Facts about “The Real” Bedford Falls

It’s time to watch “It’s a Wonderful Life” (at least a few times over the next 72 hours).

Last year we listed ten memorable sayings from this classic holiday movie… such as Clarence’s poignant observation: “You see George, you’ve really had a wonderful life. Don’t you see what a mistake it would be to just throw it away?”


Recently we saw an article about George Baily’s hometown, Bedford Falls, and the actual village that this community was modeled after. Here are a few facts about “The Real” town….

  • Bedford falls was modeled after Seneca Falls, New York, a rural town on the shoreline of Cayuga Lake, a gateway community to the Finger Lakes region of the State.
  • Bridge Street Bridge stands today – the very location where George Bailey would take his fateful leap.
  • There is a plaque on the bridge that marks an act of heroism – Antonia Varacalli leapt into icy water in 1917 to rescue a woman and in the attempt drowned himself. The plaque has a guardian angel adorning it.
  • In the 1940’s Seneca Falls had globe street lights, hydrangea bushes, many Victorian-era main street buildings, and outdoor skating ponds.  The village also had a grassy median running along the main street and a train track running through town.
  • There are 116 factories in this small mill town – many dotting the riverside. One factory that remains is Knitting Mill, where George and Clarence would discuss life while drying George’s clothes.
  • Like Bedford Falls, Seneca Falls had a large Italian community, where neighborhoods of people with modest means could live comfortably, courtesy of the generous terms of a community leader. In the movie it was “Bailey Park,” named in honor of George Bailey’s family building and loan; in Seneca Falls it was “Rumseyville,” named after John Rumsey, the owner of one the town’s large pump manufacturers.  Rumsey helped immigrant workers by lending them money and building low cost housing.
  • It is a known fact that Frank Capra visited the town in late 1945. He was going to visit an aunt in nearby Auburn and stopped in Seneca Falls. He discussed the town’s activity with Barber Tommy Bellissima and he traveled over the Bridge Street Bridge on his way out of town.

Read more on this quaint community and its infamous connection to “It’s a Wonderful Life” here:



Chris George provides reliable PR & GR counsel and effective advocacy. Need a go-to writer and experienced communicator? Call 613-983-0801 @CG&A COMMUNICATIONS.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *