Niagara Falls station (New York)

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Niagara Falls, NY
Niagara Falls Station and Customhouse Interpretive Center.jpg
The new station in July 2017
General information
Other namesNiagara Falls Station and Customhouse Interpretive Center
Location825 Depot Avenue West
Niagara Falls, New York
United States
Coordinates43°06′35″N 79°03′19″W / 43.10972°N 79.05528°W / 43.10972; -79.05528Coordinates: 43°06′35″N 79°03′19″W / 43.10972°N 79.05528°W / 43.10972; -79.05528
Owned byCity of Niagara Falls
Line(s)Empire Corridor (Niagara Subdivision)
Platforms1 side platform
Tracks2
Train operatorsAmtrak / VIA Rail
ConnectionsBus transport NFTA: 52 North End Circulator
Bus transport Discover Niagara Shuttle: Falls to the Fort
Construction
ParkingYes
Bicycle facilitiesYes
Disabled accessYes
Other information
Station codeAmtrak: NFL
CBP Code: NIA
History
OpenedDecember 6, 2016
Passengers
FY202120,145[1] (Amtrak)
Services
Preceding station BSicon LOGO Amtrak2.svg Amtrak Following station
Terminus Empire Service Buffalo–Exchange Street
toward New York
Niagara Falls, Ontario
toward Toronto
Maple Leaf
Former services at
Suspension Bridge station
Preceding station New York Central Railroad Following station
Niagara Falls, Ontario (MC)
toward Chicago
Michigan Central Railroad
Main Line
Niagara Falls, New York
toward Buffalo
Niagara Falls, New York
Terminus
Falls Road Sanborn
toward Rochester
Preceding station Canadian National Railway Following station
Niagara Falls, Ontario
toward Toronto
Niagara FallsToronto
Local stops
Terminus
Preceding station Lehigh Valley Railroad Following station
Terminus Niagara Falls Branch Niagara Falls, New York
toward Depew
U.S. Customhouse
Niagara Falls customhouse.jpg
U.S. Customhouse in May 2018 after construction of the railroad station.
Location2245 Whirlpool Street, Niagara Falls, New York
Arealess than one acre
Built1863
NRHP reference No.73001227[2]
Added to NRHPJuly 16, 1973
Location
Niagara Falls, NY is located in New York
Niagara Falls, NY
Niagara Falls, NY
Location within New York

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.[3][4]

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.[5]

From March 2020 to June 2022, Maple Leaf service west of the station was suspended indefinitely as part of a closure of the border to non-essential travel in response to the coronavirus pandemic, which made this station the western terminal of the route for that period.[6][7]

U.S. Customhouse[edit]

Whirlpool Street (West) Elevation, View Taken From Southwest

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.[8][9] 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.[10]

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[11] 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.[12][13]

Train station[edit]

Station under construction in 2015

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.[14] 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.[15]

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.[16] 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.[17]

After a delay in a contract agreement between the city and Amtrak, a 20-year lease was signed on November 9, 2016.[18] Amtrak moved into the station on December 6, after the last train departed from the former Willard Avenue facility that morning.[19]

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.[20] 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 and the station is designed to accommodate preclearance facility, hosting Canadian border staff.[21] 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.[22] GO Transit currently stops at the Niagara Falls, Ontario station as it is part of the service's Lakeshore West line.

Station layout[edit]

Platform at the Niagara Falls station

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.

P
Platform level
Side platform, doors will open on the left or right Disabled access
Track 1      Empire Service, Maple Leaf toward New York (Buffalo–Exchange Street)
     Maple Leaf toward Toronto (Niagara Falls, ON)
Track 2 No passenger service
G Street level Exit/entrance and station building

Customs processing for the Maple Leaf[edit]

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.

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Amtrak Fact Sheet, Fiscal Year 2021: State of New York" (PDF). Amtrak. August 2022. Retrieved September 27, 2022.
  2. ^ "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. March 13, 2009.
  3. ^ Fischer, Nancy (25 June 2016). "$43 million train station gets ready to open in Niagara Falls". The Buffalo News. Retrieved 26 June 2016.
  4. ^ Fischer, Nancy (30 November 2016). "Amtrak service at new Niagara Falls station to debut on Tuesday".
  5. ^ WKBW-TV (27 July 2016). "Lease agreement delays train service to new Amtrak Station". YouTube. Archived from the original on 2021-12-14.
  6. ^ "Service Adjustments Due to Coronavirus" (Press release). Amtrak. 2020-03-24. Archived from the original on 2020-03-25. Retrieved 2020-03-25.
  7. ^ Dickson, Jane (March 18, 2020). "Canada-U.S. border to close except for essential supply chains". The Globe and Mail. Retrieved March 18, 2020.
  8. ^ Brightly, Frederick (1869). "New York—Collection Districts". An Analytical Digest of the Laws of the United States. Vol. 2. Philadelphia, United States: Kay & Brother. p. 468. Retrieved September 22, 2008.
  9. ^ Gee, Denise Jewell (September 22, 2008). "Underground Railroad Expert Set to Develop Museum in Niagara Falls". The Buffalo News. New York, United States: Stanford Lipsey. Retrieved September 27, 2008.
  10. ^ "Cultural Resource Information System (CRIS)". New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation. Archived from the original (Searchable database) on 2015-07-01. 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
  11. ^ Ian Elsner (2018-02-19). "The Underground Railroad in Niagara Falls with Bill Bradberry". Museum Archipelago (Podcast). Museum Archipelago. Retrieved 2019-02-02.
  12. ^ "Niagara Falls Underground Railroad Museum to open". www.bizjournals.com. Retrieved 2018-02-19.
  13. ^ Mroziak, Michael. "Niagara Falls Underground Railroad Heritage Center opens for visitors". Retrieved 2018-05-27.
  14. ^ "Niagara Falls gets $16.5M grant for Amtrak station". WCAX.com. 29 October 2010. Retrieved 30 October 2010.[permanent dead link]
  15. ^ "USDOT doles out TIGER II grants for 75 transportation projects". Progressive Railroading. 21 October 2010. Retrieved 21 October 2010.
  16. ^ Besecker, Aaron (19 April 2014). "Falls train station is back on track".
  17. ^ Hsieh, Cresonia (30 July 2016). "A look at the new $43 million Niagara Falls train station".
  18. ^ Fischer, Nancy (9 November 2016). "Amtrak and Niagara Falls reach agreement on train station".
  19. ^ "New Amtrak train station in Niagara Falls set to open". Niagara Gazette. December 6, 2016. Retrieved December 6, 2016.
  20. ^ Elzufon, Rachel (13 July 2015). "Structure up in new Niagara Falls Amtrak station".
  21. ^ rick.pfeiffer@niagara-gazette.com, Rick Pfeiffer. "Falls officials want to bring Canadian commuter train across the border". Niagara Gazette. Retrieved 2020-01-03.
  22. ^ "Niagara Falls, N.Y. mayor says he wants a GO Train across the border | The Star". The Toronto Star. 30 January 2019. Retrieved 2020-01-03.

External links[edit]