In New York state, Niagara Falls State Park is a state and national treasure. Created in 1885, it’s the oldest state park in the nation, attracting over 9 million visitors annually.
Now, on July 14, 2020, work has been fully completed on the new Niagara Falls State Park Welcome Plaza along Prospect Street in Niagara Falls, New York. The Welcome Plaza project is the final piece of a nearly $70 million revitalization of the Niagara Falls State Park landscape.
Assemblyman Angelo J. Morinello said, “The completion of the welcome plaza effectively creates a Park within the city. For too long the State Park appeared to be a separate entity creating a visual barrier between the City of Niagara Falls and the State Park. Thank you to Governor Cuomo and the NYS Parks Department for your vision and completion of this important piece of the Niagara Falls tourist experience.”
City of Niagara Falls Mayor Robert Restaino said, “The City of Niagara Falls has long treasured the beauty of the Niagara Falls State Park. With the investment over the last several years, our State partners have truly elevated the visitor experience. The completion of the Welcome Plaza at Prospect Point is the capstone of this investment and helps add to the exciting development in our downtown tourism district.”
The completion of the $6.2 million project creates a more seamless connection between the park and the City of Niagara Falls business district, which will help visitors better orient with the offerings both inside and outside of the park; improves pedestrian and vehicular safety and helps reduce traffic congestion through the redesign of the motor coach arrival area; and enhances the patron experience through general landscaping upgrades, clearer wayfinding signage, uniform park furnishings, enhanced lighting and improved pedestrian circulation.
“Niagara Falls is one of most awe-inspiring destinations in this country and a key part of New York’s environmental identity,” Governor Andrew M. Cuomo said. “The completion of this revitalization plan strengthens this legacy while enhancing the region’s tourism industry and I encourage all to discover this amazing park in New York State.”
“Niagara Falls is a landmark gem that comes from a rich legacy as the oldest state park in the United States,” said Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul. “The transformation of Niagara Falls State Park will not only bolster our tourism industry and economic activity as we build back better in New York State, it further showcases one of our wonders of the world that is unique to the Western New York region.”
Launched in 2011, the Niagara Falls State Park landscape revitalization plan was a multi-year commitment to renew the park in a manner that better reflects noted park designer Frederick Law Olmsted’s vision for the landscape.
State Parks Commissioner Erik Kulleseid said, “Niagara Falls State Park is a gem in our State Park system. Those visiting from around the world deserve a first -class experience and with the completion of this project, they will get just that. The project competes a vital tie to the City of Niagara Falls which plays host to the park. With the new Cataract Commons and Old Falls Street, downtown Niagara Falls is becoming an exciting piece of the robust tourism industry the city is cultivating.”
The project renovated the park’s major viewing areas including Luna Island, Prospect Point, Lower Grove, Three Sisters Islands, North Shoreline Trail, Luna Bridge, and Terrapin Point with new pedestrian walkways, enhanced landscaping, new benches, light posts and railings.
Senator Robert Ortt said, “The renovations completed at the Niagara Falls State Park Welcome Plaza will help accentuate and improve on the incredible wonder of the world we are fortunate enough to have located in our backyard. This project will also help strengthen the connection between our state park and the business community surrounding it. You can only make a first impression once, and this investment into the park’s welcome plaza will provide guests from all over the world with a positive experience that will stay with them for a lifetime.”
The interactive Cave of the Winds pavilion, which highlights the natural and cultural history of Niagara Falls, opened in 2017.
John Percy, President & CEO of Destination Niagara USA said, “I couldn’t be more pleased with the complete transformation of the Welcome Plaza at Niagara Falls State Park. Not only is it a more open and attractive space, it has also created a much stronger connection to the City of Niagara Falls. Visitors can now clearly see and more easily access all that we have to offer outside of the park.”
Photos courtesy office of Governor Cuomo.