The Spirit of Rochester, NY

This post is not entirely beer-related. However, to appreciate one’s city, celebrate its history, champion hard work and the spirit of service… that’s totally craft beer. So, in the spirit of craft beer, I bring you the spirit of Rochester, NY—my city.

Every so often I hear someone rag on Rochester; usually they say there’s nothing to do here. It seems to come mostly from people that grew up here, living in the suburbs, outside the vibrant life of the city. If you’re one of those people, I invite you to read the following text and reconsider Rochester, NY. Come to our city, experience it, and come to understand what many of us already know—The “get together” spirit is strong here. It’s in our neighborhoods, like The South Wedge and the Neighborhood of the Arts. It’s at The Public Market on Saturday mornings. It’s in our bars and restaurants, seen in the thoughtfully prepared menu’s full of quality, local ingredients. And it’s in our beer scene, close knit and accepting…. full of variety and quality, creativity and collaboration.

I recently stumbled upon The Book of Industrial Rochester, published for the Allied Trade Commissions of Great Britain, France, Italy and Belgium, on the occasion of their visit to Rochester, NY in November, 1919, under the auspices of the Rochester Chamber of Commerce. In reading the introductory statements, which I’ve copied below, I found myself filled with emotion—an overwhelming sense of pride for the city I’ve come to call my home. Feelings of social contentedness and a sense of community, strengthened by words written nearly 100 years ago.

The Spirit of Rochester

To obtain recognition in these strenuous times one must carry his pedestal with him.
The meek and lowly may inherit the earth—later.

So said a commercial cynic recently. Rochester doesn’t need a pedestal in order to obtain recognition. It is a city that in the eyes of the knowing part of the world is set on a hill. Neither does Rochester desire to inherit the earth. It wants the earth to inherit Rochester.

Rochester is a young city. It was only a hundred years ago that a handful of pioneers settled in this beautiful valley of the Genesee at the brink of a great waterfall, and set up the beginnings of what is now the City of Rochester, the twenty-fifth city of the United States in size. The story of Rochester’s growth is not unlike the story of the growth of many other American cities. It is a story of enterprise and thrift coupled with an intense desire for advancement in education and the things which make life more worth while.

But Rochester is a little more than a typical American city. It is a typical American city—plus. And it is this “plus” which makes Rochester interesting. We feel confident—dear reader and Distinguished Visitor—that you will find it interesting if you catch the spirit of Rochester. The spirit of Rochester is the spirit which brings you from Great Britain, France, Italy and Belgium to our shores—it is the spirit of service. This spirit shows itself—

In the co-operation of our Community Life in peace and war.
In the excellence of the products of our factories.
In the enlightened efforts of employers and public officials to promote the happiness and wellbeing of the people.

The “plus” in our Community Life is a larger degree of co-operation than is found in most communities. Almost anything that it is difficult to do can be done in Rochester. The “get together” spirit is strong. It shows itself in our public organizations such as the Chamber of Commerce, whose work is more largely civic than commercial.

This is so because Rochester business men are wise enough to know that sound and wholesome civic conditions are the foundation upon which is built all permanent community progress. Rochester
is showing this spirit of service through co-operation in raising a fund once a year to pay for the operation of all its philanthropies and war relief agencies. While the amount so raised is large — that is not so remarkable as that in 1918-1919 more than one hundred thousand persons subscribed to the fund.

The entire Community is marked by its willingness to work together for a common cause and the practical efficiency with which it accomplishes its purposes.

A manufactured thing bears a stamp of character just as plainly as a man does. Indeed a man stamps his character as well as his name on everything he makes. The spirit of a city, the spirit of its people expresses itself in the products of its factories. Cheap workmen make cheap wares. High grade workmen make high grade wares. High grade workmen will live only in a high grade community. Quality of life writes itself in quality of product. It is all interwoven—life at home, in the school, in the workshop is one. “Keep the Quality Up”—”Rochester Made Means Quality”—”Here Quality Dominates” are only expressions of the community’s aspirations; its effort to express itself and to stamp itself as well as its name upon everything it makes and sends out in our own land or across the seas for the use and service of mankind.

This has not all just happened by chance in Rochester. There have been great leaders, men who were not so much concerned with how much they made as how well they made it. It mattered not if it was a camera or a mouse trap, they would make it so well that “the world would make a beaten pathway to their door.” With such leaders, with such a spirit Rochester grew into a great manufacturing city—not with any desire to inherit the earth, but to enjoy the fullness thereof—the fullness of satisfaction, the fullness of skill—the fullness of service.

The spirit of Rochester is the spirit of fair play. Industrial managers want their employees to be healthy and prosperous and happy. Beautiful factories, with every facility for promoting the health and happiness of the workers, abound in Rochester. They are more than factories—they have shrubs, vines and flowers to make working hours pleasant hours. High wages are paid and so high standards of living may be maintained by the employees. Bonuses, wage dividends and stock dividends have been given to employees to increase their prosperity and contentment. Homeowning has been given practical encouragement. Indeed, Rochester homes are largely owned by the people who live in them.

Employer and employee have kept pretty closely together in Rochester, and great things are being done to promote mutual confidence and to give all an increasing share in the fruits of their labor. Public officials, too, have been alert to promote the general health and happiness of the people. You need only to look at our parks, playgrounds and schools to know that Rochester is deeply concerned about other things than shops and factories. The health of young and old is guarded with every care.

Thus the spirit of Rochester abides in our work and play; in our schools and our homes. It is the spirit of service.

Americans love statistics. Facts and figures about Rochester are interesting to Rochesterians. We could easily burden you with the story of the numbers of pairs of shoes and suits of clothes and the miles of photographic film which we make, but we prefer to have you know something of the spirit of Rochester, to get a glimpse into her heart. It is a heart that beats in unison with yours, in unison with the great heart of the world that is being born again.

Gentlemen of Britain, and France, and Italy, and Belgium: Rochester salutes you and extends to you her most distinguished consideration. She welcomes you with

The Spirit of Rochester