The Buffalo River was once one of most polluted rivers in the nation. In fact, in 1969, it was declared dead. Today, the Buffalo River – like Buffalo itself – is rising. Not with flood waters or toxic effluents, thankfully, but with energy, entertainment, investment, and people! It’s becoming THE place to live, work and play.
Take a look for yourself. Start with Silo City, then head to RiverWorks and River Fest and Mutual parks.
The Buffalo Walks Silo City Tour on August 20 (5:15-7:30pm) is hosted by Working for Downtown. Swannie Jim will tell you everything you could possibly want to know about the past, present and future of this unique Buffalo riverfront site. If you’re adventurous, go on Explore Buffalo’s final Sunset Silo City: Vertical tour of the season on August 27 (6:00-9:00pm) and get a bird’s eye view.
Can’t wait for a tour? Be part of Torn Space Theater’s Silo City site-specific spectacle, They Kill Things. You don’t merely attend, you are part of these remarkable performances. Opening Night is August 13, and the Thursday-Saturday performances continue on August 14, 15, 20, 21 and 22.
Silo City also hosts its own Reading Series. On August 29, poets Bianca Stone and Emily Anderson, as well as musician Julie Byrne and “intermedia artist” NP will provide an incomparable Just Buffalo multi-media literary event in this unique space.
And in just a few weeks, the SS Columbia will dock at Silo City. Known to generations as "The Crystal Beach Boat," the Columbia will be worked on for about a year. This passenger steamboat, built in 1902, was designed to carry 3,200 passengers on five decks. She had mahogany paneling, etched and leaded glass, a grand staircase and an open air ballroom.
RiverWorks is just up Ganson Street from Silo City – look for the Labatt Blue sixpack silos. Don’t wait for the Buffalo Irish Festival on August 28-30 (yes, it’s at RiverWorks this year), head there on Sunday (Noon-7:00pm) for the Guiness Concert Series to hear the Tartan Terrors with The Leftovers (August 16), and the High Kings (August 23). Or just stop for a great meal, a cold beer, or a quick game of pickleball (no kidding) on the balconies overlooking the river, with River Fest Park right across the water. Kayaks, canoes, water bikes, paddle boards, motorboats and more will keep you entertained. Or maybe the roller derby girls will be whizzing around the rink.
River Fest Park hosts free concerts every Wednesday (6:30).  Bring a lawn chair, enjoy the breeze and some good, local bands. Or bring your kayak and join the crowd. There’s a great put-in there, and another just up the river at Mutual Park. The fabulous, little known Museum of the Old First Ward is now housed at Mutual Park.
Not into fun and games? How about employment opportunities and economic development. Solar City will fill its “gigafactory” at the RiverBend Commerce Park that is currently under construction with more than 1,400 new, clean, green industrial jobs. Where? On the same South Buffalo site once occupied by Republic Steel. This contrast alone distinguishes the New Buffalo from the Old. Industry, yes. But clean industry. The jobs are coming back, dressed in green. And guess where those new hires are going to want to live?
The Buffalo River began its come back in 1966, when LBJ signed an Executive Order banning open-water dumping of polluted dredged sediment in Lake Erie, based in no small part on the passionate lobbying of Stan Spisiak. The Army Corps of Engineers built “confined disposal facilities” throughout the Great Lakes. These paved the way for the intensive and extensive dredging of the Buffalo River by the Buffalo River Restoration Partnership over the past several years. More than a million cubic yards of polluted sediment has now been removed from the Buffalo River and safely contained. Picture bumper-to-bumper Mack dump trucks filled with sediment stretching from Buffalo to Chicago...This massive project is now continuing down the Black Rock Channel.
Quite appropriately, Jill Spisiak-Jedlicka, environmental activist Stan Spisiak’s niece, is now the executive director of Buffalo Niagara Riverkeeper, which will celebrate its 25th anniversary on September 3. The party, Our Waters. Our Future, will take place – where else? – at RiverWorks. It’s a fundraiser for a great organization at a terrific venue. See you there!