Niagara Falls, a waterfall on the border between the United States and Canada. The falls are on the Niagara River, which flows from Lake Erie to Lake Ontario. To the east of the falls is the city of Niagara Falls, New York; to the west is Niagara Falls, Ontario. Three bridges join the cities.
Niagara Fails has long been a popular tourist spot, especially for honeymooners. Daredevils have also been attracted to the falls. The most popular, and probably the most dangerous, stunts have been crossing over the gorge on a high wire and going over the falls in a barrel. The fails are also a source of hydroelectricity. Installations in the United States and Canada supply power to nearby industries and residential areas.General DescriptionNiagara Falls is on the Niagara River, roughly halfway between Lake Erie and Lake Ontario.
The falls are divided into two main cataracts by Goat Island, on the New York side. The crescent-shaped Horseshoe (Canadian) Falls, with a crest 186 feet (57 m) high and about 2,600 feet (790 m) long, carries more than 90 per cent of the water. The American Falls, 193 feet (59 m) high and some 1,000 feet (300 m) long, conducts virtually all the water on the American side. A small part of the water flows over the Bridal Veil Falls, which is separated from the American Falls by Luna Island.
The grandeur of the falls is due not so much to their height or breadth as to the enormous volume of water that cascades over the edge. A minimum of 100,000 cubic feet per second (2,800 m 3 /s) flows over the falls during the tourist season, from April to October; at all other times the flow, reduced by diversion to hydroelectric installations, is about half that.
The plunging waters of Niagara Falls create a fine mist in which rainbows are often seen. In winter, the mist freezes on surrounding objects, encasing them in sparkling ice. In addition, an ice bridge forms at the base of the Horseshoe Falls. The cataracts themselves do not freeze, though on rare occasions the flow of the American Falls has been cut off by ice blockage upstream.
There are large parks on both sides of the river. Ontario's beautifully landscaped Queen Victoria Park covers about 200 acres (80 hectares) on the riverbank. On the American side is Niagara Reservation, a 430-acre (174-hectare) state park consisting of Goat Island and a strip of land one mile (1.6 km) in length along the river.
Goat Island is connected to the New York mainland by the American Rapids Bridge. It is also connected by footbridge with Luna Island, and with Three Sisters Islands, which offer a good view of the upper rapids, A close view of the cataracts can be had from the Cave of the Winds, a depression near the base of the American Falls. The falls can also be viewed from observation towers on both sides of the river and from diesel boats—each called Maid of the Mist—that take visitors to the base of the falls. For a time each night the falls are illuminated by powerful colored lights.