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    Niagara falls

    Published 11-29-2018

    The Buffalo-Niagara Corridor in Western New York has the distinction of having always been both a permanent sanctuary and a reliable embarkation point. Geography, accessibility to  the Falls and Lake Erie and proximity to Canada contributed to the region’s international flavor, more liberal atmosphere and unique heritage and Underground Railroad (UGRR) history. The distance between Buffalo and Niagara is 21-miles and 12,000-years. Human habitation is believed to have started during the Paleo-Indian Period with nomadic bands. Champlain, the region’s first explorer to travel along the eastern shore of the Niagara River, was met by sophisticated Iroquoian tribes living in palisaded villages. www.visitbuffaloniagara.com, #travelBUF

    Buffalo Freedom Wall Mural

    The Michigan Street African American Heritage Corridor interprets the complex history of African Americans in the city through historic sites, historical plaques, restaurants and entertainment venues. Thematically the Corridor highlights the Abolitionist and Civil Rights Eras up to and including emerging cultural and artistic endeavors. Located at the northern gateway is the Freedom Wall Mural that features 28 portraits of African American leaders created by 4 local artists. www.michiganstreetbuffalo.org 

    Michigan Street Baptist Church, founded in 1837, erected a permanent church in 1845. It was the first Baptist Church and the first in the city built by and for blacks. Anti-slavery meetings were held here and escaping slaves were hidden in the basement. Many times it was the final station on the UGRR before crossing the Niagara River to Canada. In 1974 the church was placed on the National Register of Historic Places. Tours can be booked online. www.michiganstreetbaptistchurch.org

     Nash Study  Nash Home

    In 1892 Reverend Dr. J. Edward Nash became pastor of the Michigan Street Baptist Church, led his flock for 61-years, and from his two family home worked to establish branches of the NAACP and Urban League. The family lived there from 1925 to 1987. After his death in 1957 his wife left his papers and belongings untouched. Today the house provides an unprecedented look into his life and the era. Highlights of a tour include the sewing room, the bedrooms and Nash’s fully outfitted office. www.nashhousemuseum.org 

    Colored Musicians Club

    The Colored Musicians Club, the sole extant African American club of its type, was founded in 1917 and incorporated on May 14, 1935. Local 533 was formed because the all-white American Federation of Musicians would not admit African Americans. The musicians ate, hung out and rehearsed here. At one time it held a speakeasy with a buzzer and a trapdoor in the kitchen leading outside. The bar was built by the musicians. Today the club preserves the jazz legacy with free jazz lessons for young people and a weekly jam session.

    Most of the jazz greats played here including Miles, Dizzy and Duke. Their stories and that of many others are related in the ground floor museum. Tours begin with an 8-minute video and proceed through a series of colorful exhibits. www.cmctheclub.com             

    Buffalo was the western terminus of the Erie Canal when completed in 1825. The completion of the canal set off a chain of events that would lead to the city’s industrial prominence. This story is engagingly told aboard a 90-minute narrated Spirit of Buffalo Harbor Cruise. Along with water views guests are treated to Elevator Alley, the largest collection of grain elevators in the world. Tours depart from Canalside. www.buffaloharborcruises.com 

    Henry Hotel Urban Resort & Conference Center

    Henry Hotel Urban Resort & Conference Center is  an 88-room, full-service hotel designed by Henry Hobson Richardson in the 1870s as the Buffalo State Asylum for the Insane. It closed in 1974 and reopened as a hotel after a $70-million renovation. The hotel’s 500,000-sq.-ft. interior offers 16’ ceilings, 15’ wide corridors and luxurious accommodations incorporating cutting edge technology. There are art filled nooks and crannies, a ballroom, the Lounge at Hotel Henry and 100 Acres: The Kitchens at Hotel Henry. www.hotelhenry.com,  @hotelhenry.com

    Toutant is a must for a unique mix of Southern Louisiana and New York regional cuisine. Menu items are crafted onsite. Reservations are highly recommended. www.toutantbuffalo.com

    Anchor Bar

    Frank & Teressa Bellissimo’s Anchor Bar is the premiere location on the 12 site Buffalo Wing Trail as the place where the meaty “Buffalo Wing” was created. The original opened in 1935 and in the second location, in 1964, the dish made its first appearance. Teressa first made the wings for a group of her son’s friends who wanted a late-night snack that would not hamper their conversation. The Bellissimo’s liked to entertain their guests by singing and this morphed into live jazz performances.

