Today marks the 156th anniversary of George Eastman’s birth— July 12, 1854. At George Eastman House we celebrate Eastman’s legacy in imaging and philanthropy every day. But his birthday is a good time for the rest of Rochester to pay tribute to the “Father of Rochester,” since our region would not be as rich in culture, health care, business, or education if it had not been for George Eastman. For many years community residents, including newspaper columnists, have rallied to make Eastman’s birthday an official local holiday.
Eastman wanted Rochester to be the “best city in which to live, work, and raise a family.” And he put his money where he mouth was, giving the bulk of his fortune to Rochester institutions and charities, half to the University of Rochester alone.
Yet, most do not realize how much Eastman did for our city, since he made many donations anonymously and preferred to bow out of ribbon cuttings or dedications in his honor. He was a modest man, who pushed the name Kodak rather than “Eastman Kodak” and named organizations after his friends rather than himself, such as Strong Hospital in tribute to the friend who helped him start Kodak, Henry Alvah Strong.
To get a sense of Eastman’s impact on Rochester, you can take a driving tour of “George Eastman’s Rochester,” which includes many of the organizations, parks, and businesses he influenced and supported.
Just click here to download the driving tour— and you are ready, set, go!
[Even if you're not in the Rochester area, the map is a great way to get to know our city and see what a difference one person can make ...and there's even a crossword puzzle!]
Dresden Engle is the Public Relations Manager for George Eastman House International Museum of Photography and Film.