Niagara Falls station (New York)
The new station in July 2017.
|Other names||Niagara Falls Station and Customhouse Interpretive Center|
|Location||825 Depot Avenue West, Niagara Falls, New York|
|Owned by||City of Niagara Falls (New York)|
|Line(s)||Empire Corridor (Niagara Subdivision)|
|Platforms||1 side platform|
|Train operators||Amtrak / VIA Rail|
|Bus operators|| Route 50|
|Station code||Amtrak code: NFL |
CBP Code: NIA
|Opened||December 6, 2016|
|Passengers (2018)||31,398 0.73%|
U.S. Customhouse in May 2018 after construction of the railroad station.
|Location||2245 Whirlpool Street, Niagara Falls, New York|
|Area||less than one acre|
|NRHP reference #||73001227|
|Added to NRHP||July 16, 1973|
The Niagara Falls Station and Customhouse Interpretive Center is an intermodal transit complex in Niagara Falls, New York. It serves Amtrak trains and Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority buses, houses U.S. Customs and Border Protection offices servicing the Canada–United States border, and houses the Niagara Falls Underground Railroad Heritage Center.
It is the western terminus of Amtrak's Empire Corridor and serves two Empire Service trains in each direction (terminating westbound) and one Maple Leaf in each direction daily. The station also provides a connection to NFTA Route 50 and the Discover Niagara Shuttle buses.
The facility consists of a complex built around the historic U.S. Customhouse, originally designed to service the U.S. side of the Niagara River border crossings from Canada. Completed in July 2016, the facility replaced Amtrak's former Niagara Falls station for passenger rail service on December 6, 2016.
To handle the large amount of goods exchanged over the border, the Lewiston customs house—the primary customs for the Niagara region—was relocated from Lewiston, NY to the Niagara Suspension Bridge in 1863.[Note 1] The customhouse served inspectors for the Niagara Falls Suspension Bridge, Niagara Cantilever Bridge, Whirlpool Rapids Bridge, and Michigan Central Railway Bridge at various points in its history. With Niagara Falls receiving the second highest amounts of American imports at one point, the customhouse was once a very busy post for its inspectors. In 1911 the building was partially destroyed by fire but later rebuilt. Remaining in a US Customs capacity until the 1960s, it was sold to several different commercial owners before it was originally abandoned in 1998.
Added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1973, the building is now owned by the city of Niagara Falls who purchased it in 2003. State and local governments later incorporated the customhouse into plans to build a new multi-million dollar train station and intermodal transportation center called the Niagara Falls Station and Customhouse Interpretative Center. The customhouse was restored over a 5-year period and built into the station.
The second floor of the customhouse is occupied by U.S. Customs and Border Protection which uses it as a processing facility for passengers coming from Canada on the Maple Leaf. The first floor contains a museum on the Underground Railroad called the Niagara Falls Underground Railroad Heritage Center in honor of the former original bridge close by that took slaves from the United States into Canada in the 19th Century. The museum opened May 2018 and includes such exhibits as "One More River to Cross" featuring the history of the Underground Railroad in Niagara Falls, the role played by the location and geography of Niagara Falls, and the actions of residents particularly African-American residents. Other exhibits include a recreation of the Cataract House, a Niagara Falls hotel that employed an entirely African-American wait staff, who helped numbers of former slaves to freedom in Canada and a recreation of the International Suspension Bridge, built in 1848, and rebuilt in 1855 to incorporate rail traffic, where Harriet Tubman and other former slaves crossed into Canada. The museum is sanctioned by the National Park Service as part of the Niagara Falls National Heritage Area.
After 30 years of effort to move Amtrak's Niagara Falls station to the Customhouse location, the Niagara Falls Station and Customhouse Interpretive Center complex was constructed in a three-phase rebuilding project estimated to have cost $44 million. Construction on the project began in August 2010 and in October 2010, the US Department of Transportation released $16.5 million in funds from the TIGER program for work on the final phase of the International Station project.
A construction contract was agreed upon between the City of Niagara Falls and a local construction firm in April 2014 after delay over price overruns. Work began in May 2014. City officials said the construction would take 18 months to two years to complete. The project was completed in three phases including the stabilization of the existing customhouse building and upgrades to the nearby bridge. The station was completed in July 2016 and the completion was celebrated with a sneak peek of the station to the public during an event called "Niagara Falls Amtrak Community Day" on July 30, 2016.
After a delay in a contract agreement between the city and Amtrak, a 20-year lease was signed on November 9, 2016. Amtrak moved into the station on December 6, after the last train departed from the former Willard Avenue facility that morning.
It is hoped that the new station and its closer location to the downtown area of the city will help spur public and private sector growth in the city. The station was the first of four stations to be replaced along the Empire Corridor in New York in a five year period. In addition to Niagara Falls, Rochester, Schenectady, and Buffalo–Exchange Street were all replaced between 2016 and 2020.
