of 8000 showed up in November of 1829 to witness this feat, but Patch's luck had run out. His body was discovered in Charlotte the following spring, with two dislocated shoulders that had caused the Yankee Leaper to drown.

George B. Selden came to Rochester as a teenager and in 1879 the young lawyer filed for a patent on both an internal combustion engine and its use in a horseless carriage. Patent No. 549,160, granted in 1895, became the first US patent for an automobile, and for a time Selden made decent royalties on his invention. He won a patent infringement suit against automaking giant Henry Ford but then lost on appeal, becoming a footnote in history. Selden's father Henry, himself a noted Rochester lawyer, at one time declined the opportunity to be Abraham Lincoln's vice president, thus forgoing the somewhat dubious honor of being the first president to have taken the oath of office upon his predecessor's assassination.

Antoinette Brown Blackwell became the first American female minister upon her ordination in 1853. Western Union founder Hiram Sibley is credited with convincing Czar Alexander I of Russia to part with Alaska. Amy Kirby Post was a tireless advocate for the rights of women as well as an anti-slavery activist whose home was a bustling stop on the Underground Railroad. Yeah, we all know Philip Seymour Hoffman is from Rochester, but what has he done for you lately?

In This Guide...

  • Take a closer look

    You could easily spend your life in Greater Rochester driving between work, home, and Wegmans. Many people do.

  • Where's the party?

    Lakeside Winter Celebration Date: February

  • Park it

    From the beautiful Seneca and Highland Parks, both designed by 19th-century landscape genius Frederick Law Olmsted, to Durand-Eastman Park, where you can feel the immensity of that Great Lake, here is just a partial list of some of our favorite parks in the Monroe County (256-4950, and City of Rochester (428-6767 or 428-6755, systems. Cobbs Hill Park Culver Road and Norris Drive

  • The way the political land lays

    Just like anyplace else, politics in Rochester are a complicated affair that, when you get right down to it, aren't really all that complicated after all. Take a bunch of ambitious, outgoing men and women, add the lust for power, sprinkle generously with cash, and voila... you've got a crazy, quirky kind of world only an American-style democracy could produce.

  • Are you there yet?

    Got kids? You've come to the right place!

  • The best parts are often hidden

    City neighborhoods
    "Cool" in Rochester is the youth-oriented Park Avenuearea, or the East End-Alexander area on a summer night, with crowds from clubs and bars spilling out onto the sidewalks. But there's lots to experience in the city.

  • Your Rochester to-do list

    Try to see what's on TV on the ceiling of the Bug Jar. Board the Mary Jemison or the Sam Patch from Corn Hill Landing.

  • A town in the know

    One of Rochester's most important assets is its academic community. There are over a dozen centers devoted to advanced education within the Rochester-Finger Lakes-Genesee Valley Region, and they add vibrancy to the area's employment, culture, and quality of life.

  • From getting lost to finding your Irish

    Wanna work off a few pounds? Gotta burn off some work-related frustration?

  • Live and active culture

    They say you shouldn't talk religion or politics at the dinner table. Sound advice.

  • Welcome to the 'burbs

    Rochester owes much of its development and prosperity to the GeneseeRiver, which cuts a path right down the center of the city. In the early days, many of the neighborhoods in the city, as well as suburban villages, began as small settlements that depended on the river to receive and sell goods.

  • Sculptures, butterflies, and giants,oh my!

    Anyone who complains about the traffic in Rochester has never driven in Boston or New York or Cleveland or Pittsburgh. Granted, more traffic means more population and more opportunities for diversion within those metropolises.

  • Sporting goods

    Last year, Street & Smith's Sports Business Journal named Rochester the number one minor-league sports market in the country. The city boasts pro sports franchises that are both storied and cutting-edge, some steeped in tradition, others still growing out of their infancy.

  • Eight days a week

    You've only got seven, but there's something to do eight days a week. Monday.

  • As American as pasta e fagiole

    You can eat apple pie and hamburgers for only so long. If you're seeking ingredients to build meals in honor of your (or someone else's) culture, here's a list of some independent ethnic grocery stores.

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