Rochester is a city in the U.S. State of Minnesota and is the county seat of Olmsted County. Located on the Zumbro River's south fork in Southeast Minnesota, the city has a population of 106,769 according to the 2010 United States Census. The U.S. Census Bureau estimated that the 2016 population was 114,011. It is Minnesota's third-largest city and the largest city located outside the Minneapolis-St. Paul-Bloomington Metropolitan Statistical Area. As of 2015, the Rochester metropolitan area has a population of 215,884. It is the home of the Mayo Clinic and one of IBM's largest facilities. The city has long been rated as one of the best places to live in America by multiple publications, such as Money, and is one of the most educated cities in the world.
The area initially developed as a stagecoach stop between Saint Paul, Minnesota, and Dubuque, Iowa. When the Winona and St Peter Railroad initiated service in October 1864, it brought new residents and business opportunities further spurring growth and expansion. In 1863, Dr. William W. Mayo arrived as the examining surgeon for Union draftees in the Civil War. The community was named after Rochester, New York by emigrants from that area.
St. Mary's Hospital & the Beginning of the Mayo Clinic
On August 21, 1883, the Great Tornado demolished much of Rochester, leaving 37 dead and approximately 200 injured. As there was no medical facility in the immediate area at the time, Dr. Mayo and his two sons worked together to care for the wounded. Donations of US$60,000 (US$1,567,054 in 2016 accounting for inflation) were collected and the Sisters of St. Francis, assisted by Mayo, opened a new facility named St. Marys Hospital in 1889. The Mayo practice grew and is today among the largest and most well-respected medical facilities in the world. Many notable people from around the world, including former Presidents Franklin D. Roosevelt, Harry S. Truman, George H. W. Bush, Gerald Ford, and Ronald Reagan have visited Rochester as patients of the Mayo Clinic. Rochester has also been hit by two F4 tornadoes since 1950 (the first on May 10, 1953 and the other on September 16, 1962.) Rochester celebrated its sesquicentennial in 2004.
Rochester lies alongside the South Fork of the Zumbro River ringed by gentle hills and largely surrounded by farmland within a deciduous forest biome. Located within southeast Minnesota, it falls within the Driftless Area: the only region in North America that was never glaciated and contains deeply-carved river valleys. The rugged terrain is due both to the lack of glacial deposits, or drift, and to the incision of the upper Mississippi River and its tributaries into bedrock. According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 54.75 square miles (141.80 km2), of which 54.59 square miles (141.39 km2) of it is land and 0.16 square miles (0.41 km2) is water. The city is located 85 miles (137 km) southeast of Minneapolis-St. Paul.
Rochester is in Olmsted County, one of only four counties in Minnesota without a natural lake. Artificial lakes exist in the area, including Silver Lake, a dammed portion of the South Fork Zumbro River just below the convergence with Silver Creek near the city center. Silver Lake was once used as a cooling pond when the coal-burning power plant was operated by Rochester Public Utilities at the lake. When operational, the RPU coal plant's heated water output prevented the lake from generally freezing over during the winter months; attracting large numbers of migrating giant Canada geese.
Rochester has an extensive park system, the largest of which are Silver Lake and Soldiers Field in the central part of the city. A major flood in 1978 led the city to embark on an expensive and successful flood-control project that involved altering many nearby rivers and streams. The Zumbro river flowing through the center of the city is presently being readdressed for increased development and use as part of city planning in conjunction with funding from the Destination Medical Center project.
Rochester features a humid continental climate (Dfa/Dfb), with hot summers and very cold winters. The city features four distinct seasons. Rochester sees on average 30 inches (760 mm) of rainfall and 48 inches (120 cm) of snowfall per year. Significant snow accumulation is common during the winter months. Spring and fall are transitional seasons, with a general warming trend during the spring and a general cooling trend during the fall. However, it is not uncommon to see some snowfall during the early months of spring and the later months of fall. Rochester is the in the United States, with wind speeds averaging 12.6 mph. January and April are the windiest months on average, according to The Weather Channel.
