Rochester sits on the banks of the Genessee River near Lake Ontario, with Buffalo about 70 miles to the southwest and Syracuse about 70 miles east. The opening of the Erie Canal in the 1820s brought rapid growth, and by the early twentieth century, the city was a high-tech center, as well as the twenty-first largest city in the nation. Although at 220,000, Rochester is smaller than in its heyday, it is still the center of one of New York state's larger metro areas. For travelers on the New York Thruway, the city is accessible from I-390 or I-490.
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