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“The beginning of the end for Robert Moses Parkway will restore Olmsted’s vision”

This article was published in Buffalo News November 18, 2014.

A “riverway,” at top, will replace part of the Robert Moses Parkway, bottom.

“The beginning of the end for Robert Moses Parkway will restore Olmsted’s vision

Robert Moses was a complicated man who left a complicated legacy. He was the powerful state development official responsible for some spectacular public achievements, including New York City’s Triborough Bridge and Long Island’s Jones Beach, but also for some long-lasting disasters, prominent of which in these parts is the Niagara County parkway that carries his name. Its damage is about to be undone.

The Robert Moses Parkway begins at the North Grand Island Bridge, then sweeps west along the Niagara River, cutting city residents off from one of the world’s most famous and spectacular waterways. The City of Niagara Falls interrupts its path, but it soon resumes its destructive course, cutting the city’s North Side off from one of the world’s most famous and spectacular waterways. Farther north, the parkway moves inland and is, for the most part, innocuous and useful.

But now, as part of Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s Buffalo Billion, much of the parkway will be reconfigured to restore the riverfront to the righteous vision of Frederick Law Olmsted, the 19th century designer of Niagara Falls State Park, the country’s first state park. Once again, it will become a place of beauty, where visitors can appreciate the splendor of the upper river, free from the scar that is the Robert Moses Parkway.

The work has been in the planning for two years, but last week work began. The project will remove a 1-mile stretch of the parkway and replace it with a “riverway” – a stretch that will improve pedestrian access to the river, as Olmsted wanted.

Specifically, a section of the parkway west of John B. Daly Boulevard will be converted from four lanes to two; the two eastbound lanes between the park and Daly Boulevard have sat unused for nearly 25 years.

In addition, the overpass at the interchange between the parkway and Daly Boulevard will be removed and replaced with a roundabout. An embankment that propped up the parkway will be lowered, making the river more easily visible. Nature areas will be added, including a small pond and a more extensive system of trails along the river. There will also be a new path to the water from Buffalo Avenue near the First Street bridge over to Goat Island.

And that’s just what is happening along the upper river. Plans are also in the works to remove the section of the parkway that blocks North Side residents from the Niagara River Gorge, which in its tumultuous, churning current is nearly as spectacular as the falls, themselves.

Moses elevated the automobile above all other concerns. It was the way of the future, he believed, and all resources had to be marshaled to its benefit. No price was too high to pay in disruption or even suffering. But here, more than 50 years after the parkway’s construction, the mistake is being fixed.

The natural resource that Western New York has in abundance is water, and in some of its most breathtaking configurations. Access to that resource was stolen away, and not just in Niagara County. With this project, Western New Yorkers are beginning to get back what is theirs. That counts as a big day.”

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Renovating homes in the Hamlin Park Neighborhood

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“Hamlin Park neighborhood envisions change”

The Buffalo News

Below article was featured in Buffalo News, July 22, 2014.

“Hamlin Park neighborhood envisions change

To the people gathered Tuesday evening around the wooden-block model of the Hamlin Park neighborhood on Buffalo’s East Side, it seemed like an exact replica, except for one small but significant detail.

Between East Ferry Street and the Buffalo Science Museum at Best Street, the Route 33 Kensington Expressway disappeared. It went into a tunnel. At grade level, it looked like what it was before the six-lane road was built in the 1960s – a tree-lined Frederick Law Olmsted parkway.

This “green parkway” plan is the vision of the Restore Our Community Coalition, a group of more than 20 East Side civic and faith-based organizations, who put the model on display outside the Cummings Room at the Science Museum as a preview to a public meeting on the project.”

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“Humboldt Parkway, The Dream of a “Green Parkway””

Below article was featured in Buffalo Rising July 18, 2014.

“Humboldt Parkway, The Dream of a “Green Parkway”

Neighbors living around Humboldt Parkway are rallying together in hopes that one day they might see the revitalization of their neighborhood, with a transition from freeway to “Green Parkway”. A new University at Buffalo study/report* brings to light the huge economic impact that would be realized if the project was to come to fruition (exceeding $1 billion – property values, construction employment of hundreds of jobs, etc). The area that is most impacted by the transition stretches the length between the Fillmore Business District and the Jefferson Street Business District.”

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“Restoring Humbolt Parkway Community Meeting July 22nd”

This article appeared in July 18, 2014.

“Restoring Humbolt Parkway Community Meeting July 22nd

Because of the persistence of neighbors and institutions around Humboldt Parkway, the dream of a “Green Parkway” to restore the community is coming into clearer vision.  A new University at Buffalo report has been released, which documents the economic impact of a restored Humboldt Parkway.   In a study commissioned by the New York State Department of Transportation (NYSDOT), the UB School of Architecture and Planning in conjunction with its Regional Institute Urban Design Project, a team of experts led by principal investigator, Robert Shibley, has ascertained that such a project would have a minimal regional economic impact exceeding $1 Billion and construction employment of hundreds of jobs.  In the best case scenario, the impact would catalyze the complete revitalization of an area from the Fillmore Business District to the Jefferson Street Business District and the residential neighborhoods in between.  Such revitalization would spur new mixed-use development, improving property values and household wealth.”

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“Now is the Time to Demand the Downgrading of Buffalo’s Expressways”

Below article/image was featured in Buffalo Rising, and posted by Mike Puma, August 2, 2013.

“Now is the Time to Demand the Downgrading of Buffalo’s Expressways

This post (everything after this paragraph) was written by Bradley Bethel Jr. who is active in many east side organizations and movements including the Restoring Our Community Coalition, which is working with the NYSDOT for capping a portion of the Kensington Expressway and restoring a part of Olmsted’s vision for the east side with Humboldt Parkway.”

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“A Buffalo Neighborhood Renews Its Olmsted Legacy (2012)”

Below article appeared in Library of American Landscape History.

“A Buffalo Neighborhood Renews Its Olmsted Legacy (2012)

Humboldt Park, Buffalo, New York

When Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux began work on the nation’s first comprehensive municipal park system in 1869, Buffalo was the eighth largest city in the country and one of the busiest ports on earth. Functioning as the gateway to the Midwest via the Erie Canal and the Great Lakes, the city offered the partners an opportunity to improve an existing grid with a green network of parks and sinuous parkways. Late in life, Olmsted declared Buffalo to be “the best planned city, as to its streets, public places, and grounds, in the United States, if not the world.””

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“Bury This Big Mistake”

Below is an article featured in Artvoice March 3, 2010. Images used in the article were provided to Artvoice by David Torke.

Photo by David Torke.

“Bury This Big Mistake

Transportation officials begin studying several expensive ways — and one intriguing bargain — to reclaim Humboldt Parkway.

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