Is There a Bit of Bedford Hills in Bedford Falls?

Which town inspired the setting for Frank Capra's "It's a Wonderful Life"?

You either love or loathe the film, "It's a Wonderful Life."

I fall into the former category and look forward to Frank Capra marathons around the holidays, settling in to my parents' couch in Rochester, NY for yet another showing of the holiday classic.

I've read conflicting reports over the years about what town inspired the film's setting, the fictional town of Bedford Falls. I liked to think it was Seneca Falls, a village near my hometown in western New York.

But this blog post was the first I'd heard that Bedford Hills—the village near my current home in Cross River—may have inspired the look and feel of the Jimmy Stewart showcase.

Matt Hickman of Mother Nature Network writes:

"The tourism bureau of Seneca Falls is banking on the fact that they’re the real deal. In fact, Seneca Falls has an entire website, The Real Bedford Falls, dedicated to pointing out the numerous similitudes between the two towns. The evidence is convincing enough (despite road signs in the film pointing to Katonah and Chappaqua which are both in Westchester County in or near the town of Bedford): Frank Capra reportedly visited Seneca Falls in 1945 although no solid proof of this exists; the film references nearby cities like Elmira, Rochester and Buffalo; both are mill towns; and both sport large Italian populations and an abundance of Victorian homes."

The actual filming, of course, was near neither town—it was on a film set in California.

I've lived near Bedford Hills long enough to meet some of the spirited residents there and covered many events showing a

I think the residents of that hamlet would agree—even if the film wasn't inspired by their small town, living there is a wonderful life.


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