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Water seen in the historically aligned canals


This past Saturday, after a full excursion exploring the length of Main Street in Downtown Buffalo, I was greeted with a completely unexpected surprise. As I walked up towards Canalside I noticed that the canals had been watered. I wasn’t the only one standing along the perimeter fencing, as there were others who found the site refreshing and inspiring.

“The water seen in the historically aligned canals is a quality control measure and a big step forward on this important Erie Canal Harbor Development Corporation (ECHDC) project on the South Aud Block,” said Jill A. Clark, Assistant Project Manager Erie Canal Harbor Development Corporation. “Now that the weather has broken with temperatures above freezing, crews were able to fill the basin with water, which will sit for 72 hours, to insure water tightness. The test and results will be evaluated by the design team for compliance purposes and upon approval will be drained so additional work can continue – a waterproof membrane will be applied, followed by canal stones and ice making materials (for skating in the wintertime). The project will be substantially complete by fall 2014.”

The canal project has been sobering due to its stagnant appearance as of late. Thankfully the coming of spring, albeit late, marks a new day and a re-energized effort to this site at the Inner Harbor. Up next will be the addition of other amenities seen in the renderings below, including historic style bridges that will traverse the canal. Many of the bordering concrete walkways, stairways and observation features are already in place. As for the buildings featured in the renderings, you can learn more about that progress here. You can also check out an initial glimpse of the Explore & More children’s museum here.


Water-canalside-Buffalo-NY-1 Water-canalside-Buffalo-NY-2


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Written by queenseyes


Newell Nussbaumer is 'queenseyes' - Eyes of the Queen City and Founder of Buffalo Rising. Co-founder Elmwood Avenue Festival of the Arts. Co-founder Powder Keg Festival that built the world's largest ice maze (Guinness Book of World Records). Instigator behind Emerald Beach at the Erie Basin Marina. Co-created Flurrious! winter festival. Co-creator of Rusty Chain Beer. Instigator behind Saturday Artisan Market (SAM) at Canalside. Founder of The Peddler retro and vintage market. Instigator behind Liberty Hound @ Canalside. Throws The Witches Ball at The Hotel @ The Lafayette, and the Madd Tiki Winter Luau. Other projects: Navigetter.

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  1. I have one question right now…   will there, or won’t there be boats on the water?    All the renderings show boats but the News keeps calling the canals “reflecting ponds”.

  2. 300miles The original plan was for these canals all the way to Washington St. to connect with the commercial slip (phase 1), but with funding, we’re getting ‘reflecting pools’ instead.

  3. Also, I haven’t seen any updates on the lighting projects.  During a recent trip I noticed the Skyway lit up and saw the source of the lighting.  My comment on that:  the lighting devices looked ridiculous.  They looked like airport runway lighting fixtures.  Please find a more appropriate design for positioning and concealing the lights.

  4. nyc lines  there was mention that the canal would connect to the existing inlet next to liberty hound to allow personal watercraft with no more than a four foot draft to enter…

  5. As the article states “historically aligned canals”. does that imply that the entire path of these new canals match exactly with the old ones in both width and direction?  Is there an overlay to view?

  6. OldFirstWardThat’s a great question.  “Historically Aligned” sounds like a cheap, lame catch-phrase.  Especially when it doesn’t come with any explanation/elaboration of what the hell that means.  Of course, any reasonably intelligent person can infer something from that, but wouldn’t it be great if an Assistant Project Manager of a state agency responsible for significant amounts of public funds could explain and elaborate what their comment means exactly?  I’d think a reporter could help by asking for an explanation (not just here, Buffalo News didn’t include anything either, and they have paid, professional journalists).
    What remains – if anything – of the original canals?  Were they completely removed with construction of the Aud?  I’ve seen oodles of pictures of this exact area recently in a few books I’ve read; still tough to piece together/decipher.  
    For perspective here’s my rudimentary, caveman-level graphic design skills for comparison of the canals.

    Couple photos you might find interesting here, including the F. N. Burt Factory:

  7. I feel like not getting real canals that can handle boats was a huge missed opportunity. We need to be making better use of our city on a lake amenities. To build a huge foot deep concrete pond is silly. This might as well have been and probably would have been better as a giant bellagio style fountain.

  8. Ivan putski jr The past decade and a half has been wasted trying to attract a “white knight” to revive the waterfront. Bass Pro was the last straw. As we’re now seeing, the city has been focusing on smaller individual projects, which has been leading to a coherent vision for the overall picture.

  9. hockeyhips83 nyc lines  Maybe it was mentioned but it was never planned or even investigated really.  They had just spent a “boatload” of money truncating the Hamburg Drain and constructing an outfall at the end of the commercial slip – a good portion of that would have went to waste, had they truncated further.

  10. townline hockeyhips83nyc lines 
    Call me crazy but I think allowing boats in here wouldve been the WORST idea.  People would be running in to things, getting blocked in, etc.

  11. GotAnyChange  gotta say, the idea of paddle or rowing boats in these confined “canals” seems chintzy.  do developers believe people will rent a boat to float around in a trench ten feet below street level, or hop on one just to get across to the other side?  
    one may argue that the boats on hoyt lake are just the same, but at least there your on a wide open large, non-replicated historic lake with landscape views in every direction.  
    these canals aren’t the canals of san antonio….

