This holiday season, plan a visit to Seneca County and discover our connection to one of the most beloved Christmas movies of all time, "It's a Wonderful Life."
While the movie and its fictional town of Bedford Falls were filmed on elaborate sets in Hollywood, CA, the real-life inspiration has always been located approximately 2,600 miles away in the Finger Lakes Region. Each year, thousands of movie fans from around the world come to experience the sights, sounds and magic of the Real Bedford Falls...Seneca Falls, NY.
Bailey Kids Come Home
From the moment she stepped foot in Seneca Falls, actress Karolyn Grimes (played Zuzu Bailey) knew she was in a special place - reminiscent of the magical Bedford Falls. Every year since, Grimes and her fellow castmates have made annual appearances in the local community to celebrate the legacy of their movie classic..."It's a Wonderful Life."
Many reasons -- but it's well documented that Movie Director Frank Capra visited Seneca Falls while working on the script. Throughout the movie, several clues point to its inspiration for Bedford Falls --starting with the town's name itself. Next, consider the geographic references in the movie - as Bedford Falls is located in Western NY with proximity to Buffalo, Rochester and Elmira...just like real-life Seneca Falls. Next, much of the architecture and landmarks in the film bear a striking resemblance to how Seneca Falls would have looked at the time... from the railroad station, to local houses to the steel truss bridge. Speaking of the bridge -- perhaps the most significant influence is a real life incident that happened in Seneca Falls regarding a woman that attempted to take her own life and an "angel" who was there to save her.
Yes - created by the It's a Wonderful Life Museum and Archives, visitors can experience the movie's historical roots in a walking tour of Seneca Falls. Maps are available for download and donations to the museum are greatly appreciated.