Rochester is the Flower City.
In the early 1800s, we were the Flour City, so named because of the many flour mills along the Genesee River. In 1859, we became the Flower City because of booming seed and horticultural companies. Many people think “Flower” now refers to our lovely lilacs.
We learned the story of our city’s nickname from our first grade teachers – and from the little bear in the now-defunct High Falls Laser Light Show.
After listening to WXXI’s story about Rochester’s Flour City Pasta, I wondered if the old moniker is making a comeback.
A quick search of DBAs filed in the Monroe County Clerk’s office since 2000 shows 17 new businesses using “Flour City.” The old description never really went away. In the 1890s, “Flour City” corporations were still forming, decades after we became the “Flower City.” Guess they didn’t get the memo.
“Flower City” remains far more popular, with dozens of businesses forming in the last decade using our “correct” nickname.
I tend to be a Puritan about these sorts of things. (Don’t get me started on whether downtown exists outside the Inner Loop.) But I have to admit, “Flour City” doesn’t look so wrong anymore. It feels like an embrace of another part of Rochester history.
People have actually suggested switching back to Flour City, according to Greater Rochester Enterprise CEO Mark Peterson. “Flour” would no longer reference mills, but the area’s huge agriculture and food processing industries. There are more than 100 food and beverage manufacturing companies in the region.
Peterson said there are no plans to change the name back to Flour City. (Who’s in charge of that anyway?)
Flour or Flower, it’s nice to have a city with enough character and history to have a choice.