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A City Divided Comes Together

There is a renewed energy and spirit when it comes to reevaluating Buffalo’s high speed roadways that disconnect us as a city, and block us from accessing our waterfront. For some people, the battle to heal our city from the harms of urban renewal run deep. Deep scars that tore communities apart, and left trails of disinvestment and blight in their wake.

One organization in Buffalo set out some time ago to address the issues and convince The City to reverse the damage wreaked upon Humboldt Parkway. Today the message of Restore Our Community Coalition (ROCC) is louder and more clear than ever.

On June 12, 2015, from 2-4pm, ROCC will be taking that message to the airways, in the form of a Radiothon at WUFO 1080 AM. There is no better time than the present to right the wrongs of the past, and to restore what was lost – Olmsted’s tree-lined Humboldt Parkway (from Delaware Park to Parade Park – now MLK Park).

Residents were shocked when the construction began. What was left was a disconnected community that has witnessed economic and physical decline in addition to health and safety concerns,” states Stephanie Barber Geter, Chair of Restore Our Community Coalition.

This is not a new battle. This is the same battle that the community has tirelessly been fighting all along. ROCC has attributed much of the newfound momentum to a spirited generation of Buffalonians that are spearheading renewal projects all over the city.


The construction of Route 33 was a mistake, there is no doubt. But there are cities throughout the world that made similar mistakes, and many of those cities have done what many thought was impossible.

See 6 Freeway Removals That Changed Their Cities Forever

In order to harness the newfound energy, and direct it in the appropriate places, ROCC is in need of funds that will help to bolster the movement.

By leveraging an ongoing “I Remember” campaign, and launching new fundraising mechanisms (including the Radiothon), ROCC believes that there is nothing that can hold this community back.

*To find out how to get involved please email To contribute to the fundraiser please see the “donate” button at, or mail checks payable to: ROCC 60 Hedley Place Buffalo, NY 14214

Humboldt-Buffalo-Green-2 Humboldt-Buffalo-Green


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.

Contact Newell Nussbaumer |

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  • Is there anything sadder than this?
    How about a test on one weekday and give plenty of notice. Just close the damn thing from 6:00AM to 9:00PM and see what happens.
    You know what will happen? Life will go on. Between 90/190, Genesee Street, Sycamore Street and Broadway, people will get to work with few problems.
    Then do what Rochester is doing and just fill the damn thing in. Although I don’t know where the fill comes from.

  • North Park

    rubagreta The fill comes from the filled in rock quarry in Delaware Park and the filled in portions of Hoyt and Mirror Lakes in Delaware Park.

  • North Park
    indeed, you can also count hoyt lake as a highway victim.  yes, it is still there, but it used to have islands and a more naturalized shoreline.

  • btw, this story got picked up by

  • RaChaCha

    It’s really possible to eliminate urban expressways. Here’s a pic I took in RaChaCha last month.

  • LouisTully

    North Park rubagreta That’s where it went in the first place I assume?  What fill ended up going to the outer harbor and other waterfront infrastructure – basin, breakwall, et al?

  • North Park

    LouisTully North Park rubagreta There are a lot of old buildings strewn around that area. I’m not sure where else the fill came from. I’m sure there are a bunch of old buildings in the fill under Father Conway Park as well.

  • RaChaCha

  • runner68

    North Park LouisTully rubagreta If I’m not mistaken there us quite a bit of the Larkin Building underneath the grass at Father Conway Park…

  • We get it.  Kensington Expressway bad, evil, horrible … in Hamlin Park.  It didn’t stop there.  
    ‘Da Turty-Tree extends beyond the interchange with the Scajaquada Expressway.  It isn’t named the Humboldt Expressway, the Hamlin Park Expressway, or the Masten Park Expressway.  It’s the Kensington Expressway. It’s called that because, in part, that’s the neighborhood it took the biggest chunk out of. But, hey, who cares about what’s beyond the Olmsted loop?  14215 was written off in the 1990s, and it’s pretty much Cheektowaga, right?
    And, as usual, the railroads that tore apart the city’s fabric even more than buildout of the most insane 1950s-era expressway plan get a pass.  But that’s different, because soot-spewing steam locomotives are cool.

  • North Park

    Dan Blather Or it might be different because everyone that remembers Buffalo in the pre-railroad days is dead.

  • Dan Blather
    the railroads brought jobs to city neighborhoods, iron island in particular, which hasn’t exactly been thriving without the railroads. highways destroyed jobs, in the form of property devaluation, eminent domain, and capital flight to the ‘burbs.
    a historian once told me years ago that in 1950, buffalo’s single largest private taxpayer was the new york central railroad.  (wish i had a link!) so we traded a revenue stream for a debt burden.
    that is why railroads look better in retrospect than highways.  they were better.

