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From 1880 to Today: Erie Canal shipyard now an I-190 on-ramp

Chronicles continues a weekly look back at an illustrated map of Buffalo from 1880 and examines how the features on that map have – or haven't – changed over the years. Click here to explore the map.

Heading north from Canalside toward the Peace Bridge, the I-190 was built in the bed of the Erie Canal.

It’s difficult to imagine a ride along the Erie Canal, with some of today’s landmarks there with the old waterway. You’d be floating north past the Channel 7 studios, then Genesee Street going right up to the edge of the water, then the BlueCross BlueShield headquarters, then Court Street going right up to the edge of the water – but that’s what it would have looked like if the canal was magically put back in the spot where it once sat.

The shipbuilding yard of George Notter was at the foot of Virginia Street, where Virginia met the canal. This 1883 photo shows Notter’s shipyard, the Erie Canal, and the strip of land between the canal and the water.

Today, the spot once occupied by the Notter building is about where the Virginia Street northbound on-ramp to the I-190 starts to curve. The canal is paved over with the Niagara Extension of the Thruway, and the strip of land with small houses to the right is now LaSalle Park.

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