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University of Virginia data on Rochester, N.Y.

University of Virginia data on Rochester, N.Y.


Where is the sweet spot in the Rochester metro for wealth? Twelve miles out from the city center.

The University of Virginia did a study showing how inner ring suburbs in the nation’s cities are poorer than they were in 1990. The study also shows center cities are making a comeback.

In Rochester in 1990, per capita income peaked 9 miles from downtown. In 2012, it peaked 12 miles away. Five miles from the city center, per capita income dropped 12 percent during this time period. In fact, the only people who made more money in 2012 compared to 1990 were people living 12 to 16 miles away from downtown Rochester – and people living in downtown Rochester. The rest of us are worse off.

It appears the elderly, who typically live on lower incomes, are moving further out. In 1990, the greatest concentration of elderly lived 4 miles from downtown Rochester. In 2012, the greatest percentage lived 8 miles away.

Poverty is greater across all distances from downtown Rochester compared to 1990. The only distance where it stayed the same – 3 percent – was 12 miles out.

This won’t come as any surprise, but the data shows we’re sprawling out. In 1990, the greater number of people – 83,088 –  lived two miles from downtown Rochester. In 2012, the greatest number lives 3 miles away – 77,444.

Population density remains the highest in downtown Rochester, and declines with each mile away.

Why do we care about this data? Shifting demographics has consequences for real estate, schools, property taxes, services, planning, infrastructure costs and more.


5, 9, 12 mile radius lines.

5, 9, 12 mile radius lines.


Links of the Day:


– The New York Times details systemic problems at Attica Correctional Facility, on the eve of a trial of three officers for a brutal assault on an inmate.

– Although RG&E should be more responsive, I don’t see why the utility or its customers should have to pay for sprawl – especially sprawl with no population growth.

– Virginia has 750 private citizens authorized to be their own one-man police forces.

– The Democrat and Chronicle demands suburban teachers come up with a plan to fix the education system. Last I checked, suburban schools were doing just fine, pointing out a huge flaw in the governor’s war on teachers. But the D&C is clearly buying his rhetoric.

“One or two wrong answers can make or break a teacher’s rating.”


– Ripping apart some positive claims about charter schools.

– The L.A. Times obained access to a foster facility for teenagers. Heartbreaking read.

– What can be done to prevent suicides at the Monroe County Jail?

– The New York Times writes up Buffalo’s massive downtown ice rink. part of the revitalization of the canal system. Pay attention Rochester! We could do this with our aqueduct.

– ‘House of Cards’ music is composed by an Eastman School of Music graduate.

20 Responses to 12 Miles Away

  1. March 1, 2015 at 1:27 pm rochester_veteran responds:

    As an adult, I lived in the City from 1983-95. My wife and I lived in the 19th Ward and all of our kids were born during this time. We moved out to an outer ring Westside suburb in 1995 and have been here ever since. We like here and know many people, so it can be a challenge to get in and out of Wegmans without running into somebody we know! 😉 Even thought our kids have grown up, we’re going to stay in the same town, maybe downsize our place. We have the best of both worlds, the countryside is within walking/biking distance, but we’re only 20 minutes from Downtown venues such as Frontier Field and the War Memorial. If necessary, we can walk to our local supermarket to shop, and have done that years back when our car was broken down.

  2. March 1, 2015 at 2:17 pm theodore kumlander responds:

    i find it amusing that builders and developers who will not build until they get tax abetments and cash subsidies are crying the blues because RG&E wants them to pay for their utilities infrastructure. What is the expression they like to use ” It’s just the cost of doing business.” until they have to pay it.

  3. In honor of the passing of Mr. Spock, let’s apply Vulcan LOGIC to the current issue regarding Teacher evaluations. It is TOTALLY ILLOGICAL to base the effectiveness of a teacher on the test scores of the students. I have read past articles that use a scenario of switching RSCD teachers with teachers in the Pittsford School District. Would we see the RCSD tests scores rise and those of Pittsford drop? I would say more than likely, NO. If we agree on this, then the issue of education spending comes into play. In the early 1990’s, teacher salaries were raised 40% over two years on the EXACT argument that raising wages would result in better teachers and thus better education results. I think the facts speak for themselves. The teachers unions are now stating there are stronger factors that influence learning and NOT “better” teachers. The LOGICAL step is to roll back teacher wages 40% over two years. Now the issue becomes what to do with the money being saved. We could reduce our propert taxes. ( as an example, my taxes are $6000. They are $2500 Town / County combined and $3500 School.) A 40% reduction in School taxes is over $800. Another option is to take the savings and hire more teachers. This would create jobs and reduce class sizes or better yet, put two teachers in a class. I am sure there are other good options available. The bottom line….It is ILLOGICAL to continue to pour money into our present system. Live long and prosper!

