“Human Accumulations”

Dinosaur Park
Human Accumulations: Dinosaur Adventure Golf, Clifton Hill, Niagara Falls, Ontario, April 2017

Our project takes its title from a quotation from H. G. Wells, the renowned English writer.  When the father of science fiction visited Niagara Falls, foremost symbol of the New World’s limitless potential, he commented, “the real interest of Niagara Falls for me was not in the waterfall but the human accumulations about it for they stood for the future.” For Wells, they represented “the first slovenly onslaught of mankind’s expansion, the pioneers’ camp of the human growth process.”  Wells seems to have regarded the eventual commercialisation and industrialisation of the falls as inevitable.

“See America it’s going fast”

“Save Niagara Falls – From This!” PUCK Magazine Temperance Cartoon, New York, 1889

Although Regis and other Hudson River School artists depicted mid-century Niagara Falls as a wonder of nature barely touched by human intervention or as the object of refined nineteenth century tourism, in reality the shores of the cataract were crowded by an unsightly array of commercial and industrial activities.

By 1874 the description of the falls in Picturesque America, a well known book describing and illustrating the scenery of America, lamented that Niagara Falls was fast becoming a “superb diamond set in lead. The stone is perfect, but the setting is lamentably vile and destitute of beauty.”  A few years later in PUCK magazine, a cartoon envisaged the future of Niagara if over exploitation at the hands of both industry and tourism continued unrelentingly, to the detriment of both.

Appalled at the conditions surrounding the falls, landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted began advocating for their preservation and, as a result of his efforts, the Niagara Falls State Park was created in 1885.

Today, although the immediate surroundings of the falls on the American side remain a reserve, the struggle to balance the demands of industry and tourism with preservation and conservation continues.




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