|Climate data for Rochester, Minnesota|
|Record high °F (°C)||58|
|Average high °F (°C)||24|
|Average low °F (°C)||8|
|Record low °F (°C)||−42|
|Average rainfall inches (mm)||0.87|
|Average snowfall inches (cm)||12|
|Source #1: weatherbase.com|
|Source #2: U.S. climate data|
|U.S. Decennial Census|
As of the census of 2010, there were 106,769 people, 43,025 households, and 26,853 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,955.8 inhabitants per square mile (755.1/km2). There were 45,683 housing units at an average density of 836.8 per square mile (323.1/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 82.0% White, 6.3% African American, 0.3% Native American, 6.8% Asian (1.3% Indian, 1.2% Cambodian, 1.0% Chinese, 0.9% Vietnamese, 0.6% Laotian, 0.4% Korean, 0.4% Filipino, 0.2% Hmong, 0.1% Japanese, 0.1% Thai, 0.1% Pakistani), 2.0% from other races, and 2.6% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 7.2% of the population (3.7% Mexican, 1.3% Puerto Rican, 2.0% Other).
In terms of ancestry, the 2005–2007 American Community Survey found German Americans to be the largest single ethnic group in Rochester, making up 35.5% of the city's population. Norwegian Americans made up 15.9%, while Irish Americans contributed to 11.6% of the city's populace. English Americans made up 8.2% of the population and Swedish Americans were 5.0% of the city's population. In the mid-1980s Rochester had fewer than 40 Hmong persons. The 1990 United States Census counted 200 Hmong persons in Rochester. This increased to 300 by 1998. Cathleen Jo Faruque, author of "Migration of Hmong to Rochester, Minnesota: Life in the Midwest," wrote in 2003 that there was "every indication that this trend will continue".
There were 43,025 households of which 31.9% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 49.4% were married couples living together, 9.5% had a female householder with no husband present, 3.5% had a male householder with no wife present, and 37.6% were non-families. 30.1% of all households were made up of individuals and 8.8% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.42 and the average family size was 3.04.
The median age in the city was 35 years. 24.8% of residents were under the age of 18; 8.3% were between the ages of 18 and 24; 29.4% were from 25 to 44; 24.8% were from 45 to 64; and 12.7% were 65 years of age or older. The gender makeup of the city was 48.4% male and 51.6% female.
As of the 2011-2015 American Community Survey, the median household income was $68,023. .
Rochester is governed by a mayor-council government with a seven-member city council. The current mayor is Ardell Brede.As of December 2017, the city council is comprised as follows: Randy Staver, City Council President; Ed Hruska, 1st Ward; Michael Wojcik, 2nd Ward; Nick Campion, 3rd Ward; Mark Bilderback, 4th Ward; Mark Hickey, 5th Ward; and Annalissa Johnson, 6th Ward.
Rochester is the seat of Olmsted County, run by a seven member elected county board, each representing district residents. The County Board of Commissioners oversee county operations and address citizen concerns. When a commissioner is elected, they are elected to serve a 4 year term. When that term ends, the commissioner can run for re-election if they so desire. The County Attorney and the County Sheriff are also elected to 4 year terms and can run for re-election when the term expires if they choose. Each of these elected officials acts as the director for his/her office, and are accountable to the residents of Olmsted County.
Rochester falls under the Olmsted County District Court within the Third Judicial District of the State of Minnesota.
The city includes parts of Minnesota state legislative districts 25 and 26. In the Minnesota House of Representatives, District 25A is represented by Duane Quam (R), District 25B is represented by Duane Sauke (DFL), District 26A is represented by Tina Liebling (DFL), and District 26B is represented by Nels Pierson (R). In the Minnesota Senate, Rochester is represented by Dave Senjem and Carla Nelson, both Republicans. Rochester is located in Minnesota's 1st congressional district, represented by Mankato educator Tim Walz, a member of the Minnesota Democratic–Farmer–Labor Party (DFL).
Rochester Public Schools enroll 16,300 students in 23 public primary and secondary schools. The city is divided into three public high school attendance zones: John Marshall, Mayo and Century. Private schools in the city include Lourdes, Schaeffer Academy, a K-12 classical Christian school, , a K-8 Christian school of the WELS, and Rochester Central Lutheran School, a K-8 Christian school of the LCMS. Studio Academy, a fine arts-focused charter school operated for 10 years in Rochester and closed its doors in 2011 upon losing its charter. The Rochester STEM Academy opened in 2011, occupying the former Studio Academy building.
Higher education in Rochester has been concentrated around the former University Center Rochester in the city's southeast outskirts, where Rochester Community and Technical College shares a campus with a branch of Winona State University. The University of Minnesota offered degrees through UCR until 2007, when the University of Minnesota Rochester was established downtown. Rochester is also home to branches of Cardinal Stritch University and the Minnesota School of Business. Branches of Augsburg University and College of St. Scholastica are also in Rochester, as are branches of Winona State University and St. Mary's University. The Mayo Clinic offers graduate medical education and research programs through the Mayo Medical School and Mayo Graduate School.
