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Jane Doe
Mrs. Seemayer
English 11
June 4, 2014
The Eastman Kodak Company
Rochester, the flower city, of all the 1,082,284 citizens living in the entire metropolitan
area of Rochester, there are probably only a handful of people thinking about the citys history at
any given time. Not that this is some major problem, but it also isnt a bad idea to shed some
light on a man primarily responsible for where Rochester is today - George Eastman, founder of
the Eastman Kodak company. Not an unfamiliar name to most Rochesterians, Eastman has
undeniably left his legacy throughout Rochester. The Eastman Kodak companys presence was
critical to the growth of Rochester as a city because they provided jobs to the public, impacted
Rochesters culture as an artistic city, and have an ongoing legacy.
The Eastman Kodak company provided jobs to the public. In 1982, Kodaks payroll in
Rochester peaked at 60,400 (rbj.net). According to the 1980 US census, there were 972,000
people living in Rochesters metropolitan area (census.gov). This means that 6.2% of people
within commuting distance of Kodak worked there. Therefore three out of every fifty persons in
Rochesters metropolitan area worked for Kodak. It may not seem like much, but having 6.2% of
a citys population work for one company is major. In 1990, the unemployment rate in Rochester
was as low as 5.3%. When Kodak filed for bankruptcy in January 2012, the unemployment rate
jumped from being 10% the previous month, to 10.9%, and peaked at a record high of 11.7%

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later that year in July 2012 (bls.gov). Although the bankruptcy wasnt sudden or unexpected as
Kodak had been on the decline for many years, it still hit Rochester hard. Rochester didnt get
the nickname, the Image Capitol of the World because of a bunch of family-owned small
camera shops. Rochester also has Xerox, sure, but Kodak was the key player in Rochesters
economy for many years; and what does a business of that size need to function? Workers.
The Eastman Kodak company impacted Rochesters culture as an artistic city. [T]he
Eastman Theatre managed for a time to serve two fairly distinct publics-those interested in the
cinema and those attracted by its more pretentious concerts and opera seasons (McKelvey 188).
By George Eastman building this Theatre, he attracted people that were interested in the arts.
Industrialist and philanthropist George Eastman, founder of Eastman Kodak Company,
established the Eastman School of Music in 1921 as the first professional school of the
University of Rochester (esm.rochester.edu). By founding the first professional school in
Rochester, George Eastman had a rare opportunity to influence what type of young people grew
up in the city. By choosing a musical school, he set a precedent for years to come. By building
and funding these projects, Eastman was sowing seeds into Rochesters society.
The Eastman Kodak company has an ongoing legacy. Eastmans . . . gifts to local
hospitals and other institutions increased in number and size, reaching a high of $400,000 for
new buildings for the City Hospital in 1909 (McKelvey 155). George Eastman contributed
greatly to the growth of Rochester by helping to fund important businesses and buildings.
[Eastman] replaced the wet-plate process, in which photographers had to cart chemicals around,
with a dry-plate system, so they could just take along Eastman's precoated glass. Then he
replaced the glass plates with paper film, leading to the simpler camera called the Kodak
(nytimes.com). This advancement made it much more convenient for people to take photos; and

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with the invention of paper film, average citizens could now take their own photos. When
something is created that is used every day by millions of people around the world, its safe to
say that the creator has left a lasting impact on the world.
Kodak was a major job supplier to the public of Rochester for many years, Eastman and
his company sowed artistic seeds into the society, and Eastman re-invented cameras and the city.
Times Square had massive Kodak signs, Walt Disney World had Kodak moment signs, and
Kodak cameras were being sold in nearly every store across America. Kodak may have met a
bitter end, or maybe the world will see the resurgence of Kodak. Either way, this company and
the man behind it, George Eastman, is one for the history books.

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Works Cited
"History of Eastman." Eastman School of Music. N.p., n.d. Web. 3 June 2014.
<http://www.esm.rochester.edu/about/history/>.
"Kodak's growth and decline: a timeline | Rochester Business Journal New York business news
and information." Kodak's growth and decline: a timeline | Rochester Business Journal
New York business news and information. N.p., n.d. Web. 3 June 2014.
<http://www.rbj.net/print_article.asp?aID=190078>.
"Kodaks Legacy." The New York Times. The New York Times, 3 May 2013. Web. 3 June 2014.
<http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/business/kodaktimeline.html?_r=1&#/#time188_6043>.
McKelvey, Blake. "George Eastman's Town." Rochester on the Genesee: the growth of a city..
2nd ed. Syracuse, N.Y.: Syracuse University Press, 1973. . Print.
"Rochester, NY Economy at a Glance." U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. U.S. Bureau of Labor
Statistics, n.d. Web. 3 June 2014. <http://www.bls.gov/eag/eag.ny_rochester_msa.htm>.
"." . N.p., n.d. Web. 3 June 2014. <http://www2.census.gov/prod2/statcomp/documents/198102.pdf>.