Clifton Hill is a short one kilometre road that takes you from the top of the hill at Victoria Avenue to the bottom of the hill where it intersects with the Niagara Parkway at the Falls.
A brief history of the hill
Clifton Hill was originally called Ferry Road because it was the main route to the ferry landing at the lower Niagara River. Here people could take a rowboat from Canada to the United States. This name change took place in the mid 1800’s.
This hill and the surrounding 52 acres of land was originally owned by Samuel Zimmerman, who was regarded as the founder of Niagara Falls. Zimmerman died in a train accident in 1857. One of the main businesses founded in the 1800’s was the original Clifton House Hotel, which was built in 1833 and located at the foot of the hill where Oakes Garden Theatre is now found. English writer Charles Dickens stayed there for ten days in 1842. The hotel was accidently burned down in 1898 but was replaced soon after in the same location by a new Clifton Hotel, in 1906. This hotel was also destroyed by fire on Christmas Eve, 1932.
Another popular hotel, the Foxhead Hotel, was built in 1925 just up the road from the second Clifton Hotel. After several renovations, especially one in 1966 that created a new 14 storey hotel, the name changed and it became the Sheraton Foxhead Hotel. I had the pleasure of managing this property when I was just 28 years of age, from 1973 until 1976. Those were especially fun days for me and this hotel is still around today.
In the early, 1960’s more growth took place on the hill with the building of more motels, gift shops, and attractions. A few of them were the Park Motor Hotel, Hollywood Wax Museum, Houdini Magical Hall of Fame, Tussauds Wax Museum, Space Spiral, the 72-room Fallsview Motel, Dracula Museum, House of Frankenstein, Guinness World Records, numerous gift shops and many more - several of which are still around today.
Today’s Clifton Hill
More than ever this area is known as the, “Street of Fun”.
Since the1920s, the street has had two primary property owners: the Harry Oakes Company (HOCO) and the Niagara Clifton Group owned by the Burland family.
Today, you and your family will be mesmerized by great attractions like the Niagara SkyWheel, Canada`s largest observation wheel towering 53 metres (175 feet) in the air, enjoy the thrills of the Niagara Speedway, a go-kart track like no other, experience the thrills of the Great Canadian Midway and explore a new Ripley’s Believe it or Not museum filled with different exhibits to blow your mind. You can play miniature golf at Dinosaur Adventure Golf Course, which features to-scale dinosaurs, and an “active” volcano, and even wander through the several wax museums like the Hollywood Wax Museums of the Stars, Rock Legends Wax Museum, and Movieland Wax Museum - where you can also have your hands sculpted with wax.
Try not to be scared when you visit House of Frankenstein, the Haunted House, Creatures of the Night and Nightmares Fear Factory. This 30-year attraction found in a one-time casket factory is North America’s oldest haunted house and perhaps the scariest. Thousands of people have, “chickened out “sometimes only a few minutes inside the attraction. I can tell you from a personal point of view, it really is scary!
Clifton Hill has lots of delicious restaurants to recharge from you busy day exploring.
This place is a definite must visit anytime you decide to #ExploreNiagara!