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Reversing past mistakes at MLK Park

Over the weekend, I took my dog for a walk at Olmsted’s Martin Luther King Park (originally known as “the Parade”). I was pleasantly surprised to see that work was underway on the Shelter House. The rehabilitation of the Shelter House is part of Olmsted Conservancy’s 20-Year Management and Restoration Plan. For years, this building has not been open to the general public, although some have suggested that select groups have had access to the building.

Upon returning home, I went online to take a look at some historic images of the Shelter House, as well as the park grounds and amenities.

This historic 1906 map prompted me to take a closer look at a photo that I had taken of a concrete buffalo bust earlier in the day.

It was then that I realized that the concrete wall, where the bust was located, was formerly the site of the original fountain (currently there are basketball courts).

After realizing that the location of the basketball courts was once the site of a historic fountain, I took a look at another photo that showed an abandoned municipal swimming pool, which was situated in-between the basketball courts (the historic fountain) and the Shelter House.

That’s when I realized that the abandoned pool was actually the site of the original plant basin, which connected the Shelter House to the fountain.

It’s plain to easy to see how badly we messed up Olmsted’s plan for this park. Somewhere along the line, someone thought that it was a good idea to convert the historic plant basin into a swimming pool, and cover the historic fountain with basketball courts.

Fortunately, the Conservancy’s 20-Year Management and Restoration Plan shows that these historic features will be restored. Now that the Humboldt Basin is back in working order (splash pad), and it looks as if work is underway on repairing the Shelter House, slowly but surely we are seeing the restoration of the Parade grounds, as they were intended to be. 

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, Buffalo Porchfest, and Paint vs. Paint. Founder of The Peddler retro and vintage market on Elmwood. Instigator behind Liberty Hound @ Canalside. Throws The Witches Ball at Statler City, the Hertel Alley Street Art Festival, and The Flutterby Festival.

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