Inventing Niagara: Beauty, Power, and Lies (English Edition)

  • 352 pages
  • Anglais
  • Format Kindle
Inventing Niagara: Beauty, Power, and Lies (English Edition)

↕ Inventing Niagara: Beauty, Power, and Lies (English Edition) Online Read ↔ ePUB Author Ginger Strand ✣ With wit and passion, Strand Flight A Novel explores the history of Niagara Falls and shows that the famous natural wonder is in reality a prime example of man s manipulation of nature, constantly exploited to attract tourists In the 19th century, landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted, appalled by the crass commercialism of souvenir shops, ugly signs and cheap attractions, pledged to restore Niagara to its natural beauty instead, he created a fake wilderness In the 20th century, humans learned to control the falls by harnessing them for electric power, and this led to what is for Strand the most shocking fakery the water going over the falls is manipulated for greater output in the daytimeto impress visitorsand turned down at night to generate power In addition, the capacity to generate large amounts of hydroelectricity has made Niagara Falls a prime spot for industries that manufacture electrochemical products and for nuclear weapons facilities the author paints a vivid picture of a region awash today in toxic waste and radioactive contaminants Strand s provocative and iconoclastic book says much about how America has dominated nature, despoiled it and shrouded the offense in myth 8 pages of color photos not seen by PW May Copyright Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc All rights reserved.Reviewed by Lauren Belfer This book documents an obsession, writes Ginger Strand in her entertaining study of the exploitation of Niagara Falls, both town and waterfall Niagara s history, she claims, is fraught with falsification, prevarication and omission In Inventing Niagara, she sets out on a quest to cut through the cultural accretions of centuries and find the fundamental truth about Niagara At its most basic, Niagara Falls is a big, green waterfall that straddles the border between the United States and Canada on the strait that links Lake Erie and Lake Ontario But over time, Niagara has also become a place of kitschy tourism, daredevil stunts, gambling and large scale industrial development which all too quickly turned into environmental disaster The waterfall itself has been propped up and rejiggered by feats of engineering in an attempt to prevent it from crumbling under the force of its own water and to maintain its scenic impact despite the diversion of as much as three quarters of its water to produce electricity.Inventing Niagara begins with Strand debunking the popular legend of the Maid of the Mist, a gorgeous Indian maiden purportedly sent over the falls in a canoe to save her village from a plague But Native Americans in what became western New York never practiced human sacrifice In a place defined by artifice, Strands writes, it seems appropriate that its originary myth would be made up Strand touches on a broad array of topics, from the Underground Railroad to the 19th century romantic view of the sublime, prettiness with a point She s a bit hard on Frederick Law Olmsted, who did, indeed, superimpose his own version of nature when he designed the allegedly natural state park at Niagara, but one hesitates to imagine what America would be like today without the designed to appear natural parks that Olmsted created Strand s explanation of how the Army Corps of Engineers solved the problem of accommodating massive water diversion for hydroelectric power while maintaining the falls magnificent appearance is at once complex and accessible This work, accomplished primarily in the mid 20th century, included the construction of a series of mostly submerged dams to control and even cut the flow of water, as well as the blasting and reinforcing of the rock face Equally masterful is her presentation of the publicity campaign, dating back to the 1910s and 20s, that convinced the public that keeping Niagara pretty meant taking water away In writing about Niagara Falls, most likely Strand had no choice but to review the oft told tales of thrill seekers going over in barrels, of daredevils and tightrope walkers, honeymooners, gamblers and shady entrepreneurs arranging for animals to be sent over the falls for the edification of paying observers She presents the whole gaudy, tiresome tourist show, and in the process she sometimes lets her tendency to play for the laugh get the better of her Strand is strongest when she s filled with indignation Her denunciation of the terrible excesses of industrial development is especially pointed in her discussion of Love Canal, the toxic waste dumping ground turned residential Niagara Falls neighborhood that literally made its citizens ill Her sadness is palpable as she shows how the misguided values of Robert Moses helped to destroy the town of Niagara Falls, N.Y., by separating it from the waterfall with a four lane highway The final blow was delivered by the unconscionable urban renewal project of the 1960s, which tore down large swaths of the old town in an act of what she calls municipal citycide And yet one morning Strand visits the falls and discovers this The rapids swirl and crash, and the trees in their brilliant autumn colors have a hallucinatory three dimensionality The little glades along the riverbank look like habitations for sprites and dryads, and the burbling river glints like crystal Niagara Falls is still a place worthy of obsession Copyright 2008, The Washington Post All Rights Reserved. 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