Niagara Falls: A Touristâ€™s View
On a recent trip, I was lucky enough to take a detour and visit Niagara Falls, a tourist hotspot since the mid-nineteenth century. This stunning, natural phenomenon is one of the worldâ€™s most popular attractions, with more than 12 million visitors each year â€“ and itâ€™s not hard to see why.
â€śHorseshoe Fall and Profile Rockâ€ť Â© George Barker. Reproduced by kind permission of Michigan State University. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
This image, of a male and female tourist at the cusp of the Horseshoe Falls, is almost irresistibly romantic (assuming this innocent stroll along the lake was a prelude to a marriage proposal). Prospective visitors must have been awed by the juxtaposition of intimacy and grandeur it portrayed.
Yet, while Niagara Falls has long been pitched as a getaway of choice for honeymooners, like many a solo traveller, I became involved in a love affair with the view.
â€śHorseshoe Falls from Canadaâ€ť Â© George Barker. Reproduced by kind permission of Michigan State University. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
I like to think the same can be said of George Barker, the Canadian-American photographer famous for these stereographs of the falls. He captured the views from many angles in these images from the forthcoming History of Mass Tourism resource. Taken from the Canadian side, this is close to the elevator that now takes you behind the falls.
â€śAt the Cave of the Windsâ€ť Â© George Barker. Reproduced by kind permission of Michigan State University. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
Part of the appeal of these images is the way they demonstrate the publicâ€™s close proximity to the falls, which has long attracted the more adventurous tourist. Offering a close up of the American Falls, these intrepid explorers were snapped at the Cave of the Winds, a tour that still runs today. I spent my weekend on the Canadian side so I was able to spot Hurricane Deck, just rebuilt for these trips in the spring and summer months.
â€śSignorina Maria Spelterini Crossing Whirlpool Rapidsâ€”Niagaraâ€”on a Tight Ropeâ€ťÂ© George Barker. Reproduced by kind permission of Michigan State University. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
This breath-taking photo of Maria Spelterini, the only woman to cross the Niagara gorge on a tight rope, is one you shouldnâ€™t try to recreate at home. Not content with crossing once, this nineteenth-century daredevil decided to up the challenge by tying baskets to her feet the second time and returning blindfolded a third time. Finally, she crossed with ankles and wrists shackled together.
So finally, hereâ€™s a snap of my own, featuring the spectacular Horseshoe Falls.
Almost as impressive as those taken of my fellow tourists, thanks to that view.
A view of the Horseshoe Falls from Canada Â© Clare Mence, 2016. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
The document featured and more on tourism can be found in the forthcoming resource History of Mass Tourism, due for publication in summer 2016. Full access restricted to authenticated academic institutions who have purchased a license.