Rochester, flour and the canal
Rochester NY is a city located about 2 hours in on the Erie Canal. As a port city for the canal Rochester was extremely well benefited in the completion of the canal and the trade opportunities it offered. In particular the boom that was caused by the canal in Rochester was in the flour trade. A very lucrative trade and manufacture industry that was made even more efficient due to the ease of moving freight on the Erie Canal. After 25 years of the Erie Canal the flour industry in Rochester was a three and half million dollar industry annually.(parker, 1995) This massive flour empire had been erected from the lower part of the Genesee River and earned Rochester the nickname of “The Flour City”. Due to an increase agricultural focus out west during expansion the flour city had a constant demand for a product that they could now ship at a fraction of what it costs before 1825. With this change Rochester boasted 20 flour mills producing around half a million barrels of flour a year.(Parker,1995)
With the boom in trade and industry, more and more skilled workers flooded into Rochester leading to increases in other industries such as clothes and buttons. Rochester experienced such a economic boom that population skyrocketed and in 1834 Rochester was rechartered from a village to a city. Not only did former canal diggers flock to Rochester, but the increase in manufacturing brought in its fair share of people searching to work at the mills. The population jump in Rochester happened within a span of about 20 years in 1830 was under 10,000 but by 1850 the population was well over 35,000.(Rochester flour manufacture and trade,1870) People weren’t the only thing that these drastic changes in Rochester brought. The boom Rochester experienced also brought in new ideas, in 1847 freed slave and abolitionist Frederick douglass began printing a abolitionist paper called the “North Star” in Rochester.
Till 1850 and beyond the evidence of the canals repeating effect on the growth in Rochester is insurmountable. This ambition attracted many industry greats such as Kodak, Bausch and Lomb and Xerox in later decades but the growth would continue long after the flour industry boom.