By Peyton Leftwich
On any given day in Canalside you can see families bustling around enjoying the boardwalk, the naval park and more opportunities that weren’t even imaginable just 15 years ago.
Canalside is a constantly developing place that is increasingly popular. Starting in 2004, buildings began springing up on the once desolate downtown area. Presently, a mix of new attractions and outdoor green space has attracted locals and tourists alike to the waterfront area. City planners and developers are also working toward creating new living and retail space.
Julie Tahan, a mother who was visiting her hometown from Princeton New Jersey, said that she has seen steady improvement downtown on her yearly trips home.
“I think back then and everybody thought Buffalo was a joke and in some ways that the downtown was kind of dying,” said Tahan. “It was just deserted buildings, so this has been a really nice transition.”
Chris Hawley, a city employee with the planning department, said that the Canalside history has been instrumental in renewing the popularity of the downtown area. Among the accomplishments a revitalized waterfront brings, the city will be able to rebuild a once influential neighborhood in the heart of downtown.
“If that’s successful I think we’ll have a completely different relationship culturally and economically between the citizens of Buffalo and the waterfront,” said Hawley.
Mary Katherine, a mother and museum member, said that Canalside is the place that comes to mind when she has a free day to go somewhere and do something with her children.
“I grew up in Buffalo and I would have never come down here before,” Katherine said. “They’ve done so much, even just going for a walk around the water, this museum, there’s restaurants and it’s pretty awesome.”
Jeannine Weber-Kahabka is the marketing and public relations director at the Explore and More children’s museum. She said the museum’s canal exhibit not only provides children with a new experience, but also with some history on Buffalo. She wanted to make the exhibit more interactive-based, so it isn’t just a museum, it teaches the children to appreciate where they live, and it provides them with insight on the history of Buffalo.
“When children are exposed to something that they haven’t considered before, you’re turning on a switch of interest and nobody can turn that switch off,” said Weber- Kahabka. “I want children to learn about themselves and figure out what’s interesting to them. If you don’t expose a child to the consideration of becoming a lab technician or to finding the cure to cancer, they may never consider to take that path.”
There are so many things that make Buffalo itself and Canalside has added a great amount of community and significance back to a once bustling area of the Queen City.