Buffalo and its German Community - Pages 32 - 36

Caption under picture reads the Albright Art Gallery

Chapter 6

The Parks Department -- The Zoological Gardens -- The Albright Art Gallery -- The Botanical Conservatory -- The Parks of Buffalo -- City Recreational Areas

The system of parks in Buffalo leaves the visitor with a feeling of wonder and awe for our city.

On April 14, 1869 plans were begun for the public parks. In the last few years significant additions have been made. The new construction has adopted for its model the cities of the old world. This has become very popular in the larger cities of America. Bathing areas and public playgrounds as well as zoological and botanical gardens have been added so that the Buffalo parks system may be a model for other cities.

The Parks Department is made up of a board of 6 commissioners appointed by the mayor. The commissioners receive no compensation. The mayor appoints five commissioners at various times so that the term of office of one runs out yearly. In his last year of office the commissioner becomes president of the board.

The present board consists of W.F. Kasting, President; Chas Mosier, Nathan Wolff, George C. Gunther and T. Lockwood. The Superintendent of Parks, as well as a secretary, a forester, a botanical director and overseer of the zoo, and other appointees are determined and controlled by the Board.

The parks consist of 1052 acres. Delaware Park is the largest in the city with 365 acres of land. Broad, paved, shady boulevards lead one to another. The Zoological Gardens, the Albright Art Gallery, the Historical Building and many monuments reside here.

The Zoological Gardens, usually called the zoo, is in the northeastern section of Delaware Park, near Amherst Street and Parkside Avenue. You can get there by the Main-Zoo-Cars. Hundreds of people visit each day. There's an elephant house, an ironbarred and trenched enclosure for bears, fenced preserves for buffalos, reeboks and other hoofed animals, cages for small animals and birds, a pond for seals, and houses for animals requiring warm shelters in winter. The Zoological Garden encompasses nearly 17 acres of land. There are over 300 differed species of animals and bird in the collection.

The Albright Art Gallery, an imposing building made of white marble, is the gift of Mr. John J. Albright. It stands at the west end of the Park, overlooking the Park's lake. The building is 250 feet long and built in the Grecian style. It contains the art collection of the Buffalo Fine Arts Academy. The academy administers the building and the City of Buffalo contributes $12,000 yearly towards its upkeep. The permanent collection includes over 250 oil paintings, 30 pieces of Greek and Roman sculpture, more marble busts, and other objects of art.

The Historical Building, also of white marble, is near Elmwood Avenue.

Caption under top picture reads Casino at Delaware Park

Caption under bottom picture reads Elmwood Avenue Bridge, Delaware Park

Caption under top picture reads A Promenade in Humboldt Park

Caption under bottom picture reads The South Park Conservatory

The State of New York, the City of Buffalo, and the Historical Society of Buffalo jointly constructed the building in 1900 at a cost of $200,000. During the Pan-American Exposition the building served as the headquarters for the State Commissioner. After the Exposition the building became the property of the Historical Society. There's an interesting and valuable collection of historical material. The Museum is open to the public from 10AM to 5PM on weekdays and from 2 to 5 on Sundays. The Society solicits a yearly donation from the city for the building's upkeep.

The Botanical Conservatory, maintained by the city, is located on South Park Avenue at the southern end of the city. This park is relatively new. There are 155 acres of land with a 30 acre lake. The Conservatory is a beautiful building and contains many wonderful and rare collections of plants. The public may visit anytime.

Adjoining the conservatory is a botanical garden with greenhouses in which many of the flowers are grown which are used to decorate the parks.

In Humboldt Park, on the east side of the city, there is a large wading pool for children. It's expansive but contains only 2 feet of water at its deepest point. In Front Park, on the shore of Lake Erie at the west side of the city, there's a deeper pond. You can find changing houses for bathers in the park.

In the winter thousands amuse themselves by ice skating on the lakes in the various parks. The commissioners plan for these facilities.

Sizes of the great parks of Buffalo are as follows: Delaware Park, 365 acres; Humboldt Park, 56 acres; Front Park, 48 acres; South Park, 155 acres; Cazenovia Park, 106 acres; Riverside Park, 22 acres.

The Parks Commission further consists of a Bureau of Forestry, a Department which keeps the shade trees of the city in good shape.

"Golden Rule" Jones, the mayor of Toledo, provided the initial impetus to Buffalo for constructing recreational areas. When delivering an address to the Liberal Club in 1900, he suggested to the Women's Club of Westminster House that they draw up a proposition for a recreational area. The Club went before the Common Council and asked for permission to build a public playground in the school yard on Emslie Street. The Council granted the request on June 18, 1900. In the following year the city donated $2,900 to build and maintain a playground in Terrace Park, under the direction of the Parks Department. In 1903 two more playgrounds were proposed. In 1907 control of the playgrounds was transferred from the Parks Department to the Council for Health. Eventually in 1910 a city ordinance created the Playground Commission. Mayor Louis Fuhrmann appointed the following men to the Commission, each with a term of 4 years: the Honorable Harry L. Taylor, Dr. Louis Sernoffsky, Thomas F. Cooke, Stanislaus S. Nowicki, Francis J. Rohr, and Jacob J. Stein. The Commission elected Charles W. Dilcher as Secretary and Harry A. Allison as Superintendent. The playgrounds are open daily and now stand under the supervision of a Director and an Assistant Director. Each playground has an overseer. Today all playgrounds have gymnastic equipment for the pleasure and recreation of children. In the winter the playgrounds are provided with sleigh tracks.

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Susan Kriegbaum-Hanks
Revised June 17, 2005