It’s the rare day when I find myself in complete agreement with both Governor David Paterson and Sen. Chuck Schumer. Okay, come to think of it, I don’t think it’s ever happened.
And I don’t normally like to get bogged down on issues of relatively minor consequence. But Schumer and Paterson’s call for a quarter-dollar depicting Niagara Falls on the obverse is a case of a small issue worth making a fuss over.
After the blazing success of the Fifty States quarter series, the U.S. mint is now pursuing an “America’s Beautiful National Parks” quarter series. As the name implies, the quarters will depict national parks from the 50 U.S. states.
The problem is, the most worthy site to engrave on the back of New York’s quarter is actually a state park.
While the City of Niagara Falls has, itself, seen better days, and I place the blame for that squarely on the shoulders of politicians, Niagara Falls the landmark never ceases to amaze. And every reader who has ever gazed across from the catwalk in Ontario or lunched at Top of the Falls or gotten drenched on the Maid of the Mist or stood in a poncho inside the Cave of the Winds knows that Niagara Falls deserves its place as one of the wonders of the world.
Likewise, the role that the Niagara Falls State Park, or, more accurately at the time, the Niagara Reservation, played as a contemporary of Yosemite cannot be overstated in helping to bring about our national park system. Frederick Law Olmsted’s ideas about parks, which were really set in motion at Niagara Falls, would prove critical in developing much of the modern national park system.
Besides, a quick perusal of the national parks in New York is a bit disappointing, and, in the case of the Statue of Liberty, clichéd.
The U.S. Mint should, in this instance, make an exception and honor real American beauty.