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MURAL RECALLS CITY AS IT WAS A CENTURY AGO

Ladies wearing elaborate gowns and gloves look across a dusty road in 1906 to see a display of rushing water with twice the intensity it has now.

A vivid painting depicting a typical street scene in a growing and bustling Niagara Falls area could be a lucky charm for its new City Hall home.

Landscape artist Paul Hanover's oil painting, "View from Clifton House," was hung Wednesday above the marble steps between the first and second floors of City Hall at 745 Main St., before a crowd of city leaders.

The 12-foot-long rectangular piece of local history easily catches the eye, and is a reproduction of Hanover's original 8-foot painting that remains in his Buffalo Avenue studio.

Part of his Historic Niagara series -- which he began in 1990 -- the large piece took about four months to paint during 1996.

Niagara Falls developer Frank Amendola, who bought the painting in 2000, said he didn't have enough space to display the piece in his Niagara Office Building, the former Carborundum Office Building on Buffalo Avenue.

Amendola said he loaned the piece to City Hall because he is impressed with the current administration's friendliness toward businesses.

"This gives a lot of people the opportunity to enjoy it, like it's been enjoyed at the office building," said Mayor Vincenzo V. Anello at the public unveiling.

Hanover, who makes his living as an artist, began painting when he was a child and developed an early interest in the history and landscape of the Niagara Falls area.

"This painting took a long time because I had to go back in time and do research," Hanover said. "The base of the falls would change every year."

To get the right angle, the Buffalo-born artist climbed a 45-foot ladder on the site of the old Clifton House, a guest house in downtown Niagara Falls, Ont., where he made sketches and took photographs.

The finished product includes the old Honeymoon Bridge -- which was destroyed during an ice jam in 1938 -- a Niagara Gorge rail car and view of the American and Bridal Veil Falls when they flowed full force.

After reading first-hand accounts, making numerous trips to Canada and using old postcards, Hanover said he feels he got the right perspective.

"When I began this series the goal was to make it as real as possible so I could transport the viewer back," Hanover said. "People take it for granted what has occurred in this region. There is so much history."

e-mail: gnorheim@buffnews.com

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