The Buffalo Olmsted Parks Conservancy (BOPC), is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit, independent, community organization that promotes, preserves, restores, enhances and ensures maintenance of Olmsted Parks and Parkways in the greater Buffalo area to guarantee Olmsted park experiences for current and future generations. Buffalo’s Olmsted Park System is listed on the National Register for Historic Places.
The Buffalo Olmsted Parks Conservancy is the first nonprofit organization in the nation to manage and operate an entire historic urban park system that consists of 850 acres of beautifully designed parks, parkways and circles.
More than 1 million people use Buffalo’s historic, award-winning Olmsted Park System annually for recreation, relaxation and rejuvenation. Buffalo’s Olmsted System includes the popular urban green spaces: Cazenovia Park, Delaware Park, Front Park, Martin Luther King, Jr., Park, Riverside Park and South Park as well as their adjoining parkways and circles which weave throughout the city of Buffalo. The parks were designed by America’s first landscape architect, Frederick Law Olmsted nearly 150 years ago. Olmsted designed parks in nearly every major city in the country. However, his work in Buffalo – the first park and parkway system designed and built in the U.S. – is considered his very best.
Since the 2004 agreement with the City of Buffalo and Erie County, the Olmsted Parks Conservancy has retained full responsibility for the management and maintenance of these green spaces. Park maintenance including turf care, litter pickup and trash removal, graffiti clean-up, tree, shrub and flower plantings and pruning are managed year round by Olmsted staff and volunteers. In 2008, the Conservancy adopted the Plan for the 21st Century, the blueprint necessary to restore the parks to Olmsted’s original vision while expanding and completing the system as originally conceived, a “city within a park.”
“A Park is a Work of Art” – Frederick Law Olmsted
Frederick Law Olmsted is America’s first and greatest landscape architect. He once said, “A park is a work of art, designed to produce certain effects upon the minds of men.” His system of parks and parkways in Buffalo is the first of its kind in the nation and represents one of his largest bodies of work. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the System consists of six major parks, their connecting parkways and circles, and several smaller spaces. Today, it comprises 75% of the city’s parkland.
In the late 1800s, visionary citizens brought Olmsted to Buffalo. It was here that Olmsted, inspired by Joseph Ellicott’s radial street layout, designed his first system of parks and parkways, and proclaimed Buffalo to be “the best designed city in the country, if not the world.” During the 1901 Pan American Exposition, Buffalo was celebrated not only as the City of Light, but the City of Trees.
The Nation’s first Public-Private Partnership
In 1978, The Buffalo Friends of Olmsted Parks was formed to advocate for our Olmsted Parks. In 1995, we were renamed the Buffalo Olmsted Parks Conservancy, and began focusing on preservation and restoration of our Olmsted parkland.
In 2004, the Buffalo Olmsted Parks Conservancy entered a partnership with the City of Buffalo, Erie County and the Community. We became the official stewards of the Buffalo Olmsted Park System, overseeing its management, operations and maintenance. The Conservancy is the first not-for-profit in the nation to manage a park system, or 75% of the City’s parkland. Through the development of a 20-year Management and Restoration plan with guidance of its community-based Advisory Council, the Conservancy’s experienced and professional staff is now revolutionizing the way common ground is cared for in Buffalo.
Park Management Strategy – Building Success
Success has brought strength. Over the years, while working alongside several community partners, the Conservancy’s accomplishments include the following:
- Front Park
- Removal of Baird Drive and restored parkland
- Restored the roof of the picnic shelter
- Historic cannons were restored and replaced
- Delaware Park
- Refurbished the pergola at the Rose Garden to be more historically accurate and weather resistant
- Restored the Marcy Casino and increased handicap accessibility
- Martin Luther King, Jr. Park
- Restored the restroom shelter and increased handicap accessibility
- Refurbished the MLK splash pad (still one of the largest in the country!)
- South Park
- Ongoing studies and restoration on the South Park Arboretum
- Cazenovia Park
- Restored the restroom shelter to be more weather resistant and improved handicap accessibility
- Riverside Park
- Reinterpretation of the original minnow pools to become the River Rock Garden, a low-maintenance dry stream bed
For any inquiries and/or to learn more, please contact the Conservancy at 716-838-1249.