The average reader might suspect that we photoshopped the above vintage photos of Niagara Falls on this page – but we didn’t. They’re real images of real people perched at the precipice of Niagara Falls before areas such as Prospect Point, Three Sisters Islands and most of the entire perimeter of Goat Island were railed in and fenced off.
For perspective, we include some pictures we ran across while researching this story on the internet, children, families and bathing beauties frolicking at the top of Victoria Falls in Africa at a spot on the brink called “Devil’s Pool”.
Victoria Falls, located on the border of Zambia and Zimbabwe in Africa, is over a mile wide and 355 feet tall (over a football field in height). That’s nearly twice the height of Niagara Falls and well over twice the width.
Often, local entrepreneurs serve a role as spotters, making sure none of the exuberant bathers get too close to the edge and are swept over, but that’s only during the rainy season when the flow is increased. Other times, you’re free to dangle whatever body part you wish over the 108-meter-high watery drop, no fences or railings coming between you and oblivion.
It was a New York Times profile of Niagara Falls State Park, terming it “shabby,” that served as the rationale for Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s $50 million state “Landscape Improvements” plan, resulting in expanded parking lots, tacky rock gardens and the felling of numerous trees in Frederick Law Olmsted’s former nature preserve, bulldozing and fencing off of Three Sisters Islands and paving of much of the park with expensive granite that’s already exhibiting numerous cracks due to its poor quality. Many of the “improvements” involved the fencing, which now deprives both tourists and locals of the joy of approaching the water’s edge, something they had been able to do, literally, for centuries.
Thankfully, the wild and natural Victoria Falls is thousands of miles away, far removed from misguided attempts at “improvements”.
Just for fun, the remaining photos document other venues of today’s world tourism that are unsuitable for the faint-hearted American wusses that our government believes us to be.
Clockwise from top left: Taft Rock at Yosemite has a sheer drop of 1,000 feet, Pulpit Rock in Norway at over 1,900 feet (Norwegian authorities assert that “we cannot fence in all nature in this country”), slip off the suspended Kjeragbolten, also in Norway, and you’ll plummet an appalling 3,228 feet, as some have, and last, lower left, people climb out on parts of an abandoned bridge in China for kicks and giggles, drop: nearly a mile.