The PJ Tatler

Slowly It Turned: Niagara Fall (NY) Crumbles, Canadian Side Thrives


Last year, my husband and I got paid a generous amount of cash to run a legal but somewhat comical errand for a friend:

Picking up a carload of flash-frozen Chicago deep dish pizzas from a FedEx outlet in Niagara Falls, New York and driving them back to Toronto.

That’s when we noticed something that’s making the news today.

Niagara Falls, NY is a dump.

Driving around trying to find this FedEx joint, we were stunned (and vaguely frightened) as we drove through what appeared to be the former downtown “main drag.”

We were the only humans (or car) in sight, as if driving through a silent, dilapidated Walking Dead set.

We finally reached our destination, having finally distinguished the ugly 1960s era strip mall we were looking for from the many others we saw along the way.

Now, some bits of Niagara Falls look pretty bleak, too.

The area just beyond one of my favorite places on earth is pretty shabby.

But then, there’s this. And this.

Meanwhile, it’s so weird to me how much of America looks this way:

“Weird” because I spend an inordinate amount of my time online correcting commenters who still call Canada “Canuckistan.”

As I’ve said before, based on almost any recognized measurement, Canada is — at least right now — better off than the United States.

Maybe it all started when, as generally acknowledged, we got the “good” side of the Falls, and it all, well, went down from there.

Today I hear from broadcaster Jerry Agar (who’s worked both sides of the border over the course of his long career) that:

Today’s EpicFail of the Day goes to the city of Niagara Falls, New York. A town that has seen its population plummet over the years (while their Canadian sister-city across the river is thriving) and is currently undergoing a revitalization project.  The only problem is that young people (who must be key to revitalizing an area?) don’t want to move there.  The city’s solution – pay back up to $7,000 in student loans to anyone willing to live in the rundown part of town for two years.

How many have decided to take advantage of the program?  That’s where the EpicFail comes in.

Agar’s punchline is a sort of paraphrase of the old WW2 “answer song”:

How ya gonna keep ’em down on the Falls, after they’ve seen the Falls?

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