Come gather at the Front Stoop in the Old First Ward tonight

In Brooklyn, there is a tradition of gathering around the Front Stoop to visit with family, friends, and neighbors to share thoughts and gossip about the neighborhood.   The front stoop is the place that after a long day everyone meets to discuss the current topics.  Tonight the Old First Ward Neighborhood will gather at the Front Stoop with the guys from HD Systems* to discuss ideas for a new park in their community, and everyone is invited to attend.
The Old First Ward is a proud residential community that includes tree-lined streets, the Buffalo River, waterfront access, and Silo City.  It’s a short bike ride to perhaps Buffalo’s best assets, the Inner and Outer Harbors.  Historically this little community was the backbone of Buffalo; they were the people that kept the grain silos working. From the culture of Silo City, to new development, the First Ward is now defining it’s own path.  Which is why tonight they are hosting the Front Stoop community design meeting – to design Republic Street Park. 
The concept of the Front Stoop is simple – participate and play. Everyone that attends a front stoop has a voice, and if you choose to participate tonight you will have a say in what becomes of the old CSX tracks along Republic Street. For years the abandoned rail lines have disconnected neighbors, and prevented active play.  Laura Kelley of the Old First Ward Community Association engaged HD Systems to help generate some concepts for the space.  They agreed on the condition that they work directly with the people living in the ward.  It is a community design process that builds consensus through listening, sharing, and actively participating.   Design is a currency best spent on ideas, and what better way to build a community than sharing that capital.
So if you haven’t recently, take a ride down to the Old 1st Ward tonight and you’ll see a wonderful holiday light display.
HD Systems brought us the Ohio Street conversation back in October (see here). Also see (for more on First Ward project)
Old First Ward Community Center
62 Republic Street
Buffalo, NY 14204
Date and Time:
Tuesday, December 18, 2012
Free and Open to the Public
All interested in the city are invited to attend

About the author  ⁄ buffalorising

Old First Ward
Old First Ward

The valley is more of a residential neighborhood with commercial business along the outer fringes. The two main roadways being the Elk St. - South Park Ave. split and the intersecting Smith St. are currently a majority of residential homes with one store/pizzeria and two taverns and St. Stephens Catholic Church.

In more recent years, improvements to Valley Community Center, and the rebuild at School #33 have greatly improved the quality of life and the visual appearance in these public venues. Also the Army National Guard has built a secure storage facility for vehicles on the southeast corner of Smith St. and South Park Ave.

In the last year Ricotas store and pizzeria has finally cleaned up their property adding new roofing, siding, and windows to building that was an eyesore for many years. The exterior now looks quite respectable on that corner.

This past summer, South Park Ave. along with some side streets were just repaved, striped and new sidewalks and some curbing replaced between both bridges. Add to that all the activity and reconstruction in the abutting Larkin District and expansions of the Russer Foods Plant and you now have some signs of life in that small pocket neighborhood.


The Valley, just over the South Park bridge, has seen even less development. Instead of putting up house after house on the East Side, throw a few bones their way.

Old First Ward
Old First Ward

It's no secret that development has bypassed the Old First Ward for many years. Other than neighborhood rehab grants for homeowners, nothing tangible has taken root until recently two parks, one at the foot of Hamburg St. and the other on Ohio St. were constructed.

The main business strip - South Park Ave. - is mostly empty, as in empty lots or shuddered properties. The infrastructure on this section between Michigan and Katherine St. is in deplorable condition. In this eight block stretch only two taverns, a pizzeria, a bakery, one store, one auto repair shop, and a Family Dollar are the only active businesses.

The good news is that some years ago, half the Perry Projects were demolished. The bad news is that the other half still stands and the cleared lots are still empty. Five large railroad trestle hills spanning a block or two each remain where the bridge overpasses were removed years ago ending the rail line that serviced the D.L.& W. terminal. More empty space sitting unused.

With a soon to open Seneca casino and Ohio St. improvements connecting the inner and outer harbors, residents are hopeful that some economic activity will finally creep into the confines of the Old First Ward. Now they are even discussing redevelopment of a small railroad yard on Republic Street. Eyebrows are being raised.


As Charleton Heston memorably said in the planet of the apes

"Ya da*mn dirty ape, you blew it up"

Yes...well congratulations Buffalo...the old first ward and 60+ % of Buffalo is demolished. Its grass or parking.

Tifft Nature Preserve was once a canal and railroad its a forest.

Yup...that puts us in the leagues of Brooklyn

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