Industrialized cities around the world feature derelict factories, mills, warehouses, and refineries. Once behemoth structures at the social and economic heart of industrialization, these buildings now lie in ruins... old industrial sites are invested with more than cultural meanings: they are the remnants left behind in the wake of deindustrialization. Despite their state of disuse, abandoned industrial sites remain connected with the urban fabric that surrounds them: with communities; with collective memory; and with people’s health, livelihoods, and stories.
-Alice Mah, Industrial Ruination, Community and Place: Landscapes of Urban Decline




Around the time of the 60’s, the city of Niagara Falls, the region surrounding it, and most of the Rust Belt began to experience economic freefall as industries began to leave. Affluent families had already begun moving into the suburbs leaving holes through the city. These regions were some of the first in America to experience the unseen consequences of globalization.


"We remember the bomb going off; we remember the Love Canal; we remember the plants closing; we remember our parents being out of work; that’s what people remember. They remember all the fallout of the plants closing, the fallout from Love Canal."

- Interview w/ anonymous resident collected by Alice Mah


Love Canal
Niagara Falls, NY


In the mid-1970's the Love Canal neighborhood became the site of international attention when 21,000 tons of chemical waste began to leak underneath a new housing development and two schools.

"Everywhere the air had a faint, choking smell. Children returned from play with burns on their hands and faces."

"I visited the canal area at that time. Corroding waste-disposal drums could be seen breaking up through the grounds of backyards."


"Trees and gardens were turning black and dying. Puddles of noxious substances were pointed out to me by the residents. Some of these puddles were in their yards, some were in their basements, others yet were on the school grounds."

-Eckhardt C. Beck,

EPA Administrator for Region 2, 1977 – 1979 

"Love Canal will be long remembered as a national symbol of failure to exercises a sense of concern for future generations."

- David Axelrod, NY State Health Dept.

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