Thursday, February 12, 2009

Niagara Falls Then and Now: Buildings lost, building found (PART TWO)

below: Nov.29, 1914; looking at the south-east corner of Park St. and Erie Ave. at the Empire building. The Royal Bank of Canada was on the ground floor.
above: same view, Feb.8, 2009.
below: June, 1985 - looking eastward, down the north-side of Park St. towards Zimmerman Ave. The abandoned Federal Customs and Post Office sadly sits rotting in the distance.

above: same view, Jan.29, 2009. The Federal Customs building remains boarded up.
below: looking at the north-side of Park St.; Erie Ave. is at the left of photo, date unknown. Note in the foreground the curving railroad track crossing Park St.. This short piece of track was nicknamed the 'Mary Ann track', and may be a remnant from the days of the Michigan Central - or from perhaps even earlier, maybe from Samuel Zimmerman's Erie and Ontario era. (see the 1899 map two photos  below)
The photographer of this picture would have been standing with his back directly in front of the Eastland shed , which stood (facing north) on the south side of Park St. The Mary Ann track passed right beside the west-side of the Eastland shed.
So, when looking towards the left, this track ran southwards, passing immediately behind the back (east) wall of Rosbergs; as it crossed Queen St. it wyed into the mainline Michigan Central tracks, which were coming from the U.S. over the MCR train bridge. Looking at the track to the right, it ran north-west (behind the buildings which faced onto the east-side of Erie Ave.). It crossed Erie Ave. at a point directly south of the rear of the old Trennick Hotel; then it crossed Bridge St., just west of T-intersection with Erie Ave., to join the mainline tracks on the north-side of Bridge St.
(I'm still trying to find when this 'Mary Ann' track was built, and when it was closed; was it old enough to have been part of the Erie and Ontario? Or the MCR? or the Great Western/Grand Trunk? Obviously by the cars in the photo, this was probably taken in the mid-1970's (so the mainline by this time was Canadian National) But, that doesn't mean that this Mary Ann track actually still crossed Erie Ave. and Bridge St. in the mid-70's; maybe by then it dead-ended just across the street in the rear.

above: Jan.29, 2009 - same view, tracks removed; the off-angle walls of the buildings had been built to conform with the curve and proximity of the railroad right of way. Note: the white building seen at the far left (standing on the north-east corner of Park St. and Erie Ave.) was demolished on Jun. 5, 2014, along with three other buildings which stood beside it facing onto Erie Ave.
above: 1899 map showing the Mary Ann Track (red circle) crossing Park St.
Note also that there is a lot marked with a burgundy box - this lot, shown apparently either belonging to or leased to a W. E. Thomas is where the Eastland Shed would later be. The lot was a shaped as tapered rectangle, about 160 ft. wide facing onto Park St., and about 150 deep (though it actually doesn't really seem to proportionally look as if it is actually 160 ft wide at the top...?) with its west side running parallel to the tracks. There also seems to be either a separate lot or a separate building marked on the map just below the south of the larger lot.

The future corner site of Rosbergs is shown with a blue rectangle; and the Michigan Central Railroad station in Niagara Falls is seen at the bottom left.
below: photo is dated Mar.23, 1956. Looking east down Park St. towards Erie Ave. in the centre. At the far left distance is the old Federal Customs building on Zimmerman Ave, which at the time was still the police station. At the centre-right is the Empire Building, seen in the first photo at the top. The photographer must have been standing on or near the railroad tracks that crossed Park St. at that point, as seen further below.

above: same view, Feb.8, 2009. At the left where the houses were, is now the Niagara Falls bus terminal and garage. In the centre are seen the remnants of another Michigan Central railroad track that crossed Park St. at an angle - this track came off Erie Ave. after passing along the front (west-side) of Rosberg's department store. Note the same buildings in the distance, the currently-vacant Federal Customs in the distance down Park St., and the Empire building, in white, at the centre right.
below: Dec.11, 1956; these three houses once stood on the south-side of Park St., just east of Ontario Ave: directly to the right of where the above photo was taken (see more on the Montagna house here)
To take the second-above photo, the photographer in 1956 would have been standing in the middle of Park St., aiming the camera to the left (east) from a position pretty much in front of the house seen at the left of the photo below:
below: Oct. 1975 - looking southward (River Rd. is at the left) at the south-west corner of Bridge St. and River Rd., where the former Elgin Hotel building stood. The Michigan Central railroad bridge to the U.S. is seen at the far left, crossing the Niagara River gorge.
below: Oct. 1975 - same area, looking at the next building to the right (west). To the right of Renown Printing is seen the black vitrolite top of Simon's, Niagara's oldest restaurant.

above: same view, Jan.29, 2009. The bridge, now abandoned, sits at the far left, the building on the corner is gone, the former Renown Printing space now holds old books, part of Simon's Restaurant. After decades running their restaurant, Pat and Rosa Simon quietly closed the business and retired in mid-December, 2012.
below: date unknown; this photo looks south down Zimmerman Ave.; Bridge St. and the Grand Trunk Railroad tracks are in the foreground. At the right (on the south-west corner of Bridge St. and Zimmeman Ave.) is the Hotel Savoy, which was formerly the Zimmerman Bank building - built by railroad magnate Samuel Zimmerman. The building at the left (on the south-east corner of Bridge St. and Zimmerman Ave.) was the Imperial Bank of Canada.

