Niagara Falls, New York facts for kids

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Niagara Falls, New York
City
City of Niagara Falls
The city of Niagara Falls. In the foreground are the waterfalls known as the American Falls and Bridal Veil Falls, respectively, from left to right.
The city of Niagara Falls. In the foreground are the waterfalls known as the American Falls and Bridal Veil Falls, respectively, from left to right.
Nickname(s): Niagara Falls, USA, Honeymoon Capital of the World
Location in Niagara County and the state of New York.
Location in Niagara County and the state of New York.
Country United States
State New York
County Niagara
Area
 • City 16.8 sq mi (43.5 km2)
 • Land 14.1 sq mi (36.4 km2)
 • Water 2.8 sq mi (7.1 km2)  16.37%
 • Urban 366.7 sq mi (949.7 km2)
Elevation 614 ft (187 m)
Population (2013)
 • City 49,468
 • Density 3,955.7/sq mi (1,527.3/km2)
 • Urban 935,906 (US: 46th)
 • Urban density 2,663.5/sq mi (1,028.37/km2)
 • Metro 1,134,155 (US: 50th)
Time zone Eastern (EST) (UTC-5)
 • Summer (DST) EDT (UTC-4)
ZIP codes 14301-14305
Area code(s) 716
FIPS code 36-51055
GNIS feature ID 0970406
Demonym Niagarian, Niagara Fallsite
Website Official website

Niagara Falls (/nˈæɡrə/ ny-AG-ra) is a city in Niagara County, New York, United States. As of the 2010 census, the city had a total population of 50,193, down from the 55,593 recorded in the 2000 census. It is adjacent to the Niagara River, across from the city of Niagara Falls, Ontario, and named after the famed Niagara Falls which they share. The city is within the Buffalo–Niagara Falls Metropolitan Statistical Area as well as the Western New York region.

While the city was formerly occupied by Native Americans, Europeans who migrated to the Niagara Falls in the mid-17th century began to open businesses and develop infrastructure. Later in the 18th and 19th centuries, scientists and businessmen began harnessing the power of the Niagara River for electricity and the city began to attract manufacturers and other businesses that were drawn by the promise of inexpensive hydroelectric power. After the 1960s, however, the city and region witnessed an economic decline consistent with the rest of the Rust Belt as industries left the city and affluent families relocated to nearby suburbs. Globalization has played a large role in the decline of manufacturing in the city.

Despite the decline in heavy industry, Niagara Falls State Park and the downtown area closest to the falls continue to thrive as a result of tourism. The population, however, has continued to decline from a peak of 102,394 in the 1960s due to the loss of manufacturing jobs in the area.

History

Before Europeans entered the area, it was dominated by the Neutral Nation of Native Americans. European migration into the area began in the 17th century. The first recorded European to visit the area was Frenchman Robert de la Salle, accompanied by Belgian priest Louis Hennepin, who was the first known European to see the falls. The influx of newcomers may have been a catalyst for already hostile native tribes to turn to open warfare in competition for the fur trade.

The City of Niagara Falls was incorporated on March 17, 1892 from the villages of Manchester and Suspension Bridge, which were parts of the Town of Niagara. Thomas Vincent Welch, a member of the charter committee and a New York state assemblyman and a second-generation Irishman, persuaded Governor Roswell P. Flower to sign the bill on St. Patrick's Day. George W. Wright was elected the first mayor of Niagara Falls.

By the end of the 19th century, the city was a heavy industrial area, due in part to the power potential offered by the Niagara River. Tourism was considered a secondary niche, while manufacturing of petrochemicals, abrasives, metallurgical products and other materials was the main producer of jobs and attracted a large number of workers, many of whom were immigrants.

Niagara Falls, mill district on American shore, ca. 1900
The Niagara Falls mill district downriver from the American Falls, 1900.

In 1927, the city annexed the village of La Salle from the Town of Niagara. The village was named for the French explorer Robert de la Salle., who built his ship, the Griffon, on the shores of the Niagara River five miles east.

Industry and tourism grew steadily throughout the first half of the 20th century due to a high demand for industrial products and the increased mobility of people to travel. Paper, rubber, plastics, petrochemicals, carbon insulators and abrasives were among the city's major industries. This prosperity would end by the late 1960s as aging industrial plants moved to less expensive locations. In addition, the falls were incompatible with modern shipping technology.

In 1956, the Schoellkopf Power Plant on the lower river just downstream of the American Falls was critically damaged due to a massive collapse of the Niagara Gorge wall above it. This prompted the planning and construction of one of the largest hydroelectric plants to be built in North America at that time, causing a large influx of workers and families to move to the area. New York City urban planner Robert Moses built the new power plant in nearby Lewiston, New York. Much of the power generated there fuels growing demands for power in Downstate New York and New York City.

The neighborhood of Love Canal gained national media attention in 1978 when toxic contamination from a chemical waste landfill located beneath it forced United States President Jimmy Carter to declare a state of emergency, the first such presidential declaration made for a non-natural disaster. Hundreds of residents were evacuated from the area, many of whom were ill because of exposure to chemical waste.

