The nation’s oldest state park, Niagara Falls State Park, celebrated its 125th Anniversary this week with a concert by the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra on Goat Island and the dedication of a restored pocket park.
On July 15, 1885 then Governor David Hill dedicated the land and created Niagara Falls State Park. Created to protect its natural beauty from the continued industrialization of the river and to allow public access to its scenery, Niagara Falls became a blueprint for public parks across the country-both state and national parks. Eight million people now visit Niagara Falls each year, making it the most popular park in the New York State Park system.
Ancestors of Thomas V. Welch, the first superintendent of Niagara Falls State Park and a member of the Free Niagara Movement, were on hand to dedicate Heritage Park which is the site of a renovated pocket park just outside of Niagara Falls State Park. The park which serves as a connection for visitors between the city and the park is now the home of several plaques and markers from historical events and figures of Niagara Falls State Park. New pavers were also installed and landscaping was done by volunteers from the community.
Anniversary events continue through the reminder of the year including the “History Comes Alive” program where historical figures including Annie Edson Taylor, Frederick Law Olmsted, Nikola Tesla, Father Louis Hennepin and others who spent time at Niagara Falls State Park share their stories of the park with visitors. See www.niagarafallsstatepark.com for a full listing of events.