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Restore Our Community Coalition Launches “I Remember” Campaign

Everyone living in Buffalo has one or two ‘lost along the way” items on their wish list that they would like to see brought back and restored. I’m talking about significant historic landmarks that got pummeled at one point or another. Landmarks that made this city great, but are no longer with us at this point.

Today, a group called Restore Our Community Coalition (ROCC) is gathering to launch an “I Remember” campaign that focuses on the tragic loss of the Humboldt Parkway. The parkway was decimated when urban renewal efforts steamrolled the beautiful, tree-lined Olmsted parkway. Now residents living near the parkway are coming together to recreate the memories they still have, pertaining to Humboldt Parkway.

It is the hope of ROCC that by coming together as a community, via an “I Remember” Holiday Reception, a message will be forged that the damage that was unleashed upon the community 60 years ago has not been forgotten. Nor will it ever be forgotten. Not until the parkway is restored will the community be at peace. Humboldt Parkway was never meant to be a freeway for cars. Rather it was created to provide a peaceful, protected boulevard between Delaware park and The Parade (now MLK Park). See the plan.

The bounding neighborhoods will never be as strong as they once were, if Humboldt Parkway is not restored to its original state. That is the message that community leaders from the Hamlin Park Tax Payers Association, Olmsted Parks Conservancy, Buffalo Museum of Science and the Black Chamber of Commerce as well as Humboldt Parkway community residents are spreading this holiday season.

Join the movement. Visit Restore Our Community Coalition on Facebook, share your memories and support the effort to restore Humboldt Parkway to its original grandeur.

Facebook | Website

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Written by queenseyes

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 | Newell@BuffaloRising.com

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  • Michael DiPasquale

    I agree. “let’s make it happen”.

  • runner68

    Don’t deck it..much too expensive. Just fill it and restore it that way..560 million can be much better spent on schools, streetscape improvements, or the expanded light rail that some of use have been dreaming of..that’s a lot of money from just Best to East Ferry…560 million could get you at least 30 miles of at grade light rail…or even better, a much needed boost to schools.
    Let’s weigh our options here…

  • His Majesty

    Is this another preservation group, because we already have plenty of those.

  • Mark_P

    runner68 
    Yep, just correct the mistake.  Remove the unneeded trench highway, re-install the gorgeous parkway, increase property values, raise commercial traffic on the radials, and do it for cheaper than a tunnel.  Win all around.

  • His Majesty

    Mark_P runner68
    It’s not a win at all. It’s the silliest idea we’ve ever had on this website, which is saying a lot. And it gets repeated ad nauseum.

  • JSmith11

    runner68 
    Exactly, the best option is also the cheapest. Convert it to an at-grade multi-lane boulevard for maybe a 10th of that cost. That’s a stretch to be funded, too, but I think you can just about justify it based on the benefits to the neighborhoods and the existing continual maintenance cost of the expressway and its elevated ramps. Decking the expressway just adds additional costs and doesn’t do anything to mitigate the costs of the expressway itself.
    Honestly, I think this group would have a better chance of success going all the way and campaigning for the complete restoration of Humboldt Parkway rather than this compromise measure.

  • Mark_P

    His Majesty
     Yes, its definitely silly to let the 33 keep existing and doing damage while providing nothing. His Majesty would have a better kingdom without it.

  • greenca

    Mark_P runner68
    So what becomes of the highway from the Thruway interchange to the 33/198 split and from Best to downtown if you remove the highway and restore the Humboldt section to a two-lane parkway at grade?  
    I, like many, wish this wasn’t built 60 years ago.  Wishing it wasn’t won’t undo what was done, and it’s highly doubtful if the NYS DOT would allow a present highway to be cut in half.  Don’t hate me for speaking realistically and pragmatically rather than idealistically.

  • Mark_P

    greenca 
    Idealistic thinking would hope its coming out soon to start the healing process quickly, realistic thinking says it should change eventually as it requires maintenance, and a pragmatic approach would identify its many negatives and make each step towards a goal of removal.
    There is no need for any portion of the 33 or the 198.  The path of the 198 from the 190 could terminate at Elmwood.  The park and parkway is all that is needed in the middle.  As for the 2 stubs of the 33 from that point, restoring the original street grid would be fine, as would converting those sections to at-grade boulevards. 
    Since the DOT is in the car business instead of the logic business, I’m sure they will be very difficult to work with.  But that doesn’t make anything they do correct, nor should it hinder the goal of a better city.

  • greenca

    Mark_P greenca
    I agree with you on the 198.  If that was gone in its entirety, I wouldn’t really miss it.  Compared to the Kensington, that’s low hanging fruit.
    The DOT is the dictator controlling the Kensington, and yes, they are in the car business.  Trying to convince them to remove the entire stretch of the highway, or converting it it an at-grade boulevard from the Thruway to downtown, would be very difficult and extremely expensive.  If it could somehow be converted to an at grate boulevard, that still wouldn’t completely solve the problem of the Humboldy section.  That would still be the most direct route from the airport/eastern suburbs/Thruway to downtown, and a significant portion of those 100,000 cars that travel it now  would still travel on it. Frankly, if I was living on road that had 100,000 cars driving on it everyday, I’d rather them driving in a trench or tunnel in front of my house than at grade.

