The Presidential Visits Series in its entirety: James Monroe to Joseph Biden

The Presidential Visits Series in its entirety: James Monroe to Joseph Biden
President Barack Obama meets with college students former college students, and parents for lunch at Magnolia’s Deli & Café, during the college affordability bus tour in Rochester, New York, Aug. 22, 2013. (Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy) This photograph is provided by THE WHITE HOUSE as a courtesy and may be printed by the subject(s) in the photograph for personal use only. The photograph may not be manipulated in any way and may not otherwise be reproduced, disseminated or broadcast, without the written permission of the White House Photo Office. This photograph may not be used in any commercial or political materials, advertisements, emails, products, promotions that in any way suggests approval or endorsement of the President, the First Family, or the White House.

Evalyn Gleason with Barack Obama, Rochester, NY, August 22nd, 2013. From A seat at the President’s table four years later

Of the 44 men who have served as President of the United States, 32 have stopped in Rochester before, during or after their term of office.  And two more sailed by within a few miles.

Today, Talker is pleased to present the Presidential Visits Series in its entirety. (BELOW) While new information undoubtedly will be added, the Series now represents the most comprehensive list and detailed reports of presidential visits to Rochester, bar none.

The series began in 2015 with a trip to Magnolia’s on Park Avenue in search of memorabilia displayed from President Barak Obama’s August 22nd, 2013 lunch break during his western New York bus tour.  Back in 2015, I had the Obama Special: Soup and Grilled Cheese Sandwich.

Every August 22nd since, I’ve again ordered the Special and written an update. Last August 22nd we were treated to an eyewitness report from Evalyn Gleason who actually shared that lunch in 2013 at Magnolia’s with President Obama.

17 sitting presidents have been in Rochester: Martin Van Buren 1839, Millard Fillmore 1851 , Andrew Johnson 1866 , Benjamin Harrison 1892 and also 1880, William McKinley 1897 and also 1880 and 1892, William Howard Taft 1911 and also 1908 and 1915, Franklin Delano Roosevelt 1936, 1940 and also 1920, 1928, 1930 and 1932, Harry Truman 1948, Dwight D. Eisenhower sometime between 1958 and 1960, Lyndon Baines Johnson 1964, Richard M. Nixon 1971 and also 1960, 1966 and 1968Gerald Ford 1976Jimmy Carter 1980 and also 1976, Ronald Reagan 1984, George H.W. Bush 1989 and also 1980 and 1984, George W. Bush 2005  and 2006, and Barack Obama 2013.   In addition, James Monroe (1817) and Zachary Taylor (1849) came very close to being here.

16 others visited prior to or after their presidencies:  Rutherford Hayes in 1834, John Quincy Adams 1843, James Tyler in 1847 and 1851. Abraham Lincoln was President-elect when he spoke in Rochester in February 1861 en route to his inauguration, Ulysses S. Grant 1866, James Garfield, 1880, Grover Cleveland 1884Theodore Roosevelt, multiple visits, Woodrow Wilson 1912, Warren Harding 1920, Herbert Hoover 1920, Calvin Coolidge was Vice President in 1922, Dwight Eisenhower 1952, John F. Kennedy 1959 and 1960, Bill Clinton 2011, 2012 and 2018, Donald Trump 2016 and then Vice President Joseph Biden 2014 and 2015 .Chester Arthur lived in Livingston County as a boy and may have passed through or visited Rochester.

Also included is the 1797 visit by Louis-Philippe who later became King of France and Marquis de Lafayette’s 1825 visit, as well as the 1964 New York Senate race between Robert Kennedy and Rochester’s Kenneth Keating and George McGovern’s rally during his 1972 campaign against Richard Nixon. While the 8th President did not visit, Nathaniel Gorham’s connection to Rochester is included. A recent addition is Aaron Burr in 1798, three years before he became vice president.

In Dan Quayle (1991), 12 sitting Vice Presidents are reviewed.

Also included are three presidential assassins who were in Rochester:  John Wilkes Booth in 1861 Charles Guiteau in 1877 and Leo Czolgosz in 1901.

In addition, William Jennings Bryan’s 1896 campaign visit is included. (Bryan also campaigned for president in Rochester in 1908.)

