Today my wife and I ventured over the Peace Bridge and headed along the Niagara River to Niagara Falls in search of one of our favorite Indian bistros in the region – Moksha.
Seeing that the weather had warmed up a bit, we decided to do something that we normally don’t do. After finishing lunch, we headed to the Niagara Fallsview Casino to see what was happening. Actually, neither one of us had ever been there before, so neither of us knew what to expect.
After parking in a parking ramp at the casino (pretty cheap at $5), we headed towards our destination that ended up being attached to the ramp. Easy breezy. Once inside the building we were greeted with an unexpected surprise. The casino was part and parcel with a fairly vibrant galleria. What we liked most about the galleria was that it was situated in close proximity to Niagara Falls, there was tons of natural lighting thanks to the vast windows, and it felt remarkably clean and up to date. There was an English-style pub, an entertainment complex, a food court, places to sit and relax, a casino and a few shops and additional eateries to browse.
We decided to grab a beer at The Falls & Firkin and opted sit out on the front terrace facing The Falls. It was great to be immersed in such an atmosphere, where we found ourselves doing some people watching and simply relaxing.
As we acclimated to our surroundings, we began to talk about how easy it would be to replicate such an experience (substituting The Falls for Lake Erie). It’s not rocket science to create this sort of atmosphere, where people congregate to enjoy themselves outdoors. Looking at the redesigns of Canalside (what’s to come), I hope that the planners keep in mind the need for these types of gathering places – an essential part of life that Buffalo is currently missing. Load up a public plaza with bistro chairs and tables, and offer food and drinks. Hoards of people will come from miles around just to sit and enjoy life.
In Italy there are piazzas, and in Germany there are beer gardens. Most cities have some form of outdoor recreational accommodations – usually coupled with water fountains, shops, eateries, gardens, markets, etc. We still need this urban concentration of vibrant life. It’s certainly not the Main Place Mall (although it could be), and Larkinville is doing its share to create something of this nature, but I think that Buffalo will someday hang its hat on the advancements of Canalside, to bring a little bit of indoor/outdoor pizzazz to the waterfront.
So far we’ve seen the groundwork being laid for something of this nature. I hope that when all is said and done, we will look back and wonder what we ever did without the bustle of cafés, bistros, shops, and people(!) that we will assuredly someday have. While the Niagara Fallsview Casino might not be the best example of cutting edge architecture, it has done a much better job than anything we have seen in Buffalo, as of yet. Luckily it’s just down the river from Buffalo – a quick and painless afternoon jaunt.