Special Sections » Annual Manual

A newbie’s checklist

Beginner’s guide

So you've arrived, and now you need the basics: phone, utilities, a way to get around town, and, maybe, a way to get out of town. Here is some info to help you get settled in.


The Greater Rochester International Airport is at 1200 Brooks Avenue, four miles southwest of Rochester (464-4000, www.rocairport.com). It's small, but it gets the job done: about 220 flights a day. Parking is affordable ($4.50 to $10.50 a day) and waits are manageable. Flights in and out of this medium-hub airport can be expensive, but a few bargain airlines --- JetBlue, Independence Air, and AirTran --- are helping the cause.

Drivers' licenses

You need to notify the Department of Motor Vehicles (428-4132, 800-225-5368) within 10 days of changing your address; if you are moving to Rochester with a valid out-of-state license, you have 30 days to apply for a NYS license. There are three DMV locations to choose from: 1940 West Ridge Road in Greece, 2199 East Henrietta Road in Henrietta, or 545 Titus Avenue in Irondequoit. There's no DMV office in downtown Rochester, but there is the Metro Mobile Service, a van that makes several city stops throughout the week. Call the Mobile Service Hot Line at 428-4132 for times and locations.

Phone and Internet

Frontier Telephone is the choice for local telephone service. Call 800-921-8101 or visit www.frontieronline.com for hookup. Frontier also offers DSL Internet service. For a cable connection, call the local cable provider, Time Warner Communications (756-2337, www.twrochester.com), to sign up for their Internet service, Roadrunner (soon, local commercials will bore that name into your brain).

Public transportation

For mass transit, your only choice is to get on the bus. The Regional Transit Service ("We're here to take you there") and its parent, Rochester Genesee Regional Transportation Authority, cover the city and suburbs fairly well and recently have been making a push to improve their image and expand their service. Base fare is $1.25 for city routes. Buses run much more frequently during daylight hours. Schedules and info: 654-0200, www.rgrta.org.

One of two large-scale projects affecting transportation is the impending Renaissance Square, a $230 million public works project to include a Monroe Community College campus, a performing arts center, and a central bus station --- all on the corner of Main Street and Clinton Avenue in downtown Rochester. Questions over the project's costs, necessity, location, environmental ramifications, etc, are ongoing, even as architects are drawing plans.

The other big deal is the Spirit of Ontario (nicknamed "The Breeze"), a high-speed ferry between Rochester and Toronto that began service last summer. After only two months, the operating company suspended service, citing huge financial losses. The ferry terminal had already been built; tickets had been bought; millions had been invested. Now the City of Rochester has bought the boat and plans to restart operation in May. The Breeze will be news for a long time: Stay tuned.

Trash and recycling

Rochester residents can contact the city's Department of Environmental Services (428-5990, www.cityofrochester.gov) with questions, concerns, or to get a guide for what to put in the big green bin for trash, and what to put in the little blue bin for recycling. If you live in the suburbs, your area's private trash hauler should get in touch with you. For waste removal and recycling help in the suburbs, contact the Monroe County Solid Waste and Recycling office at 760-7600 or www.monroecounty.gov.


Rochester Gas & Electric (546-2700, www.rge.com) is the area's natural gas and electricity provider. If you want the modern conveniences, you'll want to get in touch. (Unless you live in Fairport, Spencerport, or Churchville, all of which have their own electricity distribution systems.) The city's Water Bureau can be reached at 428-5990; the county water authority is at 442-2000.


To be able to pull the lever in local, state, and national elections, register with the Monroe County Board of Elections in person at 39 West Main Street, over the phone at 428-4550, or download the forms off the www.monroecounty.gov website.

In This Guide...

  • Annual Manual 2005

    Surprised by Rochester
    When I was getting ready to move to Rochester five years ago, my friends and family were confused. They wore worried faces when they asked me, "What's in Rochester?" and "That's not too far from the city, is it?" and "Do you like the cold weather?"

  • Who's representing

    Mayor Bill Johnson 30 Church Street, Rochester 14614

  • It's a beautiful day in the neighborhood

    There is so much talk about how to revitalize Rochester's downtown and make the city a more attractive place to live. But many people have discovered the benefits of city life.

  • Pounding the pavement

    I've been thinking about changing my name to Where's Your Car? (though I would have preferred You're Stunning or Are Those Real?).

  • Finding a beat you can dance to

    Live music
    I know it takes a little more than turning on the tube, but heading out for live music is so good for you. Plus the audience (you) is an integral part of each performance.

  • We’ve got music

    We're proud of our musical talent; here are four reasons why. The event

  • Get yourself something to eat

    Welcome to the Rochester food scene. I write full reviews of different restaurants every other week in City, but here is a bit of a primer, by genre, to acquaint you with the area's amazing variety of dining options.

  • Why we love market day

    The Rochester Public Market can be noisy, crowded, and fishy, but that is part of the vibrancy and spirit that make it a unique experience. Where else in Rochester is it almost too crowded to move for hours at a time?

  • Tending to your health

    Major hospitals Highland Hospital

  • Get learning

    Each public school district in Monroe County has contact information (listed below) where you can get more detailed information about individual schools. To get an overall picture, for some general research, or to just get involved, here are some resources:

  • A little culture never hurt anyone

    For a city our size, we've got plenty of culture. There's enough for every taste and energy level, but not too much to overwhelm.

  • What's the alternative?

    Although Rochester has a number of respectable art museums and galleries, rarely will these venues show anything outside the mainstream. For an art space to do something daring, quite often it has to rely on the vision and resources of an individual or a small group of people.

  • A little place outside the city

    Monroe County has 19 towns and nine incorporated villages. Aided by short commutes, particularly between Rochester and its inner-ring of suburbs, many of these are bedroom communities.

  • The gold of the silver screens

    I'm only about 5-foot-3-inches, but I totally towered over Isabella Rossellini. Now, you may be wondering what sorts of circles a humble hometown girl like myself would run in that would enable me to reach that conclusion.

  • High class

    Colgate Rochester Divinity School Can boast of a dedication for diversity, teaching students in over 20 Christian denominations.

  • We'd rather be out in the open

    The areas in and around Rochester are rich with green space --- diverse, convenient, and beautiful places to walk the dog, take out a canoe, find a zoo, or smell the lilacs. From the beautiful Seneca and Highland Parks, both designed by 19th-century landscape genius Frederick Law Olmsted, to Durand-Eastman Park, where you can feel the immensity of that Great Lake --- here is just a partial list of some of our favorite parks in the Monroe County (256-4950, www.monroecounty.gov) and City of Rochester (400 Dewey Avenue, 428-6767 or 428-6755, www.cityofrochester.gov) systems.

  • Block partying

    Go ahead, give us a reason to celebrate. I dare you.