If you read the Wikipedia article on Niagara Falls, you’ll see the following mention of the Wintergarden within our City’s entry: The Wintergarden was an all-glass indoor arboretum designed by Cesar Pelli adjacent to the Rainbow Centre and over Old Falls Street. It operated as an arboretum from its 1977 opening until 2003, when it was closed due to rising maintenance costs. The city then sold the structure to local developer Joseph Anderson, who operated it as Smokin Joe’s Family Fun Center from 2003 to 2007. It was demolished in 2009 in order to improve vehicular and pedestrian traffic on Old Falls Street.
Easily summed up in a few quick sentences for a Wikipedia paragraph, but if you lived in and grew up in Niagara Falls during the late 1970s (into the 80s & 90s) like I did, the Wintergarden was always a fixture in the landscape of Downtown Niagara Falls. I remember playing there during the Festival of Lights each year, coming to it for certain school events or weddings, and then having to walk through it on my lunch break at Teletech in order to get to what was left of the Rainbow Mall so I could wreck havoc on Chris Fortin during our daily bubble hockey showdowns at the game room. Although during it’s final years, the Wintergarden was far from being the Niagara Falls icon that many may have remembered it as, becoming just a shell of its former, well, shell. Although I am glad that the eyesore it became no longer exists, my memories of the big glass building will always be fond. I hope a few of these photos help spark a bit of nostalgia… What memories do you have?