While researching and creating the series is a labor of love, it isn’t always easy. Until now, there has been no single source of information.  The site Rochester N.Y. – Today in History: A historical journal of life in Rochester, NY is a valuable resource but has many omissions. The digital D & C archives are invaluable but cumbersome.  Alas, the archives don’t have search mechanisms that easily recover relevant articles. The D & C and Times Union print clippings held in the Local History room at the Rochester Central Library attest to the diligence and commitment of generations of newspaper clippers, but are, alas, limited.  And researching old newspapers via old fashioned microfilm is interesting but time consuming.

For example, all we know about President William McKinley’s 1897 visit is from a single reference in a 1976 D & C article.  Although McKinley’s visit was only three minutes, we are including him as a sitting president. (McKinley also made a lengthy stop in 1892.)


Democrat and Chronicle, November 1, 1976

At the same time, all those visits to the Local History Room were made easier and more pleasurable by librarians Jay Osbourne, Emily Morry and Brandon Fess who provided invaluable historical background on local newspapers and Reconstruction.

Special thanks goes to Alex White, owner of Boldo’s Armory. Alex kindly accepted my request that he read four presidential memoirs, each written before the men became president: Eisenhower’s Crusade over Europe (1948),  Nixon’s Six Crises (1962), Reagan’s Where’s the rest of me? (1965) and Carter’s Why Not the Best? (1976).  Alex provided many historical and political insights, especially for Eisenhower’s 1952 campaign stop.

Also, political scientist Dr. Bruce Howard Kay provided extensive analysis on the 1972 election and Bush II.

Michael J. Nighan wrote on Louis-Philippe, James Monroe, Martin Van Buren, Zachary Taylor, Millard Fillmore, Abraham Lincoln, John Wilkes Booth, Rutherford B. Hayes, James Garfield, Chester Arthur, Theodore Roosevelt, Charles Guiteau, Leo Czolgosz and William Howard Taft.¹


Half the fun are the photo-op field trips: The old aqueduct on the Broad Street Bridge, Exchange Street, James Monroe High School, Mt. Hope Cemetery, Washington Square Park,  the railroad bridge at the Inner Loop and Mill Street, Theodore Roosevelt School #43, Adlai Stevenson School # 29, the Northstar Christian Academy, Wilson Magnet High School, Temple B’rith Kodesh, the War Memorial, Monroe Community College, the Rochester Institute of Technology, the Kenneth B. Keating Federal Building, the Vietnam Veteran’s Walk of Honor in Highland Park, the University of Rochester, Magnolia’s and Scottsville Road near the airport.

In The President who owned Rochester, it was the 8th President


ROYALTY ON THE RIVER: A KING (and maybe a second king, and even an emperor) COME TO ROCHESTER

Falls - July 12, 1797

Genesee River Falls – July 12, 1797

In The First Big Name – and (Almost) Third President – Comes to Rochester….Probably, Aaron Burr probably visited.

Daniel Breaker as Aaron Burr in Hamilton.



James Monroe High School, Alexander Street

In Sarah, we were there too! “Lafayette in the SOMEWHAT United States”and Rochester, a plaque for a Frenchman in downtown Rochester.

1 Exchange Street

1 Exchange Street

In Master Rutherford Hayes Comes to Town . . . and Perhaps Little Chet Arthur as Well, it was young Rutherford crossing the Genesee on the old Erie Canal Aqueduct in 1834.

Broad Street Bridge

Broad Street Bridge

In Martin Van Buren: The Little Magician pops up in Rochester, it was 1839.


Rochester Daily Advertiser, September 6th, 1839.

In When President John Quincy Adams visited Rochester on July 27th and 28th, 1843 and toured Mt. Hope Cemetery, the grave of Nathaniel Rochester.

Nathaniel Rochester’s grave on his tour of Mt. Hope Cemetery. Between West and Glenn Avenues in the R section, the grave is # 15 in the Mount Hope Cemetery Pocket Guide.

In Millard Who?, Millard Fillmore in 1851.

Rochester in 1853

Rochester in 1853 at the time of Fillmore’s visits. Reproduced in 1973 by HISTORICAL URBAN PLANS, Ithaca, New York from a lithograph in the Cornell University Library. This is number 208 of an edition limited to 500 copies. [Owned by David Kramer]

….and (finally) Tyler Too ! is was Tyler and a Fair.

The New York State Fair at Rochester

In On Abraham Lincoln in Rochester from Michael Nighan, a plaque and a train station.


In John Wilkes Booth Slept (and Slipped) Here, it is Lincoln’s assassin a few months before the 1861 inauguration.Location of Metropolitan Theatre (within circle)

In When President Andrew Johnson and Ulysses S. Grant visited Rochester in the Swing Around the Circle, two Presidents for the price of one.

