5.1 Arts and Entertainment
The Philharmonic Orchestra first performed in 1900 and became very popular after 1903, holding large performances at the Lyceum Theater. It was first directed by Hermann Dossenbach. Dossenbach was from a German family, was a violin teacher, led a dance orchestra, and had a string quartet that played for George Eastman for 15 years.

Theaters were also very popular in Rochester at the time. This included both theater of plays, and vaudevilles,. Some notable theaters include the: The National Theater On West Main Street, the Lyceum, and the Eastman Theater formed by the Eastman school of music. Showings at such theaters included things like “The Pink Lady”, “The Walls of Jericho”, “The great Divide”, and “the Glass house” as well as many other different types of performances such as dancers on stage as well as Comedians. In 1921 the Rochester Dramatic Club was formed, which was made to help encourage local play writers to produce their plays. One such play that came from this was “The Blue Bird” by Maureice Materlink. Theaters would often have kinetoscopes in them so people could watch motion pictures or movies. The movies would generally only be about 1 minute long each but 12 different movies would be played at one showing. They would often show things like a man feeding a lion, a train running, a seahorse swimming, and other things which were just visually pleasing. The movies would often also have someone playing music to go with the film. Movies soon increased in length though as such films as “The birth of a nation” and film adaptations of plays like Othello would come out soon after that.

In 1908, the rochester art club held an exhibit featuring french exhibitionists. Attendance was low, due to high transportation costs. until Art club president George Herdle, as well as one Mrs. Watson, paid for them out of pocket due to the “importance” of the event. The display featured the works of Monet, Renior, Pissaro, and Cassat. This began a new art revolution in Rochester, in which critical analysis was reborn.
The Memorial Art Gallery opened on October 8, 1913. It was constructed in an italian renaissance inspired style. George Herdle arranged a full program of exhibits and Tirelessly promoted the new gallery.
Wartime conflict slowed down the progression of art for a time, yet Nationalism was the driving force behind the creation of many new works and brought attention to many contemporary american artists. Exhibits like those in the Rochester gallery still suffered though, as one receptionist noted that the majority of people who passed through merely did to use the phone.
In 1919, Herdle ran tours for high school class groups free of charge, and a year later, the gallery saw admission fees removed.



5.2 Parks and Improvement
There were four large parks in Rochester, Durand-Eastman Park, Genesee Valley Park, Cobbs Hill Park, and Maple Wood Park. Maple Wood had a rose garden that was very heavily visited. Most of the festivals and carnivals of the day were located in the parks. In Genesee Valley Park, the Water Carnival was a held. It included a parade of boats that took place on the Genesee River, Swan Boats that kids could ride for 10 cents, dances, fireworks, and concerts. At night, Elmwood Ave bridge was lit up during the Carnival. It was discontinued after WWI in 1916. Festivals of Song and Light were held in Highland Park; these were nocturnal community chorus festivals that incorporated ornamental lamps and decorations into massive public events that drew tens of thousands of spectator-participants. A Park Band often performed at this festival and others in 1915 and 1916. Even when there wasn't any event going on the parks were still enjoyed by people. Young boys would often spend time in the park playing with friends. It was also a rather nice place to have a picnic.

Indian Day was a day held in recognition of the first American's contribution to the US. It was discontinued after WWI in 1916.

Boat rides were available any day at Genesee Valley Park on the river. During winter, Lake Riley had a skating rink open and there was also skiing in some parks. There were gambling and prostitution houses, saloons, vendors, and stores on Front Street and Mill Street.
Speaking of rivers Another place that young boys would often have fun in would be the Rochester River. Despite being extremely dirty young boys would often swim in it anyway. In fact it was so Dirty that whenever a boat passed by they had to get out of the water for half an hour because the garbage on the bottom of the river would get stirred up and the river wouldn’t be safe to swim in.

Dance Land was a dance hall built in 1924 in Sea Breeze. Its creation spurred by the Sea Breeze trolley line. A full band played each night and it was 10 cents to get in. The floor was cleared after every dance to make room for newcomers.

