Associated Press Newsfeatures
MediumGelatin silver print
DimensionsMat : 16 x 20 in. (40.64 x 50.8 cm)
Sheet : 8 x 11 1/4 in. (20.32 x 28.58 cm)
Credit LineHope College Collection
LabelLove Canal is a neighborhood of Niagara Falls, New York that was originally developed by William T. Love as a planned residential community with a waterway that would allow boats from Lake Ontario to bypass Niagara Falls. When Love’s development efforts failed, the property was acquired by the City of Niagara Falls and used as a garbage dump during the 1920s and 30s. From 1942 to 1952, Hooker Chemical Company used the site to dispose of the waste from its various manufacturing operations. Hooker Chemical sealed the dump site with a clay cap in 1952 and sold the property to the Niagara Falls School Board in 1953. The school board built schools on several parcels of the property and sold other parcels to private developers who built more than 1000 family homes and apartments around the schools. Tragically, however, toxins soon began to leak from the supposedly sealed dump site into the surrounding soil and groundwater, and by the mid-1970s local residents were experiencing elevated incidences of miscarriages, birth defects, cancers and other health problems. Investigative journalists from the Niagara Falls Gazette exposed these health problems and connected them to the neighborhood’s checkered history as a waste dump. As public outrage grew, Love Canal was declared a federal disaster area in 1978 and efforts began to demolish the contaminated buildings and clean up the site. This 1985 photograph documents part of that clean-up effort, depicting rows of 55-gallon barrels filled with contaminated soil and sludge that await burial in a specially-prepared landfill.