President Johnson (man on platform facing left) spent 15 minutes in Geneva in 1866; his railroad car stopped next to the Tompkins House on the northwest corner of Lewis and Exchange streets.

President Johnson (man on platform facing left) spent 15 minutes in Geneva in 1866; his railroad car stopped next to the Tompkins House on the northwest corner of Lewis and Exchange streets.

In Charlie Guiteau: Goofiness, God and a Gun, another presidential assassin.10 c New York State Fair

In Garfield Reaches Rochester on the Presidential Trifecta Campaign Train, August 4th, 1880, it was three presidents for the price of one.

Matt DeLaus

The Rochester Garfield, McKinley and Harrison would have encountered. Birdseye view, 1880 by Beck & Pauli. Owned by Matt DeLaus and displayed at Earth Day events on Parcel 5, April 22nd, 2018 [Photo: David Kramer]

In Memorial Day, 1892, when President Benjamin Harrison dedicated the Soldier’s and Sailor’s Monument in Washington Square Park with Frederick Douglass. And Occupy Rochester, Benjamin Harrison, Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass in the same park Occupy would occupy.


Democrat and Chronicle, May 31, 1892

November 1st, 1892 when McKinley campaigned for Benjamin Harrison, more support for Harrison.


02 Nov 1892, Wed, Rochester Democrat and Chronicle

In The 2020 Republican National Convention and William Jennings Bryan’s speech at Brown’s Square, August 26th, 1896, Democrat Bryan speaks in Brown’s Square during his “Whistle Stop” campaign against Republican William McKinley.

Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, August 27th, 1896

In Leon and “Red Emma”, it is Leo Czolgosz who killed McKinley and was jeered at the Rochester train station.Emma 5 Goldman cropped

In October, 26th, 1898: the Rough Rider on his way to the Governor’s mansion. TR Comes to Town, again…and again…and again… by Michael Nighan., a statue of Teddy in Theodore Roosevelt School #43, Lyell Ave.


Inside Theodore Roosevelt School #43 on a visit by student volunteers from St. John Fisher College April, 2015

When Taft spoke at Convention Hall on August 23rd, 1911, the Grand Army of the Republic.


Taft in Rochester, 8/23/11

When Wilson spoke at Convention Hall and the Shubert Theatre four days before elected President, a three way race.

75 W. Main Street, Rochester, NY

@1908. The National Theater (opened in 1902) was renamed Theater Shubert prior to 1913. 75 W. Main Street, Rochester, NY

In BIG BILL, BIG BELL AND SCHOOL BELLS: An ex-president, the Liberty Bell, and several thousand school teachers come to town. William Howard Taft again.

The Liberty Bell in Rochester


Rachel Barnhart next to the granite block memorial for FDR across from the former Convention Hall (Geva Theatre) where Roosevelt spoke on September 23rd, 1920 from Rachel’s Rebel Roots

In FDR’s first visit to Rochester as a national candidate, September 23rd, 1920. And the League of Nations., Rachel in Washington Square Park.

In October 21st, 1920 in Rochester and Governor Harding’s return to normalcy. And the school named after him., a school in North Gates.


On the steps outside the Northstar Christian Academy in North Gates (formerly the Harding School).

In Herbert Hoover finally found in Rochester, Hoover campaigned for Harding.

Democrat and Chronicle, 19 Oct 1920, Tue, Page 20

Democrat and Chronicle, 19 Oct 1920, Tue, Page 20

In Governor Roosevelt’s triumphant return to the Convention Hall, October 18th, 1932, the first of his four wins.


Convention Hall is now the site of Geva. Gift from Lucian Waddell. ceramic miniature: “Geva Theatre, Rochester, New York, Performing at the Richard Pine Theatre, 25th Anniversary Season 1997 – 1998, Limited Edition”

In FDR in Rochester en route to a New Deal landslide, October 17th, 1936, an unfinished portrait.

The Unfinished Portrait by Elizabeth Shoumatoff. [gift of Jeanne Jackson to Carol Kramer]

In FDR in Rochester three days before he won a third term, a World War.

Democrat and Chronicle, 03 Nov 1940, Sun, Page 8

Democrat and Chronicle, 03 Nov 1940, Sun, Page 8

In When President Truman campaigned in Rochester en route to his upset win over NY Governor Thomas Dewey, it was Dewey’s second straight loss.