  • JSmith11

    greenca Mark_P 
    Traffic counts on the Humboldt Parkway portion of the Kensington Expressway are around 60,000 vehicles per day.
    Consider that the Avenue des Champs-Elysées has an average daily traffic volume of about 84,000 vehicles.
    Also consider that if the Kensington was converted to a boulevard, a fair amount of that traffic would seek other radial routes such as Genesee, Broadway, Clinton, etc.

  • Mark_P

    JSmith11 greenca 
    The most important part of the traffic count is the quote from the 1950s Public Works engineer who stated ‘Main, Kensington, Genesee, Bailey and Walden faced 70,000 cars a day.’  Which means two things:
    1. Half of the radials on that side were already covering today’s traffic levels 60 years ago.
    2. There are no rising volumes to justify the 33.  They just concentrated it into a form that harms everything but the end points.

  • Rand503

    And restore Agassiz Circle!

  • Rand503

    And, somehow, all that traffic is able to handle itself where the expressway DOES end, at the Elm Oak arterial. So if anyone whines about the poor cars not having a place to drive, point them to that.
    All it means is that instead of ending at Elm St, it ends earlier.

  • Rand503

    At night time, i am practically the only car on the whole stretch between downtown and the thruway.

  • Rand503

    Once Humbolt pkwy is restored, i had better see people from Hamlin Park and the East side join hands and sing a song of peace and harmony or Im gonna be mighty angry.

  • Mark_P

    Rand503 
    Yep, and if I take William or Genesee at rush hour instead of the 33, I’m practically the only car on that whole stretch.  Such a wasted shift of traffic with no benefit.
    And before anyone says it takes 5-10 minutes longer via the streets… that would be negated if people lived 5-10 minutes closer because they weren’t chased off by a highway in their front yard.

  • runner68

    Mark_P Rand503 JSmith11 this is a prime reason why anything getting done with the 198 should be done in tandem with the 33…cover it, convert it, fill it, leave it the way it is…but make sure the two ends work together in harmony…We can’t convert the 198 to a boulevard and cover the 33…it doesn’t work together at all. Pick one, do it in segments, it doesn’t matter. But if there is a plan for one end of Humboldt, it should be done on the other too. 
    But hey thats just my two Buffalo Nickels.

  • His Majesty
    considering that they want something torn down (the kensington), i would not consider them a preservation group.  
    finally, a bunch of demolitionists who have my full support!

  • whateverr

    No to this idea because 33 is a very useful, efficient highway for many city residents & city businesses.  It would be bad to spend so much $ making transportation slower or less convenient for so many thousands of people & many businesses.
    If 60 years ago a decision was less than ideal about where to locate it in a way that removed a nice parkway, perhaps it’s unfortunate that a different location didn’t happen.  However, no matter where was chosen there might be some complaints abut something.  
    At this point the location is long ago spilled milk, but the concept is very good of an efficient highway connecting various places in the city as 33 does.
    How 33 differs from 198 is the latter isn’t a good highway –  too narrow lacking sufficient entrance/exit lanes, and too curvy.  So it makes sense to convert 198 as the DOT proposes into a street with traffic signals and something around a 35 or 40 mph speed limit.  But 33 is wider, straighter, and very popular as a highway.

  • In all of this talk about the evils of the Kensington Expressway, it’s intereting that the railroads that chopped up Buffalo into tens of small “iron islands” in the late 1800s somehow seem to get a pass.  Nobody ever talks about restoring the street grid and reuniting neighborhoods that were divided by the New York Central, Delaware Lackawanna and Western, Erie, Nickel Plate, Baltimpre and Ohio, Pennsylvania, Lehigh Valley, and others.
    http://railsandtrails.com/Maps/Buffalo/BuffaloMap-100.jpg

  • MichaelJarosz

    The request for pictures is a great idea. I myself have searched online for pictures of Humboldt Parkway and have been disappointed.
    The expressway has been there for over 50 years now. There are a couple generations who never knew what the Parkway looked like. I remember as a child my father would drive up to Agassiz Circle and back again just to enjoy the ride.  We would end with a splash in the Humboldt (MLK) pool. My father’s second wife grew up in one of the houses on the parkway. Her family moved out after the destruction. With better documentation, younger generations can see why so many of us call the expressway a mistake that must be restored. Don’t forget the elms.
    St Louis tore down the Pruitt Igoe housing, one of Yamasaki’s “masterpieces”. We should tear down the expressway.
    More pictures, please

  • greenca

    Dan Blather
    Very good point.  No one talk about restoring the street grid since railroads were/are cool and old and highways aren’t.

