Imagine a Niagara Falls that isn’t fearful or chained down by willful ignorance. A Niagara Falls that welcomes new ideas, creativity, and risk-takers. A Niagara Falls that rises up to the occasion and blows away expectations in everything we do. If you attended last month’s Niagara Falls Music and Art Festival on Old Falls Street, you saw that type of thinking in action.
With recent improvements to Old Falls Street and neighboring businesses, the Downtown core is beginning to show significant signs of growth and progress. These improvements were on display for the thousands of festival goers, made up of both residents and tourists. Main Street Business Association President Rick Crogan and his dedicated volunteer team executed a magnificent event that lined the entire stretch of Old Falls Street with unique vendors showcasing their handcrafted products, tasteful cuisine, and more.
Throughout the entire event there seemed to be a steady flow of patrons exploring the works of various artists, craftsman, and food vendors from all over Western New York. The festival ambience was bolstered by the recent additions of outdoor dining accommodations by TGIFs and Savor, the fine dining restaurant located inside the NCCC Culinary Institute. Old Falls Street’s recent and branding improvement aided the effort to create a beautiful setting and an even better festival atmosphere. The product delivered by the festival organizers exceeded my preconceived expectations based on its predecessor, the Main Street Music & Arts Festival, which took place in 2011 and again in 2012. This year’s festival showed tremendous progress and provided a glimpse into a bright future for festivals in Downtown Niagara Falls. With a unified effort and a willingness to persevere, great events can occur.
Rick Crogan and his team had a vision and they relentlessly pursued it, never measuring the festivals future success against its past blunders. There isn’t room for ordinary thinking anymore. The dire state of the city is anything but ordinary and needs innovative solutions to cure the problems plaguing our community. Take a look around at other struggling cities; you’ll quickly find that what we in Niagara Falls consider innovative is actually a standard in those places. Mural arts programs in Philadelphia are revitalizing neighborhoods. “Pop-Up” art galleries are bringing life to vacant commercial storefronts in Chicago. We must begin to think BIG as Rick Crogran did and take back our city. If nothing changes, nothing changes. Reclaiming our prosperity and rebuilding our legacy as a destination community isn’t going to happen if we continue to think inside the box. Remember this saying come election time later on this year, “If you do what you've always done, you'll get what you've always gotten.”
While Downtown Niagara Falls lost many of its historic buildings during the period of Urban Renewal, the Buffalo Avenue corridor still retains some excellent examples of various styles of architecture and homes that were once the residences of prominent figures in our city's history. Read through this document to gain more insight into the history of the Buffalo Avenue.
Currently Being redeveloped into a Courtyard Marriot
The Niagara Chocolate Company set the precedent and became the first company to allow the public into the factory to personally inspect their methods of manufacturing. As a result, the building that has been altered and redeveloped previously into Moore Business Forms, became a popular tourist attraction in the early 20th century. Now in 2013, the same building is currently being redeveloped into a Courtyard Marriot to welcome visitors in Downtown Niagara Falls.
Can you imagine the density and fabric of pre-urban renewal downtown Niagara Falls? The environment that existed during this time must have been incredible and quite an experience. Please feel free to share your memories on this page via comments. If you're interested in actually contributing on a formal discussion board, I can create that as well. This will help keep discussions somewhat organized and accessible to all.
This is an opportunity to own some of Niagara Falls', New York's most recognized and cherished buildings in Downtown Niagara Falls. The walls of these very buildings contain millions of memories of a long gone but not forgotten prosperous era of this city. The redevelopment would bring both economic and social capital to this starving corridor and provide for a great opportunity for a visionary developer to reclaim and recognize Main Street's rich heritage. Recent investments in the Niagara Falls Public Administration Complex and the continued development of Niagara Falls Transportation and Interpretative Center indicate that this thoroughfare may once again be on the move. The potential is there but are there any willing developer's out there willing to take the risk? In the meantime, lets turn this into something for the community to enjoy! Please leave your ideas and suggestions for interim use of these buildings! .
Stay Tuned for an Announcement of Noted Downtown Expert Chuck D'Aprix's Visit to Our Beloved Main Street!