A Revitalization

Governor Kathy Hochul and the Erie Canal Harbor Development Corporation (ECHDC) are leading the charge to revitalize Buffalo's waterfront and restore economic growth to Buffalo. Over the past 10+ years, ECHDC, a subsidiary of Empire State Development, has spearheaded projects along Buffalo’s waterfront to help Buffalo and Western New York realize a vision of renewed prosperity. Buffalo is experiencing a renaissance - and newly developed waterfront access, as well as new buildings, public spaces and activities where there once were none, are helping to drive our city’s resurgence. Look no further than the work ECHDC has done at Canalside and the Outer Harbor!

Ruins in Buffalo, NY

“The Gateway to the West”

The Erie Canal Harbor was originally built in 1825 as the western terminus of the Erie Canal. In its heyday Buffalo, known as America’s “Gateway to the West”, was one of the world’s greatest business centers, teeming with canal and rail traffic passing from the Atlantic seaboard across the Great Lakes. For much of the 19th century, it was truly an industrious port that bustled with people and goods from all over the world.

As a result of this prodigious commercial activity, by 1850 Buffalo was transformed from a small waterfront village into a thriving metropolis—eventually becoming the largest inland port in the nation as well as the unofficial grain capital of North America.

The arrival of trains and automobiles in the early 20th century led to the ultimate demise of Erie Canal Harbor as a functional hub of commerce. In time, the site was covered over with stone and dirt to make way for modern streets and vehicle parking.

The harbor rested in this state until the 2000s, when the Erie Canal Harbor Development Corporation (ECHDC) was formed, and Buffalo's waterfront was reclaimed for restoration.

Explore the timeline below to see the journey of transformation that ECHDC has led to revive the Buffalo Waterfront.

Buffalo Waterfront Timeline

  • Crowd at Central Wharf Opening

    2008 - May - Canalside's Central Wharf opens

    A ceremonial 'Wedding of the Waters' is held to commemorate the opening of Canalside and the Central Wharf.
  • Memorial Auditorium Demolition in Buffalo, NY

    2009 - January - Demolition of Memorial Auditorium begins

    ECHDC begins demolition of the long-vacant Memorial Auditorium, making way for the development of the Canals at Canalside.
  • Outdoor Yoga

    2009 - Summer - Canalside hosts its first summer of events

    Yoga, history tours, children's activities - less than 200 events were held at Canalside it's first summer. Today Canalside hosts over 1,000 events year-round, most of which remain free to the public!
  • Concert at Buffalo Waterfront

    2011 - Summer - Canalside begins hosting concerts

    Buffalo Place begins hosting the "Thursday at the Harbor" concert series at Canalside in 2011 until 2013. "Canalside Live", as the series is now known, remains a popular draw to the waterfront.
  • Liberty Hound 2019

    2012 - May - Canalside's first restaurant, Liberty Hound, opens

    The Liberty Hound served it's first plate of truffle fries in 2012. While ECHDC assisted in the fit-out of the restaurant, located inside the Naval and Military Park, the Hound's continued popularity is due to it's delicious food and beautiful views of the Canalside area!
  • Ribbon Cutting Ceremony at Wilkeson Pointe

    2013 - May - ECHDC completes and opens Wilkeson Pointe

    Wilkeson Pointe was the first ECHDC-owned parcel of land on the Outer Harbor. Redeveloped into a beautiful public space with wind sculptures, beach volleyball, a small playground, and berms with incredible views of Lake Erie. Wilkeson Pointe was named after Samuel Wilkeson- a former mayor of Buffalo who played an integral role in bringing the terminus of the Erie Canal to Buffalo.
  • Donovan Office to One Canalside Transformation

    2013 - November - One Canalside opens

    ECHDC remediated the vacant Donovan state office building and sold it to Benderson Development Co. who transformed the building into One Canalside- a mixed use building that has hotel, office, and restaurant space!
  • 2014 - February - NFTA transfers 354 acres of Outer Harbor land to ECHDC

    The Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority officially transferred it's vast Outer Harbor property to ECHDC, paving the way for future activation and access projects to breathe life into the mostly blighted, former industrial land.
  • Shark Girl Selfie With Teens

