About the Convention District
Downtown Rochester is divided by the Genesee River which starts with a great arc as it passes Corn Hill and then continues through a series of spectacular falls as it flows towards Lake Ontario. On both banks of the river from Main Street to Andrews Street lies Rochester’s visitor-oriented Convention District. Comprised of hotels and the Rochester Riverside Convention Center, the district is often the first view of downtown for a newcomer to the area.
A walk along the river is enhanced by landscaped walkways and pedestrian bridges that offer beautiful views of the river and its bridges. The Convention Center features world-class facilities and a glass-enclosed atrium with decks overlooking the river and has won the prestigious Prime Site Facilities Award every year since 1994.
For many years downtown turned its back on the river, to the point where the Main Street Bridge was lined with tenements that completely blocked any view of the waterway. On the West Bank, the notorious Front Street followed the river and was home to rough and tumble bars, open markets, and saloons complete with spittoons and wild characters. During the rebuilding of the 1960s and ’70s, the infamous Front St. disappeared to be replaced by hotels and office buildings.
The land now occupied by the Convention Center has an even more controversial past. A classic Greek Temple-style bank building with huge marble columns was torn down to make space for the Center despite protests by preservationists. Several of its columns were ultimately saved and can now be found in various locations downtown and throughout the city.
Future plans call for a continuous riverwalk that will enable a visitor to follow the riverbank from Genesee Valley Park to Corn Hill, past High Falls, and beyond to the harborfront at Lake Ontario. The Radisson Hotel has changed ownership and will no longer be a Radisson. The new management plans to renovate the building and call it the “Rochester Riverside Hotel”.