|The first of its kind in the United States, the Buffalo, New York system of interconnected parks and parkways (Project #00700) is one of the largest Olmsted bodies of work comprised of 24 park and parkway features. Designed between 1868 and 1915, the pioneering design duo of Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux conceived of a wonderful oasis that would allow visitors to travel from one park to another without leaving the serenity of these green spaces. Olmsted and Vaux initially prepared a design for Buffalo that consisted of three public grounds: a large 350-acre park featuring a naturalistic landscape, a public ceremonial space, and a military drill ground. All three grounds were connected through broad tree-lined “parkways,” which minimized all commercial traffic. |
The parkways were a new design feature by Olmsted, forming lush, green and shady passageways which provide visitors and neighbors a vast park experience throughout the city. The design concept was inspired by Joseph Ellicott’s radial street layout, which led Olmsted to proclaim Buffalo to be “the best-designed city in the country, if not the world.” During the 1901 Pan American Exposition, Buffalo was celebrated not only as the City of Light, but the City of Trees.
Today, Buffalo’s Olmsted Park System consists of six parks, seven parkways, eight landscaped circles, and three smaller spaces. The six major urban green spaces are Cazenovia Park, Delaware Park, Front Park, Martin Luther King, Jr., Park, Riverside Park, and South Park, which connect to and enhance a diverse set of neighborhoods. The Buffalo Olmsted Park System has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places since 1982. The Buffalo Olmsted Parks Conservancy has served in a nonprofit advocacy role since 1978, and has actively maintained 850 acres of the park system since 2004.
Want to learn more? Olmsted 200 Celebration Partner, the Library of American Landscape History, offers this look at the Olmsted/Vaux design in Buffalo.
Spotlight on… Buffalo’s Olmsted Park System
Olmsted 200 May 17, 2021