Niagara Falls officials have expressed interest in GO Transit expanding rail service over the border to the station. Metrolinx which runs GO Transit however has stated that there are specific restrictions when a train leaves Ontario, or any province in Canada, that require a different set of inspection criteria and standards in order to legally enter the United States which would make a stop at the station difficult. GO Transit currently stops at the Niagara Falls, Ontatio station as it is part of the service's Lakeshore West line.
Like the customhouse, the train station has two floors. The first floor at ground level contains the main concourse, an entrance to the museum in the customhouse and spaces for shops accessed from the outside. Ticketing, a waiting room, and boarding of the trains is on the second floor which is accessed by stairs and elevator. The lawn in front of the customhouse can be turned into a theater and interpretive area. Trains call at a single high-level side platform serving one track which is on an embankment.
|Street level||Exit/entrance and station building|
|Side platform, doors will open on the left or right|
|Track 1||← Empire Service alighting passengers only |
← Maple Leaf toward Toronto (Niagara Falls, ON)
Empire Service, Maple Leaf toward New York City (Buffalo – Exchange Street) →
|Track 2||No passenger service|
Customs processing for the Maple Leaf
There are no pre-clearance facilities here or on the Canadian side. For passengers coming from Canada, U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers handle passengers with processing through the station. For passengers going to Canada, Canada Border Services Agency officers process those passengers on board the train at the Niagara Falls railway station in Niagara Falls, Ontario, just over the Whirlpool Bridge.
- U.S. Customhouse (disambiguation) - A list of other historic customhouses
- "Amtrak Fact Sheet, FY2018, State of New York" (PDF). Amtrak. June 2019. Retrieved 1 January 2020.
- "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. March 13, 2009.
- Fischer, Nancy (25 June 2016). "$43 million train station gets ready to open in Niagara Falls". The Buffalo News. Retrieved 26 June 2016.
- Fischer, Nancy (30 November 2016). "Amtrak service at new Niagara Falls station to debut on Tuesday".
- WKBW-TV (27 July 2016). "Lease agreement delays train service to new Amtrak Station".
- Brightly 1869, p. 468.
- National Park Service 2004.
- Gee 2008.
- "Cultural Resource Information System (CRIS)" (Searchable database). New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation. Retrieved 2016-03-01. Note: This includes Cornelia E. Brooke (May 1973). "National Register of Historic Places Registration Form: U.S. Customhouse" (PDF). Retrieved 2016-03-01. and Accompanying three photographs
- Ian Elsner (2018-02-19). "The Underground Railroad in Niagara Falls with Bill Bradberry". Museum Archipelago (Podcast). Museum Archipelago. Retrieved 2019-02-02.
- "https://www.bizjournals.com/buffalo/news/2018/02/17/niagara-falls-underground-railroad-museum-to-open.html". www.bizjournals.com. Retrieved 2018-02-19. External link in
- Mroziak, Michael. "Niagara Falls Underground Railroad Heritage Center opens for visitors". Retrieved 2018-05-27.
- "Niagara Falls gets $16.5M grant for Amtrak station". WCAX.com. 29 October 2010. Retrieved 30 October 2010.[permanent dead link]
- "USDOT doles out TIGER II grants for 75 transportation projects". Progressive Railroading. 21 October 2010. Retrieved 21 October 2010.
- Besecker, Aaron (19 April 2014). "Falls train station is back on track".
- Hsieh, Cresonia (30 July 2016). "A look at the new $43 million Niagara Falls train station".
- Fischer, Nancy (9 November 2016). "Amtrak and Niagara Falls reach agreement on train station".
- "New Amtrak train station in Niagara Falls set to open". Niagara Gazette. December 6, 2016. Retrieved December 6, 2016.
- Elzufon, Rachel (13 July 2015). "Structure up in new Niagara Falls Amtrak station".
- email@example.com, Rick Pfeiffer. "Falls officials want to bring Canadian commuter train across the border". Niagara Gazette. Retrieved 2020-01-03.
- "Niagara Falls, N.Y. mayor says he wants a GO Train across the border | The Star". thestar.com. Retrieved 2020-01-03.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Niagara Falls Station and Customhouse Interpretive Center.|
- Niagara Falls, NY – Amtrak
- Niagara Falls Underground Railroad Heritage Center
- Niagara Falls, N.Y. (Great American Stations)
- Photos of train station construction from the Niagara Gazette and finished photos from The Buffalo News
- Historic American Buildings Survey (HABS) No. NY-6152, "U.S. Custom House, Whirlpool Street at Lower Arch Bridge, Niagara Falls, Niagara County, NY", 14 photos, 5 data pages, 2 photo caption pages