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Economic Geography of a Place - Niagara Falls

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Discover Niagara Falls

Niagara Falls is a beautiful city that located in the southeastern of Ontario and is found at the border of a state called New York, United States. They are known for the giant majestic waterfalls that are called the Horseshoe Falls, the American Falls, and the Bridal Veil Falls. These waterfalls occur along the Niagara River channel that connects two large water bodies, Lake Ontario and Lake Erie. The formation of the waterfall was the split between the two lakes previously mentioned; however, a higher and lower elevations of the water was drained over the Niagara Escarpment. This geographical landscape lead to an increase in visitors since the 1800s that demand for service sectors to develop around the area for tourism (Ross, 2017). Tourism has shaped the economy and why the city functions the way it does now in days. This paper will be divided into subheading of key concepts that will help understand the economy of the city. This paper will expand on the history of hydroelectricity and how the environment has been used as a source of economy, hospitality, and tourism. The environment being a key source for hospitality and tourism, this paper will examine how these factors are feeding on clusters in Niagara Falls, and lastly who are considered the creative class.

History of Hydroelectricity in Niagara Falls

Niagara Falls hydropower development started in 1748 with the water wheels that were constructed and located on islands in the river. In 1881, a small generator was built to operate an amount of electricity in Niagara Falls. After this, there was an initial plan to build a tunnel for individual mills that had already been constructed on site, but the officials of the Niagara Falls Power Company (American), wanted to seek further advice on how to acquire beneficial hydraulic knowledge. The project idea of building Sir Adam Beck Generating Station came into place, with the goal of it being one massive central power plant for the electricity. This project plan had never been constructed before, therefore Niagara Falls Power Company needed to secure the mechanical parts such as turbines and generators first. It was not until 1895, that electricity was being transmitted to the city itself and then later to Buffalo (a city in the upstate of New York, U.S.A). The power that was being generated from the first project of Sir Adam Beck No. 1 hydroelectric station was used for manufacture of aluminum (McIntyre, 1952). The growth and demand increased after the World War II and there was more need to produce electricity for the local industrials and homes. Sir Adam Beck No. 2 was constructed right next to Sir Adam Beck No.1 in 1950 but started to generate power until 1954. With the understanding of how hydroelectricity started in Niagara Falls, as we learned in the Coe, Kelly, Yeung text, the commodification of the environment in the city can be further analyzed. Hydroelectricity is a producer driven chain, where Niagara Falls started with water mills and moved forward to giant power plant that was going to generate electricity. This had acquired highly skilled workers due to the machinery and technology used in the process of building two power plants. Overall, the construction of hydropower projects create both part-time and full jobs in different industries such as construction, manufacturing, and natural resources. These jobs contribute to the labour cost that makes an economic impact on the city in how much revenue and capital is invested. Both Canada and United States institutions are involved in the Sir Adam Beck No. 1 & No. 2 (where hydroelectricity would generate from) due to how the geography landscape turned out on the Niagara River. The water input for the stations came from the Niagara River that divides Canada with United States. Once again, hydropower is used to generate electricity that is called hydroelectricity through the construction of hydropower plants that require both a dam and reservoir to store river water. The pressure of the water pushes the turbines to spin the margets that are aligned to charge electricity. With recent research, science considers hydropower as a renewable energy source, that is commonly being used to generate electricity from water. Energy over the years has been moving away from nonrenewable resources such as oil and coal and researchers are finding renewable sources such as wind, solar, and hydroelectricity to be more beneficial in the long run of human consumption.

Niagara Falls clusters

Social dimensions of city-regional prosperity, including how innovation in a social process that often involves clusters will also be included to further help the understanding. A cluster can be defined as groups of interconnect service providers and institutions. Clusters create relationships through sociability among the people and technologies. In the Coe, Kelly, Yeung text, consumption clusters is discussed as a consumer services such as bars, restaurants, and cultural. Tourist often tend to influence this type of cluster. Niagara Falls main clusters are revolved around hospitality and tourism that have shaped the way the city functions. The region is known for the vineyards, festivals, lakefront, that accommodate for the tourist with hotels and entertainment (Gertler, n.d.). Over the years, tourism has increased and Niagara Falls has establish many attractions for the visitors to apprecipate. For instance, the boat tour of the falls is a sightseeing attraction, where it carries a certain amount of passengers and the duration is a 30-minute ride. This attraction is called the Maid of the Mist in the 1800s but in 2014 it was changed to the Hornblower Cruise (Shi, Rosszell, 2016). Another popular attraction for the visitors is the street called Clifton Hill. This is a diverse area, where you can find restaurants such as Boston Pizza or Kelsey’s and can participate in riding the Niagara Skywheel or Ripley’s Believe it or not Museum (Shi, Rosszell, 2016). If the tourist want something more relaxing and not consistent busy, there are options of going to the wineries, enjoying walks along the Niagara-on-the-Lake, or even attending the shopping mall. It is clear that urban economy is founded on consumption from different tourist attractions. According to the Statistics Canada’s Canadian Tourism Satellite Account (CTSA), in 2017 there was 13 million visitors that generated $2.4 billion in tourist spending, which 65% was Canadian, 27.3% was American, and 7.7% was foreign visitors. Attractions are a strategy for persuade visitors to spend their money. With the amount of incoming tourist, Niagara Falls needs to keep up with the innovations in both products and process within their region and industries. One innovation that continues to improve is the renewable energy hydroelectricity that was previously mentioned in the subsection history of Niagara Falls. These startups with further connects with education such as Universities (Brock) and Niagara Colleges that has 3 different campus within the region that offer more training programs, research networks, and business partners. Students engage in developing skills that will help for future workforce.

The creative class

Niagara Falls started off as a natural scenery, but with time it became more humanized, attracting a variety visitors. It sparked an interest for engineers and entrepreneurs to think about Niagara Falls future in waterpower (McGreevy, 1987). Being an engineer such as civil or mechanical would be used to develop a hydroelectricity power and they would be in charge of maintaining the mechanical technology and overseeing the performance. The salary of an engineer that is involved in the hydroelectricity workplace, does receive a high pay around $80,000 per year. This is an example of the creative class in Niagara Falls. Richard Florida argues that the creative class tends to cluster in centers that are thriving economically and offering an attractive quality of place for workers. In this case, the creative class can be used to understand how having the creative core of engineers and entrepreneurs, provide the wide range of creative professional working in high tech sectors. These engineers are paid for the creative outputs and how they think. However, as you already know by now, the main cluster in the city of Niagara Falls is hospitality and tourism. The hotel staff, servers, and customer service employees are not part of the creative class idea. The reason why they are not viewed as a creative class is because they are paid for what they do. They are not adding towards the economy value through creativity and they are the workers who get paid the minimum wage.

In conclusion, the economy of Niagara Falls can be understood through the history of hydroelectricity, hospitality, and tourism feeding into the clusters, and the creative class concept. Niagara Falls started off with their beauty and turned power into further ways to generate economy. Niagara Falls gives the chance to the society and tourism in transportation networking that includes roads, water, and rail. Competition between business development, more industrial and commercial real estate, art and culture, and recreational opportunities. With the level of high visitors, how is Niagara Falls able to further research the relationship of capitalism and the environment. The environment is so key in Niagara Falls due the large amount of hydroelectricity, which is a clean and renewable energy source is able to generate and how it being distributed between both Canada and United States. The statistics of tourism is growing each year, how much of these clusters called hospitality and tourism is consuming the amount of hydropower produced.


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