The Birds and the Worms, located in Sea Breeze, was a 16 room, two story hotel with a poolroom, dining hall, bar, and storage room for kegs and ice. It had a 144 foot porch wrapping around it. Jews supplies it with sugar during the war which they had received for their sacramental wines. The hotel stopped serving Whiskey in 1918, when owner Charles Stoffel died, at which point it began the conversion into a Temperance place.

From 1900 to around 1920, there was a large effort to make Rochester a beautiful city that its citizens would feel proud of. This “Progressive-era” movement was chiefly advocated by Charles Mulford Robinson, who began as a Rochester journalist and later became a major consultant and publicist for the effort to make the city beautiful. Robinson also worked as a civic design professor and published books and articles propagating his views. Fountains, libraries, gardens, etc. were all pushed by these Progressive idealists. A beautiful city was thought to lead to more beautiful lives. The idea of “civic pride” led people to want their city to be attractive and populated with good facilities for its citizens. A book of photos of Rochester published in 1908 describes the Rochester of the time as having comprehensive public schools, five orphanages, and over a hundred churches, using these as examples of Rochester as a progressive community. Churches were seen as islands of normalcy and stability during a time when the influx of immigrants brought the beginnings of social changes. They also served as symbols of the common morality of the city.

The attractiveness of buildings at the time was considered very important—for example, the early 20th century saw a nationwide move to bigger, more impressive looking secondary schools. One editorial in The American School Board Journal stated, “The outward appearance of a building has its influences which cannot be overestimated.” Of course, this also points to the growing importance of high school in the United States.

5.3 Speakeasies
Speakeasies and underground pubs were also a popular attraction. The passing of prohibition laws drove many to these legally questionable environments, those of which usually included live music, dancers, and other live entertainment.


5.4 Cuisine
Jello was invented in 1904. It lagged in popularity until the Jello cookbook was sold in door-to-door sales. French's Mustard was established in 1921. Public supported milk stations that would distribute sanitary, certified, and cold milk to mothers of infants had come to fruition in 1897, which allowed for greatly improved health in infants and a lot of popularity. This advancement led to more sanitary milk in Rochester for many years, improving the bacteria count from the US average of 100000 per cubic centimeter to only 3853.

Zweigle's Hot Dogs, founded in 1880, is the creator of one of the most iconic ingredients of Rochester Cuisine, the white hot, a white hot dog purported to be good enough that any condiment sullies the flavor. The family-owned business prides itself on its "Old World" recipes and techniques for the creation of its "Old World" German products, including both hot dogs and sausage.

Nick Tahou's is a local restaurant housed in an old railway terminal, formerly a depot and hotel serving the Buffalo, Rochester and Pittsburgh Railway. They are famous for their "Garbage Plate," a dish comprised of hot dogs (Zweigle's) or hamburgers, macaroni salad and home fries, all on one plate, slathered in their own special hot sauce. The dish is popular among white- and blue-collar works alike, and the restaurant is a frequent lunch spot.

5.5 Religion
As with most cities, there were a variety of churches and other religious establishments to choose from, as long as you were of some form of the Christian faith. During this time period, there existed churches for the following flavors of Christianity: Adventist, African Methodist Episcopal (1920-1925), Baptist, Christadelphian (Closed in 1915), Church of Christ, Christian Scientist (1915, 1919-), Congregationalist, Episcopal, Evangelical, Christian Reformed (1915, 1920-), Lutheran, Methodist Episcopal, Presbyterian, Roman Catholic and Unitarian.

There were also several Jewish congregations throughout the city.
Like other minorities at the time, Jews were often discriminated against in many places. Between 1915 and 1925 they formed less than 1% of the population in the US.
Some Jewish immigrants formed a new offshoot of Judaism known as "American Reformed Judaism", which included sermons read in English as well as other changes from traditional practices.

Many Catholics immigrated to the US from Europe during this time period, and sometimes faced prejudice and misunderstanding from more fundamentalist Protestants.
In 1914, the Catholic church has a new Pope, Benedict XV, who would reside through WW1, advocating for peace. The pope was announced by papers, particularly local catholic papers such as The Catholic Journal in Rochester.

