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Columbus Park-Prospect Hill neighborhood
Buffalo, Erie County

landmark status: State and National Register Eligible
threat: Demolition; unsympathetic development due to proposed new bridge and plaza expansion project for the Peace Bridge
Efforts to improve and expand the operations of the Peace Bridge and its plaza has been underway for about a decade. The National Register—eligible Peace Bridge links Ontario, Canada to Buffalo, New York at the Front Park, Columbus Park and Prospect Hill neighborhoods, areas that benefitted from the visionary and beautiful landscape designs of Frederick Law Olmsted, Sr. Front and Columbus parks were designed between 1868 and 1876 as part of an ambitious citywide plan. A residential boom soon followed and today the area boasts several State and National Register listed and eligible historic districts as well and individual landmarks. Today the area serves as the major gateway to Buffalo and provides international visitors with a first impression of the United States.
However, as plans for an expanded Peace Bridge Plaza develop, driven largely by significant truck traffic and international boarder crossing issues, more of the immediate neighborhood has been at risk. Present plans call for the demolition of some 88 or more homes with at least 128 dwelling units lost. In addition, about two dozen businesses could be removed. Considerable new construction including an expanded toll plaza, a multi-story parking garage, a new duty free shop, new highway ramps and larger surface parking lots would dominate one of Buffalo’s stable historic neighborhoods and remove prospects for reuniting the area to the Niagara River waterfront.
objectives: The Preservation League, working with area preservation and neighborhood groups, calls for a full evaluation of direct, indirect and cumulative impacts to the historic properties and landscapes of the neighborhoods of the Peace Bridge Expansion Project area. Any international crossing within the region is likely to have significant impacts and a thorough review of all feasible and prudent alternatives is required by federal and state law when historic properties and landscapes are involved. While improvements to truck and automobile travel and boarder crossing issues are important, Buffalo and the region would benefit from transportation plans that recognize and better protect historic resources and a residential neighborhood that is largely intact and exhibits sustained reinvestment relative to other parts of the city.