Last week, Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz offered two different proposals for a new convention center to replace the current complex that is being called “functionally obsolete.”
The new plans call for the razing of buildings, including the 1865 Hiram Hotchkiss house at 153 Delaware Ave. which is the last extant example of a Civil War-era home in the downtown core. More than 40 years ago, buildings were razed to make way for the current convention center as well.
In 1976, the Andrews Building, on Court Street near Pearl Street was the first structure to come down for the convention center that not only took away buildings, but also another arm in Joseph Ellicott’s radial streets plan was lost when Genesee Street was built over.
Before the convention center was built, you could stand in Niagara Square and see the Electric Tower. Even if the convention center was removed, a portion of Genesee was built over when the Hyatt Regency Hotel was built in the years following the opening of the convention center.
Buildings that once fronted on Genesee, like the YMCA building and the old Genesee Building, which is now enclosed in the Hyatt atrium, are left on strange angles, vestiges of a radial street pattern that no longer exists.