It can be surprising what you can find in your hometown with just a little bit of effort. This past weekend, Ellie, Audrey, and I headed out to do a little bit of sightseeing in downtown Buffalo. There were two things on our list to see and do. The first was to get a quick run around the Erie Canal terminus area, and the second was to take advantage of the free docent-led tours of the huge grain elevators on the Buffalo River.
A little pet project of mine has been brewing in the back of my head for quite some time. A while ago I thought up a plan to run and document the Erie Canal, which runs from Buffalo, my current city, through Albany, my hometown. The Erie Canal runs 363 miles from Buffalo, NY, to Albany, NY, and the Hudson River, which then can be navigated south to New York City and out into the Atlantic Ocean. This was, at the time, arguably the most important waterway in the entire world. It cut shipping costs from the middle of the country to the East Coast by 90 percent, and nearly all grain production was routed through Buffalo.
I thought it would be a neat idea to try to document all of the small cities and towns along the canal while providing a great excuse to get out and run through places I’ve never been. It would be a tour through New York’s past, and it would give Ellie and I an excuse to get out and travel around. Thus, this past weekend kicked off what I hope will be many weekends filled with runs and sightseeing.
We headed downtown to the western terminus of the canal, which has recently been excavated and turned into a little park. The vast majority of the original canal in Buffalo has been filled in, and the current route actually ends in Tonawanda, just north of the city. Because of this, Ellie and I had just a quick run around, but it was still a blast.
Buffalo has really pushed to redevelop the waterfront area and to restore it back to some of its original splendor, and honestly the city has started doing a pretty good job in the past couple of years. It has a long way to go before it can hold its own with some of the other fantastic waterfronts that I’ve been to, like in San Diego or even Boston’s North End, but it is looking more and more promising.
Being out in the fresh air on Saturday was actually pretty relaxing. It was nice to get out, stretch our legs, and get a run in, even if we only did one mile. It was great to get Audrey out and running again, too; it was her first time out since she has gotten back to her old self after her dental surgery and post-surgery whacky-ness.
The second part of our sightseeing day started later, after we went home, washed up, and headed back downtown to the grain elevators. Considered to be Buffalo’s “second skyline,” the grain elevators in Buffalo really represent the golden age of the city. When industry was booming as a result of the canal, Buffalo was literally on top of the world. Massive concrete and steel structures were created to process grain for shipment, and these relics of the past dot the waterways of Buffalo to this day.
Honestly, to someone who doesn’t know what they are or what they represent, they look like old, extremely run-down monstrosities that ruin the waterfront. But as soon as you learn what they were for and what they represent to Buffalo, you know how important they are. We were lucky enough to be able to get up close and inside them on Saturday. Sadly, my photos of the interior really didn’t come out well due to the dark spaces, but let me tell you, the sheer scale of these buildings and, at the time, the mechanical innovation that went into them is staggering.
I enjoyed my Saturday adventures, going out and seeing things I’ve never seen in Buffalo. I’ve been here for over five and a half years now and am still finding new things to do and see. I realized that by getting more active and in shape, I’ve had a stronger desire to push out and explore things I’ve never seen and places I’ve never been, to go do more things that I wouldn’t have. I am no longer content with sitting around all weekend, playing video games. Instead I want to go to random celebrations like the Boomdays Bash, or run segments of the canal.
I hope you guys enjoyed this look into Buffalo, and I look forward to writing more posts as Ellie and I make our way across the state on the Erie Canal.