You don’t go too long these days without hearing some mention of the Canalside, Outer Harbor and Marina areas on local news. There is a good reason for that as it is a nice place to lose yourself for a bit. I went down the light up of the grain elevators on Tuesday evening and a lot of voices spoke of not having been down this way in awhile. While the cool display doesn’t take away from the fact, we’re not sure what to do with the elevators the rest of the time, it was nice to see people out about. I’m not quite sure how you get more people to take that chance to come down here other than encourage that (as “i’ve been down there since…”) (usually that next sentence references AM and A’s). So, here I am.
I’m a little bias as the canalside area is maybe five minutes from my door so it is easy for me to drift down there, but as the season is rapidly evaporating. The Hatch Restaurant has signs posted that they are done as of Sunday evening. And I understand if your travels don’t take into the city very often, but I want to suggest a little localized wanderlust when the warm weather returns (and perhaps even sooner).
It’s easy to snicker at the idea of a Buffalo waterfront resurgence when our then leaders acted a little too needy during that dalliance with Bass Pro. But consider this, over 200 events came to the canalside area during the summer months. There is more happening that just concerts. Car shows, exercise classes, plays, street buskers, a variety of festivals all landed over the summer. The recent Navy visit was “anchored” at Canalside. Erie Basin Marina was never more secure. The marina is seeing enough of an upturn that the long maligned Hatch needs to expand business. If you haven’t been to the Liberty Hound yet, you need to journey there as there is more than just carnival food on the water.
If it reads like I’ve drunken the kool-aid, I guess I have. The compilation of lots of little things are gathering their collective might to turn into something of substance. One of my preferred walking paths is to start at Erie Basin Marina and do a lap and connect down with canalside and if I’m feeling ambitious, journey behind First Niagara Center across Ohio Street over to the new Riverfest Park. Along the way, you see the locks of the canal being recreated, the Spirit of Buffalo, Miss Buffalo, the Moondance Cat and the water taxi all taking people onto the water. You’ll see folks enjoying food and drink at Templeton Landing, the aformentioned Liberty Hound, the Hatch, Clinton’s Dish and if you follow my path, it will take you down to the Swannie House, which has its own charms, if you know what I mean (and you do). I really believe that if we give folks a place to fall in the water, they will come out and probably want to eat something. I wrote in these hallowed pages about the progress of Gallagher Beach. That is the stretch of sand off the small boat harbor. It has its own boardwalk already and a pier dividing the water traffic. It was gratifying to read that Congressman Higgins has arranged funding to position part of Gallagher as a legitimate swimming hole. That is tremendous as a city beach will generate visitors. There are places for the food trucks to hang out, and even more business for the fearless folks who run Dug’s Dive (which, attention please, is now open year round).
My point in all of this is stuff is changing. Ignore downtown as that is a separate issue. If you live in one burb and work in another, it’s understandable how a portion of the city that isn’t Elmwood might not be on your radar. Drift down to the waterside as many have. There is no Bass Pro, Ikea or any other monument to other dumb ideas. It has however, become the one place where slews of different types of folks of all races, income brackets, social whatever, gather and have a really good time.
The phrase goes something like “there must be something in the water.” But I should tell you there is something to being along side it as well.