Rochester in Decline
20 Jan 2014
This photo essay focuses on the decline of Rochester, New York. Rochester is my hometown and I still reside here. Its decline saddens me. Rochester once was a "company town." It still is the home of Eastman Kodak and was once the headquarters of companies including Gannett, Xerox, and Bausch and Lomb.
Xerox moved its headquarters to Connecticut in 1969. It still has some manufacturing in the Rochester area. Gannett moved its headquarters to Virginia in 1986. The Gannett owned Democrat and Chronicle remains in Rochester. Bausch and Lomb was recently purchased by a Canadian company and will be moving its headquarters to New Jersey. Bausch and Lomb will keep some manufacturing in Rochester. Kodak is a shell of its former self. In the 1980's Kodak employed over 60,000 people in Rochester and now employs about 3,500.
The loss of jobs and income have contributed to the decline in Rochester's population and once thriving neighborhoods. At its peak in 1950, Rochester's population was 332,488. The current population of Rochester is 210,885.
This essay contains photos documenting decay in residential areas that many people have forgotten about or now avoid. Although I photograph factories as well, it is the deterioration of residential neighborhoods that really shows how much a city has fallen. The loss of jobs, reduction in population and the decay of city neighborhoods have caused Rochester and other rust belt cities to be ghosts of their former selves.
Rochester will survive. It still has world class hospitals, cultural attractions, and universities. Kodak Park, Kodak's large manufacturing facility in Rochester, has changed its name to Eastman Business Park. It houses new businesses that employ about 7,000 people. The Park Ave. neighborhood and the Neighborhood of the Arts are going strong.
It is not known what the future has in store for Rochester. Rochester will never be what it once was, but hopefully it can reinvent itself to be a thriving city once again.