Thursday, November 10, 2011

E. Dent Lackey - City of Niagara Falls Mayor 1963 to 1975

The following excerpt is taken from Daniel M. Dumych's "Niagara Falls, Vol. II"
(text only - Photos courtesy of The Niagara Falls Public Library Local History Department)

E. Dent Lackey, mayor of Niagara Falls from 1963 to 1975. Mayor Lackey, an outgoing, ebullient man, was elected on a campaign that called for urban renewal, the re-establishment of the city as a tourism capital, and industrial expansion. Under Lackey's administration, the city actually came to lose much of its industry. Many of the city's factories were built late in the last century and early this century and companies chose to relocate their works instead of rebuilding them. Tourism, too, would falter even more during the Lackey years. Throughout the 1960s, Falls Street deteriorated and tourists lured by the flash and glitter of Clifton Hill in Niagara Falls, Ontario. City residents, too, abandoned Falls Street, choosing to shop at plazas near the edge of town instead of supporting Falls Street businesses. Lackey and other city leaders felt that there was only one answer for Niagara Falls's ills - urban renewal. By the early 1970s, much of the south end resembled war-time Europe. The properties had been cleared - an yet, there were no takers. The city waited in vain for a return to prosperity.

On a personal note, my father referred to E. Dent Lackey as the "(expletive) on the white horse," as do many of the people still to this day who lived in Niagara Falls at the time when Urban Renewal took place. Many still hold Mayor Lackey responsible for what became (or what didn't become) of Niagara Falls in the aftermath of Urban Renewal.

(click all photos for larger images)


RCMJr said...

I thought I'd mention my novel, <bThe Stone House Diaries<b, available at the NFPL or other bookstores, all about Niagara Falls and historic preservation, or the lack of it. Lackey gets prominent mention in the later chapters. Please excuse the self-promotion.
Bob Moore

RedmanChronic said...

Speaking of 'catch names'....I often heard the Mayor referred to as 'He Went Wacky.' Anyone else??

NF in the rear view mirror said...

My father fought at city hall with Mayor Lackey and the councilmen on an almost weekly basis (or whenever council meetings were held). He also blasted him on the radio (WJJL) and in the Niagara Falls Gazette's letters to the editors. My father knew they were leading the city in the wrong direction and he was correct. I moved away years ago and it's sad to go back there to see how run down the city has become. Historical Falls Street should have remained as it was and at least there would be some tourism. Mayor Lackey was a blustering, obnoxious old fool. It's a shame there is anything in the city named after him.

scott lackey said...

This was my grandfather. I grew up idolizing him. He was always bigger then life and he lived up to his reputation. He faced his opponents head on and won. You should expect this of a man who's cousin was Marion Morrison. Oh I'm sorry I should have given you his stage name "John Wayne". E. Dent and John were so alike it was uncanny. They even have the same physical facial features.

Long story short my grand father lost by 12,000 votes of becoming a New York State senator. What a world that would have been.

In closing I have picked up the reins that my granddaddy left behind. The Lackey name lives on with intense fervor in me.

Please remember the name that made a change and revitalized Niagara Falls.

Yours truly,

Scott R. Lackey

Anonymous said...

Mr. Redman Chronic, your name suggests that you are a chronic pot user. You are obviously not old enough to have even seen or witnessed my grandfather in action So there for you hap hazard off the cuff comment "Wacky Lackey" has no merit, UMMM BY BY!!!

Anonymous said...

Mr. RCM Jr. I will purchase a copy of your book. Thank You for Your Continued Support!!!

Anonymous said...

Mr. NF in the rear view mirror, You again get the same speech that I gave Mr. Chronic. Were You There when this all took place???
I was!!! and I was not a kid that did not understand what was taking place. You are entitled to your opinion but my grandfather would not have been welcome into the Kennedy, Rockefeller and Kruschov circles if he did not merit. You may want to review what it is that my grandfather had to face, Chemical industries, non participant city counsels, and a public that was so disillusioned by the previous administrations smoke and mirrors. In the end after my grandfather saw to the revitalization of the city including the convention center why would a city that had elected him to be their mayor for twelve years in a row erect a plaza and name it E. Dent Lackey Plaza???

scott lackey said...

When we look at the condition that the falls are in today compared to thirty years ago we must pay homage to my grandfather for having gotten the ball rolling. It was his tenacity that sparked the revitalization that is happening today.

scott lackey said...

Mr. Redman Chronic, your credibility is automatically thrown out the window because your name reminds all of us of pot!!! You were not even born when my grandfather was in office so there for your "wacky Lackey" statements have no foundation. UMM BY BY!!!

scott lackey said...