According to the United States Census Bureau 2011-2015, the number of high school graduate or higher, percent of persons age 25 years+ was 94.1%. The number of Bachelor's degree or higher percent of persons age 25+ was 41.3%.
Mayo Clinic forms the core of Rochester's economy. As of 2016, it employs 34,180 people and draws more than 2 million visitors annually. The clinic's many facilities, along with hotels, restaurants and retail stores, comprise nearly all of the city's downtown. Excluding the state government, Mayo Clinic is the largest employer in Minnesota. Other care providers, including the Rochester Federal Medical Center, are significant employers.
IBM's Rochester campus is one of the company's most important manufacturing centers. It has produced the System i series, been home to the first Blue Gene prototype, and contributed the servers for Roadrunner. Seven employees at the Rochester IBM campus created IBM Employees Credit Union, which is now Think Mutual Bank, a chain of banks in the Rochester and Twin Cities metropolitan areas.
The economy of Rochester is also influenced by the agricultural nature of the region. Seneca Foods has a processing plant in Rochester. There are multiple dairy producers such as Kemps that are active in the area. In addition, Kerry Flavours and Ingredients, a subsidiary of the global Irish company called Kerry Group, maintains a production plant in Rochester that specializes in fermented ingredients, found in breads, meats and other processed foods.
|#||Employer||# of Employees|
|2||Rochester Public Schools||2,657|
|4||Olmsted Medical Center||1,339|
|7||McNeilus Truck & Manuf.||1,050|
|8||City of Rochester||841|
|11||Rochester Community & Technical College||500|
Destination Medical Center
In 2013, Governor Mark Dayton signed a bill known as Destination Medical Center (DMC). It will also increase Mayo Clinic's tax base, business and economic growth throughout the state of Minnesota. Because of this legislation, The Mayo Clinic will invest in $3.5 billion to upgrade patient rooms, add additional work space, and build research and administrative buildings.
The main developments of this plan will be in the DMC sub-districts. The Downtown Waterfront district will cover The Government Center, The Civic Center, and most areas near the Zumbro River. The Central Station district includes Central Park and most of Civic Center Drive, aimed to become a transportation hub of the city. St. Marys Place will cover St. Marys hospital and St. Marys Park, as well as most of 2nd Street. The Heart of the City will feature the Mayo Clinic campus and major residential, commercial, and retail companies. The Discovery Square area will include scientific and technology research facilities. Lastly, The UMR & Recreation district will feature Soldier's Field and the University of Minnesota Rochester campus.
Arts & Culture
A number of Rochester buildings are on the National Register of Historic Places, including the historic Chateau Theatre, which in 2015 was bought by the city for preservation, and Avalon Music, formerly a hotel important in the local civil rights movement.
The Rochester Art Center is located downtown, just south of the Mayo Civic Center.
In the summer, every Thursday the city puts on "Thursdays on First" where local restaurants and artists can set up booths all along First Avenue downtown Rochester. There are a few stages where bands perform and provide entertainment. There are also a number of street musicians sitting on walls or standing on the sidewalks.
The oldest cultural arts institution in the community, Rochester Symphony Orchestra & Chorale was founded in 1919 as a professional performing arts organization called the Rochester Orchestra. Its earliest ensemble — the Lawler-Dodge Orchestra — was founded in 1912 as a volunteer orchestra, driven by Daisy Plummer, wife of world-famous Mayo Clinic physician, Dr. Henry Plummer, and directed by Harold Cooke. In early years, the Orchestra appeared in the former Chateau Theatre where they performed background music for silent movies.
Parks & Recreation
Minnesota has one of the most extensive state park systems in the nation. Seventy-two state parks are used year-round for hunting, camping, and hiking. In addition, Minnesota has more miles of bike trails than any other state, and a growing network of hiking trails. Likewise, Rochester's city park system is large, with more than 100 sites covering 5 square miles (13 km2). The city also maintains 85 miles (137 km) of paved trails in addition to state trails such as the Douglas State Trail. The nearest state park is Whitewater State Park.