Protestants were the main religious force in the US throughout the 1910s and 1920s, or at least the loudest and most influential group. There were two main groups of Protestant thought at the time. Some Protestants were more liberal, like Reverent Harry Fosdick and advocated "scientific modernism" and a less liberal interpretation of certain Bible passages. On the other side, there were conservative Protestants, who were concerned with the "moral degradation" of American society, and sometimes discriminated against immigrants and members of other religions, as well as seeking to outlaw the teaching of evolution and passionately supporting Prohibition in attempts to keep America Godly and pure.

In 1915, William J Simmons reestablished the KKK as a radical Protestant group. Throughout the 1920s, they would reach record membership with over 3 million members around the country.

Protestant Christians had a big role in the promotion, execution and continuing support of Prohibition in the US. They would also play a big role in the Evolution debate, which would begin in earnest in 1923 when Oklahoma became the first state to outlaw the teaching of Evolution. In 1924 the famous Scopes trial would take place.

During the 1920s and 30s, Aethism began to gain publicity in a way it hadn't before.
The American Association for the Advancement of Atheism would be founded in 1925. Its founder, Charles Lee Smith would become the last man in US history to be convicted of the crime of blasphemy.
Rochester itself had an interesting history with Atheism. In 1926, the son of the President of the University of Rochester "came out" as an atheist and a reported anarchist.
Around this time, Rochester students formed an atheist group known as "The Damned Souls". They would gain notoriety thanks to a newspaper article, but though many cried for the students to be expelled, no official action was ever taken against them, and they all eventually graduated, after changing the society's name to "The Souls".

5.6 Education

In 1915, American schooling was dictated mainly by the goals of Progressive reformers. Education was seen as a way to “Americanize” the tons of immigrant children moving into the cities, to instill proper values and teach how to be a productive American citizen. They meant to have a common ideal spread amongst all schools, for the lower classes as well. In this time it was widely believed that society's problems could be at least partly solved by education for all classes.


At the forefront of this Progressive Movement was former school teacher John Dewey. One may argue that Dewey single-handedly put progressive education into the forefront of American schooling. Although, his efforts didn't stop at the national level—in the '20s, Dewey traveled to the Soviet Union to push progressive ideals in their schools, with great effect. Dewey also traveled to China and Turkey in his search for schools to reform. His education ideals provided temporary peace in a time of great worldwide tension.


Middle schools were created since there was a high influx of high schoolers. This helped to split up the number of students. High schools had also become more populous by the 1920s. Prior to 1900, fewer children attended high school, as children in working class families needed jobs to help their families. After 1900, however, an improved economy led more working class families to send their children to high school in the hope that they could then get higher paying jobs. Once more people were able to achieve a high school education, high schools began taking on the ideals the elementary schools had developed, those of a “common” ideal to be spread.



In 1925, a study was commissioned and they found that women training should be directed at the home but was just as important as men. Sixty percent of the The Institute’s student body was women in the domestic science department. Women and female professors out number men and male professors on the campus. At the tiger conference, they got rid of degrees at the institute.

The Armstrong Bill, passed in 1907, required all nursing schools in New York to be under the SUNY system, as well as registering and examining the nurses that graduated from them.

Sexual activity and sex education increased around the 1920s Scientists discarded theories about masturbation leading to horrible things, though masturbation still viewed as something to be discouraged in young children. Maurice Bigelow lead the charge of encouraging parents to not overreact, but to tell their child calmly that it was unhealthy. Bigelow advised parents to dress kids in loose clothing, sleep on hard mattress, bathe in cold water, provide little to no privacy and educated them as soon as possible about topics of sex. The American Social Hygiene Association formed in 1914 through the efforts of Bigelow, Prince A. Morrow, to help advise about STDs. It recommended abstinence until marriage as the best prevention and helped recognize adolescence as a phase of growth. Sex Ed classes increased after WWI and spread across curriculum. It was segregated by gender and there was constant debate about whether schools setting was appropriate.

5.7 Social Relations

5.7.1 Race Relations
The Elks Club
The Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks of the World (BPOE of W) is a community of neighbors dedicated to improving the community and fostering better relations in it. At this time, the organization was white only. The Improved BPOE of W was founded by African Americans in 1906 and located at 285 Clarissa Street in Corn Hill. It welcomed both blacks and whites.

