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A part of our local history that speaks not only to Buffalo's past, but to the history of the United States and of the world, is about to be plowed under the ground, perhaps never to resurface. I speak of the wonderful archaeological site near the Naval Park, where the remains of the Erie Canal terminus and the streets and buildings that surround it have been uncovered.

Standing at this site today, looking westward toward Lake Erie, one can imagine much of the history of this nation and its people. From this spot, grain was shipped all over the world. Americans and European immigrants came to the interior of the country via the Erie Canal. Near this spot, during the canal era, dozens of small businesses owned by African-Americans, Jews, Germans and others stood. An African-American boarding house and saloon nearby was a stop on the Underground Railroad.

This isn't material for the local equivalent of Disney's Frontier Land. It is authentic history -- the stones where our ancestors, in all of their great diversity, walked. Everyone who loves the past has a stake in seeing this archaeological site further explored and developed into a real, national historical landmark that interprets the remains of our past in intelligent ways. In doing so, we can make a powerful statement that this is a creative, thoughtful community with a vision of the future that includes a respect for the past.



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