I have been visiting the Buffalo Harbor and Erie Basin Marina since the opening days of harbor reconstruction 30 some years ago. As soon as the weather turned, my three, then very young, children and I would begin making the first of our 10-12 visits each summer season to stroll the Erie Basin Marina peninsula, a visit to the Naval and Serviceman’s Park (opened 1979) topped off with an ice cream and soft drink.
Back then the crowds were relatively sparse but began growing quite quickly as people realized that the river, lake, fresh air, and glorious sunsets were something not to be missed. The area continues to grow. The Naval Park has expanded. The Erie Basin Marina is packed with boat rentals, there’s a quality restaurant in Templeton’s Landing, the original Erie Canal has been rediscovered, uncovered and identified under its original name – The Commercial Slip.
Commencing this summer reconstruction has begun on the myriad of canal branches that constituted the 19th Buffalo waterfront. Visitors will have an opportunity to ride on replicas of Buffalo’s very own 19th century “gondolas”. And a walkway is being prepared to reach the brand new Buffalo River Fest Park. A park which no doubt will actually be forever called “:Peg’s Park” in honor of Peg Overdorf of the Valley Community Association who worked tirelessly to see it come into being.
There is plenty going in in Buffalo these days. My gut feeling is that we are turning the corner and people will discover the great history of this area and will enjoy being part of its retelling.
If you would like to read a great recap of Buffalo Harbor History then you need to read Commercial Slip, Harbor Development and Canal District by Thomas X. Grasso of the Canal Society of New York State.. Click to read.
And there needs to be a new theme song for “NIckel City,” maybe this one fits the bill: