Gateway to the Finger Lakes: Seneca Falls, New York

 

Steeped in history Seneca Falls, is one of my favorite towns to visit. The town has worked hard to maintain the quaint historic downtown district, and I am always thrilled when we get a chance to visit. Seneca Falls is east of Geneva, New York, in the northern part of the Finger Lakes District.  The Cayuga-Seneca Canal passes through the town, this canal supported early industry and was a factor in commerce and the development, growth, and vitality of the area.  A large portion of the historical attractions can be seen on a scenic trail along the historic canal.

Seneca Falls is known as the Birthplace of Women’s Rights in the United States. On July 19–20, 1848, about 300 people met for two days in the Wesleyan Chapel in Seneca Falls, New York. This meeting was the first formal women’s rights convention ever held in the United States. Sixty-eight women (supported by thirty-two men who signed the Declaration of Sentiments, a document directly inspired by the Declaration of Independence advocating women’s rights.

Although the convention became best known for its demand for women’s right to vote, the Declaration of Sentiments addressed inequalities in every area of life and demanded women’s equality within politics, family, education, jobs, religion, and morals.

The Women’s Rights National Historic Park, dedicated in 1982, maintains a Visitor Center, the Wesleyan Chapel and the Elizabeth Cady Stanton Home that was built in 1832.

Seneca Falls is believed to be the inspiration for the fictional town of “Bedford Falls”, portrayed in filmmaker Frank Capra’s classic 1946 film It’s a Wonderful life. Although Mr. Capra never acknowledged that Seneca Falls is the Real Bedford Falls, the similarities and are hard to deny.

The Montezuma Wildlife Refuge, maintained by the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service of the Department of Interior, is located a few miles northeast of Seneca Falls. Seneca Falls is also the home of Cayuga Lake State Park.

Surrounded by farmland, the area is beautiful. However, about 2 miles outside the village, near the Waterloo/Seneca Falls border the Seneca Meadows landfill becomes an olfactory reality that is hard to dismiss. On the day of our visit the smell of methane gas near Mound road was so obnoxious, I wondered how anyone can live in the general vicinity of the landfill.

 

Seneca Falls Quick Facts

The Village of Seneca Falls had a population of 6,559 as of July 1, 2015

The first pioneers arrived around 1787. The early settlement was called ” Mynderse Mills” after early settler and land owner Wilhelmus Mynderse.

Seneca Falls was also the home of Amelia Jenks Bloomer, for whom bloomers were named.

Seneca Falls Events and Attractions

Thought to be the bridge that inspired the pivotal scene in It’s A Wonderful Life.

Nearly 100 years old The Gould recently was revitalized. The beautiful hotel and restaurant are once again a centerpiece of the Finger Lakes region.

Future home of the Women’s Hall of Fame, the former Seneca Knitting Mill.

Usually the second weekend of December Seneca Falls transforms into a real life Bedford Falls.

The Seneca Falls Visitor Center serves as an orientation point for local and regional history, providing a historical overview illustrating how the Seneca River and the Cayuga-Seneca Canal powered the rise of industry and fostered cultural development.

The park consists of four major historical properties including the Wesleyan Methodist Church, which was the site of the Seneca Falls Convention, the first women’s rights convention. The Elizabeth Cady Stanton House

Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge was established on September 12, 1938 as a refuge and breeding ground for migratory birds and other wildlife.

Photographs and memorabilia from the collection of Karolyn Grimes, who played “Zuzu” in the film, are on display together with items from other private collections.

The home of inspiration, innovation and imagination to learn more about great American women.

 

“We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men and women are created equal”

~ Declaration of Sentiments Seneca Falls, 1848

 

 

Image Credits:

Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge “Creative Commons Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge” by Paul Cooper is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0

National Women’s Hall of Fame “Creative Commons jn8501.JPG ” by Mark Goebel  is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Women’s Rights National Historical Park “Creative Commons Women’s Rights National Historical Park  ” by J. Maughn is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0