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. Certain types of businesses and residents were attracted to either the east or west side of the river. Charlotte and the area around the Maplewood neighborhood on the west side were among the area's first thriving communities.
In the early 1800s, the well-to-do lived in Corn Hill, another western community. It wasn't until the latter half of the 1800s that the city began to stretch into the northeastern side of town. East Avenue may have been Rochester's first prominent suburb, since it was considered away from downtown at the time. That trend continued into the 1900s, with wealthier suburbs and professional jobs forming on the eastside, and manufacturing and light industry work like Kodak to the west.
To this day, an eastside vs. westside vibe persists. As one westsider puts it:
"It's a class thing, plain and simple, like the Sharks and the Jets. Oh sure, the eastsiders will deny it to our faces, but as soon as we leave the room, it's 'beer and chicken wings this' and 'NASCAR' that. And for our part, we tend to view them as upper class twits, insipid golf-obsessed bores with overly botoxed wives sporting size 0 designer ensembles in safe pastel shades. I know several professional people who relocated to Rochester, and their realtors told them not to look at anything west of the Genesee. One even took a map of the county and crossed out all the towns --- all westside --- that they were supposed to stay away from."
To learn more about what each of the suburbs in Monroe County (and a couple outside of it) have to offer --- all of it special in its own way --- check the websites provided below for information on town meetings, special events, recreation, and local history.
It is the suburb that feels more like a neighborhood.
It has Twelve Corners, great schools, MonroeCommunity College, and all the bagels you'll ever want.
Go to Corbett's GlenNaturePark, PersimmonPark, tennis courts.
Municipal offices: 784-5250, www.townofbrighton.org.
They are a historic village (Brockport) in the town of Sweden.
They have SUNY Brockport and a college-town vibe on the historic Erie Canal.
Go to the new WelcomeCenter on the canal and the SUNY Brockport Creative Writing Lecture Series.
Municipal offices: Brockport 637-5300, www.brockportny.org; Sweden 637-2144
It is the gateway to the Finger Lakes, hardly a summer day trip anymore.
It has art galleries, tattoo parlors, and boat dealers all in one spot.
Go to a wide range of parks and water activities, or take the "antique trail" along Routes 5 and 20.
Municipal offices: 394-1120, www.townofcanandaigua.org.
It is in the township of Riga.
It has plenty of open space and working farmland.
Go to 27-hole golf course, snowmobile trails, and sports courts
Municipal offices: Churchville 293-3720, www.churchville.net; Riga 293-3880, www.townofriga.org
It is a small pioneer town on the northwest edge of MonroeCounty.
It has some wonderful rustic architecture, including cobblestone homes.
Go to Sweden/Clarkson Community Center and HaefnerPark.
Municipal offices: 637-1130, www.clarksonny.org.
It is not as posh as its neighbors --- Fairport and Pittsford --- but looks pleasingly the same as it did in the 1960s.
It has affordable homes and small-town attitude.
Go toBelVedere Deli, the no-frills Italian market on East Commercial.
Municipal offices: 586-3553; www.eastrochester.org.
They are a village (Fairport) in a township (Perinton) situated on the Erie Canal.
They have wonderful historic homes, unique village shops, and pricey new developments along the Perinton hillsides.
Go to Lollypop Farm, the PerintonAquaFitnessCenter, and the Canal Days summer festival.
Municipal offices: Fairport 223-0313, www.village.fairport.ny.us; Perinton 223-0770, www.perinton.org.
They are western communities once dominated by Kodak's Elmgrove plant. Chili is home to RobertsWesleyanCollege.
They have a mix of suburban development and light industry.
Go to eight different parks and two boat launches.
Municipal offices: Gates 247-6100, www.townofgates.org; Chili 889-3550, www.townofchili.org.
It is the most densely populated of the western suburbs.
It has ranch homes, quiet neighborhoods with large lots, and Ridge Road for a main street.
Go toBraddockBay Wildlife Preservation Area.
Municipal offices: 225-2000, www.greeceny.gov.
It is apple orchards and west-side lake country.
It has summer fruit stands and "pick-your-own" growers.
Go toHamlinBeachState Park.
Municipal offices: 964-2421, www. hamlinny.org.
It is the shopping mall land south of the city.
It has Rochester Institute of Technology and the National Technical Institute for the Deaf.
Go to Marketplace Mall and SouthtownPlaza.
Municipal offices: 334-7700, www.townofhenrietta.org.
They are a village (Hilton) in a township (Parma).
They have fruit orchards, farmland, and miles of Ontario shoreline.
Go to the Hilton Apple Festival, one of the area's favorite fall festivals.
Municipal offices: Hilton 392-4144, www.hiltonny.org; Parma 392-9461, www.parmany.org.
It is the city's older neighbor to the north.
It hasEast Ridge Road shopping, two school districts, and quaint lakeside neighborhoods like Summerville and WhiteCity. Think lighthouses.
Go toDurandEastmanPark, SeabreezeAmusement Park, Hot Dog Row, House of Guitars, and the oldest miniature golf course in the country.
Municipal offices: 467-8840, www.irondequoit.org.
They are southeastern rural communities known for their country chic, sprawling homes, and carefully guarded green space.
They have the worry of too many deer.
Go to Custom Brewcrafters, MendonPondsPark, and the MillArtCenter.
Municipal offices: Mendon 624-6060, www.townofmendon.org; Honeoye Falls 624-1711.
It is comfortable, the kind of upscale suburb seen in Spielberg movies.
It has moderate to expensive homes and a re-imagined village center at the Four Corners.
Go toLinerPark, off Route 441 West.
Municipal offices: 340-8600, www.penfield.org.
It is the moneyed metro-village done right with pricey real estate, fine dining, boutique shopping, and Euro cars.
It has St. John Fisher and NazarethColleges.
Go to the Wegmans in PittsfordPlaza; it's grocery shopping for the Benz class.
Municipal offices: Village of Pittsford 586-4332, www.villageofpittsford.org; Town of Pittsford 248-6200, www.townofpittsford.com.
They are the villages and towns that rim the southern edges of MonroeCounty.
They have lovely historic homes, the Lehigh Valley Trail, and the quiet life for commuters.
Go to the Genesee Valley Greenway, a hiker's paradise.
Municipal offices: Scottsville 889-4700; Wheatland 889-1553, www.townofwheatland.org; Rush 533-1312, www.rushconnections.com.
They are western suburbs with a mix of light industry and farmland.
They have farm markets and roadside produce stands.
Go to the new boat docks on the Erie Canal.
Municipal offices: Spencerport 352-4771, www.vil.spencerport.ny.us; Ogden 352-2100, www.ogdenny.com.
It is the fastest-growing suburb not in MonroeCounty.
It has historic homes mixed with upscale new developments.
Go to Eastview Mall; where else?
Municipal offices: 742-5000, www.victorny.org.
It is the suburb Xerox built.
It has multimillion-dollar lakefront homes and quiet bedroom neighborhoods.
Go to over 22 acres of parks in the village alone. Try the Arboretum on Schlegel Road.
Municipal offices: Village of Webster 265-3770, www.villageofwebster.com; Town of Webster 872-1000, www.ci.webster.ny.us.