As the 21st century begins, Niagara Falls, N.Y., is without a historical society and historian. To make matters much worse, the city has lost most of its collection of important artifacts. Efforts to get them back have been in vain.
The greatest loss to the city, however, has been the many buildings razed in the name of "progress." Certainly, all old buildings could or should not have been saved, but every effort should have been made to save those which were of great historical importance.
Among the victims of the wrecker's ball were: Augustus Porter's house; the Strand and Cataract theaters; the New York Central passenger railroad station; the Edward Dean Adams Power Station; the original "home of Shredded Wheat"; Charles Hall's house, with its all-aluminum roof; Arthur Schoellkopf's house on the corner of Main Street and Pine Avenue; the Sears building; James Trott's house; the Niagara Falls Museum; and the first schoolhouse.
Recently, while great improvements were under way, the local history department of the public library was forced to drastically reduce its staff and services. This will surely make it difficult for patrons to search for information.
Why have these things happened to one of the most historical cities in the world? Should people care? Yes!
History answers many questions about the present, such as: why are things the way they are; who or what made them that way; when did things happen; how did things come about? History also gives a community its identity, pride and soul.
Could the terrible condition of Niagara Falls today be the result of a loss of its identity, pride and soul? Yes!
What can be done? Organize another active historical society, select a new city historian, seek funding for the library, put a halt to the demolition of historically special and unique buildings. Also, educate the general population about their wonderful heritage, then share that heritage with the millions of visitors in a great museum and specially showcased historical sites.
Lately, a number of concerned citizens have been trying to save the old Niagara Falls High School. Let the line be drawn there. Let their movement be the beginning of the rebirth of the city's identity, pride and soul!