NIAGARA FALLS – Daniel L. Davis envisions a surge in renewed energy and life on Main Street and in the city’s North End.
And he hopes his new book can help with the push.
“The Life and Times of Suspension Bridge Village” covers the people and places in the history of the area that now stretches from Pierce Avenue to College Avenue and from the gorge to about 13th Street.
Suspension Bridge Village, whose name came from a bridge between the United States and Canada finished in 1855, joined with the village of Niagara Falls in 1892 to incorporate as the new City of Niagara Falls.
From newspaper and other historical accounts, Davis puts together 103 pages of stories about an area that grew because it was a major railroad hub, he said.
“Railroads, they made that end of the city,” Davis said over coffee at a downtown shop. “That was the commerce that brought retail.”
But the new author isn’t as much interested in selling copies of his book as he is in rekindling a fire through history that will lead to redevelopment, with the hopes that Main Street could be built back up from its empty lots and storefronts with projects based on area history.
Davis likes the idea of creating a historic district, like those in other cities, with restaurants, shops and hotels that share a historic theme.
“I always thought Main Street should have a theme, a historical theme,” Davis said. “In other words, something to make it a destination, instead of just willy-nilly, saying that ‘Well, we’ll have a restaurant here.’ It’s never worked.”
Davis is a Falls native who has lived here most of his life. He worked as a millwright at Hooker and Occidental Chemical until 1992. Afterwards he was a maintenance management consultant until he retired in 2005.
After that, he said, he decided to take up community activism and has been involved in issues including removal of the Robert Moses Parkway.
This is Davis’ first book, and he did most of his research in the local history department of Earl W. Brydges Public Library and online.
Davis said his passion for reviving the North End came through his involvement in the issue of the parkway, which some see as a route that detoured traffic from Main Street and which was one factor contributing to its downfall.
His way to bring Main Street back is to look back while at the same time looking ahead.
“The Life and Times of Suspension Bridge Village,” which came out in September, can be purchased at The Book Corner, 1801 Main St., as well as on Amazon.com, including a Kindle edition.