African Americans
The First World War brought new opportunities for African Americans since the check it placed on immigration created a demand for workers from other sources. Young African Americans from the South commenced shortly after the war boom started in 1916 which nearly doubled Rochester’s non-white population but also, unfortunately, created a housing shortage. This also caused African Americans to suffer from old discriminatory traditions, since many Southern black workers were unskilled and uneducated.

In 1918, the draft board recruited a large number of African Americans. About forty young African Americans from Rochester saw active service in the 369th infantry regiment. This is when the housing problem for black people finally began to attract public interest. Most African Americans found homes in the old Clarissa Street district. The lack of housing prompted an effort to create a settlement for African Americans south of Genesee Valley Park. The project collapsed when Reverend William Byrd of Trinity branded the scheme as “Jim Crow.” This resulted in black people migrating toward less salubrious foreign areas. Since most of these newcomers were from a rural background in the South, their sanitary and domestic standards were law which ended up making the Baden-Ormond a wretched slum. Outbreaks of crime and violence multiplied in these areas. Drugs also became common: when the police were called to a bloody battle between three African Americans on Holland street, a supply of cocaine was found on one of them. The police also uncovered a dope ring.

Despite this, some African Americans were developing a business district of their own on Clarissa Street. The Empire Realty & Mercantile Co., headed by John Green and Edward Jackson, projected a commercial block there with street-front stores on the first floor and accommodations for lodge rooms and a dance hall above. While there were many that did not succeed, they were able to increase the value of their property holdings. At least 45 of their families in the Third Ward became homeowners. During the 1920s, Rochester gained around 900 more African Americans, an increase of nearly %60. The YWCA and YMVA opened small branches in the Clarissa Street district. However, in general in the 1920s, the black population was still quite small. The total population for Monroe county was 352,034 while the black population was 1,633.


5.7.2 Gender Relations
A couple of major historical events took place during this time period and the citizens of Rochester had a hand in them. For starters there was World War I. This was the first time women had to take on what was considered to be men’s jobs. A large majority of the men went off to Europe to fight the war and women stepped up to fill in the gaps. Some women attended the Mechanics Institute, what would eventually be the Rochester Institute of Technology, to learn how to drive cars and trucks or to learn about mechanical drafting. Women took jobs driving trucks overseas through the Womens Motor Travel Corps and as the first female professors at the University of Rochester. Women in Rochester stepped up immediately making up half the members of the eight draft boards that were created in Rochester to recruit troops. One woman, Mary Catherine Beck, was thought to be the only female Marine Corps Soldier from Rochester. Rochester had the second Red Cross Chapter in the United States. By 1918 50,000 women and men were members of the Rochester chapter. There was also a group called the Dunbar Red Cross Auxiliary which was formed by black women. Both groups would meet each train and greet the soldiers with food, magazines and cigarettes. During that time, housewives would bring their families to scrap drives and tend victory gardens. They would also babysit other mothers’ children while they were at work. Women physicians had become common in the past five years, but were not allowed to help overseas with war efforts. Eventually some of the women physicians in Rochester were able to fund and work in France at the American Women’s Hospitals Unit No. 1 in Luzancy.

The other major event during the time period is Women’s Sufferage. Before the war had begun the right for women to vote had been a consideration among women groups, however women found it difficult to go back to being housewives after the men returned home from the war. The Rochester Political Equality Club provided leadership to campaign for the right for women to vote in Rochester. Led by Alice Clement, Helen Probst Abbott and Emma B. Sweet, they gathered followers, staged meetings, opened headquarters, produced and distributed literature and petitions and brought up the issue whenever there was a chance. They eventually reorganized into the Monroe County Woman Suffrage Party. In 1915 they lost the vote, but in 1918 after seeing how beneficial women were as part of WWI they won and were allowed to vote in Rochester and allowing women across the country to vote came a year or two later.

