5 Examples of Canalside’s Irresistible Draw

Buffalo’s Canalside has been transformed from urban wasteland into a community playground for year round activities. Explore & More Children’s Museum expects to break ground next year on a 40,000 square foot facility in the southern end of the rink and developments like HarborCenter and the One Canalside Building exemplify Buffalo’s upward trajectory. The 21 acre site on lower Main Street between Lower Terrace Street and First Niagara Center is an essential part of Buffalo’s development triangle along with Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus and the Larkin District.

While the long-term goal for Canalside is to create residential development and change the area from a destination to a community, we wanted to show some of our favorite examples of Canalside’s more recent commercially-oriented transformation. With a hat tip to The Public, we grabbed shots from Google Streetview to show Canalside’s evolution over time.


HarborCenter is a retail-restaurant-hotel and ice rink complex that’s expected to attract 600,000 visitors this year. According to Sabres Chief Development Officer Cliff Benson, opening HarborCenter “redefined the landscape” in Buffalo, paving the way for the city to become a destination for hockey and more. And it’s much more exciting than the parking lot that used to be there.

A before-and-after shot of Buffalo's HarborCenter. On the left, an image from 2007 that shows the the future site of HarborCenter, then a parking lot. On the right, a shot from September 2007 showing a modern, expansive building with people dining outside.

One Canalside

One Canalside is an office building that includes Phillips Lytle LLP headquarters and the Courtyard by Marriott hotel. If you’re hungry, Pizza Plant just opened their first downtown location there as well.

One Canalside Before and After. The shot on the left is from September 2007 showing an unattractive, looming gray building. On the right, a shot from September 2015 of a modern office building.

Canalside’s Community Space

Commercial buildings are important, but people don’t frequent Canalside to check out the law firms. Canalside’s community space is the big draw. The events are great but there are plenty of reasons to visit as long as the sun’s out, as people have realized in the past few years.

A before and after shot comparing September 2011 and September 2015 at Buffalo's Canalside. On the left, the older photo, the space is vacant. On the right, the newer photo, there are people walking around and enjoying the outdoors.


Canalside’s Cultural Draw

More than just a place to walk around, Canalside has become a cultural mainstay in Buffalo. The summer concert series has been a huge success, but even more understated additions, like Shark Girl, exemplify how Canalside contributes to Buffalo’s cultural renaissance as well.


The View from Above

When talking about Buffalo’s Canalside Development, the conversation has changed from uncertainty in development to a positive outlook on the shaping of commercial expansion. There has been over $300 million private and public sector investments in the area in hopes to not only attract visitors but also future investments. The city of Buffalo is expected to seek proposals for six parcels still under the city’s control. The last time Buffalo asked for Canalside development requests, they received development that appears to be the beginning to the city’s promising future.

In all, Canalside shows what can happen when a community invests in itself. This view from Route 5 says it all.

Aaron Davis
Phone: (716) 204-2219
[email protected]