Just beneath the ground of Buffalo's Inner Harbor lie the intact cobblestone streets of the original neighborhood that surrounded Buffalo's terminus of the Erie Canal.
These streets are among the oldest structures in the city, predating the Holland Land Survey. They date to the time when Buffalo was a village, when all commercial activity radiated outward from the harbor and well-worn paths were made into cobblestone streets.
The terminus of the canal and the neighborhood that surrounded it is the "birthplace," both literally and figuratively, of our community. The activity that radiated out of this site is the reason we are here. All our Buffalo family stories were influenced by the commercial activity that originated in this neighborhood. It is a unique, historical site that distinguishes our community from any other.
As a potential tourist attraction, we could not buy better exposure. Just about every literate person has had a smattering of U.S. history, which would have included mention of the Erie Canal. This is the kind of historic resource we would expect to find in Europe, not in our own back yard. Unfortunately, with minor exception, in the rush to copy Baltimore's Inner Harbor, Buffalo's planners have approved a plan that virtually ignores the organic street pattern of intact cobblestone streets that lie just beneath the surface of Buffalo's first neighborhood.
The Inner Harbor Plan that is about to be imposed on us could have been built anywhere that land meets water. We deserve better than this.