above: same view, Apr.7, 2008. The 1883-built Federal Customs and Post Office building is seen in the left distance. The same former-Imperial Bank building is at the left.
below: Jan.17, 1935 - closer view of the Hotel Savoy (formerly the Zimmerman Bank building), on the south-west corner of Bridge St. and today's Zimmerman Ave. (Note: today's Zimmerman Ave. was earlier known as Clifton Ave.) After Samuel Zimmerman's untimely death in 1857,  his Zimmerman Bank building later housed the Niagara Falls Post Office and Customs House, and was also home to the first public library in Niagara Falls, from 1878 to 1886.

above: Feb.8, 2009. Same south-west corner of Bridge and Zimmerman; at the right in the 'newer' federal building from the 1950's or 60's (which was sold off by the federal government in the spring of 2014).
below: Oct 1981; looking west along the north side of Park St., towards the intersection with Crysler Ave. (note: Crysler Ave. in Niagara Falls was formerly called Welland Ave.) It was at this point that the Michigan Central railroad tracks (which previously crossed Park St., as seen earlier above) came from behind houses that faced Park St. (from the right, but from behind of where the photographer was standing), crossed diagonally in the foreground, and then crossed Crysler Ave. (at the centre left of photo); at which point the tracks travelled in front of the houses (which are to the left of where the trees are, at the upper left of below photo) which faced Park St. along the north-side of Park St. The tracks are seen in this shot to the left of the shack, by the fence of the electrical transformer, in the very centre of the photo.

above: same view, Feb.5, 2009. the tracks are gone, but the right of way is still visible. The transformer station is now in the building at the far right. A corner of the blue-painted house just next to the station, is the same white house seen in the previous shot. This house faces the east side of Crysler Ave. Towards the centre-left in both shots is seen a two storey house with a gable, that house faces the west side of Crysler Ave. The houses facing Park St., that once had the Michigan Central trains cross right in front of their front doors, can be seen at the right of the trees at the upper left.
below: 1920 - view of Inspiration Point at Falls View Station, the famous lookout point right above Niagara Falls where the Michigan Central Railroad trains would stop to let their passengers view the Falls.

above: Apr.14, 2008, same view. The old Michigan Central railroad platform and walls are still visible on the now abandoned right of way, overlooking Niagara Falls. Still the best natural view of Niagara Falls!
below: Aug.30, 1960 - looking at the south-west corner of Queen St. and Zimmerman Ave. at the King Edward Hotel. The Michigan Central Railroad station (demolished in 1941) had once been located just behind (to the west) of the King Edward Hotel. There were homes which faced onto Queen St., east of Zimmerman Ave.

above: same view, Feb.5, 2009. The King Edward hotel is gone, as are the homes seen earlier at the left, which once faced onto Queen St..
below: Sept.1986 - looking west up Queen St., along the south side, from across River Dr. St. Patrick's church tower is in the far distance. Note the King Edward Hotel (torn down in 1987) is still seen along Queen St. in the background, as are the houses which faced onto Queen.

above: Feb.5, 2009, same view. The deco-corner and gabled building at the far left (south) is there in both above shots. The Venetian Glass Art Gallery has been demolished for an expansion of Queen St. St. Patrick's church tower is seen in the far distance.
below: looking north along Erie Ave., from Queen St., ca1900. Rosbergs would later develop on the corner at right. Note the streetcar tracks at bottom left (coming off Queen onto Erie), which have to cross two sets of Michigan Central railroad tracks as soon as they turn onto Erie. The Grand Trunk railroad station, on Bridge St., is seen in the distance, at the end of Erie Ave.

above: same view, Feb.6, 2009 - the former Rosbergs is to the right, the former Commerce Bank building is at the left. The train station, now the Canadian National, is still seen in the distance. [Rosbergs burned down in a fire in Oct. 2009]
below: 1910, looking at the Niagara Falls City Hall, which stood on the south-west corner of Erie Ave. and Queen St. To the right (west) along Queen St. is the firehall with its tower.
below: ca.1920, looking closer at the firehall from the same vantage point. Note in this shot, taken ten years later, that automobiles are now parked around the stone fence of the City Hall. The Bank of Hamilton/later Commerce Bank is seen at the right corner. Note the streetcar tracks crossing the Michigan Central railroad tracks at the bottom, on Erie Ave.
above: same view, Feb.12, 2009. The 'newer' City Hall, now-closed, is at the left; the current, larger Niagara Falls City Hall is behind it, out of frame to the left.; where the old firehall had been is today a small public skating rink. At the bottom, along Erie Ave. can still be seen the patch lines where new asphalt was placed after the tracks were removed.
below: 1925 - this view is looking at the old Niagara Falls City Hall from the back. This view is looking north, towards Queen St; the west sidewalk along Erie Ave. is seen just at the right. Although Huron St. today ends at Ontario Ave., at the time it extended eastward through to River Rd., so the bottom right of photo below would have been the north-west corner of Erie Ave. and Huron St. Further to the right, just out of view of the photo, right across Erie Ave., was the Michigan Central train station. At the left is plainly seen the rear of the fire station and its tower. Now, there are many cars downtown.

above: same view, Feb.5, 2009. Erie Ave. is at the right; in the far distance is seen the red-brick CN railroad station on Bridge St. The building in the foreground is the rear of the current City Hall, where the cars were all parked in the previous photo. The former, now-closed City Hall is out front on the other side, at the right. The Hatch building on Queen St. peeks out at the left upper corner.
below: Nov.12, 1964 - the Firestone Tire garage on the north-east corner of Queen St. and Victoria ave.

above: same view, Jan.29, 2009.
below: Oct. 1975, looking at the east side of Erie Ave., just south of Park St., at the Niagara Bait Centre.

above: same view, Feb.8, 2009. The Empire building, which is where we first started at the top of this post, is seen at the far left (north) of both photos.
The older photos in this study are from the Niagara Falls, Ont., Library Archives, the recent photos are by R. Bobak.

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