In October 23rd and 24th, 1952 when Ike and Adlai were in town back to back. And School 29., the Adlai E. Stevenson School.


88 Kirkland Road


Former President Dwight D. Eisenhower and Bob Hope, center, take part in the September 1965 groundbreaking for Eisenhower College in Seneca Falls. Also pictured, from left, are John Rosenkrans, New York Gov. Nelson Rockefeller, Earl McGrath and Scott Skinner. (Photo: File photo 1965)

In Ike’s secret visit to Rochester, we break the story of Ike’s secret visit.

In 56 years ago when JFK spoke at the War Memorial. Two days after his debate with Nixon. Nine days after RFK was here., a photo from Temple B’rith Kodesh.


Provided courtesy of Temple B’rith Kodesh, Elmwood Avenue

In Nixon at the War Memorial one week before he lost a razor thin election to JFK , the War Memorial.


The War Memorial in downtown Rochester

In LBJ and RFK in Rochester, October 15th,1964, LBJ and RFK at the airport.

Lyndon Baines Johnson Building, Rochester Institute of Technology

Lyndon Baines Johnson Building, Rochester Institute of Technology

In November 3rd, 1964: When Rochester’s Senator Keating lost to RFK in the wake of LBJ’s landslide. a Federal building.


The Kenneth B. Keating Federal Building, 100 State Street.

In In ’68 when Vice President Humphrey and former Vice President Nixon campaigned in Rochester, the election that defined the ’60s.


Vietnam Veteran’s Memorial Walk of Honor in Highland Park

In 45 years ago when President Nixon visited Rochester. And 3 days later when East High School erupted in racial violence a media briefing at the Landmark Hotel in Pittsford.

20. M

Democrat and Chronicle, June 18th, 1971

In In ’72 when McGovern campaigned in Rochester before Nixon’s landslide victory, it was another win for Nixon.


Vietnam Veteran’s Memorial Walk of Honor in Highland Park

In When Carter stumped Rochester in ’76. And Howard the Duck. it was Howard for Prez.


From the Howard the Duck series, 1976

In October 31st, 1976: Gerald Ford two days before the unelected president’s comeback falls just short., a Playboy


From the Howard the Duck series, 1976

In October 29th, 1980: Carter at a rally six days before the Reagan revolution. And when Bernie Sanders campaigned for Barry Commoner, the Citizen’s Party.


(1965) Scanned courtesy of Benjamin Scwabe, Small World Books

In November 1st, 1984: Ronald Reagan five days before his 49 state landslide. And Jesse Jackson at MCC. And a liberal enclave. it was two rallies.


In 27 years ago today when President George H. W. Bush visited Wilson Magnet High School, a signed chalkboard.

Held at Wilson Magnet High School, Genesee Street.

In 30 years ago today, Vice President Dan Quayle visited and eleven other sitting VP’s who came to Rochester, it was even Schulyler Colfax.

Some of Schulyler Colfax’s papers. Courtesy of Rare Books, Special Collections, and Preservation, River Campus Libraries, University of Rochester.


In May 24th, 2005 when President Bush spent political capital in Greece. it is Dr. Bruce Kay


Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, May 25th, 2004

In 11 years ago when President Bush met J-Mac. And the judgment of history., J-Mac and the Iraq War


Julie Everitt and Carol Kramer at a rally in Washington, D.C. From The long vigil for peace on the corner of East and Goodman

In 5 Meliora Weekends ago when President Clinton spoke., Great Books with President Seligman.


Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, 10/21/11

In On October 19th, 2012 when Bill Clinton campaigned for Louise Slaughter. And a Socialist at the public market, Peta Lyndsay.


Democrat and Chronicle 20 Oct 2012 Sat Main Edition

In A seat from the President’s table five years later five years of soup and a grilled cheese sandwich at Magnolia’s.

Composite 2-page0001

1st top, with Presidential grilled cheese and soup, now the Obama Special (2016); 2nd top, with Magnolia’s hostess Devin Congdon (2015); 3rd top, with Obama Special (2015); 4th top, Evalyn Gleason and Barack Obama (2013); 1st bottom, (2018); 2nd bottom, local comic Malcolm Whitfield with Obama Special (2018); 3rd bottom, with Obama Special (2017); 4th bottom with Brian Palermo who cooked for President Obama that day (2016).

In Next stop Albany. On the road with the Trumprenuers, the Trumprenuers at the airport.

