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The Flower City comes to the Scrapbook.

April 5, 2013
The Flower City

Click to Go to the Introduction of Blake McKelvey’s
Eight Chapter Essay on Rochester’s Nurseries
and Ellwanger & Barry

 A few years ago, very soon after beginning to research my city and my neighborhood’s past (like many others with these interests),  I came across an impressive online article.  It was a reprint of Dr. Blake McKelvey’s “The Flower City:  Center of Nurseries and Fruit Orchards” which first appeared in 1940 as part of The Rochester Historical Society‘s Publication XVIII.   Recently, the university site that had offered the  article was remodeled and it was removed.  Because of the importance of this work, I approached the Society and requested permission to host it here.  As a result, The Virtual Scrapbook is honored to become the new internet home of the definitive and colorful story of Rochester’s incredible time spent as  America’s (and the World’s)  most important center of Nursery and Flower industries throughout the latter 19th and early 20 centuries.

New Genesee Farmer

Part of the Cover Page of The New Genesee Farmer from 1940. Click for More

Starting in 1938, Dr. McKelvey became one of the most remarkable and industrious official historians that any American City has ever had and continued in that role until his prolific 97 years of life came to end on the cusp of the new millenium.  He began the  scholarly journal about this town’s past “Rochester History” , a quarterly that continues to be an valuable resource.  Many of Blake’s articles written for the journal have been and will continue to be referenced within pages of this scrapbook.  He also edited nine other bound volumes of Rochester Historical publications as well  25 books, many of which have become  key references on Rochester’s History.

Blake’s “The Flower City” is special  for several reasons.  It was the first in depth overview by a true scholar of the Era of Ellwanger & Barry and the other nurseries that became so important to the City’s history and Identity.  And nearly 75 years after it was written, it remains the best.  The scope of Blake’s work on the Flower City article can best be understood by reading through the exhaustive footnotes that were not reproduced in the original online version but fill the bottom of most pages in the published edition of 1940.  In fact, with many of his references now digitized and archived across internet sites, those footnotes act like a treasure map of original source documents.  I’ve added illustrations and links to a few of these as I reformat each of the eight sections of Blake’s work for this site.

Turn of the Century Pin from Ellwanger & Barry

Turn of the Century
Pin from Ellwanger & Barry

Because of those footnotes and other references, the conversion work  has became both a time consuming project and an education unto itself…and a labor of love and respect.  So the completed article will appear in three stages.   First to come are the introduction and the first four chapters:   these are online now after a few weeks of work.   The second stage will complete the story with the additional four chapters (which I expect to announce here well before spring of 2013 has ended.)  The last “chapter” will be an addendum that includes Blake’s wonderful footnotes.  That last part will be a time consuming project  because I’m planning to link to the various Internet versions of resources as much as possible.  So the release of the footnote addendum will be some months away.   And of course, like all internet documents, all of these pages are subject to updates especially when new cross links are added or discovered.

I hope you enjoy Dr. McKelvey’s essay and that you come to appreciate his telling of the  story of The Flower City.  It was one of the inspirations for this site and so we are honored and glad to welcome both it and you to “The Flower City”‘s new home on the web.

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