Katie takes you on a tour of her hometown in Fringe Benefits: Rochester! This western New York city has a lot of character, history, and beauty to showcase – including stops at the “Grand Canyon of the East,” a visit to the home of Kodak’s founder, a tour along the Erie Canal, and a visit to the site of a Native American village.
Rochester is known as the world’s image center, thanks to photography pioneer George Eastman. His legacy shines in Rochester through the many institutions Eastman supported, including schools, hospitals, theaters and community organizations. Rochester is also known as the Flower City – as in fragrant blooms, and the Flour City – as in the baking ingredient. The 96-foot-tall High Falls, located downtown, once powered mills for wheat and grains, reaching the city via the Erie Canal. And at one time, Rochester and surrounding lands housed world-famous plant nurseries. These spaces became some of the region’s famous parks, including the Frederick Law Olmstead-designed Highland Park. Rochester is now famous for the lilac, the fragrant blooms filling Highland Park and surrounding areas, and attracting thousands of visitors each May to their namesake festival.
We begin our hometown fun with a ride along the Erie Canal aboard Sam Patch, a historic packet boat and tourist ride based in Pittsford, NY. When the canal opened in 1825, many people were skeptical, claiming it was nothing more than a useless ditch. Boat Captain JJ Johnston shares with us how the Erie Canal was and still is a vital New York State waterway, and how it shaped the region.
Just about 30 minutes southeast of Rochester in the town of victor – Katie travels to a Native American historic site to spend the day. This site was once home to the Seneca town of Ganondagan – and is now an extensive and informative Native American historic and cultural site. It’s a beautiful spot to be outin nature and learn about local heritage.
The Seneca nation is the largest of the six Native American nations that comprise the Haudenosaunee – or Iroquois – confederacy. A historic agreement brought together six individual nations for the purpose of living peacefully across new york state. The Seneca, Cayuga, Onondaga, Oneida, Mohawk, and Tuscarora jointly form the Iroquois. Here in western new york – the Seneca are known as “the keepers of the western door.”
We meet Peter Jemison for a tour of a recreated longhouse and to learn about the story of the peacemaker.
Katie then heads to Letchworth State Park to experience the jaw-dropping beauty of the canyon – known as the “Grand Canyon of the East.” Hiking trails, a beautiful historic hotel, Native American artifacts, and three waterfalls highlight the trip to this enormous park.
At the George Eastman Museum, we learn all about Kodak founder George Eastman, his life’s work, and legacy. The magnificent home, built in 1905 on East Avenue near downtown, includes 15 bedrooms, 13 baths, and nine fireplaces! The stately home and museum house photo and film archives, host special events, and the museum’s Dryden theater showcases rare and foreign films, and film festivals.
For information on locations visited in the Rochester episode, please visit the Destination Guide.