Niagara Falls, USA

USA > New York State > Niagara Falls

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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. 🙂

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Nov 2008

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

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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.

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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.

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

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Niagara Falls at last, but the weather remains nasty.

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Opposite the public car park, the Niagara Center.

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There’s a Hard Rock Cafe nearby.

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

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It’s still late autumn, I suppose.

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These are truly hardy plants.

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

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Interior of the Visitor Center.

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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).

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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.

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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.

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

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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.

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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.

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It’s now an uninhabited protected state park.

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

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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.

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

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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.

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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.

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

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

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

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

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> THE END

 

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