Monday, December 10, 2012

Off Campus Program Reflection

Today marks the end of my 14-week Off Campus Program semester here in Niagara Falls, New York completing my design thesis, project notebook, journal sketchbook, and field studies on my study topic: Tourism and its Influences to the Urban Fabric of Downtown Niagara Falls, NY.

I have researched, discussed and answered my study question, what are the influences of Niagara Falls as a tourism icon to the urban fabric of downtown Niagara Falls, NY? All together I learned to coordinate a comprehensive project that shows the development from where I have started to where I have ended.

As a reflection of my project, I must say that the Off Campus Program was quite an experience. These experiences include: learning to develop my own design process, time management skills and to be more communicative as prospective architect in the future. I have accomplished all my academic, professional, and personal objectives/goals in the completion the Off Campus Program by learning how to document an inclusive study with partial guidance from my professors in a timely manner prior to the deadline of the project. These learned skillsets will help me adjust to the future projects to come when post-graduation comes.

I will truly miss the environment and setting of working at your own pace and time. With the end of my independent study I have learned new skills that I can integrate later in the design phase of my architectural career. Thus, another phase of my undergraduate career completed there will be another phase added to my upcoming semester I am looking forward to.

As my last post to this blog, I want to thank all the people who has supported and guided me throughout my project in order to complete my design thesis. I would also like to thank you for your time and consideration in keeping up to date with my process in design as this blog did for me.  It has been a great semester and definitely an eye opening experience.

-         -  Edward L

Friday, November 30, 2012

Sustaining Its Culture through Tourism

Diagram of Tourism Types

With the end of November here, I feel the pressure to get all my work complete as I try to wrap everything up from this Off Campus Program in Buffalo NY. While synthesizing my gathered work, I stumbled upon some interesting readings which assisted with my re-designing phase of my synthesized work. With the synthesized graphic representations, I’ve decided to developed some new innovative designs myself that will help with the tourism in the urban fabric of Niagara Falls, NY.

My comprehensive approach to the re-designing was to incorporate the three fundamental principles into the planning and design. The principles were respecting the historic context, implementing ecological needs, and accommodating the contemporary needs and demands of the visitors. With such high rates of vacancy in the surrounding buildings and areas, I wanted to restructure the sites as a means of heritage tourism and recreational opportunities. There was also an idea of re-designing to make it so that The Falls were more like one place instead of two different countries. Instead of having the American side and the Canadian side of the Falls, it would be just known as one location called the Niagaras. 

After further synthesis, I’ve narrowed in on the specific types of tourism I will be focusing on in terms of its sustainability to Niagara Falls as a tourist icon. They include the following: Community Heritage, Recreational/Program, Eco-tourism, Adventure/Honeymoon, and Mass Tourism. Niagara Falls State Park was a well-known honeymoon capital in the early nineteenth century til now. There has been a lot of history in The Falls including many battles, which is honored by statues in the park along with the surrounding streets leading to the park such as cobblestone road also known as Old Falls Street. With such a vast amount of history here in The Falls, we must provide ways to sustain its culture for future generations to admire and experience.

- Edward L 

Monday, November 26, 2012

$25 Million Park Plan

“Eight million tourists every year on a dedicated parkway into Niagara Falls State Park, park on one of 1,200 parking spaces, eat at state-contracted Delaware North food stands, plug quarters into coin-operated binoculars, squeeze in like sardines for a 15 minute boat ride, purchase souvenirs at the Observation Tower gift shop and then exit the park on the same road without setting foot or spending a dollar in the city of Niagara Falls.” - Niagara Falls Reporter

Above is a quote from a Niagara Falls reporter who expresses how they feel in terms of the tourism that goes on here in the city of Niagara Falls. This quote really did not surprise me at all after spending a whole semester here in Niagara Falls, NY studying the tourism of Niagara Falls State Park and how it affects the urban fabric of downtown Niagara Falls, NY.

There have been a lot of plans to revitalization the nation’s oldest State Park, Niagara Falls State Park. Officially in April of 2012, there was a 92 page plan for the rehabilitation of Niagara Falls State Park that was issued. Below is the link of the article a worker of Niagara Falls State Park sent me explaining more on what this “rehabilitation” is all about in terms of its tourism and how it affects the city of Niagara Falls, NY.

