Tonawanda News

September 24, 2012

BOOK NOOK: Book offers rare views of Falls, 1850-2000

The Tonawanda News

Tonawanda News — It was more than three decades ago when retired Niagara Falls school teacher, Paul Gromosiak, who had nurtured an interest in local history since childhood, told friends that he intended to write at least 10 books about the falls, the river, gorge and surrounding attractions.   

With this newly released paperback, “Niagara Falls: 1850-2000,” Gromosiak has achieved that ambitious goal. 

Part of the popular “Images of America” series, it was co-authored with City Historian Christopher Stoianoff, who also has helped with the research and layout of the publication. In the introduction, Stoianoff relates how he and Gromosiak searched through hundreds of photographs and documents “to bring forth a comprehensive snapshot” that would be meaningful to city residents, their relatives and friends. 

Actually this paperback would also make an ideal, yet inexpensive gift for Niagara Falls natives now living elsewhere.  

Among the eye-catching photos: the interior of the inclined railway that carried visitors to the foot of the American Falls a century before the Prospect Park Observation Tower was built; the Goat Island Hotel that stood by the bridge to Bath Island (now Green Island) before the state park was established in 1885; the Miss USA Pageant contestants parading near Prospect Point in the 1970s; Roger Woodward riding the Maid of the Mist boat in 1980 and recalling his accidental plunge over the Horseshoe Falls in 1960; several splendid pictures of the bridges over the upper river and the stone tower built at Terrapin Point in 1833; and the unbelievable influx of tourists along Falls Street in the 1950s, when diagonal parking was available for people headed to the Strand and Cataract theaters, J.C. Penney, J.N. Adams and Beir’s department stores and a dozen restaurants between Third Street and the state park entrance.

Gromosiak and Stoianoff have captured it all in a book that will be worth looking at many times.

Contact veteran reporter and columnist Don Glynn at 282-2311, ext. 2246.