    • March 1, 2015 at 5:40 pm rochester_veteran responds:

      Adam Urbanski and the Rochester Teachers Union would fight this tooth and nail! Not disagreeing with you, just injecting reality. 😉

  4. Maybe the county will be more invested in sprawl control now that the inner ring suburbs are really starting to feel it.

    • March 3, 2015 at 9:15 am rochester_veteran responds:

      Bill, unlike other metro areas in the country, I don’t think Rochester has a big sprawl issue, at least on the Westside. I think that the unfavorable winter weather and economic conditions chase enough people away to keep sprawl under control.

      • That’s the point, that’s sprawl, expansion and spreading out of the population without growth. In the last 40 years Monroe County and the Rochester Metro Area has barely grown, yet we keep building new houses and roads. We just keep pushing out from the city and now inner ring suburbs, but we really don’t have many more people.

        • March 3, 2015 at 9:19 pm rochester_veteran responds:

          So what’s the matter with people keeping space between each other? I was born and raised in Rochester and love this region, but I would never live in the City proper again! It’s your choice if you choose to do so. I like it where I’m at. People should be free to live where they want and NOT be forced into faux agendas such as “Sprawl”! We’re not Europe and there’s enough room in America to live where we want.

          • I don’t care where you live, just pay the true cost and don’t complain about taxes going up. You do realize the roads, water pipes, sewers, gas lines, power lines, etc just don’t grow in the ground right? They all cost money and when you keep adding more and more infrastructure, but only have population increases of a couple percent a year it gets expensive. You can live as far out as you want, but I shouldn’t have to pay for RGE to bring you gas and electric, or the MCWA to lay water pipe to you, or Clean Waters to bring sewer to you, Time Warner to bring cable/internet to you. People want to live in low density areas, but want services of higher density, and they don’t want to pay for it.

            Every one can live where they want, but we shouldn’t force the taxpayers/ratepayers to subsidize it.

          • March 4, 2015 at 10:46 am rochester_veteran responds:

            Been paying taxes 44 years now, I’ve paid my share!

          • March 4, 2015 at 10:46 am Culver responds:

            The case against sprawl is that new development means building new infrastructure when there is plenty of land available with existing infrastructure. The article about RGE wanting developers to pay is all about this. Also, so much of the development is not single-family houses, it’s ugly apartment complexes that are just as close together as city-living, but 10 miles further away. To each their own, but I cannot see the point of living 10 miles away from everything – except you’re in a duplex connected to your neighbor.

          • March 4, 2015 at 10:50 am rochester_veteran responds:

            The thing is, Culver, I don’t want to live in the City. It’s called freedom of choice. If you want to live in the City, that’s totally your business.

  5. That’s nice you’ve been paying taxes for 44 years, but you haven’t paid the bill for sprawl. That doesn’t mean I or anyone else should pay to bring services out to you or anyone else that chooses to live a rural or very low density suburban life. Want to live the spread out life? Have a well and propane. Don’t expect municipal water and natural gas.

    • March 4, 2015 at 11:00 am rochester_veteran responds:

      So it’s all about controlling where people choose to live, huh Bill? I’m certainly glad you’re not the king.

      • No, its about paying your own way. If you want to live there, pay the true cost or accept that you won’t have the benefits of dense developments. That’s the problem with sprawl, people who grew up or used to live in the city or inner ring suburbs move out to rural or ex-burb areas and then start demanding services they had in urban areas like municipal water, sewer, and gas. The problem is those services are affordable when people are close together, not when they are scattered about.

        You’d think a guy with the Gadsden Flag as an avatar wouldn’t want to forcibly take money from others via taxes to subsidize his chosen life style. But I guess the rules can be bent when it benefits you.

        • March 4, 2015 at 11:20 am rochester_veteran responds:

          Bill, I’ll live where I want to live, it’s none of your damn business! Again, if you want to live in the City, that’s your choice, I’m not going to stop you, it’s all yours, man.

          • I’ve never opposed it, but it becomes OUR business when the sprawl starts costing us all more in taxes and utility costs.

            This isn’t a city vs. rural thing either. People like you ruin rural areas for people who were there first. You drive up taxes when you demand them to subsidize services you want. There taxes go up because you want the rural life with urban benefits. So live were you want and I or anyone else won’t have a say when you foot your own bill.

          • March 4, 2015 at 11:52 am rochester_veteran responds:

            You don’t even know me and you’re tossing out baseless accusations, Bill! We are NOT a collective, we’re a country that guarantees individual rights and one of them is the freedom to live where we want and not to be dictated to by the anti-sprawl sychophants!

  6. You just feel the right to raid my wallet to finance it. So much for freedom

    • March 4, 2015 at 1:20 pm rochester_veteran responds:

      Raid you wallet, Bill? I don’t even know you. You are way over the top with this!

      Final reply, feel free to live in the City, that’s your choice, but there’s many others, including with myself, who prefer living in the suburbs. It’s freedom of choice, the way things should be.

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