- Edward L

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Thanksgiving Break

Happy Thanksgiving! I’ve decided to take a little four day break to drive back down to New York City and spend time with my family and friends for Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving is a day to give thanks. I would like to thank everybody who has supported me through my every action. A big thanks to my family who has always been there for me through thick and thin. I would also like to thank all the professors who have led me to where I am today. Thank you.

Let’s enjoy this holiday weekend and gobble up!

- Edward L

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Synthesis Begins

Historic Contextual Map

This past week has been an innovation to my Off Campus Program here in Buffalo, N.Y. The advisor visit this past Monday has guided me so far ahead in my project this week that I feel like I did a month’s worth of work in a matter of a week. Forty plus hours has been put into my journal sketchbook, project notebook, and design thesis.  I would say that the advisor visit was a success and has gave me that push and shove that I needed to start the synthesis of my study.

Some things I will start to do in my synthesis are analyzing: 
- Types of Tourism (Honeymoon, Ecotourism, etc.)
- Tourist Infrastructure (accessibility)
- Local Context (contextual affect)
- Historic Aspects (change over time)

This marks the end of week twelve; only three weeks left until the end of this Off Campus Program. This gives me about two to three weeks to synthesize all the work done thus far to answer my study question: What is the influence of Niagara Falls as a tourism icon to the urban fabric of Niagara Falls, NY?

I am still a bit behind from my schedule, but if I continue doing what I have done this past week, I am confident that all my work will be done and sufficient to answer my study question through my design thesis and all the graphic representations developed throughout this project. 

- Edward L

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Placemaking in Niagara Falls

The Conference & Event Center Niagara Falls
A lot has been done this week in preparation to the advising meeting coming Monday (November 12th, 2012) in Syracuse. As the last bits and pieces of inventory come in before the synthesis, a few interviews has been done from different people in different positions near the Niagara Falls State Park to get a range of perspectives. After reviewing my notes from the interviews, I have noticed that the answers to the questions were all very different coming from all different perspectives. However, although the answers to my questions to the interviewees were different all of the interviewees had a similar commonality in terms of where the answers were leading. Everybody wanted the Niagara Falls State Park to be sustainable and believed the city needs to do something about the vacancy in the community.

Places are ubiquitous, but they are not static conditions. Theresa, Transportation Coordinator of Seneca Niagara Casino & Hotel noted that The Niagara Falls State Park doesn’t help Seneca Casino directly. The Falls as a tourist icon does however bring visitors into the casino indirectly because of the casino enormous fa├žade. The city needs to care more. People who live in the vicinity need to care more. The vacant and condemned buildings need to go or need to be in a serious recovery phase of rebuilding. If the city gives people some reasons to stay (recreational activities, programs, jobs, housing, etc.), people will.

Representation and the political cloud are both very important to how Niagara Falls State Park operates. Mr. Jason Murgia, Director of Event Services in The Conference & Event Center in Niagara Falls noted that not much of the money used in the Niagara Falls State Park actually goes to the park itself. Only about 7 percent of what is earned goes to the park itself. The other percent goes back to Albany. There are a lot of strings that are being pulled that people don’t really notice nor see. Once again, people need to care and step in for what they want. Placemaking is extremely important. It gives people of the community a reason to stay. Currently, the Urban Land Institute brought forth by USA Niagara has started planning programs/activities in the downtown region of Niagara Falls. Their goal: Provide a reason for people to come into the downtown region instead of circling around it. The political process is long, complicated, and something I will not get into currently in my thesis project.

Ecological sustainability of the Falls is a very significant part of sustainable ecotourism in the Niagara Falls community. Ms. Angela P. Berti, Public Affairs & Marketing Coordinator of New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation emphasized that revitalization of the park is of need to keep the 8 million visitors annually from all over the world to keep coming. A revitalization initiative and landscape improvement plan, $25 million revitalization has been approved by Mayor Dyster, the Mayor of Niagara Falls. The Niagara Falls State Park opened in 1885, is the oldest state park in the United States of America. This park plays a key role to the western New York tourism economy contributing to the economic livelihood of the region. 

