Niagara Falls, once a place for religious enlightenment, has found it's way into the twentieth century as a tourist attraction. Once a place of majestic natural beauty, and now overrun with concrete sidewalks, malls, and casinos. What has made the Falls as such? The answer lies within our own views and conceptions concerning nature.
With the coming of the Industrial Age, man's creations of steam engines were viewed with as much awe as the Falls themselves, which were seen as a place where man and nature could live side by side, where the King of Power and the Queen of Nature could reign supreme. Yet this is not what has happened. The King of Power has defeated the Queen of Nature. The Falls themselves only run at fifty percent of their unleashed power, the waters are polluted from factory by-product, even the soil has been corrupted as with the Love Canal scandal.
Within the context of our culture, prevailing religious beliefs of human domination over Nature have persisted. Nature was seen as a God given pleasure as made evident through Genesis, and also as a source of divine fear at its sheer unpredictability. Indeed, right outside the power plant at Niagara Falls is a stone engraving with the words of Psalm 8, speaking of man's "dominion" over nature. This has shaped how nature is dealt with, as for example with the ongoing debates about the selling off of national lands in light of capitalist pusuits on the national level; within the context of Niagara Falls with the park's attempt itself to produce a pleasurable experience through the tourist industry; and the capitalist endeavors through the chemical and power companies that exist in and around the Falls. Attempts made at the Falls reveal an underlying attempt to predict and control the Falls' power, but also there is an underlying disrespect for nature just to be nature. In this light man has polluted its own drinking water and breeding grounds. In looking at the destruction reaped at the sight of Niagara Falls, one needs to ask, if this is what one people does to one of their most revered sights, what are they going to do to the rest of the world?