  12. BeardedBuffalonian I’m not so sure there are any “old canals”.  For one thing the Aud might have wiped any remnants out.  Plus, there’s gotta be some sort of backstory to this “historically aligned”.  Of course, no one seems to have any interest in providing details on what the eff “historically aligned” actually means.

  13. NBuffGuy agreed……fake anything is bad. I cringe at the thought of replicating historical pieces for the sake of tourism…would people travel to Egypt  if the Pyramids weren’t original but rather a similar likeness completely rebuilt from scratch?…..same thing with Stone Henge…why not build a replica closer to London so people won’t have to drive as far to see it?…. give me the real thing or give me nothing…or at least something not trying to be something it isn’t.

  14. Does Buffalo really need another ice rink? We have rotary ant the new rink on the outer harbor. What we need is something that is not a foot deep mosquito pond with 10 skaters on it in the winter. If a skating pond is what is really needed it would have been easy enough to have both. One real canal for boats and one fake one for skaters put the bellagio style fountain in the fake one for the summer.

  15. LI2Northpark  Membranes, while waterproof, are not necessarily rip-proof. In case the membrane is breached, the channel will still be able to hold the water until the membrane can be fixed.

  16. No_Illusions texpat  The depth varied at different points and different periods of time, such as improvements over the years.  The depth at center was also deeper than at the banks.  However, I believe it was much deeper than these “historically aligned” replicas.  Images I’ve seen of the drained canal during winter maintenance showed men and equipment well below the banks.
    Skating on the canal isn’t a new idea, either.  It was often done during the halt in winter transit.

  17. nyc lines texpat  “its going to be one massive ice rink!”  that’s about as glass half full as the paddle boats.  
    ECHD had opportunities to put rinks up on the lawns, they never did.  MLK park’s fountain is 5 acres of ice in the winter, IF weather cooperates.  
    Hoyt Lake is a Giant historic iced over lake, people played hockey on Lake Erie this past year and in the ship canal, and then there’s riverworks.  
    shouting that they’ll have an ice rink there is about as purposeful as guaranteeing there will be ice there every year, it’s not like they’re refrigerated like river works.   
    people where skate wherever the wish, but it’s hard to see people going out of their way to skate here over the riverworks brewery OR the very well shielded from wind fountain plaza.

  18. Ivan putski jr  
    I know everyone is so anti Bass Pro, but I would rather have Bass Pro on the Webster Block than that massive parking garage AKA HarborCenter.

  19. OldFirstWard Ivan putski jr  Big surprise.  
    But, I don’t hunt or fish or do basically anything that would require me making a trip to Bass Pro.  So by your logic for why HarborCenter is a horrible project – because you don’t skate or use ice rinks – then that would mean Bass Pro and your support of it is horrible as well.

  20. No_Illusions texpat  Ya know that’s another thing to remember.  The portion filled with water might only be a few inches deep but it’s going to be below street level and, of course, the canal wasn’t like that.  So the canals are probably accurate depth, just not being filled all the way.

  21. LouisTully
    Actually the point is that something way less intrusive and hulking with a retail element would have been a more welcoming destination for everyone.  
    Have you actually stopped and looked at that place?  It’s like a huge asteroid just fell out of the sky and landed there.  By itself, that place has ruined the architectural symmetry of the entire area.  
    Besides the loss of sunsets, Washington Street has been cast into a huge dark, damp, and cold shadow in mid afternoon.  The arena is essentially blocked from view, the atrium has lost its light and it just looks horrible.

  22. I find myself agreeing with you on the mass of the project, on the south and east sides. Washington looks almost malfunctionally (is that a word?) narrow. The design is meh to anyone with a design eye, but I’ll wait for the finished product before writing it off completely -architecturally.
    That said I overlook aesthetic complaints because of the substance ofthe project: Hockey destination (essentially a new economy niche), large ramp (necessary in canalside), Marriott, flagship hos (ha), flagship sports bar, framing in of canalside, and more retail along main.
    Was there even any way to feasibly create such a conplex on the footprint without encroaching? Maybe, but that’s guesswork.
    I understand not liking when people say ‘at least something is being built,’ but it is quite utilitarian, which counts for…a lot.

  23. OldFirstWard LouisTully  OMFG.  Loss of sunsets!  My response should just end there.  But I’m an idiot.  How often do you pull up a chair on Washington to catch the sunsets???  OMG!  Shadows! Density!  In a CITY!
    It wouldn’t have been a “more welcoming destination for everyone”.  Did you read my comment?  I have no use for a Bass Pro.  By your logic that means a Bass Pro would have been a travesty.  A $30million+ of public money travesty.  
    Have you actually been to a Bass Pro?  It’s great.  For about 3 minutes.

  24. GotAnyChange  What would OFW’s response have been if Paladino got the project?  It wouldn’t have been much different.  It would’ve cast shadows.  It would’ve “blocked sunsets”.   It would’ve been a smaller private investment.  It was also hulking.
    I can agree with your sentiments.  It is massive.  It does create an odd, narrow streetscape.  It isn’t the best design, and seems to have degraded with each rendition.  But… Like you said, the substance is huge.

  25. Instead of skaters, imagine a canal with boats.  That is what a canal is for, isn’t it?  Boats.  Imagine pleasure boats, tourist boats, and a canal atmosphere instead of a glorified refecting pool a foot deep.  That is not a canal or a replica canal.  It is a lost opportunity to bring recreational watercraft into the area.  Even the canal in Oklahoma City has boats on it.

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