Looking at all of the perspectives given from the interviews and personal observation, I’ve come to conclude that the Niagara Falls State Park has more of an indirect influence to the community of Niagara Falls and Buffalo, NY. As a worldwide tourist icon, it brings people into the region in the first place, but what the city of Niagara Falls and Buffalo really needs is a reason to keep the visitors and potentially have them become a local resident of the city. 

- Edward L

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Election Day In America

Election Day, November 6th, 2012 is officially today. I took the today off from my Off Campus Study and decided to follow up with the Presidential Election of 2012. Polls are officially open from 6am to 9pm for voting. For more information on how to vote and updates on the presidential election, please follow the links below:

I highly encourage everybody to take 5 minutes of their day to go out to their local voting stations to cast their vote for our president for the next 4 years. Every vote counts and could mold your life as well as the good and welfare of the United States of America.  Here are the candidates for the Presidential Election of 2012:

Republican- Mitt Romney
Democrat- Barack Obama

Happy Voting, 
- Edward L 

Monday, November 5, 2012

Outlining the Design Thesis Project

As part of this Off Campus study, I am to complete a design thesis project to summarize my conclusions to all the inventory, analysis, and synthesis done in this Off Campus Program here in the city of Buffalo, New York.  As a reminder, my primary topic of study is the Sustainable Tourism of Niagara Falls and its Influence to the Urban Fabric of the local communities like that of Niagara Falls and Buffalo. Particularly focusing and having the interest in the spatial configurations of The Falls located in the border of Canada and the U.S. while trying to figure out the impacts and influences they have in the local communities. My study question is: What is the influence of Niagara Falls as a tourism icon to the surrounding community of Buffalo, NY?

Early in the project, I noticed week after week that I was digressing from my study question and focusing on another topic. I stopped myself and reminded myself that this study needs to be observational through the landscape. As a result I started outlining how I am going to present this project because I thought it would help guide me back on track; and so the outlining of my design thesis project began. I came up with two different ideas for my design thesis project. The past 5th year seniors that I’ve spoken to had created a poster with some graphic representations and much text. For my design thesis project, I plan to not have much text at all. My first idea was to outline a different design thesis project and thought of developing a flip booklet. This booklet will be much of how my portfolio looks like, in which every sub question and study question will have its’ own page. I plan on having 85% graphic representation (mostly taken out of my project notebook) and the remainder 15% text (captions, titles, etc.)

Secondly, I was thinking of having a bi-fold graphic reproduction that will almost act as a poster inside a booklet. Once again, every sub question will have some sort of graphic representation to answer the study with minimum text. The design thesis project will contain many figure grounds, graphs, re-orienting relationships, and most importantly the answer to my study question. 

- Edward L

Friday, November 2, 2012

Tumbling Downstream

“Although it was wonderful to see all that water tumbling down, it would be even more wonderful to see all that water tumbling up.” – Mark Twain 

The blue river water of Niagara River tumbles 51 meters over the rocky cliff of the Niagara Falls on a daily basis. Every second, more than two million liters of water plummets over the half circle waterfall known as the Horseshoe Fall, making it one of the world’s largest waterfalls. The force of the pounding water is sending a cloud of mist up from the bottom of the falls; this same force eats away at the rock behind the falls, pushing them back as much as two meters per year.

Niagara Falls is actually made up of three different falls, the most famous: Horseshoe Falls. The Niagara River, the narrow strait that connects Lake Erie to Lake Ontario, forks around Goat Island, seen in the upper right hand corner of the image. The main portion of the river is pushed over the Canadian/ Horseshoe Falls, but the diverted water tumbles down the American Falls and Bridal Veil Falls farther downstream. All three falls is what makes up the Niagara Falls. As the names of the individual falls suggest, the river and the falls mark the boundary between the United States and Canada. The American Falls is 328meters wide (1075 feet), and the Horseshoe Falls, 675 meters wide (2200 feet).

