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225 Falls Street

Its rococo charm has been a signature feature of the city landscape for a century. At one time it was an anchor on a busy urban arterial, at another time it was a lone sentinel muted by the din of wrecking balls and dump trucks but it was always a witness to commercial, demographic, and regulatory caprices in Niagara Falls, NY.

In very few other places in the world, the term “Urban Renewal” is not as strong a curse word as it is in this neighborhood. More than half a century later, the economic refugees of a certain age will use it in every possible shape of disdain, derision, and disgust. Numerous works of scholarship exist on this urban planning aspect and the addition here is not one of nostalgia but rather a subjective celebration of its resulting Modernist quilt blanketing re-purposed railroad tracks and canal beds.
Afterall, the address itself is not a national memory like 7 World Trade Center, Pennsylvania Station, or the Larkin Soap Building. It is however a figurative fulcrum that the nation’s progressive experiment of fair housing, urban design, and public investment were sharply pulled up, through, and down. Other buildings may have a better pedigree, or been the site of former singular glory, but from its windows, a diorama of the decisions of the day still develops today.
Explore unexpected consequences of the fight against blight in the following sections.

This Act of Congress was a contentious coda to decades of consternation by naturalists, industrialists, and statists. Ten years after D-Day, the Supreme Court decided that New York State could build & license its hydroelectric resources. Just two years later, the destruction of the means of electrical production and its profitable reasons for capital issuance fell into the Niagara River. This tragic act of God provided, in a circuitous route, the equivalent of 1.2 billion 2015 dollars to the state for “primarily for the benefit of the people as consumers”.
Click here to review the Robert Moses Niagara Power Project
Click here to review the Robert Moses Niagara Parkway
Click here to review the Lewiston-Queenston Bridge

The allure of the Honeymoon Capital of the world was quickly made more inaccessible after the war. Despite being prominent in songs like Shuffle Off to Buffalo in 1932, and Let’s Get Away in 1940, in 1956, American Airlines left its aerie on the boulevard, in 1962 the New York Central stopped delivering passengers to its station on Falls Street, and Greyhound stopped direct service in 1965. In 1968, the fourteen heads of the local companies were met in New York City to discuss what to do with the downtown area now absent of shoppers, visitors, and residents. Their ideas, and mostly Federal money, wrought an entirely new downtown.
Click here to review the Carborundum Building
Click here to review the Convention Center
Click here to review the Hilton Hotel
Click here to review the Wintergarden

With the tumultous decline of the nation's railroads in the 1960s, thousands of poorly maintained and/or derelict facilities were abandoned. Oftentimes, these facilities were on huge tracts of land. It was a no-brainer, during this burgeoning period, for municipalities to reclaim urban parcels and put them to public uses. Despite the ridicule of Urban Renewal, here are examples of commonweal:
Click here to review the Earl W. Brydges Library
Click here to review the Harry F. Abate Elementary School

The Empire State Building may be hundreds of miles from the American Falls, but the Hudson River was never too far from the Niagara River before this period. Practically every significant edifice in Niagara Falls, NY had a link to decisions made in Manhattan. The beautiful mural of the Empire State in the lobby there tells a foreign story today, but of 1940, there was no contrast between the rivers' banks.
Click here to review the Rainbow Bridge
Click here to review the Niagara Hudson Building
Click here to review the Carnegie Library
Click here to review the Lehigh-Valley Railroad Yard
Click here to review the Niagara Falls Power Company Works

There were numerous more investments made along the Niagara that go unmentioned here. Their initial sponsor may be from private sources, constructed largely before or after the review period, and may have more local charm but less to do with the scope of the analysis. The editors provided the consideration but the selection was mine. –Ed.

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