From the New Orleans Advocate:
For many Americans, Niagara Falls exists only in imagination or memory. It’s nearly effortless to conjure up images of the towering, majestic falls and the great rush of water, images often inspired by picture-perfect postcards or by distant recollections of a long-ago honeymoon.
But for residents of Niagara Falls, New York, the reality is much bleaker. Despite the famous falls, Niagara Falls is a Rust Belt town that has been on the decline since the 1960s. It’s the sight of dangerous toxic waste dumps, and it’s one of the country’s top destinations for suicides, right up there with San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge.
“Niagara Falls,” a new play by Justin Maxwell, running through Feb. 5 (with additional dates to be announced) at The Theatre at St. Claude, blends fantasy and fact in an effort to capture the dark, dying essence of a once-great piece of American real estate.
Down an overgrown path along the bluffs above the Niagara River gorge, a couple of miles downstream from the breathtaking cataract that gives Niagara Falls, New York, its name, there is a long-forgotten abutment from which city leaders think they can see the city’s future. Remarkably, it looks a great deal like the past.
Not the immediate past of Rust Belt decay and abandonment, or the unseemly history of industrial pollutants that seeped into the river and poisoned the earth. Instead, beyond the abutment’s edge lies a sanctuary for birds that wheel above the undisturbed waters far below, a riot of native greenery climbing the steep banks, and far in the distance, the eternal plume of mist from the Falls.
If you knew nothing about Niagara Falls, this is the view you might expect the city to offer a visitor. It is a view that Mayor Paul Dyster believes his city must be able to provide if it is to have any hope of reviving. “We have to develop a niche of the tourism market that plays to our strengths. And what we have over here,” he says, “is a close association with nature.”
But there’s a problem. As sublime as the view of the gorge might be, Dyster wistfully calls this stretch of the river “The Falls No One Gets To See.”
This is an excellent article that talks about how Niagara Falls, NY got to where it is, and what needs to be done to improve. I highly recommend it!