What Happened to Humboldt Parkway?
Famed landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted designed Humboldt Parkway to allow users to travel from Delaware Park to Parade Park (now MLK Park) without leaving the serenity of a park-like atmosphere. In the early 1900’s, 6 rows of large maple trees provided a canopy for the boulevard, creating a formal gateway to the Buffalo Museum of Science. In addition to providing much needed green space, Olmsted intended the parkways, Lincoln, Bidwell and Humboldt to connect neighborhoods.
Today, the Lincoln Parkway and Bidwell Parkways are still vital to their community’s attractiveness and serve as a respite from busy, urban life. In contrast, the Humboldt Parkway was destroyed to construct a commuter pathway for a suburban workforce going into the downtown centers of commerce.
The decision to destroy one of America’s tree lined Olmsted parkways and replace it with an expressway was introduced over 60 years ago, in spite of the opposition of Hamlin Park residents. Not only did the construction introduce a devastating change to their quality of life and look of their community, the construction caused physical damage to their homes and slashed property values. The planning decision to construct the Kensington Expressway brought decades of decay and decline of a once vibrant, clean, green, and beautiful neighborhood.
Dedicated community leaders from the Hamlin Park Taxpayers Association, Olmsted Parks Conservancy, Buffalo Museum of Science and the Black Chamber of Commerce as well as Humboldt Parkway community residents are actively pursuing the neighborhood revitalization. The neighborhood must be reconnected to the cultural and economic vibrancy of the city of Buffalo.