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Wayfinding comes to Canalside

If you’re not familiar with the history of the Buffalo waterfront (especially the Erie Canal), or the relatively new advancements underway at Canalside, then getting around can be tough. From figuring out where to park, to locating all of the amenities, where some people know how to get around blindfolded, there are others left scratching their heads simply trying to make sense of the entire thing.

We must remember, for the overall expanse of the waterfront history, few people ever interacted with this part of the city unless it had something to do with commerce or nautical means (sailing, boating). Therefore, the general population was left out in the cold. The renaissance of the Buffalo waterfront is still completely unfamiliar to many people who live in the region.

The Erie Canal Harbor Development Corporation (ECHDC) Board of Directors has approved a wayfinding measure that will hopefully alleviate these issues. 

The signage program is tasked with many functions: wayfinding (both pedestrian and vehicular), disseminating the Canalside brand and graphic standards, identifying amenities, parking and street names, educating through historic interpretive panels and/or electronic displays, and providing major site or ‘gateway’ elements.

“The 1.5 million visitors coming to Canalside each year will benefit from well-placed, well-designed signs that help them find their way to the wide variety of activities available on the waterfront,” said Robert Gioia, ECHDC Chairman. “All signs point to Governor Cuomo’s continued success with transforming the waterfront into a destination the entire region can be proud of for generations to come.”

The signs scheduled to be fabricated and installed include landmark totems, markers, beacons, vehicular directional, pedestrian directional, street and parking identification signs, and a gateway sign. 

According to the ECHDC, “The project will be complete by the Spring of 2018 but visitors will start seeing some of the new signage up this winter.”

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Written by Buffalo Rising

Buffalo Rising

Sometimes the authors at Buffalo Rising work on collaborative efforts in order to cover various events and stories. These posts can not be attributed to one single author, as it is a combined effort. Often times a formation of a post gets started by one writer and passed along to one or more writers before completion. At times there are author attributions at the end of one of these posts. Other times, “Buffalo Rising” is simply offered up as the creator of the article. In either case, the writing is original to Buffalo Rising.

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  • mightyNiagara

    wouldn’t it be wiser to include the entire city, all of it’s attractions and places to go?
    Canalside is incredibly small, how hard is it to find? Dont know where it is? head to the river.
    Is directional signage absolutely necessary to point people
    the great lawn? see big open space of grass? go there. the docks? see water? go there.
    the “canals”? see something looks like a giant manmade pond, go there.
    look around, utilize those powers of observation and general direction.
    Need to park? pretty much any of those streets that go to it, you can park on.

  • bufforward

    Can we get a decent public restroom down there already?

    • It’s “supposed” to happen this off-season for next year. Keyword: “Supposed to” (located next to the museum in that grassy area).

  • RichardSmehlik

    Canalside Maps:

    • That s about all they can put on it at the moment.

    • Matt Gracie

      Bathrooms (coming in 2023!) —>

    • Don’t forget giant-ass hole in the ground.

  • townline

    Wayfinding – a sure fire indication that the design of your city is shit.

    • Dylan Burns

      Not true. A well-designed city allows people to navigate by a variety of methods (landmarks, street names, building names, etc.). People need to know what and where these landmarks are before they can navigate by them.

      • mightyNiagara

        sure. canalside is tiny, you need what? one post? turning your neck to look around your immediate horizon you’ll find more, quickly, than looking at a directional post.
        if the wayfinding project were implemented throughout the city, then it’d be a true benefit.

  • eagercolin

    So the ECHDC put out a press release to announce that they’re putting up some signs?

    • They need all the positive press then can get. What other progress have you seen lately at Canalside (besides the children’s museum that seems to be moving at a snail’s pace and basically seems to be thwarting any people from walking to those canals. The paddle boats took a huge hit this year).

  • BuffaloGals

    Maybe if there were some buildings obstructing the view of the entire area, these signs would be necessary. But seeing as ECHDC can’t seem to get anything done down here you have a pretty clear view of one side of canalside to the other without signs telling you which way the river is.

  • 300miles

    We can joke about it, but some signage is necessary. There is still a big visual disconnect between the different parts of the waterfront. People who aren’t familiar with canalside aren’t going to easily figure out where the Marina/Hatch, or the naval park, or where the children’s beach is, or even “which one is the canal?” (And yes I’ve heard questions like that from visitors)

    • mightyNiagara

      the state put up a bunch of directional signage this past spring; exit ramps, parking, directional point of interest, etc.

      • Those were more generic state-looking signs. These are at least representative of the “Canalside Look”, if you will. I like the idea, I just don’t know what they’re going to point to other than the naval park that people won’t be able to find just by looking.

        • mightyNiagara

          nah, i’ve seen city theme signs downtown which point in the direction of canal side. the state did that.
          there’s nothing bad about these poi signage posts but, they only really need one, at perry and pearl street. maybe one at main and marine, done.

        • 300miles

          ” I just don’t know what they’re going to point to”
          Off the top of my head: Kayak rentals, where to Eat, the bike ferry to outer harbor, the children’s beach, the Marina, the canals, where to rent skates and paddleboats, where to park, RiverFest park, large boat rentals (Miss Buffalo, Moondance, Spirit of Buffalo, etc), and where’s the metro stop.

          • Most of those all point in the same direction, the boardwalk.

          • 300miles

            I was thinking about signage around canalside itself but it looks like that’s not their intent. I just noticed the map showing signs around all of downtown, so scale-wise I guess we’re talking about two different things.

          • Yea, after reading into it more, it shows that it includes most of downtown directing towards certain attractions, not JUST the Canalside district pointing to attractions at Canalside.

          • bettybarcode

            The first time I took the bike ferry, I had to ask someone where to board. It is far from obvious.

        • mightyNiagara

          do they really need to have a “canalside look” though? why cant it be the city of buffalo half bison/half ensign look? whatever, yea, one post at perry/marine/pearl, naval park there if you can’t see it, sandbox over there at the far end, a giant open space of grass here and a canal footprint there.

  • It’s cute, but where are they directing people to?
    Aside from the Naval Park itself, the rest of Canalside is a bunch of pop-up crap for kids, and a whole lot of nothing. No offense to it, but this “bigger, faster, cheaper” model doesn’t bode to well when all you got are streets with nothing on them.

    • Louis Tully

      Lighter, faster, cheaper was to get the thing off the ground while ECHDC executed a long-term, master plan. ECHDC is like the George Costanza of state entities: look busy so people will leave you alone. My understanding anyway. But, hey, they got two more (tiny) parcels out for RFP. We’ll see how many years past that October 5 due date something actually gets built.

  • Chris Ostrander

    Gonna need a ton of signs to differentiate all of the temporary shipping containers

  • nyc_lines

    “All signs point to Governor Cuomo’s continued success with transforming
    the waterfront into a destination the entire region can be proud of for
    generations to come.”

    good grief, nauseating statements like this make clear the forethought behind these moves are all political and reaffirms a lack of real vision and expertise to build out Canalside. Just a big circle jerk.

  • Matthew Moje

    If BRO would have included the map on this article when the article first went live half these comments wouldn’t be needed….. Do a little more research before jumping the gun….

  • breckenridge

    The jokes about signage to navigate within Canalside are well deserved. However working downtown I am often asked how to get to Canalside by people in cars and on foot around the central business district. Especially before Pearl St. was 2-way, the Pearl/Swan/Erie St area was pretty hard to describe and I imagine to navigate for someone unfamiliar with the area.

  • lmt

    Street or ramp park, take the free metro. That’s what I tell people to do.

  • I wonder if Erie St will ever be opened to vehicular traffic.