Dating was invented in the 1920s. It differed from courting in that it wasn’t always for marriage pairings, but was generally used for boosting popularity for young people. Young men with money and automobiles were popular and if a woman was seen with one of such young men, her popularity increased. More avenues of entertainment such as parks, movies, and college parties and dances provided many more outlets for young people. As a time of sexual exploration, petting parties which were premarital physical exploration(short of intercourse) parties often held by college students and were socially acceptable. Half of young people had intercourse with future marriage partner in this era.

Marriage became a contract where all parties expected to be personally and sexually happy. There more socializing as a couple, women didn't work much outside home because they had enough money not to. Divorce moved to match this feeling about marriage and became more common, since marriage was now about happiness. Those filing for divorce would cite emotional or sexual shortcomings.

5.7.3 LGBT Relations
The 1920s especially were a time of experimentation and change. People were at least privately slightly more open, however, homophobia loomed due to negative media, sodomy as a crime under military law and a plethora of social ostracism and job loss.

Anti-gay policing was frequent and hundreds of men were arrest each year for homosexual acts, facing fines and prison time. Sentences wereup to 20 years imprisonment for anyone who ‘carnally knows any male or female person in any manner contrary to nature; or voluntarily submits to such carnal knowledge’ ‘by the anus or by or with the mouth.’ Curiously enough, this phrasing does not prohibit tribadism, frottage or mutual masturbation, but it is unlikely that the extent of this phrasing was tested publicly. Police were known for reporting cases of mutually consenting homosexual behavior as each participant sexually assaulting the other, with the legal consequences you’d expect. The last law enacted in this era was in 1923 and made it a crime, in New York alone, to frequent or loiter in ‘any public place soliciting men for the purpose of committing a crime against nature or other lewdness.’

Despite this, there was a flourishing subculture with extensive, somewhat secretive social networks. In New York City, Harlem was a gay and lesbian cultural hub. There were taverns, bathhouses, neighborhoods, male beauty contests, drag balls and speakeasies owned and populated by the LGBT community. The Harlem Renaissance had a flourishing jazz and bohemian culture that accepted the LGBT and cross dressing community.

5.7.3.1 Bathhouses
Bathhouses were steam baths or saunas where gay men could go and do what they pleased. These establishments did not provide sexual interaction, simply a location for those who might perform it (And existed until well into the 1980s when the state shut them all down for health reasons). They were subject to occasional police raids, the first of which occurred in 1903.

While there is no evidence of bathhouses in Rochester in the limited resources online, this does not necessarily mean that no bathhouses existed. It is highly likely in a city the size of Rochester that some existed and simply kept a lower profile than the more popular New York City bathhouses.


5.8 Notable Citizens
Kate Gleason

Dr. George Goler - Goler was an enormously important figure in Rochester's advancements in medicine, but is most famous for his work with infants. Goler was elected as the Chief Health Officer in 1896, and immediately began setting up public supported milk stations that would distribute sanitary, certified, and cold milk to mothers of infants. This allowed for greatly improved health in infants and garnished a lot of popularity for both the program and Goler himself. However, when Goler attempted to force stricter sanitation policies in Rochester's milk producers and distributors, he was met with resistance from politicians. Nonetheless, Goler's evidence and tenacity earned him many supporters and admirers.

Another critical moment for Goler was in 1902 when an outbreak of smallpox struck the city. Goler demanded $100000 from city officials to provide free vaccinations to the citizens of Rochester, as well as requested a replacement for the Hope Hospital with a larger and better placed facility within the city. Hope Hospital, equipped to house only 18 patients, was overflowed during the outbreak and was in dire need of help from the city. The city, however, only funded half of what Goler requested, as they were displeased with his openness about the outbreak to the newspapers. This led to further deaths and a more troublesome outbreak than should have been necessary, which rallied more support around Goler's cause.

George Eastman

Henry Gold Danforth was a lawyer and legal scholar. He served as a Republican U.S. Congressman from 1911-1917. His family lived on West Avenue in Dutchtown.

Henry “Heinie” Knight Groh grew up in Rochester and was the third basemen for the New York Giants from 1912-13, the Cincinnati Reds from 1913-1921, and the Giants again from 1922-1926. He was a resident of Dutchtown.

