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On This Day, November 1, 1941: Happy Birthday Niagara Falls Rainbow Bridge!

It’s hard to imagine what cross border life was like before there came The Four Bridges of Niagara.
The vast estate cottages that line the beaches from Fort Erie’s Point Abino and beyond were once home for entire summers to Buffalonians who made their way in early June with summer trunks loaded with vacation goods for the long stay across the border, not to have to return by boat until the coming of September’s chills.
Then, one by one, The Four Bridges were built. You have four bridges to choose from to cross between the United States and Canada on the Niagara Frontier.
One is Buffalo-Fort Erie Peace Bridge. At Niagara Falls, the main bridge for tourists is the Rainbow Bridge, whose birthday we celebrate today. Further north is the “Whirlpool Bridge” somewhat hidden from the public and used almost exclusively by local residents and commuters. Then, further north, well outside Niagara Falls is the Lewiston-Queenston Bridge.
It was On This Day, November 1, 1941 that the Rainbow Bridge at Niagara Falls celebrated its opening. Happy Birthday Rainbow Bridge, our cousin down the river.The Rrainbow Bridge is a celebration of cross border access, tourism, and permits no commercial trucks, respecting its Front Door cross border definition and not a Loading Dock for space-estrangling commerce. The nearest border crossing for these trucks is the Lewiston-Queenston Bridge, which seems to operate quite pleasingly for all.
The Rainbow Bridge was once suggested by the late (but always early to a great idea) Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan to link up with the Peace Bridge Authority, and promised to get them both as much money as either would ever need to please their coffers going about their job decently. The Fort Erie sector of Peace Bridge ultimate troll control flatly killed the idea for it would upset their rights and ominous rule over the Amex bag run they so enjoy.
The Rainbow Bridge goes it alone therefore, as does its cousin the Peace Bridge. The Rainbow Bridge is quite lovely—it is an international steel arch bridge across the Niagara River gorge, and is a world-famous tourist site. Some suggest history wrote the same legacy for the Peace Bridge, to be a tourism welcome mat between two countries. Instead it’s become a diesel fuel emission idling span, coughing up spews of particulates causing a panic epidemic of asthma on Buffalo’s west side.
The whole Fort Erie-controlled (US politician appeased follower) Peace Bridge debate is now brewing over 10 long years . There’s a lot of bridges connecting Canada and the US—the world’s largest freedom and unprotected border. It’s amazing how striated and split the Niagara Region consensus is when the rest of the borders seem to work for the bi-lateral interests.
Back in 1999, Stephen Handleman wrote for TIME-CNN: “Twenty-three bridges link Canada and the U.S. They have been good metaphors for the bilateral relationship: sturdy, workmanlike, impervious to gusts of rough weather. At least until last week. A long-awaited permit for new construction at the most venerable of those spans–the Peace Bridge across the Niagara River, one of the busiest commercial intersections in North America–threatened to push both countries into litigation and acrimony. “
“This quarrel needs a referee,” the article continued, saying “but Ottawa has been mysteriously silent.”We prefer to leave bridge decisions up to the authority,” an official at the Canadian Department of Transport told TIME. That’s a blueprint for no bridge at all.” Now jump a decade later. Still no progress. Those in the till can wait some more still…and so on.
Not to be a party pooper—so, Happy Birthday Rainbow Bridge! You folks know a good bridge, but know that folks this end of the river can also say they know a better bridge, when they seize one.
That’s the news from On This Day from Buffalo’s World.

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