3 Unforgettable Urban Waterfalls


For many, the word “waterfall” conjures a distinct image of an idyllic, semi-secret place that can be accessed only by committing to an arduous hike through the woods. This, of course, isn’t always the case.

Across North America, there are a handful of significant waterfalls located smack dab in the downtown core of major cities. For what they lack in seclusion or unspoiled natural beauty, these urban waterfalls — most of them natural or once-natural features of rivers — make up for in history-changing impact. These are the waterfalls that America’s early manufacturing hubs sprayed forth from. After all, what’s a bustling 19th century mill town without a raging, hydropower-producing waterfall in the middle of it?

1. High Falls — Rochester, New York

Perched on the southern shore of Lake Ontario, New York’s third most populous city, Rochester, is famed as a tech-centric innovation and manufacturing hub, birthplace of Eastman Kodak, the Xerox Corporation, Bausch & Lamb and others. However, the presence of the High Falls, a roaring waterfall on the Genesee River that’s smack dab in the middle of the city, serves as a potent reminder of Rochester’s early days as a bustling flour mill boomtown.

In fact, during the first half of the 19th century, bustling Rochester reigned as America’s so-called Flour City with dozens of mills lining the mighty Genesee. However, Rochester’s flour-milling heyday didn’t last long, and by the 1850s, the city’s economy was dominated by plant nurseries. Yep, within just a couple of decades, the Flour City had become the Flower City.

Today, the 96-foot-tall cataract often referred to as a mini-Niagara is a popular stopover for Niagara Falls-bound tourists — a little taste (emphasis on little) of what’s to come 90 minutes down the road, if you will. The surrounding Brown’s Race Historic District, home to the High Falls Center and Interpretive Center and the pedestrians-only Pont De Rennes Bridge, is chock-full of gritty, post-industrial charm. And for an authentic Rochester experience, no visit to High Falls and the lower Genesee River Gorge is complete without a pilgrimage to the Genesee Brewing Company. Established in 1878, it’s New York’s oldest brewery and one of the oldest continually operating breweries in the U.S. (Try a Cream Ale and a Zweigle’s White Hot.)

2. Idaho Falls — Idaho Falls, Idaho

If you show up in the outdoor recreation-blessed burg of Idaho Falls expecting to be blown away by raging urban rapids or a cataract of significant height in the middle of the Gem State’s fourth-largest city, you might be disappointed as Idaho Falls’ signature waterfall system is only 20 feet tall and largely man-made.

Idaho Falls wasn’t even Idaho Falls until 1891 when the residents of Eagle Rock, Idaho, voted to change the town’s name to reflect a series of picturesque natural rapids on the Snake River. In the following years, the falls were converted into a man-made hydroelectric diversion dam with a 600-foot-wide concrete spillway filling in for natural cascades. Whatever the case, the falls, located along a lovely urban greenbelt system, remain one of downtown Idaho Falls’ top attractions.

While Idaho Falls’ namesake waterfall may not be all that huge of deal (both figuratively and literally), this isn’t to say the state of Idaho is lacking in show-stopping natural cascades. Follow the Snake River along a roughly two-hour drive to the southwest of Idaho Falls and you’ll come face to face with the mighty Shoshone Falls, a horseshoe-shaped behemoth that, at 212 feet tall, towers 45 feet higher than Niagara Falls. (Hey, they don’t call it the Niagara of the West for nothing.)

3. Niagara Falls — Niagara Falls, Ontario

Niagara Falls, hypnotizing honeymoon destination for the ages, can be overwhelming for the uninitiated. For those who find themselves wandering about mist-drenched and dazed, it helps to remember the numbers: three waterfalls (Horseshoe Falls, American Falls, Bridal Veil Falls), two countries (the U.S. and Canada), two cities with the same name (Niagara Falls, New York, and Niagara Falls, Ontario), four wax museums, 22 Tim Hortons locations and a couple hundred heart-shaped Jacuzzi tubs.

That said, Niagara Falls is about as urban as urban waterfalls can get. So then, what Niagara Falls city is the best? A tough question, given that they’re so different. Home to Niagara Falls State Park, the city of Niagara Falls, New York, is smaller and less intense than its Canadian counterpart. It’s touristy, no doubt, but it’s also more subdued, approachable, even a bit old-school.

