Greetings from Niagara Falls by Alden
Niagara Falls, New York has the highest rate of crime of any city in the state.
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The American side of Niagara Falls is 180 feet high; the rock formation itself is 12,00 years old; its crest spans about 1000 feet; every second, 75,000 gallons of water rushes over the edge; and Niagara Falls, New York is the most crime-ridden city in New York State.
That’s according to the FBI’s uniform crime report, and people not from the area may find it a bit jarring; after all, urban decay is probably not the first thing that comes to mind when most people think about the Falls. But to those who live there, its standing as the crime capital of New York comes as no surprise. Among those citizens is Joe Augstell, a 29 year old Niagara Falls native. He’s an amateur photographer and the president of Niagara Falls Street News, a grassroots online media outlet. Much of his coverage is devoted to crime stories and pictures of urban blight: abandoned buildings, gang graffiti, memorials to victims of gun violence. His images are in stark contrast to the pastoral waterfall views found on postcards throughout the city’s countless souvenir shops, but they’re nonetheless representative of what Niagara Falls is all about, says Augstell.
“A lot of people from the outside think ‘Niagara Falls, that’s just the waterfall,’” says Augstell. “It’s not [just] a waterfall, it’s a factory city, like a smaller version of Detroit.”
And like Detroit, it’s a city in sharp decline. Over the past several decades, as factories left the area, a culture of poverty set in, and the crime rate began to rise. Now, says Augstell, it’s gotten to the point that the floundering state of the city itself overshadows the natural wonder from which it derives its name.
“The whole world knows it as the waterfall: “look at the nice water.’ The reality that we know? It’s poverty, crimes, depression. . . . I’m just reflecting what’s going on here, I’m just showing it, putting the lens up to it.”
When I saw the crime statistics and I saw the listings of where we were at it was just like a reaffirmation of what I already knew.
The Niagara falls that the world knows is the waterfalls and this pretty water—the reality that we know? It’s poverty, its crime, its depression.
Okay, my name is Joseph James Augstell yeah, that’s my middle name, but everybody calls me Joe. I’m Joe Augstell.
I didn’t think about it until people told me: ‘Joe you’re doing journalism, like photography journalism,’ and I’m like ‘I am?’ They’re like ‘yeah, that’s what it is.’
I don’t know if I wanna go in there.
There’s one here, there’s one right there–that’s abandoned. There’a lot of abandoned houses right next to each other out here.
I started with houses, that’s where my photography first started. And a lot of people liked it, they just—they received it really well. And now we’ve got 11,000 followers. That doesn’t sound like a whole lot, but for us I think that’s a decent little amount.
She hates it here. Fiancee, no its all good shes gonna be my wife. She thinks somethings gonna happen to me she thinks somebodys gonna kill me.
I have bad dreams that somebodys breaking into my apartment.
So I got the K. . .
Hang on a minute
It’s been a while–how the hell did I used to do it?
Joe: Yeah. I’m on my phone – on the scanner, as soon as I picked it up, they said we got the victim in an alley
Were going to memorial parkway. . .
They got someone in a house they got surrounded. . .
take a right over here. . .
Posted a stat on street news to ask them what’s going on on memorial parkway. . .
Fuck I don’t see any goddamn cops – they’re they are right there!
See the cops in the alley right there?
It’s an armed robbery. . .
Woo man—I got my shot, I got my shot – I’m 280 lbs – see I find the energy. When stuff like this happens, you get that rush. . .
Alright now I got my cellphone I got the videos I want
Now I let the people know what’s going on. . .
Memorial parkway. . . going on . . . right now . . .in response . . . to armed robbery.
Welcome to the falls, baby!
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