The Buffalo Blueway is an expanding network of safe and visible public access along the waterways of Buffalo. This interconnected water trail system will provide new and enhanced access to water recreation activities like paddling, fishing and boating. The Blueway will also establish links to the Greenway systems, cultural attractions and commercial corridors. The Buffalo Blueway is our waterway system connected by paddle sport launches, which use existing landmarks and newly installed public art pieces to create a waterfront trail in Western New York.
The Buffalo Blueway links the Niagara River Greenway to our waterfront in an expanded network of access and recreation. This Blueway-to-Greenway network forges together history, culture and nature to spur tourism, inspire healthy lifestyles and spark revitalization. The Buffalo Blueway access sites strategically connect existing assets and attractions and feature wayfinding and beacons to guide and attract patrons.
Writings by European missionaries and explorers from the 1600s describe the lower Buffalo River as an extensive marsh with temporary hunting and fishing camps built by native people along its shore. By the late 1700s, the area had begun to rapidly develop and the river was deemed a suitable spot to dispose of sanitary waste. The Buffalo River was a small stream with intermittent flows during the summer, just deep enough to float a canoe and originally spread out to form large cattail marshes at its mouth.
The completion of the Erie Canal in 1825 drastically reduced the costs and time necessary to ship goods from New York City to the Midwest. The invention of the grain elevator by Joseph Dart even further revolutionized industrial growth, and the Buffalo River became an ideal location for many industries dependent on shipping. Unfortunately, many of those same industries were also the dominant cause of pollution in the Buffalo River and Lake Erie, using the waterways to dispose of their waste. The wetlands that had surrounded the river and provided critical habitat were eliminated because of dredging and development.
The Buffalo River was declared “dead” in 1967 but began the road to recovery through the Clean Water Act of 1972. And in 1987, the International Joint Commission upgraded the Buffalo River to an “Area of Concern.”
Friends of the Buffalo River, now Buffalo Niagara Waterkeeper, have spent the past 30 years improving the environmental health of the Buffalo River and local tributaries.