  • JSmith11

    Dan Blather 
    It’s certainly true that railroad tracks divided neighborhoods (“the wrong side of the tracks”), but railroads have never had anywhere near as devastating an effect on property values and quality of life as urban highways. Neither did they contribute to suburbanization that hollowed out the neighborhoods they passed through, or contribute to the abandonment of neighborhood business districts by providing a commuter bypass around them.

  • Mark_P

    JSmith11 Dan Blather 
    Railroads also increased the chance that businesses would locate in your neighborhood, instead of pulling them away.

  • needIes

    whateverr But it doesn’t affect the traffic flow of the 33, only covers it.

  • MichaelJarosz

    Dan Blather This is exactly why I call for documentation of Humboldt Parkway so that recent generations learn what has been lost so that they don’t come to accept the expressway the same way past generations came to accept the depredations of the railroad era.

  • whateverr

    needIes
    n>’doesn’t affect the traffic flow of the 33, only covers’
    Some comments in this thread before mine (runner68, Mark_P, etc.) had advocated an idea for 33 to no longer be a highway.  Theirs was the idea my previous comment argued against.
    I until now didn’t watch the video to its final 30 secs where it shows the ‘Restore’ group is advocating a covering, and the BR post didn’t mention that.  Also now clicking around on the group’s website I see a page saying they’re for covering http://roccbuffalo.org/the-reason
    So my previous 1st sentence was too vague to say ‘this idea’.
    Regardless, I’m also against the Restore group’s idea – spending that would put a very strong cover over 33 even if it would leave highway traffic as is.  That big amount of $, estimated at over half a billion, could be much better spent in Buffalo.

  • JSmith11 Dan Blather
    indeed. compare the desirability of parkside, which has the beltline cutting right through it, and the neighborhood bordering humboldt parkway.  where would you rather live?
    i’ve lived up against a highway and i’ve lived up against a railroad.  i loved the train noise and i hated the traffic noise.

  • needIes

    whateverr Regarding spending the half-billion, if this UB study is accurate as reported (I’m certainly not qualified to discredit UB’s findings, maybe there’s opposing findings somewhere), I’d have to say this is a sound investment. From the BN… 
    “A $100,000 study by University at Buffalo’s School of Architecture and Planning and the Regional Institute found that the project, despite its high upfront investment, would generate about $1 billion in economic impact.”

  • whateverr needIes Your last statement implies that the East Side is not a part of Buffalo, which is where you’re absolutely wrong.

  • whateverr

    Brad J Bethel Jr
    Brad, that’s a silly interpretation of my writing of ‘Buffalo’.
    b>’Your last statement implies that the East Side is not a part of Buffalo’
    It should go without say the east side is a huge part of Buffalo, every bit as much a part of Buffalo as any other part.  Of course the east side should have a fair share of public spending. My opposition to that much $ for a single huge project to cover a highway has nothing to do with it being on the east side. 
    There’s plenty of examples of how it could be better spent on the east side’s existing public infrastructure…

  • whateverr

    Brad J Bethel Jr
    … a portion of Fillmore Ave recently received good improvements for street, sidewalks, lighting, bike lanes, pedestrian crosswalks – but in addition to remainder of Fillmore there’s _many_ other major streets across the East Side in need of that (and much of Main St if that can count as ES, certainly many ES residents use it) – Bailey, Jefferson, E Delavan, E Ferry, Clinton, William, Sycamore, Genesee, Kensington, Walden, Broadway, …   Also – many, many residential streets /sidewalks /crosswalks need work across various parts of ES. 
    Beyond all those things, how about making the Wiley complex (ex-site of rockpile) fully usable? – it seems once a year there’s a news report about funding lacking for that.  
    And work on neighborhood playgrounds & non-Olmsted parks on east side, upgrades for libraries on East Delavan & Clinton, more crime cameras (huge backlog of requests from block clubs for those), more small snowplows for narrow ES side streets, improvements to govt-owned vacant lots, school buildings that weren’t part of the recent big project, etc.., etc. … on and on of East Side possibilities.

  • whateverr

    needIes
    n>’would generate about $1 billion in economic impact’

    Econ impact future prediction claims generally don’t persuade me (not just for this proposal, but any) because IMO often those are dubious, especially if numbers are from people who advocate a spending item or are themselves funded by those who are pushing for it.  
    And with all due respect for architecture expertise of the UB school of architecture, I’d wonder if they have similar expertise in that predictive aspect of economics.   
    Also what those types of predictions often overlook is that if the $ were instead spent on something else there’d also be econ impact as $ flows around.  For instance, if workers are paid to put a roof over 33 or alternatively paid to work on other infrastructure such as examples I replied to Brad with – each $ of econ impact from paying them would be the same.  Or if part of the impact is predicted future growth in property tax assessments as more residents moved to there after a 33 covering, well if those residents would’ve instead otherwise lived elsewhere in the city then that’s a shifting of demand/investment not a growth.