Officially, it's the East Falls Observation Area. Other Elyrians call it the East Falls Riverwalk. Elyria's mayor, William Grace, calls it "one of the most beautiful [attractions] in the state of Ohio."
For a year now, the new Riverwalk at the entrance of Cascade Park near downtown Elyria has given Lorain County residents inspiring views of the Black River's 40-foot East Falls.
Boulders, trees, coves and the ruins of the old hydroelectric power plant enhance the panorama. The view from the main deck is like standing directly over the water, while the deck to the left offers the perfect location to view the expanse of the falls. At the third deck, to the right, you can see the calm water turn into a roaring cataract.
Benches look out on other marvelous views. Four lampposts lend the Riverwalk an old-fashioned feel. Lights underneath the decks highlight the falls at night.
Before the decks were built, another observation deck 1,500 feet from the falls, built in 1994 by a volunteer group, was the closest place to view the falls. The city bought land near the future Riverwalk in 2001. After offices and apartment buildings that hindered viewing of the East Falls were razed in 2002, the city formed three teams of officials, designers and citizens to make the $600,000 grant-funded project happen. The Riverwalk, at the entrance to Cascade Park, was completed in spring 2003.
The idea, city officials say, was to build a stronger connection between downtown and the East Falls. Mayor Grace, a big Riverwalk supporter, wants to attract more restaurants, homes and offices to the area. Plans and funding are now in progress for a West Falls riverwalk as well.