In 1946, the movie It’s A Wonderful Life introduced the world to Bedford Falls, New York. A fictitious village in upstate New York which people living in Seneca Falls, New York thought looked very familiar. Starting with the steel truss bridge over the Seneca River where the character George Bailey, played by actor Jimmy Stewart, was contemplating suicide. That’s when an angel named Clarence jumped in to the river. George went in after Clarence to save him totally changing George’s mental state of mind. This lead to the Angel Clarence giving George his wish to see life as if he had never been born.
The Village of Seneca Falls feels so strongly about being the model for Director Frank Capra‘s Bedford Falls they put these plaques on the Bridge Street bridge. Click the photo below to read what the plaque has to say.
To promote Seneca Falls as Bedford Falls, the village has several cues to the movie including street signs, shops and restaurants named for characters in the movie. I found Clarence Street, Angel Avenue, banner for a play, a museum for the movie and ZuZu Café. ZuZu was the name of George Bailey’s little girl who at the end of the movie said, “Look, Daddy. Teacher says, every time a bell rings an angel gets his wings.” Something Clarence earned by helping George during the movie.
In this age when industry has left small towns like Seneca Falls, I take my hat off to the people of Seneca Falls for creating a tourism destination throughout the year especially during the month of December when they annually put on the play Merry Christmas, George Bailey based on the movie.
If you are driving down the New York State Thruway, take a detour at Exit 41 and visit Seneca Falls. See if you agree it’s a wonderful place to see.