City of Niagara Falls celebrates 125th anniversary
NIAGARA FALLS, NEW YORK – The city of Niagara Falls is gearing up to celebrate the 125th anniversary of its incorporation.
The city was formed out of the villages of Manchester and Suspension Bridge on Mar 17, 1892. Governor Roswell Flowers was convinced to sign the incorporation bill on St. Patrick’s day by Thomas Welch, an Irish-American that had served in the New York State Assembly. Welch was also Supervisor of the Town of Niagara, Superintendent of the State Reservation at Niagara, and a Trustee of Niagara University.
A committee was formed in January to help celebrate the anniversary. The NF125 Anniversary Committee is headed by City Historian Elaine Timm, and will help showcase the city’s past, present and future. The logo for the celebration consists of the city seal surrounded by roses, the city’s official flower.
To kick of the celebration, an exhibit on the early history of the Cataract city is running at the Niagara Falls Public Library. “Who We Are: Orrin E. Dunlap and the Story of Niagara Falls” runs through Mar 30.
The anniversary coincides with a recent interest in redeveloping the city’s historic areas. Empire State Development is currently in talks to redevelop the Hotel Niagara. Marilyn Monroe famously stayed at the art deco era hotel during the filming of her 1953 film “Niagara”. The proposed Wonder Falls resort complex is also expected to be built on the site of the Rainbow Centre mall. Gov. Andrew Cuomo has also proposed the purchasing of large portions of land downtown in order to put the properties back on the market. These properties, such as the former Native American Cultural Center building, are distinct pieces of the city landscape.
The anniversary celebration also ties into several proposed community events, including a movement to bring back the Festival of Lights. The holiday event was cancelled in 2004, although a smaller event has been held at Hyde Park in recent years.
The annual Memorial Day parade may also see a boost from the anniversary celebration. The parade was saved from cancellation last year by City Councilmen Ezra Scott Jr. and Ken Tompkins, as well as a flood of community donations.
The city of Niagara Falls has seen a boost in historic recognition in recent years. Oakwood Cemetery was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2014. The 2009 demolition of the former winter garden building allowed for the recreation of Old Falls Street. The Old Stone Chimney, a stone structure once connected to a French and British fort, was recently moved to a more visible location along the Niagara Scenic Parkway. A portion of the parkway is also set to be removed in a massive land reclamation project by the State Park.
This year also marks the 90th anniversary of the Village of LaSalle becoming part of the city of Niagara Falls. LaSalle was formerly part of the Town of Niagara, but was annexed by the city in 1927.