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Canalside, formerly known as Canal Side and Erie Canal Harbor, is the recreation of the western terminus of the Erie Canal in Buffalo, New York. Canalside is situated on the Buffalo River, where the area was historically home to the Seneca people.  In the early 20th century, the predominantly Italian area known as Dante Place and Canal Street was subjected to the forces of urban renewal; the canals were filled in, and dense neighborhoods were razed. The Buffalo Skyway, Buffalo Memorial Auditorium, and Niagara Thruway took their place, interspersed parking lots.

With the completion of Marine Midland Arena (now KeyBank Center) in 1996, the Memorial Auditorium stood vacant. Empire State Development Corporation created a master plan for an Erie Canal Harbor redevelopment project in 1999, which addressed developing parcels of land underneath the Buffalo Skyway. In 2004, a new plan was created, centered around creating historically-aligned canals and mixed-use development.

Several delays and controversies surrounding the planning, redevelopment, and construction of the district drew reaction from the public, notably the inclusion of a flagship Bass Pro Shops store in 2007 that was later scrapped. The Memorial Auditorium was demolished in July 2009. The land it occupied was subdivided into the historically aligned parcels from the 19th century, now known as the North and South Aud Block. Since 2010, the district has seen an uptick in construction projects and touring concerts and events. Projects completed or underway in the vicinity include LECOM Harborcenter adjacent to Main Street and Explore & More Children’s Museum on the South Aud Block.


Initially built in Buffalo, New York, in 1825 as the “portal to the west,” the Erie Canal Harbor served as the terminus for the passage of goods and passengers from the East Coast across the Great Lakes for much of the 19th century. More importantly for Buffalo, the commercial activity fueled by the harbor helped transform the city into a thriving metropolis Buffalo’s notorious Canal Street was a short distance from the canal terminus. Bed Bug Exterminator Buffalo

The area had been the site of the original Village of Buffalo, near a Seneca Indian village on Buffalo Creek. The city eventually expanded outward from the waterfront location.

The Canal, completed in 1825, opened the western United States to travelers and trade from the east coast. With it came a tremendous increase in Great Lakes freighter traffic at Buffalo harbor, and with that, an influx of canal and freighter crewmen who were often paid off in Buffalo and spent freely in the bars and brothels that sprang up in the district, known variously as “Canal Street,” “Five Points” “the Flats” and “the Hooks.” There were 93 saloons, 15 concert-hall dives, and hundreds of dance-hall girls. The song “Buffalo Gals” was written by John Hodges in 1844 and referred to the women who lived in the canal district.

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