Niagara Gazette

Columns

August 14, 2013

BRADBERRY: August, calm before the storm?

(Continued)

Niagara Gazette — In fact, hordes of Deep Southerners migrate out of the hottest part of the year; many travel in the opposite direction, to the relative cool of the Niagara Frontier, a tradition that began here hundreds of years ago and in large part, led to the growth of Niagara’s summer tourist season and the development of our tourist industry creating a virtual explosion of first class (and others) hotels, fine dining and retail trade.

The Cataract House Hotel originally built in 1825 was the largest, attracting guests from all over the world, but especially Southerners who would arrive by train to appreciate the natural air conditioning supplied by the cool water and mist that rushed past the long lazy rocking chair furnished porches that abutted the river.

The history of Niagara Falls hotels makes for some pretty interesting, relaxing summer reading. One internet site (niagarafallsinfo.com) I visited recently provides a good starting point for anyone interested in the city’s development as a tourist mecca.

Under the heading, The History of Niagara Falls, NY Hotels, the site lists the Cataract House as the first major hotel followed by the International built in 1853 by B.F. Childs at the corner of Falls and Main Street.

By 1892 the Niagara Falls City Directory listed 28 hotels in the south part of the city and another 14 in the north section including these “notables”, the Hotel Imperial, International Hotel, United States Hotel, Columbia Hotel, The Watson House, Harvey House and the Temperance Hotel.

My old friend, writer Bob Kostoff fondly recalled the Temperance House about ten years ago when he wrote, “Niagara Falls has had many famed hotels over the years, but one venerable structure was well known because you couldn’t buy a drink there to save your soul.”

The Henry Hubbs Hotel stood near Falls Street, on Second Street directly across from the train station. Says Kostoff, “Its non-drinking history began with Henry Hubbs” who opened a rooming house across from the depot in 1870.

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