University of Rochester Arboretum

Since October 2000, parts of the University of Rochester’s River Campus have been designated as an arboretum. 

A special tree tour map, available to the public, guides visitors to 61 species of deciduous trees as well as 12 types of conifers extending from Elmwood Avenue to the end of Wilson Boulevard. Many other trees cover the River Campus, including some planted in the 1920s. The arboretum exemplifies the University’s commitment to reinforce and preserve the historic beauty of the campus and celebrate the heritage of the area.

Horticultural History

The University of Rochester River Campus, located along the Genesee River in upstate New York, has a long tradition of using trees to enhance the beauty of this unique setting. Throughout the history of the University, founded in 1850, trees have been planted, maintained, and preserved. As further support of these efforts, in 1999, the president’s planning group approved portions of the campus to be established as the University of Rochester Arboretum.

The tradition is an extension of the arboricultural legacy of the Rochester area. Portions of the city and Mt. Hope Campus of the University still harbor remnants of the Ellwanger and Barry Nursery. The nursery trade that flourished in the late 1800s and early 1900s in Rochester was once the largest of its type in the country and has left a lasting impression on the city and campus.

The River Campus occupies the original setting of the Oak Hill Country Club. The University purchased the Oak Hill grounds in 1923 and initially raised 10 million dollars for the establishment of the college on this site. Ground was broken for Lattimore Hall in 1927, the first University building to be constructed, located in the northwest comer of the Eastman Quadrangle. The integrity of the landscape was insured when. Frederick Law Olmsted, Jr. was retained as designer and consultant to the ·architects. The Olmstead international fame stems from his father’s design of such well-known areas as Central Park, the Arnold Arboretum, and Yosemite National Park. The University endorsed the River Campus in 1930 as the primary site of their men’s college.

Frederick Law Olmsted, Sr. was responsible for the design of a “River Walk” of oak trees along the Genesee River. This portion of the campus was recently sold to the City of Rochester, with contributions from Bausch & Lomb, to establish more public parkland along the river corridor. Included along a three-quarter mile stretch are 197 oak trees with more than 15 different species identified between Elmwood A venue and Intercampus Drive. Although they are not located on the River Campus, the University of Rochester also harbors two champion trees, a weeping willow and a ponderosa pine, which are the largest known examples of their species in the State of New York. These giants, along with the canopy of cover from trees on the rest of the campus, add tremendously to the aesthetic appeal of the grounds while complementing and softening the existing architecture. The visual impact that trees have on the University grounds as they add fall color, winter texture, and spring flowers is invaluable.

As part of an ongoing progressive grounds management program at the University, the arboretum will create opportunities for the study of native plant species and encourage education about regional horticulture, while promoting interest and support for the University and the arboretum.

The University of Rochester Arboretum’s goal is to reinforce and maintain an environment that preserves the beauty of the campus through a progressive program of grounds management, while supporting the study of native plant materials and developing new plant collections. The Arboretum will create an opportunity for continuing education about the University and regional horticulture, celebrating their history while promoting interest and support for the University and the Arboretum.

Click on the image above to see a video about the University of Rochester’s Arboretum or select this link

For more information about the University of Rochester’s Arboretum contact Dan Schied, Manager, Horticulture and Grounds


phone: (585) 273-5627

(Photo: Adam Fenster)

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