LED to change nighttime view of Niagara Falls

The Niagara Falls illumination tower has been lighting the landmark for nearly a century.

A multi-million-dollar project to redevelop the lighting of one of the world’s most famous landmarks, Niagara Falls, is getting underway in upstate New York.

Since the late 1990’s the Falls have been lit with 21 Xenon spotlights, 18 placed on a nearly century old illumination tower and three more secured on the rocky Niagara Gorge.

The retro, search-light-style, lighting will be replaced by 12,600 LED lights installed on top of Table Rock, which skirts the Falls and is home to a visitor centre.

The new sources will provide twice as much illumination as the aging fixtures that they are replacing.

‘It's a completely different technology, it's a major changeover of the lighting of the falls,’ said David Adames, chief operating officer of the Niagara Parks Commission told The Buffalo News.

The current Xenon fixtures have to be replaced every 1,900 hours, however the new fittings will last for twenty years and longer, drastically reducing maintenance costs. The fixtures will also consume much less electricity.

The new fixtures will give Falls authorities a greater palette of colours with which to light the landmark and they will also be able to create programmable lighting displays.

‘We realise that we are lighting a world icon. This is about illuminating the falls to accentuate the falls,’ Adames continued. ‘We will choose the colour palettes very carefully to reflect colours that are seen in nature.’

Over 20 million people visit both the United States and Canadian sides of  Niagara Falls each year, however only one third of that number opt to stay overnight, despite the area being filled with hotels, casinos and other Falls related curios.

'We realise that we are lighting a world icon. This is about illuminating the falls to accentuate the falls.'

David Adames, chief operating officer of the Niagara Parks Commission

‘Enhanced lighting will provide a richer experience for patrons who visit here after the sun goes down,' Mark Thomas, chair of the Niagara Falls Illumination Board told The Buffalo News. ‘We anticipate a more robust lighting program will help encourage a longer stay.’

It is hoped that the lighting will be more consistent and directed and will not spill over beyond the falls on the American side.

The new fixtures will also be able to light the rim of the Horseshoe Falls, Niagara’s sister waterfall, a trick that the Xenon lighting is currently unable to do.

The falls will remain lit through the construction period and will be officially unveiled at the start of December.

Comments 4

Yosemite Firefall was an artificial summer's eve enhancement to the waterfall at Glacier Point, California. It ran for almost a century. The National Park Service ordered it stopped in 1968 according to Wikipedia because: "visitors that it attracted trampled the meadows to see it, and because it was not a natural event". Niagara Falls has been rescued from far more appalling commercial desecration in the past. Both tourist destinations have been well covered by Ken Burns' magnificent documentary on America's National Parks. I have visited Niagara Falls day and night, summer and winter totaling about 10 times. Having not seen the new lighting scheme I am hesitant to comment. However, if there is a cyclic program to the illumination I would surely cast a vote for a good dose of time using white light, even flowing from 2600K ~ 5500K. Devotees of colored light, our youth for example, as well as the naturalist / purists would both be respected by such a democratic artistic expression. I am a purist but could easily tolerate a minutes-long rainbow display. I may even enjoy the visual juxtaposition of pure white light with saturated color fantasia transitions. LEDs will force us all to reconsider historical notions of urban and natural scene illumination. We might find ways to "get along" to a reasonable degree.

The lighting designer must be pretty confident if they think they can achieve a better effect than mooonlight by using coloured LEDs.

How you can destroy the beautiful colours of the water and nature. Shame! Very awful solution. Lighting designer from Finland. I should use only pure white light, 5500 K as in the nature.

Can't wait to see this finished! It will look better than ever!

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