Niagara Falls, Ontario, is a significantly larger and, for better or worse, kitschier city. Case in point is Clifton Hill, a neon-lit promenade best described as the hyperactive Canadian lovechild of the Las Vegas Strip and the Coney Island Boardwalk. Home to a Ferris wheel, no less than five haunted houses and about 1,001 places to buy fudge, Clifton Hill is a three-Advil type of diversion. The city’s casinos, botanic garden, indoor aviary and space-age observation tower also lure in the falls-peeping masses. And it’s no big secret that Canada rules when it comes to knockout panoramic views of North America’s most spectacular trio of waterfalls.

The Green Link

N.J. voters strongly favor legal weed ahead of referendum, new poll shows


“Legalizing marijuana is the right thing to do. We must also expunge the records of those arrested for marijuana offenses and reinvest proceeds from legalization directly back into our communities.” – Cory Booker

La marihuana medicinal se ha legalizado en 33 estados y muchos expertos médicos han aprobado su uso para afecciones médicas que están afectando a los adultos mayores de 50 años en Estados Unidos.

New Jersey voters support the ballot question seeking to legalize marijuana by a 2-to-1 margin, continuing a trend of strong favorability for the referendum with just two weeks left before Election Day.

The Green Link

Green Tea Drinkers May Live Longer


People who love their green tea may also enjoy longer, healthier lives, a large new study suggests.

Researchers found that of more than 100,000 Chinese adults they tracked, those who drank green tea at least three times a week were less likely to suffer a heart attack or stroke over the next seven years.

Tea lovers also had a slightly longer life expectancy. At age 50, they could expect to live just over a year longer than their counterparts who were not regular consumers of green tea.

The study is the latest to look at green tea’s potential health effects.

Over the years, many studies have linked the beverage to benefits like healthier cholesterol levels and body weight, and lower risks of heart disease and certain cancers.

Those studies, like the current one, were “observational” — where researchers ask people about their lifestyle habits and other factors, then follow their health outcomes. The limitation is they do not prove that green tea, itself, provides any benefits.

Green-tea drinkers may differ from non-consumers in other ways. Research in the United States has found that tea drinkers (all types of tea) generally have healthier diets than non-drinkers, said Whitney Linsenmeyer, an assistant professor of nutrition at Saint Louis University.

Researchers do try to account for such differences. In the current study, the investigators were able to weigh overall diet, exercise habits, smoking and education level, among other factors.

Still, it’s impossible to control for everything, said Linsenmeyer, who is also a spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

That said, a number of studies across different countries have now found health benefits among green-tea drinkers, according to Linsenmeyer.

Plus, there’s some evidence from clinical trials. Linsenmeyer pointed to a recent trial of Iranian women finding that those who drank three cups of green tea a day saw improvements in weight, blood pressure, blood sugar and cholesterol over eight weeks.

So if you’re a green-tea fan, drink up, advised Linsenmeyer.

“Green tea is calorie-free and antioxidant-rich,” she said. “It’s a healthy beverage to include in your diet if you like the taste.”

It does contain caffeine, though. “So be wary if you take medications that interact with caffeine, or if you struggle with insomnia,” Linsenmeyer said.

The findings were published online Jan. 9 in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology. The study was based on 100,902 Chinese adults who were free of heart disease and cancer at the outset. The participants were interviewed about their lifestyle habits and medical history, and had their weight, blood pressure and cholesterol measured.

Over the follow-up period — typically seven years — almost 3,700 suffered a heart attack or stroke, or died of cardiovascular causes. The risk was 20% lower, however, among those who habitually drank green tea (at least three times a week).

Those habitual consumers were also 15% less likely to die of any cause, versus people who drank green tea less often or not at all.

Green, black and white tea all come from the same plant, but there are differences in how they are made. And compared with black tea — which is more popular in the United States — green tea is higher in antioxidants called flavonoids, according to the study authors.

Lab experiments suggest green-tea extracts can quell inflammation and improve functioning of cells in the blood vessels and heart, the researchers said. The team was led by Dr. Xinyan Wang, of the Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences, in Beijing.

For now, the jury is still out on whether adding green tea to your diet will ward off any diseases, said Connie Diekman. She’s a food and nutrition consultant and past president of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

But Diekman said she often encourages people to go ahead and enjoy their tea, since it’s a calorie-free form of hydration (provided it’s not loaded with sugar or cream).

