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Rochester (New York)

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photography related industry in Rochester (New York)
American Camera | Bausch & Lomb | Blair | Century | Crown Optical Co. | Elgeet | Folmer & Schwing | Gassner and Marx | Graflex | Gundlach | Ilex | JML | Kodak | Milburn | Monroe | PMC | Ray | Reichenbach, Morey and Will | Rochester Camera and Supply Co. | Rochester Optical Co. | Seneca | Sunart | Walker | Wollensak
and in Rochester (Minnesota)
external links - Rudolf Kingslake's
"Optical industry in Rochester (N.Y.)"

Rochester is the iconic oldest metropolis of the World's optical industry. The best known companies are the contacts maker Bausch & Lomb and the 20th century dominating camera maker Kodak. Many of the actual and former optical companies dedicated at least a part of their workforce to the making of cameras, camera lenses, film, camera accessories and other photographic goods. "Rochester-made means quality" was a wide-spread motto from 1890 to 1930.

Rochester was founded in 1803 by Colonel Nathaniel Rochester who wanted to use the water power of the Genesee river's cataracts. The success was that the town became the greatest centre of flour production of the USA until 1838. It became a boomtown in the 1820s when the Erie Canal was opened. The aqueduct across the river still exists. In 1847 the abolitionists founded their renowned newspaper "The North Star" in Rochester. In 1864 optician John Jacob Bausch and his supporting friend Henry Lomb transformed Bausch's "Optical Institute" into a real optical factory which produced spectacles. The flour mills declined, other industries arose. Around 1880 some influential makers of photographical stuff started their business in Rochester:

Then Bausch & Lomb started to deliver lenses for the new photography businesses. From 1890 to 1900 several new optical businesses were founded, some by former employees of the early companies. Several of these companies were bought by Eastman Kodak which became the world's unique photography business giant from 1900 until its decline in the 1980s. Bausch & Lomb successfully made a transition from a maker of photo optics to a leading producer of contact lenses.

Some notable photographers were residing in Rochester, maybe inspiring the camera constructors of the city, for example Albert R. Stone who's collection of negatives is a renowned resource for Rochester history. The Rochester Museum & Science Center owns the collection. Another important institution is the George Eastman House, the classical style villa, once the representative home of George Eastman, now one of the most renowned museums of photography history. Last not least The Institute of Optics at the University of Rochester must be mentioned.


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