Look back through its history far enough and you’ll discover that Rochester, just a shade above a million in population today, was one of the country’s first boomtowns. The fertile Genesee River Valley fueled a boom in flour mills, then manufacturing, then again with world-rattling innovation, from Kodak, to Western Union, to Xerox. Today, the third-largest city in New York state may no longer boast the head offices it once did, but the redbrick, old-world charm, stately homes (now so affordable) and legacy of research and development remain entrenched. Several of the region’s universities (including the University of Rochester and Rochester Institute of Technology, ranked #14 in our University subcategory) have renowned research programs. The city’s ranking of #21 in Educational Attainment and #20 in Safety speak volumes about the good hands that this former industrial titan is in.