The Grand Staircase is one of the Oldest features in the park system
Buffalo’s Olmsted Park System was conceived by Frederick Law Olmsted, the father of American landscape architecture, in 1868. As the first such system in our nation, it is esteemed as a model and inspiration for cities around the globe in representing community connections and green space linkages.
Each park in the Olmsted system showcases historic features. One such attribute is the flight of grand granite steps, now known as Delaware Park’s Grand Staircase.
In collaboration with famed Buffalo architect E.B. Green, the Olmsted Firm designed the steps as a connection from the park to the future landscape plan for Green’s Albright Art Gallery. The viewshed from the lake up toward the art gallery was intended to enhance its presence in the Pan-American Exposition of 1901. Although the art gallery building wasn’t completed until 1906, the stairway visually connected other impressive Pan-Am features, including The Buffalo History Museum (then the New York State Building), the Bridge of the Three Americas, and a boathouse (now Marcy Casino), all integral public components found on the lake side of Delaware Park.
Over the decades, the massive granite stones have shifted as large sections of the foundation beneath them eroded away. Periodic repairs have kept the steps in relatively fair working order. However, over the last ten years, the Grand Staircase has reached a point of critical need. Capital investment and restoration will ensure the safety of park users and prevent further deterioration of this historic and exceptional park feature.
About the Conservancy’s Restoration Project
What does this project entail?
- Disassembly of original granite stones to inspect the foundation
- Reconstruction of the foundation and substructure of the steps
- Restoration and cleaning of original granite stones for reuse, while sourcing suitable restoration grade stones for those sections that are beyond repair
- Reassembly of the stonework with professional masonry and repointing
Why is this project important?
- Historically significant gateway to the park and Hoyt Lake, one of the oldest areas of the Olmsted Park System
- Listed as one of the priority projects in the Conservancy’s Five Year Plan: 2020-2024
- Ensures the safety of park users
- One of the most photographed features and most visited vistas in Delaware Park
- Builds partnered viewshed enhancements with the expanded Buffalo AKG Art Museum
- Heightens awareness of Olmsted’s legacy during the national celebration of his 200th birthday
- Capital fundraising Summer 2021 — December 2021
- Restoration work from Fall 2021 through Spring 2022
- Grand Staircase completed Summer/Fall 2022 with Olmsted 200 ceremonial ribbon cutting
You can help restore the Grand Staircase in Delaware Park!
Help us spread the word on this project that benefits our entire community! You can also make a donation to support the Conservancy’s fundraising effort to restore this historic Olmsted feature.
All donors will receive special recognition on the Conservancy’s website and 2022 annual report. Any donor contributing $5,000 or more will receive a large (8” tall x 16” wide) personalized paver at the Siegel Landing with special Grand Staircase signifier.