    2014 - August - Shark Girl arrives at Canalside

    Shark Girl, one of Canalside's most famous residents, is brought to Canalside as part of a public art initiative between ECHDC, the Albright Knox Art Gallery, and Erie County.
  • Ohio Street Completed Picture

    2014 - Fall - Ohio Street corridor project is completed, helping connect Inner and Outer Harbor

    ECHDC completes the reconstruction of Ohio Street into a pedestrian and bicycle friendly parkway, creating a link from the Canalside area to the Outer Harbor.
  • Harborcenter From Canalside

    2014 - Fall - Harborcenter opens

    HARBORCENTER - Canalside's second major private development project - is a mixed use entertainment center that includes a Marriott hotel, 2 indoor hockey rinks, a fitness center, and restaurants. Terry and Kim Pegula funded the project on what was previously a surface level parking lot.
  • Ice at Canalside in 2015

    2014 - December - Canals and ice skating open to the public

    ECHDC cuts the ribbon on the historically aligned Canals, which are frozen in the winter to become the Ice at Canalside, New York State's largest outdoor skating rink. In the summer the Canals are a beautiful and peaceful water feature where visitors can relax or rent a paddle boat!
  • Buffalo Harbor State Park

    2015 - May - Buffalo Harbor State Park opens on the Outer Harbor

    Buffalo Harbor State Park is the first state park in the city of Buffalo. Boasting beautiful views of Lake Erie, the park is home to a 1,100 slip marina, a restaurant, boat launches, personal watercraft launches, fish cleaning station, restrooms, and a beach for strolling and sunbathing, and a nautical themed playground great for kids of all ages.
  • Queen City Ferry Docked At Canalside

    2015 - May - ECHDC launches the Queen City Ferry, connecting Canalside to the Outer Harbor

    The ECHDC-funded Queen City Ferry takes pedestrians and bicyclists from Canalside to the Outer Harbor and back for $1.00 each way!
  • Grain Silo Night

    2015 - November - Connecting Terminal Grain Elevator lighting premieres

    The Connecting Terminal Grain Elevator Illumination is every night from sundown-11pm and can be viewed from anywhere at Canalside.
  • Queen City Ferry Landing

    2016 - May - Queen City Ferry landing opens at Outer Harbor

    ECHDC opens the bike and pedestrian friendly landing for the QCF on the Outer Harbor, just across the river from Canalside, helping make pickup and dropoffs faster and easier for the popular Ferry.
  • Childrens Museum Exterior

    2019 - May - Explore & More Children's Museum opens

  • Outer-Harbor-Bike-Park_Aerial

    2019 - May - Lakeside Bike Park opens at the Outer Harbor

  • Outer Harbor projects Map

    2019 - Outer Harbor Preferred Master Plan

    In June 2019, ECHDC released their "preferred master plan" for three distinct zones along the Outer Harbor: First Buffalo River Marina, Wilkeson Pointe to Bell Slip, and Terminal B
  • North Aud Block map

    2019 - In progress: North Aud Block Development Plan

    Preliminary site design concepts are complete and can be viewed at https://buffalowaterfront.com/northaudblock. Throughout the project, the ECHDC has sought feedback from stakeholders and members of the public through interviews, small group meetings, a design workshop, an online survey and public open houses.
  • Longshed Aerial Shot

    2020 - October - Canalside's Longshed Opens

    The Longshed at Canalside's Central Wharf is an approximately 5,000 square foot building that, for it's first 3 years after completion will be home to the Buffalo Maritime Center as they build a replica of Governor DeWitt Clinton’s 1825 Erie Canal packet boat. During construction, the public will be invited for lectures and tours and can even volunteer to help build the vessel!
  • Buffalo Heritage Carousel

    2021 - Buffalo Heritage Carousel

    Opening Summer 2021, the Buffalo Heritage Carousel is located on the Canalside Boardwalk. This historic Spillman Engineering Corporation menagerie park carousel was built in North Tonawanda in 1924, operated at various locations in Massachusetts until 1954, and stored until 2016 when it was brought home to WNY and meticulously restored for families to enjoy again!