“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Buffalo in Erie County, New York — The American Northeast (Mid-Atlantic)

Harboring Hopes

Harboring Hopes Marker image. Click for full size.
By Anton Schwarzmueller, June 3, 2015
1. Harboring Hopes Marker
The Skyway (NY Route 5) is in the background.
Inscription. There was fierce competition between Buffalo and Black Rock for the Canal's western terminus. Albany, the link to New York City, emerged as the perfect choice for the eastern end of the Canal. The western end was a far less obvious proposition. Three miles of dense forest separated the two leading contenders, Buffalo and Black Rock.

With no natural harbor, shallow waters and a sandbar, Buffalo was not a logical choice. Somewhat sheltered from lake winds and benefiting from the natural rock formation after which it was named, Black Rock already boasted more commerce than Buffalo. By inexpensively developing a safe a workable harbor, Buffalo could overtake its rival.

All images courtesy of the Buffalo and Erie County Historical Society.
Buffalo Harbor from Exchange Buildings. George Smith, Drawing, September 1829.
Judge Samuel Wilkeson. Reverend Albert Bigelo, 1850 ca. Oil on canvas.

"I remember being perched on my father's shoulders as he waded across the mouth of Buffalo Creek in superintendence of the crib-laying, and being startled by the bugle-tone power of the magnetic voice which gave commands to his men as he walked."
Samuel Wilkeson Jr. reflects upon his father, Judge Samuel Wilkeson.

In 1819, nine villagers formed the first local businessmen's association,
Northward image. Click for full size.
By Anton Schwarzmueller, June 3, 2015
2. Northward
Marker at this end of the footbridge, facing this way.
the Buffalo Harbor Company. Pledging their personal resources to gain a state loan of $12,000, they attempted to answer the challenge of the harbor. Under the leadership of Samuel Wilkeson, the village dammed Buffalo Creek to create a new channel across a sandbar, opening a new mouth for the creek that connected with the harbor entrance. The Canal Commissioners finally declared Buffalo as the canal's terminus in 1821.

In 1825, Thaddeus Joy, with Charles Townsend and George Coit, created the Commercial Slip, the Canal's original western terminus, by excavating Little Buffalo Creek to connect the main line canal with the harbor and Lake Erie.

Commercal Slip looking towards the city.
Commercial Street Bridge, Photograph, ca. 1870.

The area was a center of commerce and banking from the 1830s to the 1880s, and remained the home of light manufacturing businesses as well as saloons, boarding houses and brohels for years afterward.

The canal was rebuilt and rerouted in 1918. In the 1920s and 1930s both the slip and the canal nearby were filled in and the slip became the right of way for the Hamburg drain, South Buffalo's major sewer line.

Even after the Commercial Slip was filled in, this area remained the point of departure for passenger cruise services into the 1960s. The Canadiana, on the left, offered day trips to Crystal Beach amusement
Southward image. Click for full size.
By Anton Schwarzmueller, June 3, 2015
3. Southward
Marker at left. View is southward onto Prime Street. The area along the right of Prime Street is Canalside. Lloyd Street is behind the marker. The elevated highway is The Skyway (NY Route 5).
park on the Canadian shore.
Cruise vessels Docked in the Inner Harbor, Photograph, ca. 1950.
Marker series. This marker is included in the Erie Canal marker series.
Location. 42° 52.632′ N, 78° 52.754′ W. Marker is in Buffalo, New York, in Erie County. Marker is at the intersection of Lloyd Street and Prime Street, on the left when traveling east on Lloyd Street. Click for map. Marker is at the southeast end of a pedestrian bridge over the rebuilt Commercial Slip. Marker is in this post office area: Buffalo NY 14202, United States of America.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Rebirth & Renewal (here, next to this marker); William Wells Brown (within shouting distance of this marker); Wedding of the Waters (within shouting distance of this marker); The Big Picture (within shouting distance of this marker); God Honor and Country (within shouting distance of this marker); In Recognition of Long and Faithful Service (within shouting distance of this marker); 106th Field Artillery Regiment (within shouting distance of this marker); Buffalo Cavalry Association (within shouting distance of this marker). Click for a list of all markers in Buffalo.
Also see . . .
1. SS Canadiana - Wikipedia. As depicted
Marker & The Commercial Slip image. Click for full size.
By Anton Schwarzmueller, June 3, 2015
4. Marker & The Commercial Slip
The two buildings that rise above The Skyway are City Hall at left and One Seneca Tower, formally known as HSBC Center and Msrine Midland Center, at right, which is the tallest building in Buffalo.
and mentioned at the end of the marker text. (Submitted on June 18, 2015, by Anton Schwarzmueller of Wilson, New York.) 

2. Samuel Wilkeson - Wikipedia. (Submitted on June 18, 2015, by Anton Schwarzmueller of Wilson, New York.)
Categories. Waterways & Vessels
Credits. This page originally submitted on , by Anton Schwarzmueller of Wilson, New York. This page has been viewed 161 times since then and 57 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3, 4. submitted on , by Anton Schwarzmueller of Wilson, New York. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016.
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