Martha Matilda Harper was a Canadian immigrant who worked as a domestic servant in Rochester. She began selling a homemade hair care product that grew to be very popular and one of her customers was Susan B. Anthony. She is credited with one of the first business franchising system in the U.S. She lived in Beechwood, a northeast neighborhood.

5.9 Healthcare
The healthcare of Rochester was booming during 1900's due to a sudden surge of public interest in healthcare. Dr. George Goler was a major figure in these times and influenced the population to begin to care more about the health of the city with a variety of programs. These programs included the sanitation of milk for infants in 1897, which greatly improved the health of infants. This program was so successful, that in 1907 the milk's bacteria count had improved from the US average of 100000 per cubic centimeter to only 3853. Another program in 1902 was the availability of vaccinations for everyone, including immigrants, to prevent the spread of disease, as well as the funding of new hospitals to be built and available to the public. This program, again started by Goler to combat an outbreak of smallpox, garnered a lot of attention for the healthcare field from big names, such as George Eastman, who donated $400,000 to the Rochester General Hospital. It also brought forth a mass creation of alternative medical facilities, such as the Iola Sanitarium and the Rochester Dental society. A final important program to note was the 1913 program that analyzed wages and family expenses of people to determine if they were capable of living a healthy lifestyle. This went hand in hand with the recent public interest to sanitize the city's water and create a sewage system to carry out waste.

All of these factors gave way to a new age of health in Rochester. Under Goler's leadership, Rochester was on the cutting edge of vaccinations, family aid programs, and World War I veteran care. Rochester also had adopted one of the first ambulance systems in 1896, which had flourished into a thriving industry in the 1910's. The ambulances from hospitals would actually race one another to be the first to the patient, which cost as many lives as it saved. Furthermore, nursing schools were required to be under the SUNY system, as well as registering all graduated nurses under the Armstrong Bill in 1907, and was further spurred in 1915 by the American Public Health Association, which inspired citizens to become involved and forced politicians to redistribute money to fund more health based programs. By then, Rochester's health care was among the top in the country and helped them survive the Influenza epidemic that spread through the city in 1918 (see 5.7.1 Influenza). In spite of the epidemic, the healthcare was actually spurred to even greater heights to prevent such outbreaks again. This led to the creation of the Public Health Nursing Association, which opened four headquarters and visited 1585 homes in just six months, as well as the Council of Social Agencies, which began coordination of health services. Private and voluntary hospitals began to sprout, and a united hospital drive raised $1,500,000 in 1922. With the public so concerned with public health, Rochester climbed the ladders even further, and gave way for experimental treatment workshops. These workshops researched relatively unknown fields, such as plastic surgery and limb replacement, assisting the blind, and programs to assist those with psychosis, dementia, paralysis, and epilepsy. These workshops aided in the less orthodox fields and allowed for Rochester's research into mental health to begin, which began with the opening of a new wing on the Iola Institute. Unfortunately, because mental health was still not understood, many mental health patients were admitted to be taken in for life, instead of attempting to cure them of their conditions. They were also grouped with those afflicted with dangerous diseases such as tuberculosis and influenza, to keep them all away from the public while they endured treatment.

5.9.1 Influenza
In the twentieth century there had been approximately four influenza pandemics, the most notable and caustic of which occurred within the years 1918 and 1919. This particular wave of the plague hit Rochester around October 2, 1918; cases of influenza were confirmed and the first victim was claimed, although there had been reports that were ether unconfirmed or undiagnosed from as far back as September 26. Within a week of the first casualty the number of reported cases climbed from tens to hundreds to over a thousand. Soon after several public and private services were closed or altered to combat the crushing weight of the disease. Public Schools, theaters, ice cream parlors, saloons and social clubs are all closed in the hopes of slowing the spread of disease. Near the end of October the sickness was just cresting the peak of it's destructive power. Halloween was canceled, police were instructed to prevent children from trick-or-treating. However during November the trouble began to pass, schools opened on the 5th and hospitals for the influenza outbreak began to close. In total there had been 30,000 cases of influenza during the outbreak and over 1,000 had resulted in death. And while it may seem like high numbers Rochester had fared well compared to other cities in the United States.