Spotlight Collection

The State Reservation at Niagara

The May spotlight feature for New York Heritage Digital Collections is the The State Reservation at Niagara from the Niagara Falls Public Library at The Nioga Library System. .

IThe State Reservation at Niagara, now known as the Niagara Falls State Park, was designed by Fredrick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux. Created in 1885, it is the oldest state park in the United States. New York State Assemblyman Thomas V. Welch (1850-1903) worked tirelessly with the “Free Niagara” movement to make Niagara Falls a place where the natural landscape would be preserved and that the public could visit free of charge.

The State Reservation at Niagara Collection is comprised of of photographs, letters, telegrams, blueprints, maps, legal documents, and more.

Orrin E. Dunlap (1861-1953) was a news photographer based in Niagara Falls who took some incomparable images of the State Reservation. The Orrin E. Dunlap Collection includes both his own and other photographer’s images. Dunlap documented the Reservation’s beauty in all seasons, President McKinley’s last visit to Niagara Falls, structures, lighting and visitors.

Early advertisements and maps that predate the Reservation show the commercial aspects of both the sides of Niagara Falls (US and Canada). Maps and blueprints show the land that is now the State Reservation at various time periods as well as later extensions: Devil’s Hole and Whirlpool State Park. Also included are later plans by the Olmsted Brothers to create a park system in the City of Niagara Falls and invitations to commemorative events. .

The Niioga Public Library System is a member of the Western New York Library Resources Council