Durand Eastman Park is a 977-acre (3.95 km2) park located partly in Rochester, and partly in Irondequoit, New York. It is administered by the Monroe County Parks Department under agreements with the City of Rochester and the Town of Irondequoit.
The 977-acre (3.95 km2) park contains several lakes; the two largest are Durand Lake and Eastman Lake. The park's northern boundary is defined by 5,000 feet (1,500 m) of Lake Ontario coastline. The most commonly used parts of the park are within Rochester; the more remote areas are part of Irondequoit. The park is almost completely surrounded by Irondequoit, and is connected to Rochester by an easement.
At the turn of the century, Dr. Henry S. Durand owned a summer camp in Irondequoit. He and his friend George Eastman saw a need for a public park in the area, and towards this end, bought a number of farms around the Durand property. On January 28, 1907, they offered their land to the city of Rochester, "to be used as a public park forever, a tract of land of about 484 acres situate in the Town of Irondequoit on Lake Ontario", thus giving the common citizen rights to nearly a mile of public beach and adjacent lands on the Lake's shoreline. One year later the land was transferred to the city.
Durand-Eastman Park was formally dedicated on May 22, 1909. Historically, the beach at Durand-Eastman was much wider than it is today. In 1915, bath houses were built on the lakeshore. They became unusable in 1949 due to rising water levels. The buildings were eventually demolished. There once was a zoo in the park, home to numerous animals.
In 1961, the City of Rochester made a 99-year agreement with the County of Monroe to maintain, administer and regulate Durand-Eastman Park. This agreement was later modified in 1975, but forms the basis for Durand-Eastman being a county park. In 2001, the City of Rochester sold the 90.9 acres (36.8 ha) along the western edge of Durand-Eastman Park, commonly known as Camp Eastman, to the Town of Irondequoit. The city remains responsible for maintenance of the park's beach.
On July 14, 2016, a vehicle was stolen in the town of Greece and was driven to Durand Eastman Park. The suspects then left the vehicle and fired shots at police, but no one was hit. Armored SWAT vehicles were brought into the park and SWAT officers swept the entire park in an effort to locate the suspects. The park was deemed safe by the Rochester Police Department shortly after midnight.
Durand-Eastman Park has a variety of trees and wildflowers. A 1937 source claims that the park "contains 395 varieties of native and foreign trees, shrubs, and plants." The park's Slavin Arboretum contains an impressive collection of trees.
Deer, raccoon, eastern gray squirrels, turkey, and chipmunks are common animals in the park.
The park has a municipal golf course, built as a 9-hole course in 1917, that was redesigned by Robert Trent Jones in 1933. Now it has 18 holes and a club house. There are hiking trails. Swimming was permitted at the park's Lake Ontario beach in 2006 for the first time in forty years. In May 2007, the beach opened for the second straight season with a slightly larger swimming area, extending an additional 25 yards (23 m) west. The beach is staffed by lifeguards, groundspeople, and security personnel.
The legend of the White Lady exists in Durand Eastman Park. The legend of the white lady is very popular among locals, often used to scare teens who go there seeking privacy, making it a common spot for lovers to slip off to. The white lady herself was very protective of her daughter. She often warned her to never go near any men, telling her that they were ill-willed. Some say that her daughter followed her mother's wishes, and others say that she would sneak out to see boys in the night. On one of these nights, the daughter told her mother that she was going out for a walk along the shore, and would be back soon. When her daughter never returned, the woman was positive that her daughter had been raped and/or murdered. Every evening the neighbors would see her walking along the shores of the beach, calling her daughter's name. Other times they would see her walking in the fores with her German Shepard, looking for where her daughter was buried, always in a white dress. She grew so grief-stricken that she threw herself over a cliff into lake Ontario, committing suicide. The locals say that on foggy nights, or nights of the full moon, you can see her misty form looking for her daughter, with her German Shepard by her side. They also say that she takes a certain disliking to men, especially those who are hurtful towards woman. Some say that she even rattles their cars, and chases them toward the lake, but never harms the woman accompanying them.