1913 Commemoration

The centerpiece of the Perry Centennial Celebration was the Brig Niagara, raised from Presque Isle’s Misery Bay. Oliver Hazard Perry’s former flagship was displayed at the public dock every day during the celebration. After the exhibition in Erie, another historic Erie-built ship, the USS Michigan, towed the Niagara to other commemorations around the Great Lakes from Buffalo, N.Y, to Green Bay, Wis.

The Centennial included five different parades saluting the navy, fraternal and uniform organizations, and the merchants and manufacturers of the city. People lined the sidewalks, often ten deep. There also was a grand illumination of Perry Square and the greatest fireworks display ever seen in the community.

Renowned planner John Nolen, the father of American urban planning, was brought to Erie in 1913 to design plans for a “Greater Erie.” The Nolen plan that emerged recommended that Erie create new patterns for city zoning and parks. Nolen also stressed that Erie’s Bayfront was the city’s “great jewel” and belonged to the entire community, not just the railroads and shippers. Nolen said: “The final word in city planning is not its effect on business and commerce, but upon the increasing mass of human beings who must live and work in the cities.”