    Anchor Bar  Buffalo Wings

    One thousand pounds of wings are served daily but there are more than 100 items on the menu so don’t limit yourself. Diners choose from their award-winning sauces that are also available for purchase. The food is outstanding, the atmosphere is welcoming and the service is exemplary. www.anchorbar.com 

    In 1632 Samuel de Champlain was the first European explorer to map Niagara Falls and in 1678 Father Louis Hennepin more fully documented the area. The Niagara River connects Lakes Erie and Ontario and quickly became key to the fur trade and after the Revolutionary War it was designated a boundary between British and American holdings. Pre-Civil War it became freedom seekers boundary between enslavement and freedom.

    Niagara Falls Underground Railroad Heritage Center Foyer


    Niagara Falls Underground Railroad Heritage Center

    Niagara Falls Underground Railroad Heritage Center opened this year to preserve and present the personal stories and history of the Underground Railroad in Niagara Falls. The museum, situated adjacent to the Amtrak Station inside an 1863 US Custom House, is fully interactive and totally immersive. Highlights of the self-guided tour are visits, circa 1850, to the Cataract House Hotel where the wait staff clandestinely served as UGRR agents and walking across a replicated portion of the bridge to freedom in Canada. www.niagarafallsundergroundrailroad.org 

    An ADA accessible free shuttle, equipped with WIFI and bike racks is available from May-Oct. It stops at or near 17 attractions and stops are clearly marked.  www.discoverniagara.org 

    The 400-acre Niagara Falls State Park is situated on the New York side of the Falls and is the oldest state park in the country. It was created in 1885, approximately 10,000 years after its creation, and receives nearly 10-million tourists annually. There are a trio of falls, American, Bridal Veil and Horseshoe and an extensive list of activities at all skill levels for visitors to enjoy. @niagarafallsusa

    Niagara Gorge History

    Visits should begin in The World Changed Here Pavilion with exhibits and an orientation film that relates the history of the Falls, the role of Nikola Tesla and balancing the splendor of the Falls with its use as a power source. The theater is state-of-the-art with 180-degree screens and authentic artifacts.  

    At the conclusion of the film visitors proceed to the Cave of the Winds and a 175-ft. descent into the Niagara Gorge. Clad in a souvenir poncho and sandals, and after a brief elevator ride, guests find themselves on a wooden walkway that leads them to decks within a few feet of Bridal Veil Falls and the buffeting wind and water of the Hurricane Deck. The wooden decks are dismantled each year to protect them from the icy conditions. www.niagarafallsstateparks.com 

    Niagara Falls Rainbow and Maid of the Mist

    The Maid of the Mist has been operating since 1846 and is the oldest tourist attraction in the country. The Maid has a long and storied history, some connected to the Underground Railroad because it plied the waters between New York and Ontario, Canada. The boat cruise takes you into the heart of Horseshoe Falls. This is a bucket list experience. www.maidofthemist.com 

    The Niagara area has a reputation for producing outstanding wines and you can take the Niagara Wine Trail, USA while taking advantage of discounts by purchasing a Vino Visa in advance. There are more than 20 wineries on the trail as well as distilleries, breweries and dining options. Information is available online. www.niagarawinetrail.org  

    I Love NY Sign

    The DoubleTree by Hilton is a good option for the Niagara portion of this trip. It offers free parking and is within walking distance or a 5-minute drive of most attractions. The hotel features a fitness center, on-site restaurant, state-of-the-art technology and 192 accommodations outfitted with upscale linens and amenities. www.doubletree3.hilton.com



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