When looking at an aerial view of one of the American continent’s greatest natural landmarks, Redditors were upset to find just how much of the surrounding area was covered in parking lots.
Niagara Falls is a famous landmark on the border between New York State and Ontario, Canada. These gorgeous waterfalls aren’t just famous for the daredevils that have crossed them on a tightrope or gone over them in a barrel; they’re also well-known for their stunning natural appearance, with many photos capturing the beauty of torrents of water pouring over a 190-foot sheer cliff.
What the photos don’t capture, apparently, is all the baking pavement on every side.
“Going onto Google Maps and seeing the amount of parking lots around this place is depressing,” said a Redditor, sharing the aerial view of the landmark.
All the parking lots are outlined in red — and there are so many that the map looks more like a jigsaw puzzle.
According to Strong Towns, those many parking lots were once the historic buildings of the town of Niagara Falls. With money pouring into the area after the Great Depression, the city made the decision to tear down the older buildings in the hope of attracting new development projects in their place. But that didn’t happen, and the city lost its historic downtown, which could have become a tourist destination if it had survived.
Instead, the properties were largely paved over, creating an ugly landscape built for cars more than people. Worse, those wide stretches of unbroken pavement are exactly the right conditions to create a heat island — an urban area much hotter than its surroundings thanks to the sunlight being absorbed by the parking lots. Heat islands range from uncomfortable to dangerous and will only worsen as the planet gets hotter.
Commenters hated the sight of all that misused space. “It feels like they ripped the soul of the city,” said one user.
“The Canadian side is extremely unfriendly to pedestrians,” added another Redditor. “You get to enjoy the lovely views, but just a few meters away you have a stroad with lots of loud and angry drivers. It really takes away from the experience.”
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