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Where DID the Flower City Logo Come From?

Associate Editor
Carlie Fishgold
traces its
uncertain past

Rochester’s rather unique self-love is most evident in our cultural appropriation of the Flower City logo. We adorn ourselves with the symbol in jewelry, tattoos, clothing, and even local businesses have lovingly annexed and reworked aspects for their own trademarks.

The waterwheel was our first device for harnessing the life force of the Genesee, and the Flour City was born of prospectors Charles Carroll, William Fitzhugh, and Nathaniel Rochester’s eye for milling opportunities. This is articulated in the five-spoked dissection of the logo as a waterwheel. According to the Highland Park Conservancy, the sections make up a five-petaled white lilac (a sign of good luck) rather than four. The lilac was designated as Rochester’s official flower on May 11, 1948. The transition of Flour City to Flower City occurred in the 1850s when the city’s nursery business flourished in satisfying the demand for fruit-bearing botanicals in the new frontiers of Manifest Destiny.

What makes the logo an ever-progressing symbol of our cultural identity today is that it is actually not the official seal (incorporated in 1868) or the official banner (bestowed in 1934). The use of a logo over the former examples is an American civic expression of looking forward. Designed around 1975, local and city official sources disagree in identifying the original author. Family members of the late Anthony Inquagiato claim that he entered the design into a contest and after a unanimous decision, former Mayor Thomas Ryan Jr. presented him with a key to the city as a reward. The key and a medallion stamped with the logo were given to his granddaughter, Heidi Cappon, in the final days of his battle with esophageal cancer and the story was passed on. The design, Cappon says, was tweaked before its official designation.

Lee Green, retired IBM brand experience and strategic design vice president, maintains that he was hired out of RIT by the city under a National Endowment for the Arts grant and that he used computerized graphic tools to design the logo. The city human resources department confirms both men worked for the city and left in 1979. Inquagiato was a city photographer and Lee was employed by the design department.

Anthony Inquagiato
Anthony Inquagiato
Flower City Logo
Lee Green
Lee Green

When queried about the impact of the symbol, Heidi Cappon says of her grandfather, “Even when he passed, he never really knew the full magnitude of what his design grew to be.” Lee, on the other hand, thinks the use of the logo in tattoos and other forms of community identity point to the success of the initiative, as the logo was conceived as an easily identifiable symbol of the city. That the people commandeer the symbol speaks to the authenticity of Rochester’s persona: always in search of a better way means we move forward and, as the nation’s first boom town, reinvention is the spirit of our people.

Your Instagram Pictures

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  • Bill Klingensmith prepares for his art show. Reception on Saturday, Oct. 3rd 6-9pm in the Anderson Arts Building, Studio 214. #flowercity #flourcity #artinstallation #mydarndest #billklingensmith #cnc #limitededition #rocflower #woodenflower #millstone #rochesterhistory #artdisplay #artexhibit #rochesterart #andersonartsbuilding #neighborhoodofthearts #roccity #rochesterny #ig_rochesterny #iloveroc #flowercitylogo #rocroots #rochistory #cncrouter #flourcityforall photo by Russ Lunn
  • The newest addition to our #ROCLove collection! Why? Because we love, live, and work in #Rochester! -Available now in-store and online! ••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••• #flowercitylogo #roc #585 #rocpride #flowercity #rochesterny #roccity #handmadejewelry #handmadebangle #charmbangle #hometownpride #fahsye #trend #fashion #jewelry #armcandy #upstateny #boutique
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  • Was reading a great article about the origin and concept of the #flowercitylogo and thought I'd share my piece. If you know me you've seen me in this hat a few times. Came up with the gear modification one night messing around and loved how it looked so I put it on a hat. The article touches on how our community has overwhelming made it a badge of pride for its city. I know more people who have it tattooed on themselves somewhere than don't. (myself included) It truly speaks to the power of design, community, and our city's history.
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  • Hey ROC lovers! We went looking for the story behind Rochester's decidedly awesome logo. Read what we found at postrochester.com/flower-city-logo/. BONUS: show your love for the ROC logo by posting an Instagram pic of the logo- wherever you find it- tagged with #flowercitylogo. Your picture will accompany the article posted on our website. #thisisrochester
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  • Alternative design for spray-stenciled City of Rochester logo, apparently official.
  • From the 5'3/4" perspective, when everything involves looking up. #ToddlerProbs
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  • So I'm from Rochester NY and this is most certainly permanent.
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