Phase 1 of waterfront access to the Buffalo Lighthouse is complete, which means that the public now has access to a property that has, until now, been considered ‘out of bounds’. We’ve all seen the lighthouse when observing from the Erie Basin Marina or from boat. The iconic structure has been featured in postcards and is a favorite for anyone looking to showcase the city’s waterfront. With all of the other Outer Harbor developments brought to us by Congressman Higgins, gaining public access to the Coast Guard parcel was also a major priority.
Back in August WCP wrote about the restoration of the lighthouse, but it was as far back as 2006 when we first started hearing that the project was even a possibility. Back then it seemed like an impossibility, and the thought of unravelling all of the political red tape sounded particularly daunting. Fast forward half a decade and we’re looking at another piece of the waterfront puzzle solidly in place.
A walk out onto the peninsula reveals much about our waterfront. Along the way there are a number of informative plaques and markers that provide passersby with maps, waymarking, historic timelines, information on Lighthouse Point Park, preservation initiatives, nautical facts and info on The Coast Guard. There are three significant areas of interest that the public will naturally gravitate to. First, at the entrance, there is a large picnic shelter called ‘Outpost’. This looks to be a great place to gather the kids together for a picnic before or after the journey. Then there’s a midway point that features a grassy area and park benches. Finally there is the parcel surrounding the lighthouse where visitors will find gigantic anchors, a monster buoy (lead image) and a massive ship’s bell. There’s also a really neat ‘bottle light’ out there – that’s the large white spaceship-looking contraption that once warned ships away from the north and south breakwalls (not sure which one it is). Luckily there are graphics on one of the maps that delineate all of the Buffalo Main and Harbor Lights, which help to answer a lot of the questions regarding the different lighthouses, light vessels, water intakes, etc.
Other than the three distinct open swaths of public accessible land, the rest of the experience consists of a walkway that hugs the rocky shore. There are fences installed to prevent anyone from wandering onto Coast Guard grounds – it would be great to see some flowering ivy planted on the chain link fence to enhance the experience of the walk. Those looking to pay a visit should know that there is plenty of parking out along Outer Harbor Drive, and cyclists will be happy to know that a fresh bike trail has been paved and a beautiful section of boardwalk has been completed (see below), connecting Lighthouse Point Park with Tifft Nature Preserve and the Outer Harbor trails.
The trek is super kid-friendly with rocks and steps to climb, outcroppings, nautical treasures, and best of all you can walk right up to the lighthouse and touch it… pretty cool!
Public hours are 10am to sunset.