In Buffalo, you are never far from a park, swath of grass, stand of trees, bike path, picnic table, or bench along the waterfront.
Buffalo has an entire park system designed by Frederick Law Olmsted—that’s the same guy who designed New York City’s Central and Prospect Parks. (We’ll hazard to say that Olmsted is one of the only landscape designers Americans might know by name.)
Olmsted was invited to Buffalo after having designed Central Park with his partner, Calvert Vaux, in 1868. When he arrived and viewed the landscape and Buffalo’s city layout, he decreed that so lovely and so deserving was the area, he envisioned a connected park system for the then-booming town.
The result, completed over about 10 years, is six major parks, seven parkways, and eight traffic circles, where the populace can (and does) make daily use of playgrounds, basketball courts, baseball diamonds, soccer fields, golf courses, running tracks, tennis courts, paths, trails, etc.
Many of the city’s cultural attractions, like the Albright-Knox Art Gallery, the Buffalo History Museum, the Buffalo Museum of Science, the Buffalo Zoo and the Buffalo and Erie County Botanical Gardens, are located within or adjacent to an Olmsted park.
Delaware Park is the system’s anchor, and within its 350 acres you can see art, attend a free outdoor Shakespeare performance, hear live music, shop a farmers’ market, take a ride in a rowboat, or simply breathe in the fresh air.
Lush parkways emanating from Delaware Park are lined with some of the city’s loveliest homes; the park is surrounded by great neighborhoods like the Elmwood Village, Parkside, North Park, Park Meadow, and Central Park.
Martin Luther King, Jr. Park is another centerpiece of the Olmsted Parks. With recent upgrades, and support from the city, it features a summertime splash pad for cooling down and free ice skating, including free skates, in the colder months. With plenty of room for picnicking, it’s also home to many community events, festivals, and concerts.
Look no further than Riverside Park for views of the powerful Niagara River rolling by, while enjoying restorative landscaping and a river rock garden.
Soon, LaSalle Park, the largest waterfront park in the city, and the recipient of a shared $200 million grant from the Ralph J. Wilson, Jr. Foundation, will undergo a major renovation. Plans include adding a lagoon and beefing up the area’s trails and pathways.
Throughout the parks are historical markers and signage with Buffalo highlights. If you’re interested in more history or want a free, private tour, try the Olmsted app; it’s free and has all kinds of fun and useful info!
From urban cross-country skiing in the winter to a round of frisbee-golf and grilling with friends in the spring and summer, the parks are gathering spots for Buffalonians. Join us!