The nation's oldest state park, Niagara Falls State Park, celebrated its 125th Anniversary with a concert by the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra on Goat Island and the dedication of a restored pocket park.
New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation Commissioner Carol Ash was on hand to praise the park as a worldwide destination. "Today marks the 125th anniversary of when this park became the land of the people of New York State. For generations, people have come from all over the world not just to visit this incredible park, but to experience it. The breathtaking views, the thunderous crash of the falls, and the drenching mists of the gorge make this place like no other in the world."
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.
Earlier in the day, Ash was joined by ancestors of Thomas V. Welch, the first superintendent of Niagara Falls State Park and a member of the Free Niagara Movement, 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.
"I am grateful for the community's show of support for their park," Ash said. "I am hopeful that continued support from the public will help us make sure Niagara Falls and all of our wonderful parks and landscapes are around for centuries more."
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.