Putting the tourist attraction of Niagara Falls into context with the surrounding community, the energy derived from water falling over the falls with an average total flow of 750,000 gallons (2.8 million liters) per second, actually fuels a few power plants on the edge of the Niagara River. These power plants downstream from the Falls generate about 4.4 million kilowatts of power for both Ontario, Canada and New York, United States. The Niagara River forms the U.S.- Canadian Border and allows Lake Erie to drain northwest into Lake Ontario. Lake Ontario is actually about 100 meters lower than Lake Erie mainly because of the elevation drop of the Falls, which helps gravitate the movement of water. Without the Niagara Falls, the water from Lake Erie would not move into Lake Ontario.

How does all this relate to this city of Buffalo, New York? The port city of Buffalo, New York is located just at the northeast corner of Lake Erie where the river first leaves the lake. The city of Buffalo acts as the gateway of Lake Erie in which the movement of water flows downstream from Niagara River north through the Niagara Falls region into Lake Ontario. 

- Edward L

Monday, October 29, 2012

Hurricane Sandy

Due to the preparation of Hurricane Sandy, the study will briefly come to a pause. I hope everybody is safe and ready for Hurricane Sandy as she comes up the Northeast. 

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Queen City vs. Salt City

I will be going down to Syracuse this weekend to have another advisor visit for my study because I have noticed that I have gone off to a tangent from my initial study and need some guidance. Once again, I reminded myself that this study needs to be something that is visible and that can be studied through observations in the landscape. Along with my Off Campus Program advisor visit, I plan on meeting with my academic advisor to discuss about the follow up courses I will be taking the spring of 2013 right after my Off Campus Program prior to graduation: May of 2013. So far, this Off Campus Program/Study has been quite stressful in terms of trying to figure out what and how to execute a procedure in your methods in order for you to gather inventory and at the same time analyze what you've obtain so that the study question can be answered. After a careful reflection of the nine weeks here in the city of Buffalo, I can honestly state that developing a self-timesheet to complete your task at hand while juggling ten other things is a skill I've obtained from this Off Campus Program.

The city of Buffalo (Queen City) is similar to the city of Syracuse (Salt City) in many ways. Both the cities are in college campus environments with history in manufacturing of exporting goods. Both have common segregated communities of poverty and low income living, but at the same time have busy downtown/city halls that consist of many courts, bars, restaurants, and skyscrapers.  But the question to ask is: Why is the city of Buffalo not thriving like Syracuse, NY?

On another note, my parents called today informing me that there will be a hurricane in the city of New York this coming week. I pray everybody will be safe and sound prepped with their families. I have not heard much regarding this hurricane in the city of Buffalo, NY besides some rainfall and winds, but let’s all be safe and prepared.  

- Edward L

Monday, October 22, 2012

Census of Buffalo

This week I decided to start developing my hypothesis to whether Niagara Falls State Park really influences the city of Buffalo economically in a beneficial or negative way. Going through all the research and inventory that I’ve gathered, I personally don’t think The Falls as a tourist attraction has much of an economic effect to the city of Buffalo. I decided to side track a bit and started to dig deeper into the history of Buffalo, New York. Based on the data, I noticed some patterns; the city of Buffalo seem to be in an exponential downfall in terms of population and an increase in poverty.  

According to Census, during the 1950s Buffalo was the 15th  largest city in the country being the nation's largest inland port, 2nd biggest rail center, 6th  largest steel producer, and 8th  largest manufacturer. Currently in the 21st century, the United Nations released a report entitled "State of the World's Cities" in which the Buffalo-Niagara Falls area was specifically cited as having one of the worst rates of economic inequality in the world and that it was racially based. The report stated "… western New York state, where 40 per cent of black, Hispanic and ethnically mixed households earned less than $15,000 in 1999, as compared to 15 per cent of white households. In addition, the United States Census department also released information placing the Buffalo-Niagara metro area, as the 8th  most segregated area in AmericaSegregation and job loss leads to population loss to the city, which is exactly what is occurring in this Queen city.
With a downfall in population, Buffalo faces issues such as vacancy and abandoned houses. The Queen city currently ranks 2nd only to St. Louis on the list of American cities with the most vacant properties per capita. - Vacant Houses, Scourge of a Beaten-down Buffalo.New York Times. Retrieved September 14, 2007.