In addition, Rochester has provided educational and recreation opportunities through Quarry Hill Nature Center, a cooperative effort between the Rochester Parks & Recreation Department, Rochester Public School District and Friends of Quarry Hill Nature Center. Quarry Hill Park was originally a part of the former Rochester State Hospital farm and was purchased from the state by the City of Rochester in 1965. The Nature Center opened in 1973 as a cooperative effort between the Rochester Park Department and the Rochester Public School District. In September 1990, work was completed on a major addition to the existing nature center, effectively tripling the main floor area and enabling Quarry Hill to meet the increasing needs of both the general public and school. Additional facilities were completed in 2017 in addition to nordic skiing trails in 2014. These facilities include new educational facilities and a 19th century prairie style home while guests can rent skis and snow shoes on site to enjoy the trails in winter.
Oxbow Park and Zollman Zoo located on the Zumbro River in nearby Byron, Minnesota offers hiking, camping, fishing, and extensive trails in addition to the Zollman Zoo which houses over 30 species of animals, most of which have injuries that would prevent them from surviving in the wild. All of the animals are native to Minnesota. The zoo is named after Dr. Paul E. Zollman. The most popular animals include a wolf, bald eagle, white-tailed deer, coyotes, bobcat, river otters, bison and a cougar. The zoo is open year-round.
The city also maintains four public golf courses: Northern Hills, Eastwood Golf Club, Hadley Creek (9 holes), and Soldiers Field Golf Course located downtown. In addition, a number of private courses are located in the Rochester area, including Willow Creek Golf Club, Oak Summit Golf Club, Maple Valley Golf Club, Somerby Golf Club, and the Rochester Golf and Country Club along with a number of courses in smaller surrounding communities. Minnesota has one of the highest number of golf courses per capita in the country, generally found to be of much higher quality than public courses located in the Northeast and elsewhere.Extensive fishing is available in the area, including high quality trout runs.
Eating & Drinking
There are two television stations based in Rochester: KTTC channel 10.1 (NBC), KTTC-(CW) channel 10.2, and KXLT-TV channel 47 (Fox). The stations share studios as part of a special agreement between Quincy Newspapers and Segamorehill Broadcasting. KIMT channel 3 (CBS) in Mason City, Iowa, KAAL channel 6 (ABC) in Austin, channel 15 KSMQ (PBS) in Austin and channel 24 KYIN (PBS) in Mason City are among the stations that serve the market. KAAL is licensed to Austin, but has a studio in Rochester.
The Rochester area is provided cable service by Charter Communications, which holds monopoly in the area.
Rochester is served by three U.S. highways (U.S. 14, U.S. 52, and U.S. 63), and the southern edge of Rochester is skirted by Interstate Highway 90 and State Highway 30. Olmsted County Highway 22 is also a main highway in the city because it circles most of Rochester. A combination of skyways and subterranean walkways, subways, link most downtown buildings, which residents often use to avoid the Minnesota brutal winter weather conditions. Public bus transit is run by Rochester Public Transit. Its operations are carried out by First Transit.
Rochester International Airport is located seven miles south of downtown. The airport is the second busiest commercial airport in Minnesota  It has direct flights to Atlanta, Chicago, and Minneapolis.
Rochester has a shuttle service connecting to the Minneapolis St. Paul International airport by Rochester Shuttle Service and Go Rochester Direct.
A proposed Twin Cities-Rochester rail link has been the subject of a series of studies since the late 1980s. Rochester previously had service to Chicago to the southeast and to Rapid City, South Dakota to the west until the Chicago and North Western Railway's Rochester 400 streamliner ended service in 1963.
|Rochester Honkers||Northwoods League, Baseball||Mayo Field|
|Rochester Ice Hawks||MnJHL, Ice Hockey||Rochester Recreation Center|
|Med City Freeze||Southern Plains Football League, Semi-Pro Football||Rochester Regional Stadium|
Games were played in town during the 2001 IIHF Women's World Championship.
Awards & rankings
The city had long been a fixture on Money magazine's "Best Places to Live" index, and was ranked number 67 on the 2006 list, and in the top 3, including number one multiple times, from 1993-1997.
Rochester ranked second in Quality of Life by American City Business Journal.
Rochester ranked sixth in Kiplinger's Personal Finance magazine's 10 Best Cities for the Next Decade.
Golf Digest and Golf for Women both ranked Rochester as the fifth best golf market in the midwest in 2006.
In 2009, US News and World Report ranked Rochester in the Top Ten Best Places to Grow Up and ninth for Best Cities for job seeking retirees.