CITY OF LIGHT – MAKING THE LIGHT – CAPTURING LIGHT — 16-17 MAY 2019

By now you should know I love playing with words, and creating catchy titles. This title explains my adventures of Thursday and Friday, 16 and 17 May in Buffalo and stopping in Rochester. Yes, a delay in posting, but since returning I have read two books on the Pan-American Exposition of 1901, not to mention my normal “work.” My reading, and working on these memory posts, prompts more research, and I have found Buffalo fascinating, and in need of more visits.

The weather was iffy during my week in Buffalo, but I shifted plans to head to Niagara Falls on the best day – Thursday, 16 May. I told you I was disappointed with the falls (at least not overly impressed) on my last visit to the Canadian side in October 2014. My lack of enthusiasm continues, but I felt I should explore the American side, but particularly I wanted to see the NY Power Authority’s Niagara Power Vista at Lewiston.

The website is a tad confusing, but this totally free experience is worth several hours of your time. The power of water on the Niagara River has generated electricity since the late 19th century. This facility, built in three years, was completed in 1961. Robert Moses oversaw amazing projects, such as the 1964 NY World’s Fair, so why do construction projects take forever today?

Here is an aerial view of the dam (which holds back the forbear and reservoir, not the river) and generating plant. Note the entrance of the water tunnels upstream to the south.

Here is a view from the visitor center walkway looking north. This point is twice the height of Niagara Falls. The Canadian generation plant is on the left.

The outcrop of land under the bridge to Canada is where it has been determined Niagara Falls started about 10,000 (?) years ago, but have moved 7 miles to the south.

Powerlines are underground to preserve the park like setting. The visitor center is amazing with history of the area, the construction, video, 4-D experience (that is not a typo), and many educational hands-on exhibits to learn about electricity. Worth a visit, and additional research. The view below is looking south on the Niagara River back to Niagara Falls, New York. On my trip 5 years ago I travelled down the road you see on the right – the Canadian side.

I then headed south along the river through depressed Niagara Falls, New York, to Niagara Falls State Park to experience the American side of the river. Still early in the year, but plenty of visitors. Construction workers were still rebuilding walkways damaged over the winter by ice, but the elevator was operating through solid rock taking you down to the Cave of the Winds (no longer accessible) under Bridal Falls (on the right) with the view of the American Falls.

Looking back to the Horseshoe falls, best seen from Canada, I wondered what beauty there probably was in the mid-19th century to attract tourists. I say that, because I do not see any attractiveness, particularly with the millions of gulls nesting, and the barren rocks full of guano.

but, I had to see it, can say I was here, etc. Below is above the Bridal and American Falls, I probably should have walked out to the overlook, but am still breaking in the new hip.

then I walked over to the overlook over the Horseshoe falls. It was impressive with an artistic touch.

Getting closer, I realized that I had forgotten to bring my barrel.

but, then I saw it is all a hoax. The whole effect is nothing but a stonewall holding back some water.

don’t ask what I did to get this view. I am still here, and was not arrested.

Heading out of the park I followed the Niagara River towards Lake Erie, and passed the impressive intakes for the Robert Moses Niagara Power Plant. I also realized later during research of the area that I also passed through Love Canal on the LaSalle Expressway. You may recall that sad saga in environmental history. I detoured back to Buffalo via Amherst and the Buffalo Niagara Heritage Village. Nice, but you do not have to make a special trip.

I was going to leave first thing Friday morning for Rochester doing Erie Canal things on the way, but I had discovered that the hours of an exhibit I really, really wanted to see were wrong, and I could only see SPIRIT OF THE CITY exhibit of the Buffalo Historical Society on this day, the third Friday of the month (I would have pushed for “by appointment”). On the way (blocks away from my B&B) I had time to tour the Richardson Olmsted Campus – a premier historic preservation project. The complex was built 145 years ago for enlightened treatment for people with mental illness – an asylum. Another reason to visit Buffalo. Driving up to the front, I remembered my Road Scholar bus tour of the city stopped at this point.

around to the rear is the entrance to the Hotel Henry and its restaurants in this complex that had been neglected for decades.

From the Buffalo History Museum website, “the Spirit of the City, the History Museum’s 3000 square foot feature exhibit showcasing the Pan-art1.jpgAmerican Exposition, and our collection storage areas populate the Resource Center. In the 1990s, The Buffalo History Museum acquired and renovated the streetcar repair barn (circa 1895). The materials housed in the Pan-Am Building during the Centennial, transforms this 100+ year old trolley barn into a Pan-Am Exposition hall. The combined exhibit features “the Little Building,” a rediscovered structure from the Pan-Am grounds, plus artifacts and hands-on displays that explore the exposition’s funny and serious sides.” And, for history, here is a C-Span program. This exhibit was created for the 100th anniversary of the fair. Below are some highlights. In my opinion, the presentations at the fair, and the untimely inauguration of TR defined the 20th century as it dawned, and transitioned from 19th century institutions.

