Our friends, Matthew and Louise, went up to Niagara Falls recently for a night and we copied their plan. A “Wonder of the World” in our own backyard, we hadn’t been there in years. I guess you could get there in an hour and a half but we took the scenic route along the old Erie Canal towns.
We stayed in an old Art Deco hotel on the American side. The bartender there told us the building was revamped by Carl Paladino. I said, “Take Out The Trash Carl Paladino?” Either the bartender didn’t remember Carl’s run for governor or he didn’t think it was funny because he didn’t even smile. As I watched him I got worried he might be Paladino’s nephew or something.
At some point the government gave a Native American tribe six blocks in the middle of the city of Niagara Falls. They owed them the whole town, at least, but what you have now is a convention center, empty most of the time, a hideously tall hotel with a screaming LED billboard, “THE TEMPTATIONS with THE FOUR TOPS,” and a casino. We walked through the casino. Peggi got depressed in there. I was blown away by it all. Smoking is still acceptable and it goes perfectly with the low-life, Black Jack, Backgammon and whatever you call those things that used to be slot machines. Surrounding theses builds are blocks of parking lots. The city is stuck between decay and mis-managed renewal.
The magnificent falls are on the American side but the best singular views of the falls are from the Canadian side. We walked through Customs and into Canada seven or so miles along the shore of the river and back. The Canadian parks are manicured but they’re surrounded by honky tonk. There are Hard Rock Cafés on both sides of the border. I prefer the funkiness of the struggling American side and the casual park on this side, Goat Island, is sensational. Sensational because the views, as you walk around its perimeter, are astoundingly beautiful.