My friend Ken seems lately to be a one man advertising machine for New York. No problem there, I guess. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, even when it’s rooted solidly in the past. Most of what he says that’s good about New York is yesterday’s news. It’s what we used to be, not what we are today. Yes, we still make pretty good wine. And we do fairly well with apples and maple syrup. But that’s not actually enough, is it?
The discussion is interesting because we both literally live in the same town (Webster). We see the same things, go to the same stores, drive on the same roads. I’m always amused when Ken uses the town’s slogan – “Where life is worth living”. The slogan has always kind of baffled me. It implies that life is less worth living someplace else. Like where, for instance? In our neighboring towns? In Rochester? In other states? Sorry, but I don’t get it. It doesn’t make any kind of logical sense. Unless you have a terminal illness or have been incarcerated for 20 years or more, I would think that life is generally worth living anywhere (well, maybe not Somalia).
And how about Rochester itself? Is it a good place to live?
That depends on your own criteria for “good place”. If you’re looking for work that pays a significant salary, good luck. Nearly all the manufacturing is gone. Kodak is a shell of its former self, employing only a small fraction of what it did in the “golden” years. Their major asset today is intellectual properties – their patents. But if that’s the only way you can make any money, you’ve got some serious problems.
The other major company here – Xerox – isn’t exactly growing, either. In truth, the pillar of the local economy is Wegmans (the large grocery store chain headquartered here). But you won’t get rich working there. You probably won’t even work full time – most jobs are part time.
If you’re worried about crime, I suggest you look elsewhere. People here like to say that we live in a low crime area, but they’re wrong. Rochester has a higher per capita crime rate than a number of major U. S. cities (for both violent crime and for property crime). We’re a good deal worse, for example, than Las Vegas, NV (you know, “Sin City”). We’re also worse than the national average.
No, Rochester is dying. It’s been dying for years. Heck, Ken and I both worked at the same 3M plant here. Well, up until 1996. Then it closed. Ken had to move to St. Paul, MN and I went to Columbia, MO. Kodak’s core business (film) started heading south soon after. All that’s really left here is Wegmans, a number of colleges, some large hospitals, and the city itself. As a result, the population growth here has been negative (about – 7%) over the last decade.
With respect to photographic opportunities, that is obviously an entirely subjective discussion. If you’re willing to drive south from Rochester there are a number of gorgeous state parks within about 100 miles (Letchworth, Stony Brook, Watkins Glen, Taughannock, etc.). I love those places. But stuff within the immediate area is generally not very exciting (in my opinion, anyway). Once you get away from Lake Ontario, you’re not likely to find anything of interest. And how many pictures can you take of sailboats (or ice in the winter)?
And we can’t forget New York’s weather, can we? For 7 months out of the year, it generally sucks.
Are there worse places? Probably. Pennsylvania for sure, and maybe Ohio. But they border New York. So they have an excuse.