The Green Link

Microsoft to buy green jet fuel to cut emissions from business flights


Microsoft will buy sustainable jet fuel to help reduce the environmental impact of its employees’ business travel, the tech giant said Thursday.

The Windows maker announced a partnership with Alaska Airlines to offset emissions from its staffers’ flights on three frequently traveled routes out of the company’s headquarters in Redmond, Washington.

Microsoft will purchase credits for the cleaner fuel — which is made with used cooking oil or other plant oils — from Dutch supplier SkyNRG, which will deliver the fuel to Alaska Airlines. The arrangement will cover carbon emissions from Microsoft employees’ travel between Seattle and San Francisco, Los Angeles and San Jose, the company says.

“We hope this sustainable aviation fuel model will be used by other companies as a way to reduce the environmental impact of their business travel,” Judson Althoff, executive vice president of Microsoft’s Worldwide Commercial Business, said in a statement.

The deal follows Microsoft’s pledge earlier this year to become a “carbon negative” company by 2030, meaning it will work to remove more carbon from the environment than it pumps out.

Business travel accounted for roughly 3.3 percent of Microsoft’s total greenhouse gas emissions last year, a company fact sheet shows. Using SkyNRG’s sustainable jet fuel could help reduce that footprint given that it emits about 75 percent less carbon than standard fossil jet fuel, according to a news release.

Microsoft’s efforts come as the coronavirus pandemic continues to depress global air travel. United Airlines CEO Scott Kirby has said he doesn’t expect demand for business flights to return to normal levels until 2024 as more companies conduct business remotely thanks to the virus.

Microsoft nevertheless hopes other companies will follow its lead in supporting the sustainable jet fuel industry by creating a stable “demand signal” for the product.

“After a decade advancing sustainable aviation fuel, this partnership marks a significant milestone in the work to make [sustainable aviation fuel] a commercially-viable aviation fuel alternative,” Alaska Airlines CEO Brad Tilden said in a statement.

The Green Factor

How the Royal Family Strategically Uses Jewelry to Send a Message


“Royal jewelry is beautiful, yes, but it’s also saying something,” Holmes says.“The minute any of these women step out of the car, we see pictures around the world in seconds. And what you notice first is what they’re wearing. They use that. It’s very savvy and it’s very smart, and it’s worth paying attention to.”

Prince Charles tends to wear his watches discreetly tucked under his cuff, which makes identifying them a challenge. At monumental occasions, like Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s wedding, he is most often sporting a Parmigiani Fleurier Toric Chronograph.

Prince William is loyal to a particularly special watch given to him by his mother, the late Princess Diana. The Omega Seamaster Professional Quartz 300M features a stainless steel construction and blue dial. The watch has accompanied him through every occasion, from family ski trips to his wedding day back in 2011. You can read more about Prince William’s watch here.

Few pieces show the way the Windsors use jewelry as more than adornment better than the Lover’s Knot tiara. Originally commissioned by Queen Mary from Britain’s House of Garrard in 1913, the headpiece features 19baroque pearls as well as brilliant- and rose-cut diamonds set in a repeated motif of heart-shaped knots. It was inherited by Queen Elizabeth in 1953, and though she has worn the tiara on multiple occasions, it’s best known asa favorite of Diana’s—and, now, a go-to for the Duchess of Cambridge on formal occasions.

“When you see a tiara that the queen has worn, that Diana has worn, and then to see it on Kate, it’s a reminder that these are all three women operating within the same royal family,” Holmes says, noting that it’s strategic for the queen to invoke Diana’s memory by lending the piece to Kate. “You see the continuity.”

hile the Lover’s Knot is the queen’s to lend as she chooses, both Kate and Meghan Markle also have pieces of Diana’s in their own personal collections, which were given to them by their husbands. They have the power, Holmes says, to “pull on those nostalgic heartstring moments.” Markle’s something blue at her wedding reception, for example, was Diana’s aquamarine cocktail ring; in her first official appearance after the Duchess announced she was expecting her first child, she wore her late mother-in-law’s butterfly earrings. The symbolism was hard to miss.

“A butterfly, pregnancy, rebirth, the next generation,” Holmes says, spelling it out. “All it takes is a tuck of the hair behind the ear for the cameras to catch it, and the media to make the connection. It’s a reminder that this is a family.”

The Green Link