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Olmsted 200: Restoring the Grand Staircase in Delaware Park

It’s all well and good to build striking new buildings on the Albright-Knox campus. At the same time, it’s just as important to maintain the park grounds that serve as the bucolic home for the gallery.

At long last, some critical historic restoration efforts are planned for Delaware Park, including the Grand Staircase restoration project. This is the staircase that leads from the Albright-Knox to Delaware Park and Gala Waters (Hoyt Lake). As the Buffalo Olmsted Conservancy wraps up capital fundraising for the preservation effort, it is anticipated that preparatory site work will get underway in the fall of 2021. The restoration project coincides with the 200th birth year of Frederick Law Olmsted. A ribbon cutting for the iconic stairs will be held in late 2022.

“The Grand Staircase symbolizes a tangible connector in our historic park system and true to Olmsted’s design principles it serves as public access to valuable parkland.  The staircase is one of, if not the oldest original park feature,” said Stephanie Crockatt, Conservancy Executive Director.  “To celebrate this achievement as part of Olmsted’s 200th year would be magnificently appropriate in tribute to this amazing man and Buffalo’s Olmsted park system. We are grateful for our dedicated partners, neighbors and donors and hope we can inspire anyone and everyone who uses these iconic stairs to help us reach our goal.”

From generation to generation, the staircase has played a pivotal role in celebrations, weddings, festivals, and simply day-to-day comings and goings of park visitors. Unfortunately, it has become clear that the central feature has deteriorated in ways that require immediate attention. From a crumbling foundation to sizable cracks in the stairs, periodic repairs are no longer enough to address the situation.

“From weddings to proms and graduations, numerous memories are enhanced and visually captured at the Grand Staircase year after year,” said Delaware District Councilmember Joel Feroleto. “I’m very supportive of this project for the community and especially applaud the Conservancy’s directive to clean and reuse as many of the historic granite stones as possible.”

Altogether, the construction project is anticipated to cost $700K. A private donor has “stepped up” to provide $100K, while the Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation is matching $300K toward the remainder. To date, The Conservancy has raised $55K from the community*, which means that $245K is required to hit the cost target goal.

“The Ralph C. Wilson Jr. Foundation is honored to be part of this project. The history and significance of this staircase is part of the Olmsted legacy in Delaware Park and represents a cultural and community connection we strongly encourage and support,” said JJ Tighe, Director of Parks & Trails Initiative for the Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation.

To learn more about this project or its funding, please visit or reach out to Stephanie Crockatt, Executive Director, and Catie Stephenson, Director of Development & Communications, at 716-838-1249.  To learn more about the national Olmsted 200 initiative in 2022, visit

*All donors will receive special recognition and any donor contributing $5,000 or more will receive a commemorative signifying paver at the Siegel Landing near the staircase.

Historic photos of Delaware Park, courtesy of Jim Mendola

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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