Is New York’s Seneca Falls The Real Bedford Falls From ‘It’s A Wonderful Life?’
Did you know that the real-life town believed to have been the inspiration for the holiday classic ‘It’s A Wonderful Life’ is located in the Finger Lakes region of Upstate New York?
Just a few hours away is the adorably quaint town of Seneca Falls which was not only the birthplace of women’s rights but which many believe to be the real-life Bedford Falls.
Named one of the greatest movies of all time by the American Film Institute, It’s A Wonderful Life tells the story of George Bailey who finds himself contemplating suicide on Christmas Eve after his building and loan company loses $8,000. The loss means that Mr. Potter could potentially take over Bedford Falls. As he considers taking his life, an angel named Clarence appears and shows George what life would be like if he never existed.
While director Frank Capra never mentioned Seneca Falls in his memoirs or archives, Capra did visit Seneca Falls only weeks after signing a contract to work on It’s A Wonderful Life and the similarities between Seneca Falls and Bedford Falls can’t be ignored.
Both Seneca Falls and Bedford Falls are mill towns, boast Victorian architecture, and have a large Italian population. Additionally, the train runs through Seneca Falls as it did in Bedford Falls.
Both towns have canals, globe street lights, and a median on a portion of their main roads. In the movie, Rochester, Buffalo, and Elmira are all mentioned as being somewhat close by, and in the real-life Seneca Falls, all are.
The similarities between Seneca Falls, New York, and the fictional Bedford Falls are so strong that Seneca Falls has dubbed itself "The Real Bedford Falls." The town hosts a special It's A Wonderful Life event each year in December and original cast members of the movie make an appearance to pose for photos and sign autographs.
Seneca Falls is also home to the incredible It's A Wonderful Life Museum which the curious can visit year-round for a nominal price. Visitors can spend hours pouring over scripts and drawings, items from the personal collections of actors from the movie, and much more.
Whether you're a huge fan of the movie It's A Wonderful Life or just looking for an interesting day trip, a visit to Seneca Falls would be perfect. While you're there, you can also see the home of Elizabeth Cady Stanton and visit the National Women's Hall of Fame.