Frederick Law Olmsted wrote extensively about Niagara Falls and his affection for the natural elements present at the Falls. When he visited the area to meet with Buffalo leaders regarding the creation of parks for that city, he re-visited Niagara Falls and was appalled at what he saw to be the commercial and industrial exploitation of this natural beauty. In a report of 1879 to the New York State Legislature he opened by saying:
“There are those, and I fear that most of the people of Niagara are among them, to whom it appears that the waterfall has so supreme an interest to the public that what happens to the adjoining scenery is of trifling consequence. Were all the trees cut away, quarries opened in the ledges, the banks packed with hotels and factories, and every chance open space occupied by a circus tent, The Falls would still, these think, draw the world to them. Whatever has been done to the injury of the scenery has been done, say they, with the motive of profit, and the profit realized is the public’s verdict of acquittal. It must be considered, therefore, that the public has not had the case fairly before it.”
Olmsted would go on to plead that case in his writings and public statements and with his involvement in the Free Niagara movement that included others like H.H Richardson and artist Frederic Church and local leaders William Dorsheimer and Thomas V. Welch. The Olmsted Tour of the Niagara Reservation will follow Olmsted’s words, with 30 quotes from his writings, at various points at Prospect Point and Goat Island in the Reservation.
The tour is approximately 2 ½ hours long and covers paths of low to moderate difficulty throughout the Reservation. Cost for this tour is $20 and participants must preregister, as this tour has limited capacity. To register, please call Olivia at (716) 852-3300.