During the city's heyday, Buffalo served as the vital western terminus for ships on the manmade Erie Canal. Bustling with visitors who used it as the “gateway to the west,” the Erie Canal helped to launch the development of Buffalo as a port city. The introduction of automobiles and trains made the port obsolete. Yet in recent years, the historic Canalside district has witnessed a renaissance, as people return to Buffalo’s forgotten waterways. A busy summer day at Buffalo's Canalside — Photo courtesy of Canalside Buffalo
In 2005, the Canalside district was reclaimed for restoration. Now, the city is continuing a $315 million development that has already transformed the 23-acre waterfront area into a thriving attraction.
Several sail boats and other vessels are offering waterfront tours, including the “Spirit of Buffalo,” a stunning and tall sailing ship that hosts a pirate cruise or wine and sunset sail. Visitors can also join Buffalo River History Tours for a guided walking and boat tour to learn about the Erie Canal, the grain elevators and silos, Buffalo’s architecture and other cultural information. One of the many concerts in the new Canalside — Photo courtesy of Visit Buffalo Niagara and Buffalo Place
Throughout the summer, more than 100 events - including live outdoor performances from national acts (like G Love and Special Sauce, Counting Crows and Justin Bieber) - are drawing crowds. Artisan markets, book signings, history tours, outdoor movies, food and culture festivals, art shows and pub crawls are just a few of the other events that are giving people a reason to “see what’s going on” at Canalside.
During the Buffalo Maritime Festival in September, crowds visit the Buffalo and Erie County Naval and Military Park, grab a bite at the numerous food truck vendors, take in a show or have a pint at the beer garden at the newly-opened Liberty Hound pub.
Hands-on learning activities hosted by Explore and More Children's Museum bring families with little ones to Canalside, and plans are already underway to move the museum to the waterfront permanently.
Locals and tourists can easily let a day slip by relaxing in a brightly-colored Bermuda chair, joining in outdoor yoga or taking a kayak out for a spin. On select dates, there’s even an archaeological dig to uncover more of Buffalo's past.
Directly in front of the First Niagara Center, the new HARBORCenter is being developed and will include a three-rink complex for ice skating and hockey, a two-story restaurant and sports bar and a Marriott Hotel.
Replica canals are also being constructed throughout the area, in addition to a wharf with docking space for recreational boaters and a sand beach area. This new phase of the HARBORCenter is slated to open in fall of 2014.Night at the Canalside — Photo courtesy of Canalside Buffalo