Below are the principal employers trying to keep the people of Buffalo to stay and make this Queen city thrive once again. According to the City's 2011 Comprehensive Annual Financial Report, the principal employers in the Buffalo Metropolitan Area as of 2011 are:

# of Employees
State of New York
University at Buffalo
Kaleida Health
United States of America
Catholic Health System
Employer Services Corp
Buffalo City School District
Tops Markets
M&T Bank

Edward L

Monday, October 15, 2012

Landscape Architecture Symposium

To side track a bit from my Off Campus Project, I wanted to share a public event that will be free this week from October 16th to October 17th: The Landscape Architecture Symposium here in Buffalo, NY. There will be eight featured speakers discussing about the examination of changing landscape of architectural patronage.

The symposium will open Oct. 16 with a panel, “Student as Instigator,” at 5:30 p.m. in the Greatbatch Pavilion, 125 Jewett Parkway, Buffalo, on the site of the Darwin Martin House. It will feature guest speakers and UB architecture students in a discussion about the role of emerging young designers in a shifting landscape for practice.
The schedule on Oct. 17 will begin at 9 a.m. in Harriman Hall, South Campus. Events will include a series of panels organized around the emerging roles of the architect—as an advocate actively engaging new client bases, as a detective uncovering hidden conditions and spaces, and as an initiator forging entrepreneurial and innovative business models for architectural practice. A catered reception will follow at 7:30 p.m. in Kleinhans Music Hall, 3 Symphony Circle, Buffalo. For more information and reservation to this event, please click on the links below:

Edward L

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Crossing the Border

Canada’s minimum wage is on average $10. I found that number to be very fascinating in comparison to the $7.25 that America has. The trip this weekend to the Canadian side of Niagara Falls and the city of Toronto was eye-opening and most defiantly a new experience and additional to this Off Campus Program. The toll was $3.25 to cross the bridge to the border of the U.S. into Canada with no additionally toll to come back. There was also the $1 toll to cross Grand Island from Buffalo there and back. So a round trip with a car as your mode of transportation cost a total of $5.25.

First of all, one of the most important things to know is that Canada uses a different metric system and secondly a different currency. Once I drove in Canada, I notice the green sign on the right of the highway that stated that the speed limit was 100. I thought to myself 100 is quite fast and realized that it was 100kmph, which is equivalent to 60mph moments after. The currency of Canada is also different and it seems to me like people in Canada see U.S. dollars as change and not so much as a dollar bill with any value. That is because 1 U.S. dollar = 0.9796 Canadian dollars. The American dollar is worth less than a dollar in Canada. The smallest bill Canada has is a $5. The value of $1 in Canada is a gold coin. I also had to close my cellphone because of international fees and thus had no phone to use. However, as a surprise there are a few payphones in the streets of Toronto. After visiting Niagara Falls in Canada, I drove on the QEW and an hour and a half later arrived in the bright busy streets of Toronto. I visited the small neighborhood of Chinatown and saw that there was a trolley used as a bus system with streets constructed in cobblestone material. Canada is very different from the city of Buffalo, but at the same time reminds me much of New York City.

- Edward L 

Friday, October 12, 2012

Interview from the Philippines

This marks the end of week 7 and start of week 8 for the Off Campus Program. This week flew by as I prepare for my trip to the Canadian side of Niagara Falls State Park or as it’s called in the Canadian side: Queen Victoria Park or Niagara Parkway Boardwalk. I also plan on going to the neighboring city of Toronto this weekend after passing by the Park. Toronto is the capital and largest city in the province of Ontario, Canada with over two and a half million people.

Regarding my study topic, I met a family this week while working who were visiting from the
Philippines who asked about the Niagara Falls State Park. The first thing that came to my head was that there was an abroad family from South East Asia that came to Buffalo to visit Niagara Falls State Park and I thought that was insane. I quickly told them that I was actually doing a study on Niagara Falls State Park and the impacts it has to the city of Buffalo, NY.  Moments after, I asked if I could have a quick interview with them asking them a few more questions regarding their visit. From that interview, I realized they were here in Buffalo for professional/work reasons for a week and the first big attraction they thought of in Buffalo is Niagara Falls State Park to see The Falls that separates the U.S from Canada. It was quite an interview as well as the rest of the day at my job after meeting a family from the Philippines who came for job purposes and then later decide that they will go to the Niagara Falls State Park. Meeting the family and having the interview defiantly made my day and week. However what I noticed is that it does seem like there is this big misinterpretation that the Niagara Falls State Park being in the city of Buffalo when it is actually located in Niagara Falls, NY.