Love Canal protest
The contaminated neighborhood of Love Canal received national attention in 1978.

After the Love Canal disaster, the city witnessed a reversal of fortunes, as the costs of producing materials elsewhere became lower than in Niagara Falls. Several factories closed, the population dropped by half, and workers fled the city in search of jobs elsewhere. Much like the nearby city of Buffalo, the city's economy plummeted downward when a failed urban renewal project took place resulting in the destruction of Falls Street and the tourist district.

In 2001, the leadership of Laborers Local 91 was found guilty of extortion, racketeering and other crimes following an exposé by Mike Hudson of the Niagara Falls Reporter. Union boss Michael "Butch" Quarcini died before trial began, while the rest of the union leadership was sentenced to prison.

American and Bridalveil Falls 7
View of city and American Falls from Niagara Falls, Ontario.

In early 2010, former Niagara Falls Mayor Vincent Anello was indicted on federal charges of corruption, alleging that the mayor accepted $40,000 in loans from a businessman who was later awarded a no-bid lease on city property. The charges were dropped as part of a plea deal after Anello plead guilty to unrelated charges of pension fraud, regarding a pension from the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, of which he is a member. He was ultimately sentenced to 10 to 16 months in prison.

The decline of the city was given national exposure by Bloomberg Businessweek in 2010.

On November 30, 2010, the New York State Attorney General entered into an agreement with the city and its police department to create new policies to govern police practices in response to claims of excessive force and police misconduct. The city will create policies and procedures to prevent and respond to allegations of excessive force, and to ensure that police are properly trained and complaints are properly investigated. Prior claims filed by residents will be evaluated by an independent panel.

The city has a number of properties on the National Register of Historic Places. It also has three national historic districts, including Chilton Avenue-Orchard Parkway Historic District, Deveaux School Historic District and the Park Place Historic District.

Geography

Niagara Falls is located at the international boundary between the United States of America and Canada. The city is within the Buffalo–Niagara Falls metropolitan area and is approximately 15 miles (24 km) from Buffalo, New York.

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 16.8 square miles (44 km2), of that, 14.1 square miles (37 km2) of it is land and 2.8 square miles (7.3 km2) of it (16.37%) is water. The city is built along the Niagara Falls and the Niagara Gorge, which is located next to the Niagara River.

Climate

Niagara Falls experiences cold, snowy winters and hot, humid summers. Precipitation is moderate and consistent in all seasons, falling equally or more as snow during the winter. The city has snowier than average winters compared to most cities in the USA, however less than many other cities in Upstate New York including nearby Buffalo and Rochester. Thaw cycles with temperatures above 0 °C (32 °F) are a common occurrence. The hottest and coldest temperatures recorded in the past decade were 97 °F (36 °C) in 2005 and -13 °F (-25 °C) in 2003, respectively. 38% of warm season precipitation falls in the form of a thunderstorm.

Climate data for (Niagara Falls International Airport), New York 1981–2010, extremes 1951–present
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °F (°C) 65
(18.3)
61
(16.1)
81
(27.2)
85
(29.4)
91
(32.8)
95
(35)
97
(36.1)
95
(35)
96
(35.6)
85
(29.4)
79
(26.1)
66
(18.9)
97
(36.1)
Average high °F (°C) 32.1
(0.06)
34.1
(1.17)
42.5
(5.83)
55.7
(13.17)
67.7
(19.83)
76.5
(24.72)
81.1
(27.28)
79.4
(26.33)
72.1
(22.28)
60.2
(15.67)
48.2
(9)
36.8
(2.67)
57.3
(14.06)
Daily mean °F (°C) 23.8
(-4.56)
25.4
(-3.67)
33.2
(0.67)
45.2
(7.33)
56.4
(13.56)
66.1
(18.94)
70.9
(21.61)
69.1
(20.61)
61.6
(16.44)
50.2
(10.11)
39.8
(4.33)
29.3
(-1.5)
47.7
(8.72)
Average low °F (°C) 15.4
(-9.22)
16.7
(-8.5)
23.9
(-4.5)
34.6
(1.44)
45.2
(7.33)
55.6
(13.11)
60.8
(16)
58.9
(14.94)
51.0
(10.56)
40.2
(4.56)
31.3
(-0.39)
21.8
(-5.67)
38.1
(3.39)
Record low °F (°C) −16
(-26.7)
−13
(-25)
−8
(-22.2)
12
(-11.1)
28
(-2.2)
37
(2.8)
46
(7.8)
45
(7.2)
30
(-1.1)
23
(-5)
−2
(-18.9)
−4
(-20)
−16
(-26.7)
Precipitation inches (mm) 2.56
(65)
2.19
(55.6)
2.41
(61.2)
2.69
(68.3)
3.07
(78)
2.93
(74.4)
3.24
(82.3)
3.02
(76.7)
3.35
(85.1)
2.88
(73.2)
3.40
(86.4)
3.23
(82)
34.97
(888.2)
Snowfall inches (cm) 23.6
(59.9)
15.2
(38.6)
12.9
(32.8)
2.5
(6.4)
0.0
(0)
0.0
(0)
0.0
(0)
0.0
(0)
0.0
(0)
0.2
(0.5)
3.5
(8.9)
18.2
(46.2)
76.1
(193.3)
Avg. precipitation days (≥ 0.01 in) 19.2 14.4 13.7 12.8 12.8 11.2 10.8 9.8 10.7 12.2 14.0 17.1 158.7
Avg. snowy days (≥ 0.1 in) 15.0 11.7 7.7 2.4 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.2 3.9 11.9 52.8
Source: NOAA

