The heart of Buffalo’s waterfront revitalisation is Canalside, formerly the western terminus of the Erie Canal. Today this historical district is rich with new development including restaurants, hotels, the Central Wharf boardwalk and docks, and reconstructed canals and truss bridge walkways. Located on the shore of Lake Erie, Canalside is bounded by the Buffalo and Erie County Naval & Military Park, and adjacent to HarborCenter and KeyBank Center (home of the Buffalo Sabres hockey team).
During it’s peak, Buffalo was America’s “Gateway to the West” and one of the world’s most important business centers, connecting shipping traffic from the Atlantic seaboard to the western states across the Great Lakes. Originally built in 1825, the Erie Canal Harbor became an epicenter of trade and commerce in the northeast for much of the 19th century, and was the country’s largest inland port.
The emergence of rail and automotive transport in the early 20th century eventually led to the demise of Erie Canal Harbor as a viable trade hub, and like much of Buffalo itself, the area fell on to hard times. The canals were filled in and covered as roads and parking lots, and essentially forgotten – until it was reclaimed and restored in 2005 as a site worthy of the canal’s important historical heritage. Since then, additional work has continued including replicating the original canals and bridges.