Niagara Falls may be temporarily turned off

Part of the mighty Niagara Falls may stop running for months, to allow bridges to be built.

The US section of Niagara attracts more than 20-million visitors  a year and the falls are undoubtedly one of the great sights of the world.

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However, a proposal to replace two 115-year old bridges connecting the mainland to Goat Island may force the thunderous American Falls to be turned off, according to a report from New York State’s parks and transportation agencies.

Officially called ‘dewatering’, the process would involve a temporary cofferdam to direct the roaring cascade to the adjoining Horseshoe Falls.

The report says the Goat Island bridges could then be demolished and replaced by new crossings anchored firmly in the bedrock below the water.

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On our last visit to Niagara Falls, we were shown photographs of a similar ‘dewatering’ that was carried out in 1969 so engineers could assess the stability of rock below the falls.

We were told, on that occasion, the engineers found two bodies and large amounts of coin after the falls were turned off.

We saw the photos, but it was still hard to imagine the awesome and almost spiritual American Falls running dry.

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However, the 1969 ‘dewatering’ apparently attracted big crowds to see the dry cliff face – and a repeat could prove a marketing windfall.

The new bridges to Goat Island would also help smarten-up the American park area, which is truly a wonderful attraction.

A second shutdown is, however, only one option being considered and media reports suggest that completion of the bridge project – if it goes ahead – could be several years away.

In the meantime, Niagara Falls remains a stunning and inspirational destination.  We thoroughly recommend it – and also our friends at the towering Giacomo Hotel who made our stay especially memorable.

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Age-Friendly Rating: Giacomo hotel, Niagara Falls, NY

We’d always wanted to visit Niagara Falls during the quieter season, when the area wasn’t clogged with day-trippers and summertime visitors.

DSCN0383And the chance to stay at The Giacomo – a great American landmark building – was intriguing to say the least.

We had heard a lot about this place, which is commonly described as the ‘premiere luxury boutique hotel’ on the US side of Niagara Falls.

Friends who stayed at the Giacomo a few years ago were full of praise, saying that the building had to be seen and experienced to be believed.

And they certainly weren’t exaggerating.

Now that’s ‘Wow Factor’

Giacomo Hotel dominates the Niagara Falls skyline, along with the nearby Seneca Niagara Casino.

The hotel is true elegance encased in a striking art deco skyscraper.

800px-Niagara_Falls_HighrisesFormerly known as the United Office Building, the structure is 20 storeys of terra cotta facade designed in the Mayan style and with stunning views across the falls.

Built in 1929 on the eve of the Great Depression, the building is listed on the US National Register of Historic Places.

The United Office Building was abandoned in the 1980’s, but fortunately, it was later restored and became the Giacomo in 2010.

And now for our experience.Giacomo

Pre-arrival

Communication with The Giacomo in the run-up to our arrival was efficient and courteous.

After booking, I checked by email to see if we might be able to get rooms with a view of the falls. This was arranged promptly and cordially, along with information about taxi availability in central Niagara Falls.

I also contacted the Giacomo on Twitter for a final catch-up before setting off.

Arrival

We arrived mid-afternoon and were warmly greeted by the reception team. Addressed by name we were told that our rooms were ready.

the-giacomoCheck-in was fast, efficient and friendly and our bags were promptly taken to our rooms.

Without asking, we were given a map of Niagara Falls, including directions to the main attractions – and Giacomo staff also provided advice on local restaurants.

The friendliness and warmth of the staff continued throughout our stay and really made us feel at home.

Wifi was free of charge and was easy to use. However, the reception staff still explained its operation and were extremely helpful.

Rooms

First impression was one of luxurious decor, elegance and comfort on a par with the best of Europe.the-giacomo-2

Our room boasted pillow top mattress beds with sumptuous linens; work desk with wired or wireless internet; refrigerator; iron and ironing board – and views to die for.

The en-suite bathroom was large, ultra-modern, functional and contained fluffy robes.

Window drapes, chairs and general furnishings reinforced the sense of elegance that we found throughout the Giacomo.

And there was also adequate wardrobe space.

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Giacomo chocolates and cookies at turn-down were an appreciated touch.

There was also special coffee and bottled water, both of which were particularly welcomed.

Power points

This is a small point, I know. But, hotels that don’t provide enough points to recharge phones, iPads, iPods etc are a pet hate of mine.

This certainly wasn’t the case at the Giacomo. There were sufficient points located exactly where you want them – by the bed and at the working area.

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After dinner at a nearby restaurant, we retired to the Giacomo lounge for a glass of wine before bed.

The lounge is located on the first floor and contains plenty of seating, as well as an eye-catching granite bar.

Breakfast

Our room rate included a European style  breakfast – and the food was excellent – eggs, bacon, sausage, waffles, juices, various types of bread, fruit and yogurt.

The breakfast room was as good as any I have found in the US.

Centrally located

DSCN0334It was tempting to spend the day in luxury at the Giacomo, but Niagara Falls is all about the outdoors and there is plenty to see and experience at one of the world’s greatest natural attractions.

Fortunately, the Giacomo’s location – at 220 First Street, Niagara Falls – is within walking distance of the falls and its picturesque attractions.

The hotel is literally within a stone’s throw from America’s oldest state park.

It is within five minutes walk of Prospect Point and the American Falls and is also close to Goat Island.

Would I recommend this hotel?

Certainly. Our experience at the Giacomo was faultless. If you appreciate luxury, elegance and outstanding service, don’t go past it.

Check the hotel’s website for accommodation costs.

Our Age-Friendly Rating

8/10:  The Giacomo is a grand old building, but the operators have done a good job of retrofitting it to improve Age-Friendliness.  From our experience, the hotel is well suited to all ages. The street entrance is  easily accessible, as are most of the main facilities. The lifts are roomy and the corridors wide. Booking on the hotel’s website is simple – and the room layouts are straight-forward. The doors are certainly not complicated and the hotel instructions are easy-to-read.

 

Ian and Sue Roberts

Age-Friendly US Hotel Ratings