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Niagara Falls, NY and Asturianus

 
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Suronda
Co-Founder


Joined: 23 Feb 2003
Posts: 97
Location: Upstate New York

PostPosted: Tue Jun 07, 2005 9:38 pm    Post subject: Niagara Falls, NY and Asturianus Reply with quote

Bob,

I'm going to pick on you because I don't know anyone else here who has a connection to the Niagara Falls Asturian community. I recently took a trip to Niagara Falls, Ontario, and passed through Niagara Falls, NY. I was surprised by how heavily industrialized the area looks. It's odd that the area didn't develop more of a sustained tourist business. The Canadian Falls seemed to me a bit like what I imagine Las Vegas to be like. The American side looked more like a "rust belt"community.

So....what's the history of the Asturianus in Niagara Falls, NY. You mentioned in one post that they weren't working in zinc, so I hope you'll expand. If you've gone through this already, please let me know and I'll check out that post. I'm just dusting off my Asturian immigration hat again, and I'm still catching up on posts!
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Bob
Moderator


Joined: 24 Feb 2003
Posts: 1725
Location: Connecticut and Massachusetts

PostPosted: Wed Jun 08, 2005 10:53 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I grew up in Niagara Falls, where my parents have lived since the 1920's. The population of NF in the early 1960's was about 150,000, the power project was booming, and heavy industry was in its last good days. Today, there is almost no heavy industry left, the population is a little over a third of what it once was, and tourism has migrated mostly to the Canadian side (which we called "Glitter Gulch" since the late 1950's). In a way, it reminds me of the situation in Asturias: An educated population in which the young move away to find work, a crumbling industrial base, and an underdeveloped tourism business. With the new Indian Casino, some local residents think things will improve, but the jobs that the gambling industry generates are mostly not high paying ones.

Asturianus in Niagara Falls worked in heavy industry, mostly electrochemical (electrical power in NF used to be cheap)--Carborundum, DuPont, Olin Matheson, etc.--difficult, dangerous and unpleasant work, but they made enough money to provide a decent standard of living for their children, build or purchases homes, return to Asturias for visits, etc. There used to be a Spanish (mostly Asturian) - American Club, but the membership has died off or moved away over the years and it is now defunct.

I returned to Niagara Falls a few weeks ago for my uncle's funeral, and was struck by the fact that there are not too many "born in the US Asturianus" left. The population has died off from a thousand or so to a handful, all in their 80's and 90's, and their children (including me) have moved away to follow their careers. There is no longer a "Spanish" neighborhood, but my parent's generation still keeps track of who is in NF, who has moved away, who has died, etc.

Bob
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Suronda
Co-Founder


Joined: 23 Feb 2003
Posts: 97
Location: Upstate New York

PostPosted: Wed Jun 08, 2005 9:52 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Bob,

Thanks for the overview of the Niagara Falls community. I wonder if DuPont might have been one of the connections between Niagara Falls and the West Virginia communities in Harrison County. I would like to know more about why families moved from West Virginia (and other Asturianu enclaves in the U.S. as well as Asturias) to Niagara Falls. Do you think Asturianus were coming direct from Spain to NF? I wonder if they were "leap frogging" - moving from one place to another following the Asturianu community. It would be great to uncover some records from the NF community. You and I know from your family's personal papers (was it your grandmother) that our families knew one another back in the '30s. I'd like to know more about the connections between the two regions.
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