“The Bridge District is aptly named to combine the legacy of the Suspension Bridge and the current Whirlpool Rapids Bridge crossing.”
— Niagara Falls
Mayor Paul Dyster
Is that so? Well, let me tell you what Suspension Bridge means to me. First of all, it is what made the Village of Suspension Bridge and the commerce that led to the incorporation of the City of Niagara Falls. However, it is way more than even that:
• It is about a road cut in the gorge wall that led to an area where the first Maid of the Mist was built and launched.
• It is about a little boy flying a kite across the Niagara Gorge to draw the cables for the first Suspension Bridge.
• It is about an iron basket that was the first transportation across the Niagara Gorge.
• It is about Charles Ellet and Theodore Hulett who engineered a crude wooden bridge that provided pedestrian and carriage traffic between the U.S. and Canada.
• It is about John A. Roebling who had the courage and know-how to build the world’s first practical Railroad Suspension Bridge.
• It is about the stockyards and the thousands of cattle, horses, swine and sheep that were traded there.
• It is about Suspension Bridge railroad station and its handling of as many as 47 trains and 2,000 passengers a day.
• It is about as many as 15 hotels, some of them as elegant as any on the Niagara Frontier.
• It is about Freedom Seekers who crossed the Niagara Gorge by ferry and the Suspension Bridge ... Sometimes led by Harriet Tubman.
• It is about a grist mill that was powered by water from the Niagara Gorge and transmitted up the cliff to the mill above.
• It is about thrill seekers who walked across the gorge on flimsy cables and challenged the class 6 rapids of the whirlpool.
• It is about tourism ... the Buttery, Manning and Rapids View elevators.
• It is about DeVeaux’s School for Orphan Children.
It is called the Niagara Falls National Heritage Area and that is what our heritage is all about. What it is not about, is anyone’s ego ... or just plain lack of respect for the city’s history and it is a slap in the face of all those involved with our grassroots efforts over the last six years.
Suspension Bridge District or Suspension Bridge Village District would make it more aptly named to honor the heritage of those that lived, worked, and died there!
Dan Davis is the president of Suspension Bridge Village Preservation group.