Furthermore, after coming back from New York City last weekend I noticed that I have got a lot closer to my family because of this Off Campus Program. I find myself calling my family more and keeping in contact more than I did when I was in Syracuse.

- Edward L 

Monday, October 8, 2012

Columbus Day Weekend

After turning 22 this past weekend I feel the growth of responsibility hit me harder than last year. It was an additional year in which I developed friends, professional networks, and experienced life changing events that will get me closer to reach my career path; for all that I am thankful. I would like to thank my family for all the support and guidance that they gave that got me to where I am now. I would also like to thank my professors, advisor, and the director of this program for making this Off Campus Program a reality, without you all I would not be writing this blog entry and this website would have never existed.  Thank you.

Going back to my study, the advisor meeting in which I mentioned last entry did not go how I planned for it to go. The three goals that I have developed for myself did not get achieved. Unfortunately, the meeting did not even take place. There was a football game in Syracuse last Friday and all faculty needed to be off parking grounds by 5pm, which is when I arrived on campus. However, on the bright side I got in contact with my advisor for this Off Campus Project and we will be skyping to keep in contact as a more efficient means of communication in order for the evaluation of the work done so far and guidance to the following steps to progress on this project. I hope this will be soon because this week marks the start of week 7 in the Off Campus Program, which is half of the 14 week Off Campus Program.

After self- evaluation, I have kept up with my journal entry, journal sketchbook, project notebook, and blogging my progress, but lacking in terms of the start in my thesis project. The weekend away from my project gave me the perfect inspiration and motivation to get me back on track and evaluate what I have done and what I need to do in order to answer my study question for my Off Campus Project. Time management and good communication with professors could really make or break this Off Campus experience. 

- Edward L

Friday, October 5, 2012

Advisor Visit

This is the end of week 6 and my first post to another month of my Off Campus Program here in Buffalo, N.Y. After a self- evaluation of what I have done, I must say that I have gotten a late start. I am one week later than planned from my schedule created in my proposal, which means that I have to be on my A-game for the next few days/weeks to catch up what I have not completed. Later this afternoon, I will be making a trip down to Syracuse for my advisor visit, which is actually supposed to be in between week 4 and 5. In this advisor meeting, I hope to achieve three goals:

1)    Have closure to my past study in Puerto Rico
2)    Evaluation to work completed thus far in Buffalo, NY
3)    Guidance to the following steps I will need to progress from work completed in order to answer my study question

As a result to this meeting in Syracuse, I've actually decided drive back down to New York City for my birthday weekend. I will be taking this weekend as a means of reliving home sickness since I haven’t had any physical contact with my family for 6 weeks. I hope after making this long trip down to Syracuse and then New York City and back to Buffalo will give me the adrenaline that will recharge my body to start working on continuing my process on finding the answer to my study question to my Off Campus Program, which is refresh everybody:

What is the influence of Niagara Falls as a tourism icon to the surrounding community of Buffalo, NY?

 - Edward L

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Road Bump

This weekend was just a break for me and my car. Unfortunately, my car was put into the car shop to be fixed. Taking a break from this study, I started to think about other factors of my Off Campus Program. Some issues that came up were my financial stability currently in this program. My budget slightly went off to a tangent due to some minor fees and maintenance. I am trying to support myself and have been working part time to support myself and this Off Campus Program.

Prior to this Off Campus Program, I developed some goals for myself which included: being more independent and finding my own design process without having any supervision from my parents and professors. But what I realized was that I do in fact need or if not need, want some supervision to help guide me in this process of finding my own pathway of design and independence. I realize that I need guidance and some supervision in my design process. I get lost and at times can’t find the way out. As for now I roam the hallways of Capen Hall Library searching for guidance through these selves of textbooks and journals until I run into some interesting articles that get me back on track. One article I found interesting was this one:

Can Buffalo Ever Come Back?