  • North Park

    grad94 Dan Blather That’s a good point. There were tons of good paying jobs built all along those rail lines.

  • runner68
    i heard that too and have always wondered if there is a way to prove or disprove it.

  • > that is why railroads look better in retrospect than highways.  they were better.
    Whatever you say.  The railroads bought jobs to city neighborhoods.  What kinds of jobs?  Here’s a good cross-section.
    Where are those jobs now?  Gone.  No more horse whipperies, no more fedora factories, no more patent medicine plants.

    What about the neighborhoods they sliced through the most?  They’re in much worse shape than areas that weren’t cut up as finely.
    I’m not a fan of the Kensington, either, but plenty of other major cities kept on growing even after they expressways cut through their neighborhoods.

  • JohnMarko

    I remember riding with my dad or uncle and cousins going down the road to Sears or Broadway Market, Sattlers, or Downtown from Kenmore and going thru all that when they were doing it – I couldn’t think of why they would destroy a  perfectly good route and destroy all those houses for this!
    But it was amazing to watch them MOVE many large 4 story brick or shingle Victorian houses out of the way of the construction!

  • JohnMarko

    Dan Blather 
    Ahh – the neighborhoods were built around the railroads.  The railroads were there before there were any neighborhoods.  Development of railroads occurred in the mid 1800s when Buffalo was just beginning to grow.  Most of the are outside the downtown core was farmland – heck, a lot the downtown WAS farmland!  The Erie Canal was surpassed only a couple decades after it’s construction by the railroads – that were built right along side it for it’s convenient pre-graded route!
    Please do a little research before you post.

  • Dan Blather
    to paraphrase a great scene from the movie ‘casablanca:’ i’m shocked–shocked!–to discover coal burning on the premises! 
    yup. factories burned a whole lotta coal in the 19th century. so did offices, schools, churches, mansions, and lowly tenements. everyone burned coal.
    yup, factories needed rail access in order to get their goods to market. railroads concentrate jobs & investment; highways disperse them.  glad we agree on that.

    today those factories would have hydropower allotments from the ny power authority.  the foresighted among them would add solar panels or wind turbines.   the coal-burning huntley plant has been shut down, though nuclear is still in the mix.
    your point is…?

  • JohnMarko from High Hopes: The Rise and Decline of Buffalo, New York By Mark Goldman

  • JohnMarko From City on the Edge by Mark Goldman.
    “Mann was deeply troubled by the railroads and the impact they had on the
    landscapes and streetscapes of the city. The railroads not only
    “penetrated” the city but they determined land use in neighborhoods and
    on the waterfront. By 1910, railroad companies owned 42 square miles of
    railroad yards and 660 miles of track on which moved more than fifteen
    thousand railroad cars. More than five thousand acres of land in the
    city were owned by the railroad companies. The size and scale of the
    railroad companies’ operations were overwhelming, particularly in the
    heavily industrialized East Side and on the waterfront. Writing in 1907,
    Mann angrily stated that “Buffalo has maintained the attitude of a
    suppliant” toward the railroads, turning over to them far too much of
    the places and spaces in the city that belonged by right, he felt, to
    the people who lived there:
    “We have allowed practically all of our waterfront to be taken by the
    steam railroads. Scott Street during almost its entire length is a
    railroad shambles. Prime Street is another dedicated by piracy to the
    uses of the Delaware, Lackawanna and Western.”
    Severance and Bartlett were among a growing number of people, most of
    them well-established white Anglo-Saxon Protestants who, during the
    early years of the new century, were shaken by the rapid and dramatic
    changes that were occurring to the form, fabric, and function of
    Buffalo. Like members of their social class in cities throughout the
    country, these men and women were appalled at the intrusions of industry
    and the railroads into the fabric of their city, angered by the losses
    that had occurred at Johnson Park, distraught at how the waterfront was
    being turned into a dumping ground for industry, and saddened by the
    demolition of so many of the private home and churches that had for so
    long characterized the landscape of the city. …  Their
    efforts to bring order and beauty to the increasingly disturbing and
    chaotic state of the city led them eventually to take up the cause of
    city planning.” 

  • JohnMarko

    And one more thing.  Much of the city 3-4 miles from Niagara Square was platted into streets and lots long before the railroads arrived.  When they came, they tore through many parts of the town that were developed — The Terrace is one of many examples — and divided nascent neighborhoods on what was then the city’s outskirts.
    When those railroads first arrived, they ran at grade level.  No bridges, no viaducts, no “subways” as underpasses where called then.  Everything at grade.  The City struggled for decades to get the railroads to start grade separation projects. 

    Please do a little research before you post.