Fully restored Terrapin Point overlook to reopen for Fourth of July weekend
New, state-of-the-art cave of the Winds facility will be year-round destination
Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo announced more than $17 million in state funding Thursday for improvements to restore and enhance the natural beauty of historic Niagara Falls State Park. The improvements are part of the governor's $70 million commitment to restore the park's natural landscape, enhance its recreational facilities and attract thousands of new visitors to the region each year.
"Niagara Falls State Park is truly one of the crown jewels of New York, offering unparalleled natural beauty and some of the best outdoor recreation opportunities in the nation," Cuomo said. "This investment builds the good progress we have made to transform Western New York from the ground up - revitalizing our state parks and historic sites, boosting tourism and creating thousands of well-paying jobs. Today, we are recapturing the bold vision and determination that created the most ambitious parks system in the nation, and preserving and enhancing our natural treasures for generations to come."
The Niagara Falls State Park revitalization plan is a multiyear commitment to transform the nation's oldest state park and better reflect noted park designer Frederick Law Olmsted's vision for the landscape. The plan has renewed the park's major viewing areas, including Luna Island, Prospect Point and Three Sisters Islands with new pedestrian walkways, enhanced landscaping, new benches, light posts and railings.
Key improvements moving forward this year include:
•Terrapin Point Restoration: Set to open by the July 4 weekend, Terrapin Point, which overlooks the Horseshoe Falls, is one of the most popular sites in the park. The $4.4 million investment restoration includes universally accessible pathways, several new overlooks throughout the point, new railings, pavers, lighting, benches and new landscaping, with both mowed areas and meadow grasses.
The work is consistent with Olmsted's principles and will closely resemble other areas of the park that have already been restored.
•Cave of the Winds Pedestrian Plaza and Stedman's Bluff: A $5.6 million project to renew the Cave of the Winds Pedestrian Plaza and Stedman's Bluff will be completed this summer. The Cave of the Winds Pedestrian Plaza includes improved dining areas, concessions and new restroom facilities. Stedman's Bluff, overlooking Bridal and American Falls, will be enhanced with new pavers, new railings and a raised planting area featuring boulders that can be used for sitting.
Stedman's Bluff will also be the new home of the statute to inventor Nikolai Tesla. Once repositioned at Stedman's Bluff, the statue will become more accessible for all visitors, with seating along the base perfect for photographs and reflection.
Tesla designed the first alternating-current hydroelectric power plant in Niagara Falls in 1895.
•Cave of the Winds Experience Building: Construction will begin this month on a $7 million Cave of the Winds facility that will become a year-round tourism centerpiece of the park. Currently, visitors must wait in long lines exposed to the elements to enjoy the Cave of the Winds attraction. When complete, the attraction will allow visitors to enjoy a 30-minute interactive program featuring the natural and cultural history of Niagara Falls, before donning the customary rain poncho and sandals for the 175-foot Cave of the Winds elevator trip down to the decks.
When the decks close for the season, the facility will remain open and highlight the park in winter, providing a new reason for tourists to visit Niagara Falls during the off-season. The new Cave of the Winds attraction is expected to open in late 2017.
New York State Parks Commissioner Rose Harvey said, "America's oldest state park is being renewed with a lush new landscape and quality facilities that will help ensure visitors a memorable and enjoyable trip to the falls. I'm grateful for the governor's leadership in preserving Niagara Falls State Park as an international destination and cornerstone of the region's tourism economy."
•Taste NY: To complement these changes, Niagara Falls State Park is now partnering with Taste NY to feature locally made products throughout the park. Top of the Falls Restaurant, operated by Delaware North Parks and Resorts, is offering food and beverages from more than a dozen New York producers, many of them from Western New York. Diners can identify those menu items by the Taste NY logo. Park visitors can also enjoy a wide selection of local food and souvenir items in the Cave of the Winds gift shop and at snack bars throughout the park. Find a list of New York producers featured at Niagara Falls State Park here.
This partnership builds on Cuomo's commitment to grow the Taste NY initiative, which he first launched in 2013 to strengthen the state's growing food and beverage industries. New York products are now available at nearly four-dozen locations across the state, and featured at more than 46 events annually. In 2015, Taste NY participants tripled their gross annual revenue from the previous year and they are on track to double their gross sales this year.
The Department of Agriculture and Markets oversees Taste NY.
State Agriculture Commissioner Richard A. Ball said, "New York's incredible agricultural producers make some of the best food and beverages in the world, and, through this partnership they will have the opportunity to share them with park visitors from all over the globe. Gov. Cuomo's unprecedented commitment to this initiative and to the agricultural industry has allowed hundreds of New York businesses to grow, which not only benefits their bottom line, but also the economy and consumers."
Michael Barnes, general manager of Delaware North Companies at Niagara Falls State Park, said, "Partnering with the New York state businesses is a perfect way to showcase the fresh and delicious food and beverage products New York has to offer, especially to the millions of guests that visit Niagara Falls State Park."
State Sen. Robert Ortt said, "This is a big day for Niagara Falls, because we are seeing major projects move forward that will protect and preserve this iconic park for years to come. Niagara Falls is not only one of the world's most beautiful destinations, but it is also a major driver of tourism, job creation and economic development. I applaud Gov. Cuomo for his continued commitment to enhancing our state parks and protecting the natural environment for all New Yorkers."
Assemblyman John Ceretto said, "Niagara Falls is one of the world's great natural wonders and I am grateful to have been a part of this commitment to protecting and preserving our historic state park. Through this $17 million investment, as part of a larger $70 million multiyear commitment, we will see Niagara Falls State Park restored to its original grandeur. I thank the governor and look forward to ensuring Niagara Falls continues to serve as an economic engine for Western New York - creating jobs and driving tourism for years to come."
Niagara Falls Mayor Paul Dyster said, "Niagara Falls is not only the nation's oldest state park, but it is also one of New York's most important conservation legacies. Throughout his tenure in office, Gov. Cuomo has made Niagara Falls a top priority. He has shown a deep dedication to protecting New York's natural environment and promoting stewardship in the region - and this investment is no exception."
"This funding will ensure this region remains a top destination for residents, visitors and tourists alike for generations to come," he added.
Created in 1885, Niagara Falls State Park is the oldest state park in the nation. Each year, more than 8 million visitors come from across the state, the nation and the world to wonder at Niagara Falls awesome power and natural beauty.