Project: The LA Group was involved in a major renovation of the American side of Niagara Falls. In preparation for regional and national award entries, the following narrative was written as a model story to guide subsequent award messaging.
Results: Preparing this foundational content gave The LA Group the power to ensure their name remains at the center of a multi-party award submission.
The New Niagara
A return to Romance
It’s 1857. New York City is littered with embezzling bankers, gang raids, and police riots. America is on the brink of economic collapse and panic hovers in the air. Race, industry, and morals are the topic of conversation as the impending Civil War brews below the surface.
Meanwhile, across town, Frederic Edwin Church is debuting Niagara in a one-painting exhibition. Just beyond the newly opened Central Park, 100,000 visitors wait outside the exhibit, binoculars in hand, to pay the 25 cents to get a glimpse of what lies inside.
Romance. Refuge. A look at something bigger than themselves. The monumental canvas takes viewers on a journey of the senses – imagining fresh air, thundering water, and mist floating just above their skin. Why the intrigue? In a world of chaos, grime, and economic disparity, the beguiled masses are hunting for hope.
With a focus on nature – its uncontrollable power, potential for cataclysmic extremes, and ability to drive us toward reasoning and renewal – Frederic Church’s Niagara and his partners in conservation, Frederick Law Olmstead and Calvert Vaux, were on a mission to save the American spirit.
The unveiling of Niagara was the iconic beginning of the Free Niagara Movement. Motivated to protect this natural wonder, members lobbied for 15 years until finally, in 1885, Governor Grover Cleveland signed into law our country’s very first state park – New York’s Niagara Reservation.
With Olmsteadian principles in mind, the Park was designed to preserve natural beauty. After war, humanitarian crises, and the stress of hard times, people from all classes had a place to mingle, relax, and renew their souls.
However, more than 100 years later, this sacred respite was the unfortunate victim of population growth, highway expansion, and hodge-podge construction projects. The former sanctuary’s appearance was best described in one, succinct word from a New York Times journalist – shabby.
8 million visitors a year in a park designed for 300,000. Trampled pathways, deteriorating accommodations, and invasive plants swallowed the very views that made the park what it was. This international destination deserved better.
Thanks to Governor Andrew Cuomo’s multi-year, $25 million commitment, Niagara Falls is back. The LA Group, in collaboration with T.Y. Lin, The LiRo Group, Trowbridge Wolf Michaels, and Erdman Anthony have designed and constructed a transformative revitalization. Back to its original purpose, the park is a welcomed alternative to the amusement parks across the border.
Once again, visitors will find a place to slow down, soak it all in, and recalibrate their minds. They’ll stand in awe at Prospect Point, meander through the forest, cross the rushing rapids, hop across islands, and explore the Cave of the Winds all before they’re magnetically pulled to look up – as the falls catapult over the edge above them. History, geology, and humanity combine to build an experience that can’t be forgotten. Like Nikola Tesla once declared, this place is electric.
This “shabby” park is once again an all-encompassing sensory experience. Visit Niagara and find something more.