Niagara Falls Slang
Like other parts of western New York, Niagara locals put the word "The" in front of roads when talking about directions. For example, I-190 becomes "The 190" and Niagara Falls Blvd, "The Boulevard." If you get lost, knowing this simple tip could save you a big headache down the (literal) road.
2. Bagels and pretzels
Ordering from the deli counter? A local will know you're an outsider just by how your place your order. In the mornings, the rules of Niagara Falls local lingo dictate that you order a bagel by pronouncing the "b-a-g" like something you'd carry on your shoulder, not like "b-a-y", as most Americans do. And at lunch, a bag of pretzels would be a bag of "prent-zles" instead.
3. Phonetic pronunciation
Things aren't complicated in Niagara Falls – for most words, how it's spelled is how it sounds! For example, if you see Jacques Road outside of western New York, you might try your hand at adding the now-standard French pronunciation. In Niagara and neighboring cities, saying it like it looks, "Jay-quees" Road, will be just fine. Similarly, words like elementary are pronounced with an emphasis on the "a" so rather than sounding like "element-ree" it is pronounced "elemen-TARY."
4. Talk with your nose
Western New Yorkers are notorious for speaking through their noses. This nasally accent might be hard to master, but it's also important if you want to pass yourself off as a local. To practice this tricky Niagara Falls lingo, try closing off your throat with your tongue when saying the words dad and sad. If you're still having problems, watch an episode of The Nanny. Lead character Fran Drescher takes the nasal sound to a whole new level!
5. The Arm
In the heyday of organized crime, the New York mafia, and particularly the Buffalo-Niagara Falls branch called "The Arm," reigned supreme. Because of Niagara's proximity to Canada, it became a viable trade route for illicit business, including bootlegging alcohol during the Prohibition era. After a string of murders in the 1980s, most of the mob violence in the Niagara area has died out, but older natives can still recount horror stories from days gone by.
6. Cataract City
A nickname for Niagara Falls, the Cataract City earned its name for none other than its legendary falls. In Latin, cataracta means waterfall, so the name was a natural fit. Although rarely used in Niagara Falls lingo, many area businesses still brand themselves with the old-time moniker.
7. The BoulevardU.S. Route 62, or Niagara Falls Boulevard, runs from the falls all the way to Buffalo. In parts of town, The Boulevard is known for its shopping and entertainment. Don't worry about having to seek it out. When flying into Niagara Falls, you'll land directly on The Boulevard – Niagara Falls International Airport is conveniently located there.
8. The Niagara Frontier
While most are unsure where this nickname originated, it dates back centuries to the War of 1812 and is used to describe Erie and Niagara Counties in New York state and westward to Cleveland, Ohio.
The NFTA is the Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority and provides service to the Niagara area with buses, trains and vans. Visitors can pick up the NFTA at the airport and ride directly into town.
If you hear a western New Yorker talking about "Blue," he could be discussing the weather, but chances are he's ordering up a beer. In Niagara Falls local lingo, "Blue" is the universal term for Labatt's Blue Ribbon beer. While Labatt Brewing is a Canadian company, all "Blue" sold in the U.S. since 2009 is owned by North American Breweries in Rochester, New York and is fully independent of the Canadian brand. Historically, however, the region's proximity to Canada was what sparked the "Blue" love among the locals.
Now that you've had a crash course in Niagara Falls slang, we think you should book a flight to walk along The Boulevard, order up a hot "prent-zel" at one of the many attractions and finish off your day with a nice, cold bottle of Blue. After all, when in Niagara, do as the locals do!