- Edward L

Friday, September 28, 2012

The Queen City

Taking a break from visiting the Falls this week, I decided to look up more on the history and the correlation between the tourist site to the city of Buffalo. Niagara Falls State Park is actually placed in the corner of a few little communities that surround the park. Niagara being the border of the community that separates Canada from the U.S. is actually connected to the north side community of Gorge. The community of Gorge then extends the border line between the Canadian border and the American border where Rainbow Bridge is in. To the east of Gorge is the Main Street community; a lot of bars, hotels, and restaurants fill up the busy night life streets. Below the Main Street is the Old Falls community adjacent to the Niagara community (please refer to picture above). The Old Falls community is full of historic aspects from statues to plaques of the fighting ground.

Along with all the communities is the famous Seneca Niagara Casino that I mentioned in the past post. Although the tourist map states that this Park is broken into different communities, I feel like they together act as one. These communities are all almost adjacent to each other which help one community get the visitors to the other. Ending on a positive note towards my study, I found that in the early 20th century, the city of Buffalo began calling itself the City of Light both because of the plentiful hydroelectric power made possible by nearby Niagara Falls and because it was the first city in America to have electric street lights!

- Edward L

Monday, September 24, 2012

The To-Do List

Pay tolls, I dislike them. However you need to pass by one when you are on your way to the Falls if you want to get there the fastest way possible. The route that I take, which is the I- 290 to the I-190 is the fastest route to reach Niagara Falls and back to Buffalo, but at the same time is the 25 minute route each way worth the $1 pay tolls back and forth each time as oppose to the 40 minute  each way that avoid the tolls? Instead of cutting through Grand Island, you could re-route and drive up north towards North Tonawanda.

Prior to arriving at the Falls once again, I saw some interesting attractions that I personally thought could bring more people to the Niagara Falls region as well as the local city of Buffalo. First was an advertisement of a Winery in Niagara Falls. Second was a large Culinary School in which still looks like in developmental stages. However being so close to the tourist attraction, I felt many visitors or tourist may have felt the same way I did when I saw those attractions. Where is this place, is it close to the Falls and how much is it to attend? In a way, I felt like there was an attraction in an attraction. Attractions mean a source of income. This income means a thriving economy for the city.

As I continued into the Niagara Falls State Park, I saw that there were actually many recreational activities in which visitors decide to do themselves, activities that are not online nor in the pamphlets. For example I saw a person practicing riding a unicycle right next to a group of people doing yoga. This state park has the perfect combination of recreational activities and relaxation due to the natural landscape it provides. Signs are almost on every corner of the State Park’s grass fields guiding and providing information for first time visitors and local residents who like to come to the park every day. For more information please refer to the link below:

- Edward L

Friday, September 21, 2012

Buffalo's Economic Down Fall

The city of Buffalo, New York is the second biggest city in New York in terms of city population according to, but one of the poorest cities in the state of New York. The city’s population has been dropping ever since the 1960s when it use to be just over 530,000. What’s the cause of this population decrease? An article in one of Buffalo’s newspaper (The ArtVoice) actually had an article stating that the Dows Jones Industrial average stock market index increased from 2008 to the present year of 2012 a total of $3 billion. According to New York State’s Department of Labor, employment has also rebounded creating over 330,000 new jobs. So the question is why isn’t more people coming to live in the city of Buffalo? Does Niagara Falls have anything to do with it at all? Maybe families dislike moving into a city that is next to a tourist site such as Niagara Falls. 

After looking at the source of Buffalo’s economy, I have noticed that a majority of the income is coming from the University’s at Buffalo, the local/ public banks and steel manufacture. There does not look like there is a big influence of economic impact from the tourist attraction of Niagara Falls going into the city of Buffalo. The only major influence in terms of economic impact from Niagara Falls State Park to the city of Buffalo are major holidays like Independence Day in which tourist reservations increased by 30% according to the article below. However, other than major holidays the tourist site of Niagara Falls State Park just does not seem to have much beneficial economical influence to the city of Buffalo.

