Discover History

“In short, the importance of this place is almost inconceivable; it is the key to the whole continent… Arthur Young, (British) c. 1759

In 1759, Arthur Young realized that the Niagara Region was of critical importance to North America. At that time, colonial powers were struggling for control of the continent with each other and with the Native Americans.

Since then, the Niagara region has demonstrated time and again its importance. From the War of 1812 to its role as a nexus in the Underground Railroad and a catalyst of the hydroelectric power, Niagara has been and continues to be of critical importance. Today, over 8 million people visit it yearly to gaze at the mighty waters of Niagara Falls. Representing 20% of the world’s fresh water, the importance of Niagara continues to be “key to the whole continent.”

Choose your destinations within the Niagara Falls National Heritage Area and discover the history that shaped a continent.

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Niagara Falls State Park

• Each year, 8 million people visit the Frederick Law Olmsted designed park, to experience the majesty of Niagara Falls in a natural setting. At the oldest state park in the United States, people can feel, see and experience the rush of Niagara’s waters by strolling through the park, crossing idyllic bridges, or touring world class attractions like the Maid of the Mist and Cave of the Winds.

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Niagara Arts and Cultural Center

Located in the heart of Niagara Falls, the NACC is home to more than 75 artists and is dedicated to preserving the legacy of the city and its people, as well as, promoting arts and cultural experiences. At the NACC, visitors can learn the incredible story of Niagara’s portage dating from early Native American civilization until the Erie Canal was opened in 1825.

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Oakwood Cemetery

Oakwood today contains many outstanding examples of funerary art including obelisks, sarcophogi, and beautiful statuary. Additionally, the landscape is lush with mature plantings and trees, many dating from the earliest time of the cemetery.

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U.S. Customhouse

The U.S. Customhouse is the future site for the Niagara Falls Underground Railroad Interpretive Center. A few steps from the Whirlpool Bridge, visitors can access the Whirlpool Rapids Gorge Trail leading to the Niagara River. At this location, the Niagara Suspension Bridge was built in 1848, connecting the United States to Canada. Harriet Tubman, leader of the Underground Railroad, crossed the suspension bridge bringing people escaping slavery in the Deep South to freedom in Canada.

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Griffon Park

Griffon Park, located in LaSalle on the Upper Niagara River, commemorates the general location where French explorer Rene-Robert Cavalier, Sieur de La Salle, launched the first sailing ship, Le Griffon, to ply the upper Great Lakes. Visitors can enjoy views of the Upper Niagara River, a boat launch and a playground.

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Niagara Gorge Discovery Center

Experience thousands of years of natural history at the Niagara Gorge Discovery Center, a showcase of the natural and local history of Niagara Falls, the Niagara River and Gorge and the Niagara Escarpment.

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Freedom Crossing Monument

Freedom Crossing Monument is located on the bank of the Niagara River in Lewiston, New York, and honors the courage of fugitive slaves who sought a new life of freedom in Canada, and to the local volunteers who protected and helped them on their journey across the Niagara River.

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Lewiston Museum

The Lewiston Museum is a great location to engage in the history of the Town and Village of Lewiston. From early Native American settlements to assisting freedom seekers on the Underground Railroad, Lewiston has a fascinating history that begins with a visit to the Lewiston Museum.

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New York Power Authority Power Vista

For centuries, the waters of Niagara Falls have been used to generate power. In the late 19th century, inventions and investment in hydroelectric power at Niagara Falls revolutionized life and industry. At the Power Vista, visitors can learn the fascinating history and operations of hydroelectric power in the Niagara Region through interactive, engaging exhibits.

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Niagara University Castellani Art Museum

The interpretive center at the Castellani Art Museum, “Freedom Crossing: The Underground Railroad in Greater Niagara,” tells the story of the Underground Railroad Movement in Buffalo Niagara—and of the people who risked their lives, all in the name of freedom. Niagara County's only collecting art museum, the Castellani Art Museum of Niagara University has a permanent collection of over 5700 works of art, including well known artists such as Picasso, Miro, Dali, Calder, Nevelson and Warhol.

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Tuscarora Heroes Monument

The Tuscarora Heroes Monument is permanent symbol of thanksgiving to the Tuscarora Nation from a grateful nation for heroically saving the lives of dozens of settlers in Lewiston from a British attack during the War of 1812. Located in the heart of the Village of Lewiston, it is a reminder of the courage of the Tuscarora Nation.

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Old Fort Niagara

Standing on a bluff above Lake Ontario not far from Niagara Falls, Old Fort Niagara has dominated the entrance to the Niagara River since 1726.

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Town of Porter Historical Society

The history of the Town of Porter and Youngstown is shaped by the lower Niagara River and the Great Lakes. Its relationship to Old Fort Niagara and proximity to Canada has shaped its unique economic and cultural heritage.

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Erie Canalway Discovery Center

The Erie Canal, opened in 1825, changed the course of commerce and way of life in the United States. The Erie Canal Discovery Center is a new state-of-the-art interpretive center that details the history of the canal and the pivotal role Lockport, N.Y. played in the history of the Erie Canal.

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McClew Interpretive Center at Murphy's Orchard

Murphy’s Orchard is Western New York’s only National Park Service “Network to Freedom” site, where visitors can learn the role of the farm and its owners in the Underground Railroad.

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Herschell Carrousel Factory Museum

Located within miles of the Erie Canal in North Tonawanda, visitors can explore the art, science, math, music and social history of the early American amusement industry, from carrousels to coasters. The tour is complete with a ride on an early American carrousel.

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Buffalo History Museum

The Buffalo History Museum annually presents a wide array of programs, exhibits, tours, outdoor events, and activities for all ages.

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Did you know?

The word "Niagara" is derived from the Iroquois Indian word "Onguiaahra" meaning "the strait."

Key

Stroller Friendly

Visitor Center

Public Restroom

Food

Playground

Admission Fee

Handicap Accessible

NYS Parks / Trails

Picnic Area


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