Bedford Falls is Alive and Well in Upstate New York
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How can we forget George Bailey running down the streets of his hometown, screaming Merry Christmas to everyone as he finally discovers his true purpose in life? Where did this miracle happen? Why, Bedford Falls, of course.
Sadly, Bedford Falls is a work of fiction. However, according to legend, it was inspired by a real life town in Upstate New York. Before the film was made, Director Frank Capra was a familiar visitor to Seneca Falls, NY. Long known for its contribution to the Women’s Rights Movement, Seneca Falls is believed to be the inspiration for the fictional town of Bedford Falls. The names are similar, anyway, although we did run into George Bailey himself. See video below:
Bedford Falls, Seneca Falls…OK there’s that. But the layout of each town is nearly identical, the politics of the time eerily similar. And then there’s the bridge. The famous bridge that George Bailey almost jumped off and into the river below. Seneca Falls has one of those, too.
There will always be skeptics, but Seneca Falls, NY long ago claimed the title of inspiration for Mr. Capra’s mythical town, going so far as establishing a museum devoted to the film. To celebrate, It’s a Wonderful Life actually comes to life each December in a winter festival. Karolyn Grimes, who played Zuzu Bailey—George’s youngest—returns each year for the festival to sign autographs.
And there’s plenty of reenactors to go around—George, Violet, Mr. Potter, Clarence. They’re all roaming the streets of Seneca Bedford Falls one time each year.