Niagara Falls Hotels - 2010 waterpark hotel and more in Niagara
A Niagara Landmark - The Crowne Plaza Hotel Part 5 Exploring the Area's Heritage The Crowne Plaza and the neighboring Sheraton on the Falls are ideal places from which to begin a walking tour of the vicinity. A great deal of Niagara's fascinating history can be discovered in this area. So let's begin. In front of the Crowne Plaza is the entrance to the Rainbow Bridge which connects Niagara Falls, Ontario and Niagara Falls, New York. Officially opened on November 1, 1941, it has a length of 950 feet. The Province of Ontario and the State of New York jointly own this bridge. Due to wartime gasoline rationing, very little traffic used the bridge for the first few years. The Rainbow Bridge replaced an earlier span called the Upper Steel Arch, or Honeymoon Bridge. On January 27, 1938 a massive ice jam, 60 feet thick, formed in the gorge below the bridge, causing the abutments to be weakened and it collapsed onto the ice below. A prominent feature of the Rainbow Bridge is the Rainbow Carillon Tower. It has 55 bells, ranging in weight from 9 pounds to 10 tons. There are regular concerts throughout the summer and on special holiday occasions during the rest of the year. Turning right and walking a short distance south of the hotel along Falls Avenue, you will soon see, on the opposite side of the street from the hotel and across from Casino Niagara and the Sheraton on the Falls, a beautiful formal garden. It is known as Oakes Garden Theatre. During most of the 19th century, this site was the location of Niagara's most famous hotel, the Clifton House. Built in 1833, it was described in a guide book, published 11 years later, as a "large, elegant, commodious, well-finished hotel, standing on the brow of the bank near the ferry, and commanding a splendid view of the Falls." During the closing years of American Civil War, Confederate agents stationed in Canada often held meetings at the Clifton House. This outstanding hotel was destroyed by fire on June 26, 1898. A new Clifton House was constructed on the same site in 1905, and soon gained the identical, excellent reputation as its predecessor had enjoyed for so many years. Ironically, on New Year's Eve 1932, it was also lost in a spectacular fire. Soon after this, the property was purchased by Harry (later, Sir Harry) Oakes. He was a mining magnate who had struck it rich in northern Ontario. In 1924, he moved to Niagara Falls. Oakes donated the former Clifton House property to the Niagara Parks Commission in 1934 in exchange for a piece of land above the steep hill at the rear of Queen Victoria Park. Soon after this, the Commission developed the garden theater you see today. Opened on September 18, 1937, it is a beautiful blend of horticulture and architectural skills. Over the years, many concerts and special events have taken place at the Theatre. These include a series of live television broadcasts by the "Regis and Kathy Lee" television program, and concerts by artists including Bob Dylan and Kenny Rogers.