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City of Lockport celebrates sesquicentennial

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lockport150.com
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WBFO News

The City of Lockport celebrated its incorporation 150 years ago to the day, on Saturday.

Melissa Dunlap, Executive Director of the Niagara County Historical Society, said the Erie Canal is what spurred the forming of the city, bringing businesses and entrepreneurs to Lockport.

“There were boat builders and barrel-makers and a lot of trades that went along with the Erie Canal,” said Dunlap.

Lockport became a city of power early on, with the locks generating not only commerce, but electricity, too.

Some entrepreneurs made their millions and moved on farther west. Others stayed and helped build the area, like Birdsill Holly – the inventor of the fire hydrant. Holly started American District Steam Heat on the model of his own home heating, and expanded it to serve Lockport.

“And that was to have one large boiler that heated a whole section of the city,” Dunlap said.

Holly’s model would later get picked up in another major area – New York City.

These days, the canal is de-industrialized, but Dunlap said it is still bringing business to Lockport as an economic driver for cultural tourism. She said touring the locks as they exist now is a great way to see what the city once was, while you’re surrounded by what it’s become.

New York State certainly saw something in Lockport, and 150 years later its residents do, too. They celebrated the big day with a scavenger hunt across the city, a celebration at the historic Palace Theatre on Saturday night, and the release of 150 sky lanterns late in the evening.

Saturday’s celebration will be followed up by a nine day run of events, starting June 27th. More information is available at lockport150.com.

Avery began his broadcasting career as a disc jockey for WRUB, the University at Buffalo’s student-run radio station.