Niagara Falls, USA

USA > New York State > Niagara Falls


After publishing my recent story about Niagara Falls, Canada (see HERE), I thought it’d be appropriate to complement it with this one: my visit to Niagara Falls on the US side, more than 2 years ago. You can decide which is more worthy to visit: Niagara Falls Canada or Niagara Falls USA. 🙂


Nov 2008


A cold spell has been sweeping upstate New York, with extremely low temperatures during the night.

On this very cold morning, I find myself heading westwards along Interstate 90. It is the longest interstate highway in the USA, at 5000km long. It links Boston and Seattle, and is also the northernmost coast-to-coast American highway.

At certain stretches, it is snowing heavily, but New Yorkers drive their cars fast, and we are having a hard time keeping up with them.

The huge North American trucks can be intimidating because of their size and speed. They can easily outpace a car.


Niagara Falls at last, but the weather remains nasty.

Opposite the public car park, the Niagara Center.

There’s a Hard Rock Cafe nearby.

Parkland separates the town and the Niagara Falls visitor centre, and they fly the Canadian flag here too.

It’s still late autumn, I suppose.

These are truly hardy plants.

The Niagara Falls (USA) Visitor Center — I think the Canadian one is grander.

Interior of the Visitor Center.

A map to put everything into perspective, just that left is North. Please look extreme left, note that there are two falls: American Falls (in USA), and Horseshoe Falls (straddling USA/Canada border — the Canadians call it Canadian Falls for obvious reason).

A proper map, showing Lake Ontario and Lake Erie. The Niagara Falls water actually flows from Lake Erie into Lake Ontario to the north.

Past the Visitor Centre, access to the parklands surrounding the falls. I can hear the roar of the falls.

It’s really cold, probably -5C, no kidding.

Past the woods, I see the Niagara River going over the American Falls, with the skyline of Niagara Falls Canada in the background.

Walking along the bank, the water gets ferocious and noisy. The roar of the American Falls can be deafening.

And there it is … American Falls. Not so spectacular on this side, but on the Canadian side, it should be a great show.

The American Falls are 320m wide and about 30m high.

Looks dull and bleak on the Canadian side, with the drab-looking defunct Ontario Power Station just above the river water-line.

The famous Skylon Tower at 160m (above street level), opened 1965, it has restaurants and observation deck. Everything you see across the river is Canadian.

Below the street, the Maid of the Mist boats are having a break. In warmer months, they would take visitors to the bases of the falls.

Looking northwards, there’s the Rainbow Bridge, connecting USA and Canada — 290m long, built 1941.

Across the water, one finds Goat Island in the middle of Niagara River atop the two huge falls, and this is the bridge to access it.

To my surprise, even on a freezing weekday like today’s, there are visitors on Goat Island. Yes, somebody reared a herd of goats here once.

It’s now an uninhabited protected state park.

A curiosity I find on desolate Goat Island is a statue of the much-maligned genius Nikola Tesla.

Tesla (1856-1943) and Westinghouse won the contract to start supplying alternating current (AC) to North America via a hydro power plant here at Niagara Falls. They beat bitter rivals Edison and General Electric with their direct current (DC) proposal. Some say Edison is a bad guy, but I digress.

He looks miserable in this sub-zero weather, but as they say, a cat has nine lives.

This is the ‘highlight’ of Niagara Falls USA — the Terrapin Point lookout. I can only see the water dropping down the awesome Horseshoe Falls, but not the whole spectacular show. For that, one has to hop over to the Canadian side, which I can’t do today since I don’t have the friggin’ Canadian visa. Before 9-11, a Malaysian passport-holder can just walk over into Canada without a visa.

Only the top portion of Horseshoe (Canadian) Falls can be seen from this vantage point. On the other side, next to the falls, the Niagara Falls Canada visitor centre.

Below the Niagara Parkway, the Ontario Power Station, decommissioned 1999.

At Goat Island, a nice view of American Falls and the Rainbow Bridge. Canada to the left of river, USA to the right.

Very nice place, Goat Island is, but unfortunately I have to leave.

Buffalo is next stop, and the weather has turned for the better, but getting colder, as we drive away.




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