The News was spot on in its Oct. 30 editorial applauding the removal of the Robert Moses Parkway in Niagara Falls.
There’s another freeway in an urban space that divides an internationally recognized park, and cuts the park lake in two. It is Route 198, severing Delaware Park. The New York State Department of Transportation’s current plans grab more parkland to add stoplights and huge intersections.
Almost 150 years ago, the civic and business leaders invited Frederick Law Olmsted to create a park for growing Buffalo. Olmsted gave the city not one but three major parks, which grew into six major parks, knitted together by parkways. The parkways wove neighborhoods into a quilt of greenspace that connected communities to each other. Olmsted built a city within a park.
The DOT rammed a flurry of freeways through Buffalo parks and parkways in the 1950s, shredding the connections between parks and isolating communities.
Delaware Park was lacerated by Route 198. The Scajaquada Parkway, which meandered along the shores of the creek, was obliterated, which destroyed any association with the water.
Humboldt Parkway, one of the most beautiful streets in the world, was plowed into a trench for speeding cars. The urban quilt Olmsted stitched together in the 19th century was ripped apart by highways in the 20th. Community greenspace and neighborhood connections were shattered. The devastation was not limited to parks. Highways cause health, economic and environmental issues, and segregate communities.
Olmsted worked tirelessly to create what is Niagara Falls State Park, and today, its parkland is freed from the grip of a 20th century highway. Buffalo’s neighborhoods and world-famous parks and parkways deserve the same 21st century thinking and design.