Canalside is at the heart of Buffalo’s waterfront revitalization. It’s located in the city’s downtown corridor, at the intersection of Pearl Street and Marine Drive. The grounds can be accessed through entrances at the foot of Main Street and on Scott Street, or by way of the Naval & Military Park, located on the northwestern edge of the harbor site.
Boaters can also visit Canalside via the Buffalo River. The harbor currently boasts over 1,000 feet of berthing space, with the ability to accommodate over 50 vessels daily and nearly 100 vessels for special events. Transient dockage fees are required, and an hourly rate applies for both water and electric service.
History of the Erie Canal Harbor.
The Erie Canal Harbor was originally built in 1825 as the western terminus of the Erie Canal. In its heyday, 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.
While Erie Canal Harbor and its “Central Wharf” represented the epicenter of commerce and trade in Buffalo, the surrounding canal district neighborhood enjoyed a much more ambiguous reputation. Home to a diverse cross-section of canal-era inhabitants and transient visitors, the district’s saloons, hotels and other establishments buzzed with activity, and the crime rate reflected it.
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 2005, when the Erie Canal Harbor Development Corporation was formed, and the area was reclaimed for restoration as one of America’s brightest historical treasures.
Today, Governor Andrew Cuomo and Erie Canal Harbor Development Corporation (ECHDC), a New York State agency, are leading the charge to revitalize this waterfront and restore economic growth to Buffalo. Under the governor’s leadership, we are driving daily progress along Buffalo’s waterfront and realizing a vision of renewed prosperity. Buffalo is on the way back—newly developed waterfront access, as well as the creation of new opportunities and public activities where there were none, clearly demonstrate our city’s resurgence. Welcome to the new Buffalo!