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Natural view of the falls was Olmsted’s objective

Frederick Law Olmsted, the famous landscape architect who left his mark on Buffalo and Niagara Falls, treated the two places differently. In Buffalo, he created parks for recreational purposes. By the falls, he created a natural reserve – land set aside in a natural condition.

According to Olmsted, people were influenced by two motives for seeing the falls. “One is that they may be astonished. The other motive is that of enjoyment to be obtained through the pensive contemplation of distinctive qualities of beauty in happily associated passages of natural scenery. Within certain limits at Niagara there are probably a larger number of distinct and rare qualities of beauty in combinations of rock, foliage, mist, sky and water, than in any other equal space of the earth’s surface.”

Olmsted created other reserves and parks such as Yosemite in California, and Central Park in New York City. Of Niagara, he said, “the noblest of nature’s gardens that I have seen is that of the surroundings and neighborhood of the falls of Niagara.”

Since the opening of the Niagara reserve in 1885, New York State has focused more on nature there than artificial things. The reserve currently is undergoing improvements that should continue the comment from tourists that the view is better from the Canadian side. Remember that when they say that, they are looking at the American side of the falls and gorge.

Paul Gromosiak

Niagara Falls