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.
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.
Basic maintenance of the parks has been greatly improved with universal respect and admiration for the work that the Conservancy has accomplished over the past six years since the 2004 groundbreaking agreement with the City of Buffalo and Erie County. Since that time, the Olmsted Parks Conservancy, now partnering with the city of Buffalo, has retained full responsibility for the management and maintenance of these green spaces which are listed on the National and State Registers of Historic Places. Park maintenance including turf care, litter pickup and trash removal, graffiti clean-up, tree, shrub and flower plantings and pruning are managed year round in a professional and competent manner by Olmsted staff and thousands of dedicated volunteers. In 2008, the Conservancy adopted the Plan for the 21st Century, the comprehensive 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.” The plan calls for systematic reinvestment in the parks over time with 300 capital projects providing a new investment in Buffalo’s historic parks and parkways.
To view the Conservancy’s annual reports and other resources, click here.
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.
As early as the 1850’s, Olmsted justified the purchase of land for New York City’s Central Park by noting that the rising value of adjacent properties would produce enough new tax revenue to pay for the investment. By 1864, Olmsted documented a net return of $55,880 in additional annual tax revenues. With a revitalized Buffalo Olmsted Park System, the potential for economic development opportunities in Western New York are endless!
As recent studies at Yale University have found, urban nature areas have proven to reduce societal stress, moderate temperatures, purify air, prevent soil erosion and protect water sources. This is in addition to neighborhood connection, improved quality of life and increased property values for park community residents.
Today, cities across America are discovering what Buffalo knew a century ago – quality urban parks and greenways are vital to a city’s quality of life and to its economic success. The Buffalo Olmsted Park System creates a unique urban landscape that integrates the city, providing common ground and connectivity among the neighborhoods.
In 2004, the Buffalo Olmsted Parks Conservancy entered a groundbreaking partnership with the City of Buffalo, Erie County and the Community that made the Conservancy 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. 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.
In a plan modeled after Central Park Conservancy’s highly successful Zone Management System, the Conservancy has broken the entire Olmsted Park System into a series of 10-50 acre zones. A seasonal zone gardener is assigned to every zone. Each zone gardener is responsible for everything within the assigned area, from trash pick up to bench repair; from working with volunteers to plantings. This revolutionary urban parks management plan brings accountability and pride in ownership to the parks. Public feedback and participation is key to its success.
Keeping its activities mission-focused and community-based is the key to the Conservancy’s success. Success has brought strength. In 2000 the Conservancy defended Front Park and Porter Avenue from an encroaching transportation project. In 2003, it successfully advocated that the Scajaquada Expressway be replaced with a calmer, more beautiful parkway. In 2004, it explained the value of implementing a revolutionary urban parks management plan that is now in place. Victories like these that improve both parks and neighborhoods have empowered the Buffalo Olmsted Parks Conservancy to become an important advocate for Western New York.
The Conservancy continues to work towards creating visible and positive changes in this community that will improve the quality of life in our region. Look for more projects in the parks in upcoming months as well as updates on large urban planning initiatives.
To honor yesterday’s heritage, enhance the quality of life today for neighbors and visitors and create a legacy for the Buffalo of tomorrow.
We have a few strong and enduring beliefs that guide the rightness of our decisions. They are our core values. Guiding principles are aspects we strive to achieve, though are not yet core values.
- Building Our Olmsted Jewel
- Equal Access
- Safety and Security
- Working Together
Not enough to just state a goal, the ten-year vivid description describes what it will be like in 2019. The full description is contained in this document, and can be summarized:
The Buffalo Olmsted Parks are a leading visitor destination and community resource comprised of connected historic parks, parkways, avenues, and circles, where clean and safe landscapes are celebrated and revered as major works of public art. The Conservancy’s Plan for the 21st Century has begun to effectively stitch the fabric of the City back together while providing exceptional education and advocacy programs and events.
Always forward looking, the Buffalo Olmsted Parks Conservancy provides leadership, dialogue, and collaboration to promote sustainable stewardship and financial viability for the park system.
Olmsted Naturally is a committee composed of Olmsted employees spanning several professions within the Conservancy who share a common goal: to help make our Olmsted parks in the City of Buffalo the greenest park system in the nation. The Olmsted Naturally committee is dedicated to enhancing the Olmsted Parks through sustainable practices and projects. Sustainability starts with a few fundamental practices that this committee has identified, researched and begun to implement.