Neighborhoods

Niagara Falls is home to nine neighborhoods:

  • Little Italy - runs along Pine Avenue from Portage to Hyde Park Boulevard
  • North End - runs along Highland Avenue in the north end of the city
  • Deveaux, Niagara Falls - Located in the northwestern corner (west of the North End) along the Niagara River is residential area built in the 1920s to 1940s. Named for Judge Samuel DeVeaux who left his estate to be established as the Deveaux College for Orphans and Destitute Children in 1853 (closed 1971), now the site of DeVeaux Woods State Park and DeVeaux School Historical District.
  • LaSalle, Niagara Falls - Area bounded by 80th Street, Niagara Falls Boulevard, Cayuga Drive and Lasalle Expressway was built up in the 1940s to 1960s.
  • Downtown, Niagara Falls - Area around the Falls and home to hotels including Seneca Niagara Resort Casino, Niagara Falls State Park, Niagara Falls Culinary Institute (formerly Rainbow Outlet Mall)
  • Niagara Street, Niagara Falls - residential area located east of Downtown along Niagara Street
  • East Side, Niagara Falls
  • Buffalo Avenue, Niagara Falls - runs along the south end along the Niagara River; surrounded by a number of industrial sites in what is referred to as Chemical Row
  • Hyde Park, Niagara Falls - Located near the namesake Hyde Park next to Little Italy as well as home to Hyde Park Municipal Golf Course.

Demographics

Historical population
Census Pop.
1870 3,006
1880 3,320 10.4%
1890 5,502 65.7%
1900 19,457 253.6%
1910 30,445 56.5%
1920 50,760 66.7%
1930 74,460 46.7%
1940 78,020 4.8%
1950 90,872 16.5%
1960 102,394 12.7%
1970 85,615 −16.4%
1980 71,384 −16.6%
1990 61,840 −13.4%
2000 55,593 −10.1%
2010 50,193 −9.7%
Est. 2015 48,916 −2.5%
U.S. Decennial Census
2013 Estimate

As of the census of 2010, there were 50,193 people, 22,603 households, and 12,495 families residing in the city. The population density was 2,987.7 people per square mile (1,153.5 per square km). There were 26,220 housing units at an average density of 1,560.7 per square mile (622.6/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 70.5% White, 21.6% African American, 1.9% Native American, 1.2% Asian, 0% Pacific Islander, 0.8% from other races, and 3.9% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 3.0% of the population.

There were 22,603 households out of which 23.9% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 29.8% were married couples living together, 19.7% had a female householder with no husband present, and 44.7% were non-families. 38.1% of all households were made up of individuals and 13.7% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.20 and the average family size was 4.02.

St. Peter's Episcopal Church in Niagara Falls, NY IMG 1438
St. Peter's Episcopal Church

In the city, the population was spread out with 22% under the age of 18, 10.1% from 18 to 24, 24.2% from 25 to 44, 28.2% from 45 to 64, and 15.5% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 39 years. For every 100 females there were 91.2 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 94.4 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $26,800, and the median income for a family was $34,377. Males had a median income of $31,672 versus $22,124 for females. 23% of the population was below the poverty line.

Niagara Falls has a number of places of worship, including the Salvation Army, First Assembly of God Church, First Unitarian Universalist Church of Niagara, St. Peter's Episcopal Church, First Presbyterian Church, St. Theresa Roman Catholic Church in Devaux, Reform Jewish Temple Beth El and the Conservative Jewish Temple Beth Israel.

Although statistically lower in crime than cities in Western New York such as Buffalo and Rochester, Niagara Falls still suffers from a higher than average crime rate. In the wake of recent gun violence, volunteer groups such as the SNUG movement have been mobilized to stop violence in the city and promote positive community involvement in the troubled areas of the city.

Tourism

Cave of the Winds elevator building in winter
The Cave of the Winds building in the winter

The city is home to the Niagara Falls State Park. The park has several attractions, including Cave of the Winds behind the Bridal Veil Falls, Maid of the Mist, a popular boat tour which operates at the foot of the Rainbow Bridge, Prospect Point and its observation tower, Niagara Discovery Center, and the Aquarium of Niagara.

Several other attractions also near the river, including Whirlpool State Park, De Veaux Woods State Park, Earl W. Brydges Artpark State Park in nearby Lewiston, New York, and Fort Niagara State Park in Youngstown, New York.

Attractions in the downtown include the Seneca Niagara Casino & Hotel. Pine Avenue was historically home to a large Italian American population.

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