Jessica Rowe from Scottsville with her new hat. Scottsville Road

Jessica Rowe from Scottsville with her new hat. Scottsville Road

In Among thousands at Kodak Hall, former President Bill Clinton mourns Louise, love for Louise.

Buckland Park

Flag at half mast to honor Louise Slaughter, Buckland Park, Brighton, 3/22/18

In Talker declares Biden to be election winner; Joe joins the Presidential Visits to Rochester series, the Vice President Biden spends an afternoon at Monroe Community College.

Vice President Joe Biden speaks about the critical role community colleges play in filling high-demand jobs during his visit to Monroe Community College’s Applied Technologies Center in Rochester, N.Y., on Jan. 29, 2014 Joining him on stage were Mike Mandina, president of Optimax Systems and MCC alumnus, and Dr. Jill Biden, who teaches at Northern Virginia Community College (Annandale, Va.). Photo by Monroe Community College/Vasiliy Baziuk.

In Which Presidential election mattered the most to you?,a poll at the poll.


Photo: poll worker Vinod Bajaj

In Memories of presidential visits on Election Day in Brighton, a vote for Talker.


Election Day, 2016. Note: the photo of me holding the ballot sleeve does not technically violate New York Election Law § 17-130(10) as I did not show my completed ballot. The state law makes it a misdemeanor for any voter to show their ballot “after it is prepared for voting, to any person so as to reveal the contents,” or for anyone to solicit a voter to show their ballot after it’s been prepared. The logic is that such a prohibition prevents people from selling their vote and being able to prove that they did so.

In Third parties at the Brookside polling place (25th Congressional District), some long shots.

My vote: # 104 at this machine. Election Monitor Jim Harald kindly took the photo and gave me an "I Voted" sticker.

My vote: # 104 at this machine. Election Monitor Jim Harald kindly took the photo and gave me an “I Voted” sticker.


1. After reviewing the series, Nighan commented:

Everyone seems to be covered. Democrats, Republicans, Democratic-Republicans, Whigs, Know Nothings, and monarchists.  I’m pretty sure we have all visits by incumbent presidents covered. But I suspect that, given the transportation network (Rochester being on one of the two main railroad routes from the west to NYC and DC, albeit the lest direct route) and the proximity of the scenic delights of Niagara Falls for those traveling from the east, a few future presidents (such as Garfield) and some ex-presidents (Hayes and Arthur seem the likeliest) may have passed through Rochester without making a splash. I’ll keep checking. I must admit though that the comprehensive-looking list of presidential visits issued by the Association for a Buffalo Presidential Center doesn’t have a record of visits by those three either. Seems difficult to believe that every president from Cleveland to Trump has stopped here at one time or another, but during Rochester’s boom town days after the completion of the Erie Canal, and while New York was the most populous state in the Union, so many past/future presidents ignored us.

UPDATE: Since writing this, Nighan discovered Garfield in 1880.  Then, he discovered Hayes as a boy and possibly Arthur as a boy. Then Tyler, twice.

About The Author

Welcome to Talker of the Town! My name is David Kramer. I have a Ph.D in English and teach at Keuka College. I am a former and still active Fellow at the Nazareth College Center for Public History and a Storyteller in Residence at the SmallMatters Institute. Over the years, I have taught at Monroe Community College, the Rochester Institute of Technology and St. John Fisher College. I have published numerous Guest Essays, Letters, Book Reviews and Opinion pieces in The New York Times, Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, the Buffalo News, the Rochester Patriot, the Providence Journal, the Providence Business News, the Brown Alumni Magazine, the New London Day, the Boston Herald, the Messenger Post Newspapers, the Wedge, the Empty Closet, the CITY, Lake Affect Magazine and Brighton Connections. My poetry appears in The Criterion: An International Journal in English and Rundenalia and my academic writing in War, Literature and the Arts and Twentieth Century Literary Criticism. Starting in February 2013, I wrote for three Democratic and Chronicle  blogs, "Make City Schools Better," "Unite Rochester," and the "Editorial Board." When my tenure at the D & C  ended, I wanted to continue conversations first begun there. And start new ones.  So we created this new space, Talker of the Town, where all are invited to join. I don’t like to say these posts are “mine.” Very few of them are the sole product of my sometimes overheated imagination. Instead, I call them partnerships and collaborations. Or as they say in education, “peer group work.” Talker of the Town might better be Talkers of the Town. The blog won’t thrive without your leads, text, pictures, ideas, facebook shares, tweets, comments and criticisms.


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