Sunday, June 1, 2008

The Foot of Main - A Tour Along the Waterfront

It used to be that the foot of Main Street was where some of our parents threatened we'd end up, living in a cardboard box, if we didn't get our act together. Now it's becoming quite the place to be, with the biggest aspects yet to come. Well, that's if "new" can beat out nature and history.

It's hard to tell that many places you see on the news are all linked together, if you're not familiar with the area anymore. Here's an easy primer:

Start out by Memorial Auditorium (while it's still there), which is a parking lot away from HSBC Arena, home of the Buffalo Sabres. Everyone knows where that is, right?

If you go over to the area immediately adjacent to the Arena, you'll be roaming through the historic Cobblestone District. Heading to the west instead you can walk straight through to the lookout tower at Erie Basin Marina, while passing through many an attraction.

Immediately you'll come upon the Commercial Slip, the Erie Canal terminus that opened to the public last weekend. There are walkways,bridges, and signs that direct your attention to the historical moments and people connected with the area. While some chronically dissatisfied people have decried it as garish, I like it, as do the many other people I observed. Also featured are the excavated ruins of the Steamship Hotel.

A few steps over is the Buffalo and Erie County Naval and Military Park. There you will be able to board ships and a submarine (for a small fee), and gaze upon fighter planes. This is where many of the monuments commemorating both the war dead and everyone who served in the military are located. Don't forget to check out the museum. I want to mention also that this park seems to have undergone many name changes. The term "Servicemen's" was also in there at one time. It's the same place.

A short walk along the water will bring you to the Erie Basin Marina. This is the home of the ships Miss Buffalo I & II, but there is more! Shanghai Red's (formerly Crawdaddy's) is across the way, but we prefer to grab some food at The Hatch. You can sit on the outdoor patio and watch the boats and view the Buffalo Lighthouse across the way, before ambling onwards.

A note of caution here - there are signs warning patrons to guard the food from aggressive sea gulls. These are not put up to be cute. I had a hot dog swiped from a tray as I was carrying it out a few years ago. Then the bird sat a few feet away and tried to eat it. I grabbed it back and threw it out. If I can't eat it, neither can the gull (aka the common tern).

Incidentally, the tree sculptures are once again on display along the roadway, across from The Hatch. The identity of the "Mystery Man' turned out to be Tim Rusert of South Buffalo, the political talk show host. Also new is Dewitt Clinton, seen pouring water into the Erie Canal.

After walking by the seawall for a short spell you will come upon the newly opened Buffalo Beach. It's not for swimming (riptides and all), but for relaxing. Last September I took a picture of a family enjoying a patch of sand that they reached by climbing down the rocks. Now there's a sandy walkway going down to the enlarged area (pictured). It's kind of neat :)

Across from the beach is the lookout tower where you can gaze out across where Lake Erie and the Niagara River meet, and across the way to Canada. Also back to where you left your car. Of course, after visiting the Military Park you can always move the vehicle into the Marina, since there's plenty of parking. But walk - it's not that far!

Last weekend I went down there and took my camera. Everything has been loaded into the re-titled web album "Erie Basin Marina, the Commercial Slip, and the Naval and Military Park". However, it should be noted that I merely take pictures. The guy at Buffalo T-Shirts takes photographs. If you check out his blog, you'll more photos of the foot of Main, along with other places.

Visit the foot of Main Street where the Niagara River and Lake Erie meet - you'll be glad you did!

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