On the road through central New York State, my first stop was at Seneca Falls.
Seneca Falls, a nineteenth century industrial town powered by the river and access to the Erie Canal system, lies at the northern edge of Cayuga Lake, one of the Finger Lakes in central New York State. Seneca Falls also had a reputation for social reform. Abolition of slavery and the Underground Railroad, the temperance movement, and women’s rights– all were supported by local residents. The women’s rights movement began in Seneca Falls in 1848.
Sylvania exhibit in Seneca Falls Museum of Waterways and Industry.
A wringer (also called mangle) has two rollers with a hand crank to wring water from laundry. In Seneca Falls Museum of Waterways and Industry.
Horse-drawn fire engine in Seneca Falls Museum of Waterways and Industry.
Zuzu Cafe in Seneca Falls. In the movie It’s a Wonderful Life, the little girl Zuzu, the daughter of George Bailey played by Jimmy Stewart says “Teacher says, every time a bell rings, an angels gets his wings!” The actress who played Zuzu, Karolyn Grimes, visits Seneca Falls each December to kickoff a weekend of events. It is believed that Seneca Falls was the inspiration for the fictional Bedford Falls in Frank Capra’s movie It’s a Wonderful Life.
While the connection to It’s a Wonderful Life is unconfirmed, many believe it is this bridge in Seneca Falls which was the inspiration for the bridge in the fictional Bedford Falls on which Jimmy Stewart’s character pondered his mortality. The director of the movie, Frank Capra, had an aunt in a nearby town. Local cities such as Rochester and Elmira are mentioned in the movie.
Plaque commemorating the first Women’s Rights Convention in 1848.
At first we traveled quite alone …but before we had gone many miles we came on other wagon-loads of women bound in the same direction. As we reached different cross-roads we saw wagons coming from every part of the country, and long before we reached Seneca Falls we were a procession.Here in the Wesleyan Chapel, at 11 a.m. on July 19, 1848, “A Convention to discuss the Social, Civil, and Religious Conditions of Women” came to order.Only women attended the first day of of the world’s First Women’s Rights Convention. Led by Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Lucretia Mott, conventioneers debated and amended the Proposed Declaration of Sentiments. That evening, Lucretia Mott spoke publicly on emerging reform movements in the United States.On the second day, organizers presented the Declaration of Sentiments to an open audience of women and men. Its expansive view of equality enlarged the vision of the Declaration of Independence. “All men and women are created equal,” asserted the Seneca Falls declaration.On July 20, 1848, one hundred men and women signed the Declaration of Sentiments. The decades-long, worldwide struggle for equal rights for women was on.
A massive wall of water contains the Declaration of Sentiments, which was presented at the first Women’s Rights Convention in 1848. Based on the Declaration of Independence, the Declaration of Sentiments claims that men control women just as Kinge George III once tried to control the colonies.
A nearby museum celebrates the women’s rights movement which began in Seneca Falls. On the wall is a line from the Declaration of Sentiments: “We hold these truths to be self-evident; that all men and women are created equal.”
Cashing in on the connection to the women’s rights movement in Seneca Falls.