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Olmsted’s Front Yard Competition @ MLK

By Ian Carlino:

Add one more avenue to the growing list of how to enjoy Buffalo’s gardens and neighborhoods.

Starting today, landscape professionals will compete in the city’s Front Yard Competition, restoring and transforming 19 historic homes in the MLK neighborhood, according to the Buffalo Olmsted Parks Conservancy. The “mini urban makeover” will help one of the Conservancy’s “most in need” neighborhoods.

“We are eager to see the Olmsted Communities around our parks be stable, safe and healthy places to live,” the Conservancy touted.

The neighborhood will be restored to its original conditions — another step toward recreating Buffalo’s (and Olmsted’s) historic beauty. Surrounding homes will also benefit from the competition, as a more stable core of homes will inspire higher real estate values. As money is dedicated to MLK park in coming years, it is of utmost importance that the surrounding neighborhoods shows similar investments – it’s a package deal according to the OPC.

The competition is modeled after a similar event in London, England. It, along with the Buffalo Garden Walk and the city’s other gardening events and tours, will be included in the new National Garden Festival. Landscapers will work throughout the week. The public is being invited to view the work in progress, then vote on their favorite transformation between July 11th and July 18th.

“The Conservancy is part of the steering committee for this new event,” The Conservancy said. “Discussions are already underway for a similar makeover next year.”

More information, to vote for a favorite garden online, and the “before” pictures are available at

Photos: Two of the houses bounding MLK Park on North Parade Avenue. The houses were built between 1890 and 1920 and a former mayor of Buffalo, Chester Kowal, once lived on this block.

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