Below is the original architect’s model of the centerpiece of the fair – The Electric Tower – followed by a night photograph.

And, the original model for the Temple of Music where McKinley was assassinated.

Based on his sketches, this 1902 painting is of McKinley speaking at the exposition on President’s Day.

The only gun used in a presidential assassination not in the hands of the Federal government. Leon Czulogosz used this gun, hidden under this handkerchief, to shoot the President. And the handcuffs immediately placed on him.

And, some of the surgical tools used on the President. One bullet was never found.

In this view of the center of exhibit hall is the model of the Electric Tower and the “little building” that was saved from the fair, and had an interesting life before finding its way here.

No test, but here are some of the panels of information that I wanted to copy to put into perspective the time period of the exposition in 1901, and the views of other peoples and cultures. You may find them interesting, and a springboard for more learning. Remember that you can click to enlarge for easier reading.

and, in conclusion –

It was then onto Rochester and the George Eastman Museum. I made two quick Erie Canal stops, but you will see those in the final Buffalo post.

The last time I transited the area I did not have the time to give the George Eastman Museum the time it deserved. Photography, the history of photography, dark-room work, stereo cameras, etc. have been an interest since I was twelve. The museum includes Eastman’s house and galleries built to the rear.

Eastman built the house for himself and his mother. She died a couple years after the home was finished in 1905. Eastman I learned committed suicide in 1932, no longer able to cope with the pain of spinal stenosis. His final note said, “My Work is Done, Why wait?” Well appointed, there are rotating exhibits in the house (as well as in the galleries).

Various groups had decorated some rooms with movie themes. You can see a scene from Caddyshack (above) on the pool table.

Saturday I headed home, but did Erie Canal experience all the way. Soon I will get those stories to you. Thank you for reading and following through this post.

RAY RECOMMENDS:
1 – Visit Buffalo, New York
2 – Learn what you can of the Pan-American Exposition and its time period

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4 Responses to CITY OF LIGHT – MAKING THE LIGHT – CAPTURING LIGHT — 16-17 MAY 2019

  1. Carolyn says:

    Great pics and narrative. I now have a different view of the falls. Always interesting shunpiking with Ray!

  2. Marian Michlig says:

    Ray, what a fabulous trip. Beautiful scenery and the water is amazing. Enjoyed this trip with you a lot.

  3. Virgil Tommyknocker says:

    HI Ray, I’m getting used to your interesting travelogs & splendid photos. Thank you. A comment on why we can’t build ’em like Robert Moses built ’em is because Robert Moses isn’t building ’em anymore. We’re talking about the guy who bulldozed established NYC neighborhoods to build the Cross Bronx Expressway, and built the bridges on the L.I. Parkways low enough that buses couldn’t get under them to throttle public transportation. We’ve learned a bit more about urban planning since that time. For a leisurely, quiet read see “The Power Broker” by Robert Caro.

    In other news of Buffalo, it has been argued that it was the search for the 2nd bullet that really killed McKinley because every doctor in Town had his dirty fingers in the hole looking for it. Another front on which we’ve advanced our understanding. Buffalo was also home to the auto manufacturer Pierce Arrow, who’s magnificent V-12 engines had a considerable afterlife powering American LaFrance fire apparatus long after Pierce tanked.

    Keep ups the good work Ray !

    • Ray Boas says:

      Thank you for adding so much information, Virgil. Yes, Moses was an amazing man, and I need to learn more about what he did. Someone else told me yesterday that there was no stopping him as he stepped on and over you. I have owned “The Power Broker,” but never read it – will have to do so, thank you.

      It was not until the autopsy that they found the path of the second bullet which caused internal damage and eventually the gangrene that killed McKinley. I have finished one book this week on the fair and assassination, and another just arrived on the assassination, and TRs succession – another fascinating individual.

      Sadly the Piece-Arrow museum was not open when I was in town. I drove by, looked in and saw some 50s “Detroit Iron” and there was a repro Piece outside. Website is not impressive, and it appears they exist only to rent the venue for private parties. But, some place to get inside on what is now a required next visit.

      I encourage everyone to give Buffalo a chance, and explore it and environs. Yours, RAY

      PS – In my Dad’s collecting and buying/selling old cars, I remember the American LaFrance pumper he bought for $50. The Gregory brothers had bought it from the Town (in the 40s?) had it behind their lawn mower shop. He got it going, and I think he sold it to someone who needed a pumper. You tickled another memory.

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