- Edward L.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Active Nightlife on Rosh Hashanah

Due to the lack of attendance in the Falls last weekend (Labor Day), I decided to go again to see if this three day weekend (Rosh Hashanah) would have a better turnout in terms of the amount of visitors and tourist that will be there at night for the illumination. At my arrival, I realized that there was a casino called Seneca Niagara Casino and Hotel within walking distance to the Niagara Falls State Park. The casino had free self-parking in which I parked in and made my way to the surrounding streets in between the two locations. Between the casino and the Falls was a pedestrian plaza that included The Conference Center of Niagara Falls, several hotels, and many restaurants and bars. I felt like I was in a very active community full of nightlife.

While exploring these busy streets, I approached a huge crowd of people in what looked like tents playing loud music and dancing freely. I kindly went up to one of the people and was informed that they were participating in the Roller Derby After Party due to the fact that the Queen City Roller Girls had made it to the playoffs in The Thrill of the Spill. For more information on this event, click the link below:

I joined in for a bit and decided to make my way to the Falls. While walking to the illumination, I noticed a majority of their recreational activities or if not all of their recreational activities were already closed at 9:00pm, which is when I have arrived at the State Park. However, what caught me off guard was that there was still an active public bus that arrived right in front of the Park, NFTA Metro- 55T Trolley. 

- Edward L

Monday, September 10, 2012

Route to Niagara Falls

Prior to going to my study location, I decided to do some research regarding the fastest way to get there from the town of Amherst in the city of Buffalo, which is where I am staying for my Off Campus Program study. It took 25 minutes to get to Niagara Falls by taking Interstate 290 West then merging into Interstate 190 North and taking exit 21. Moments later I arrive at the Niagara Falls State Forest Park where you arrive at a big parking lot and all day parking for $10. There are many other ways to route your way around to this tourist icon. The significant point is that this tourist icon is close, 25 minute drive close.

There are many features of Niagara Falls; tourists come from all different times in the day to enjoy the many recreational activities. One of the many popular features includes the Niagara Falls Illumination. The illumination has nearly three million lights and over one hundred lighting displays through the year. The lights are turned on from the Canadian side, but as a tourist you can see the magnificent lights from either side. For more information please refer to the site below:

As I continued doing research regarding the activities of the Falls, I question what times of the day do most visitors come due to the illumination of the Falls which are only visible after dusk. From first-hand experience of visiting the site, I started noticing that the American side seem to focus a lot more on the historic aspect of Niagara Falls with plague and statues as oppose to the Canadian side in which they look a lot more relaxed and for every day daily use. Unfortunately, I did not have my passport and will have to make another trip to Niagara Falls on the Canadian side to see if it is indeed more glamorous than historic on the Canadian side. 

- Edward L

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Labor Day Weekend

After a long and stressful week in Buffalo of settling in, I continue to do more inventory on the city of Buffalo, NY. I decided to go visit the State University of New York at Buffalo to ask the students, how many times or if any have you gone to Niagara Falls? To no surprise, a majority of the students that I’ve asked have gone to this tourist icon either with their families or their friends. Personally, I’ve also gone to Niagara Falls with my family when I was quite young and have not gone since the beginning of this study. A majority of the students also stated that they decide to go because it was either a family trip or because they were bored in college and Buffalo doesn’t have anything interesting to do after the school hours.

While being in the University at Buffalo, I also had the opportunity to participate in their Fall Fest 2012 event, where many performances by artists like J.Cole were present. There was a huge audience that was in this Fall Fest concert.  A lot of the people seem to be non-locals to the city of Buffalo, NY possibly because they were visiting with the long weekend of Labor Day. With all the people that came to Buffalo, NY, along with the three day weekend of Labor Day, I thought people would take this opportunity to visit Niagara Falls being that it is only thirty minutes away from the city.

As a surprise, not many visitors/tourists were in Niagara Falls this weekend. There was also no traffic while driving to Niagara Falls from Buffalo. This came as a surprise to me because Labor Day weekend is perfect for a family vacation, as I thought many visitors and tourist would have taken this opportunity to visit the Falls. While driving by Niagara Falls I started to realize that there seemed to be a lot more people in the Canadian side than the American side. I came up with the question: Does Canada use Niagara Falls more as a tourist attraction than the U.S.? Further research has to be done. Here are some links to what I’ve came across: