05/2/13

Niagara Falls Jumps In

Niagara Falls boosters envisioned a "capital" for the world as a stylized adaptation of Washington, D.C., placed on nearby Navy Island. The plan anticipated that visitors would arrive from both the United States and Canada, merging symbolically into one united traffic circle. (Library of Congress)

Niagara Falls boosters envisioned a “capital” for the world as a stylized adaptation of Washington, D.C., placed on nearby Navy Island. The plan anticipated that visitors would arrive from both the United States and Canada, merging symbolically into one united traffic circle. (Library of Congress)

On May 2, 1945, the Niagara Falls Gazette published an editorial that gave new life to an old idea.

During the First World War, Congressman Robert H. Gittins had proposed an international conference at Niagara Falls to form a league of nations. Thirty years later, as a private citizen, Gittins proposed the location once again for the UN and the Gazette’s editorial launched a civic campaign to create a world capital on an island between the United States and Canada. Business leaders and public officials from Niagara Falls, Ontario, joined their counterparts in New York in an extensive campaign that included traveling to London to appeal directly to the UN. Originally aiming to place the UN on Canada-owned Navy Island, they quickly changed their proposal to nearby Grand Island, in U.S. territory, after the UN’s decision to place its headquarters in the United States.

Ultimately, Niagara Falls lost its bid to the UN’s desire to be close to a major city, particularly Boston or New York.  To find out more about campaigns by New York cities and towns, check out the List of Contenders and the complete story in the pages of Capital of the World: The Race to Host the United Nations.

Related:

“Niagara area offered site for UN headquarters,” column by Don Glynn, Niagara Gazette, July 4, 2013.