Mr. RCM Jr. your tacky and tasteless promotion of your book is Not Allowed Here! I am the custodian of my grandfather's site and you will cease and desist such activities. If you persist I will have you trespassed. Dou you understand? You are dealing with a representative of Law Enforcement.

Anonymous said...

Ladies and Gentleman, the city of Niagara Falls is a gift to mankind. The beauty that it beholds is overwhelming. If you live in Niagara Falls it is because you choose to do so. You choose this location because of it's overwhelming natural abundance. You choose this location because the people here are better than the rest. This is why my grandfather choose this city and led this city.

I Scott R. Lackey will run for mayor of this great city. I will provide the necessitations for the function of all. I will assume the reins and direct this great city towards a brighter future.

This is not a promise full of hot air, this is a commitment to the citizens of Niagara Falls.

I am an outsider and this is what gives me a good prospective. I have not lived here for decades so there for I am not Jaded. I am going to look at the complete story and make necessary assessments.

I know and understand that this road is going to be hard. I understand the political opposition that I must face. I will stand forth as my grandfather did and raise Cain if necessary to guarantee the needs of the citizens of Niagara Falls.

If anyone has any doubts in my political abilities then I say just watch.

I Scott R. Lackey am going to Run For the Mayor of Niagara Falls. Look for me in the future ladies and gentleman.

Mr. RedmanChronic, as I said before and I will say again your "whacky Lackey" comment was and is without any merit. Why would the citizens re-elect my grandfather for 12 strait years if he was as loco as you said? Why did tens of thousands of Niagara falls citizens turn out for my grandmother's funeral? Why did tens of thousands of Niagara Falls citizens turn out for my grandfather's funeral?

I would suggest that you reconsider your political objective. Evaluate your goals and re-establish your life.

This has been a statement by Scott R. Lackey

Bob Malloy said...

Scott Lackey - I have a poster size picture of your Grandfather shaking hands with JFK. It came from your Grandfathers HQ when he ran for Congress in 1962. If you are interested in it, let me know and I will give it to you!

Anonymous said...

Scott Lackey is smoking CRACK if he thinks his grandfather could hold a candle to John Wayne....his idiot grandfather ruined my generations chance to stay in Niagara Falls and make something of myself...instead I left that horrid crack town for a better way of life in the south. Dream on Scott your grandfather was a disgrace to NF and to WNY

Anonymous said...

Only man I ever new who walked his cat...he lived around the corner from us in DeVeaux...He was walking the cat one day past our house and my mother and little brother were in the front yard. My mom, being friendly, said what a nice cat, to which my little brother blurted, "you hate cats"...E.Dent blanched white and never came on our side of the street again as long as I remember...

FormerNF said...

Mr Lackey wrote, "Please remember the name that made a change and revitalized Niagara Falls."

Is this man joking? Is he for real? I left Niagara Falls right after Mayor Lackey's time in office. IMHO the city was absolutely and to this day RUINED by the lunacy of that administration. It has never come back. Anyone please look at photos of Niagara Falls in the late 1800s up to Mayor Lackey's administration, and look at it today then you decide.

Nico Santangelo said...

We must remember that the city manager held much more power in the days of Lackey. Until O'Laughlin created the "strong mayor" system, the position of mayor did not hold a lot of power.
What Lackey was, (I was born far, far too late to have met the man) was a spokesperson for the city. His administration did eventually get things going.
His convention and civic center hosted ELVIS! TWICE! Miss USA was held there! Urban Renewal did not fail: the economy failed. Niagara Falls is much better off than most of the "Rust Belt".
Lackey came in after the city was stripped of power production by the Schoellkopf collapse and Robert Moses's NYPA's subsequent takeover. Factories would move if the power was no longer cheap.
After Lackey left, the city was struck with the horrors of Love Canal, and our reputation was never quite able to recover.
This city is showing signs of a comeback. Things are starting to move forward again, and I think we need to reevaluate what the real lasting effects of the Lackey administration were.

Kristi Bradley said...

Scott - I am the granddaughter of Morrison Lackey and would like to talk to you. How can I contact you?

Anonymous said...

Sorry, he's not revered at all. Urban Renewall under him ruined the city. He took away a downtown that was a great place to shop, two showplace theaters and many shops. I grew up in Niagara Falls and went away to college in 1966. If you saw now what he did to the city, you'd fully understand. Falls St is empty, Main St literally is in shambles. No sir, if you ask 60 and 70 year olds what they think of E Dent Lacky, you'd be shocked. He's generally hated. The City has spoiled down since the "Urban Renewal"...

Sorry sir, but that's the way it is!

J.c. Enos said...

Dent was like a father to me.