Conference Location: Rochester, New York
The 2019 ALTA conference will be held at the Hyatt Regency and the Joseph A. Floreano Riverside Convention Center in historic Center City, downtown Rochester, New York, situated on the southern shore of Lake Ontario. The third largest city in New York State, the greater Rochester region is inhabited by a little more than one million people. Rochester is a 6-hour drive from New York City, 3½ hours from Toronto, and 90 minutes from Niagara Falls. Home to seven publishing companies and one of the nation's largest writers' centers, Rochester has a vibrant arts scene, especially in music, film, theater, and literature. You can view the official Rochester visitor’s guide online here, or request one in the mail. Rochester has an important legacy as the birthplace of film and the Women's Rights Movement; it was the home of both Susan B. Anthony and Frederick Douglass, a relationship explored in Mat Smart’s play The Agitators.
Local Time and Weather
Rochester is located in the Eastern Time Zone, the same time as New York City and the East Coast of the United States, and one hour ahead of Chicago. November weather is generally chilly, with daytime high temperatures in the mid-40s and nights in the low 30s. Precipitation is likely.
Dining in Rochester
Rochester boasts an impressive variety of cuisines and dining styles, with many dining options clustered along Main Street and East Avenue, blocks from the convention center, including:
- Bar Bantam is just around the corner from the Convention Center, and nearby is Native Eatery and Bar.
- On the river itself, you’ll find options including Pane Vino on the River, offering Italian-American Fine Dining, and Dinosaur BBQ, NY’s nationally acclaimed bar-b-que chain.
- Across the river, heading west, options include Byblos Café, specializing in Mediterranean cuisine, and the distinctive The Spirit Room, a spooky hole-in-the-wall with great food and cocktails, founded by two writers.
- Heading north from the convention center, up St. Paul Street, you’ll enjoy local favorites such as Tapas 177 Lounge, serving food until midnight or later and offering salsa dancing lessons on Thursdays, and Fifth Frame, a brewery and coffee roaster serving breakfast from 7am.
- Heading south from the convention center, past the Central Library, you’ll reach Fuego Coffee Roasters, a low-key coffee shop with Guatemalan roots, and The Vesper, a gastropub and raw bar, among other options.
- Heading east from the convention center, options include Fina’s café and restaurant, offering a fresh spin on Italian food; DiPisa Subs with its “old-world” submarines; and Branca Midtown, with Italian cuisine, a coffee bar, and cocktails.
- From Center City, it’s also an enjoyable walk to a plethora of other choices in such areas as Neighborhood of the Arts and South Wedge. Rochesterians will be only too happy to give you (too many) recommendations!
Rochester’s World of Arts
Thanks in part to the legacy of Kodak Eastman, Rochester hosts an array of world-class performing arts and cultural spaces:
- The Eastman School of Music offers more than 700 concerts annually.
- The Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra has been building community through music since 1922, attracting nearly 170,000 attendees to more than 150 events each season, 40% of which are free concerts geared toward community and education.
- The Anthology Concert Hall, one of a number of exciting musical venues in Rochester, offers a range of contemporary musical acts.
- Abilene Bar and Lounge is a Cheers-meets-Austin club which has hosted a who’s who of local, regional, national, and international musicians in its intimate space.
- The Little Theater Café, offering live music five nights a week, and a seasonal American cuisine menu, has been a downtown destination since 1994.
Film and Photography
- The George Eastman Museum, a National Historic Landmark, is the world’s oldest photography museum and one of the oldest film archives, holding unparalleled collections encompassing several million objects and offering a range of exhibitions and film screenings.
- The Visual Studies Workshop supports makers and interpreters of images through education, publications, exhibitions, and collections.
- The Little Theater offers a mix of indie & foreign films, rotating art displays, and music in a 1929 theater.
- The High Falls Women’s Film Festival takes place October 31-November 3 and celebrates the artistry and innovation of women in film.
- Dating back to 1977, the Rochester Contemporary Art Center (RoCo) promotes and showcases alternative and contemporary art in the region.
- The Memorial Art Gallery’s permanent collection of more than 12,000 objects has been called the best balanced in the state outside of metropolitan New York City.
- The Baobob Cultural Center is a gallery which promotes a deeper understanding of African culture, as rooted in ancient traditions and routed by the migratory experiences of people through the Caribbean, Europe, and Asia to the Americas.
- The Lyric Theater Rochester, home to the Rochester Lyric Opera, Western New York’s only professional opera company, offers world-class performances in a variety of genres.
- GEVA Theatre, Rochester’s flagship theatre company, is one of the country’s leading not-for-profit, professional theatres and the most attended regional theatre in New York state.
- At the Avenue Blackbox Theatre, social justice and art disciplines converge to create dynamic stage productions, installations, and live art-making events.
- Rochester Brainery, a community classroom and event space located in Rochester's Neighborhood of the Arts, offers over 50 single-session classes each month.
- Small Fry Art Studio offers weekly art classes that foster individuality, artistic exploration, and critical thinking, as well as art-centric play groups that celebrate the intersection of creativity and play.
Within walking distance of the conference hotel, you’ll find The Strong National Museum of Play, an ideal place to take the kids or indulge the big kid inside you. The Creative Workshop at the Memorial Art Gallery offers a range of arts activities for kids aged 2½ and up. The Rochester Museum and Science Center and Strasenburgh Planetarium present spectacular intricacies of science, technology, and nature through 200 hands-on exhibits. For more ideas further afield, head on over to Visit Rochester’s “Traveling with Kids” section.
Getting into Nature
Starting from downtown, with the convention center right on the river, you can get into nature, walking or cycling to the Erie Canalway, with its Cycle Trail running all the way from Buffalo to Albany. Also close to the conference, High Falls Center and Interpretive Museum in the 19th-century Waterworks Building offers a natural waterfall with a living history museum and visitor center. St Joseph’s Park, a short walk from the convention center, is the striking remains of the city’s oldest Catholic Church, now an event and carnival venue. If you have time to venture further afield, Letchworth State Park, about an hour south of the city, is known as the “Grand Canyon of the East” and in 2015 won the USA TODAY Readers' Choice Award for Best State Park in the United States!