It's an exciting time in downtown Buffalo.  With the renovation of the Statler and Lafayette Hotels, the opening of the new Federal courthouse and big plans for the University of Buffalo's medical school to move to the city's medical corridor things are happening.  And over the weekend groundbreaking (YNN) took place for another project that's been a long question mark for the city - the site of the old Memorial Auditorium.

The Erie Canal will be extended further into the downtown area to an area where it actually once was.  Additional bridges over the extended canal will be built for pedestrian traffic and part of it will be frozen in the winter time for ice skating.  Pathways and parkland will create a nice open space especially in the warmer weather.  The project is expected to be completed by next spring.

The old Aud was built over what used to be the waters of the canal.  With the canal no longer being used for commercial transportation, the trench was covered over and the construction of the Aud began in 1938.

That whole area at the site of the Aud used to be a series of canals.  There was what was called the Buffalo Hamburg canal that was built to help take away some of the traffic on the Erie Canal.  The Buffalo Hamburg canal was directly under what is now the 190 extending east.  There was another canal a few blocks east of the Erie Canal called the Clark Skinner Canal and a few more blocks beyond that was the Ohio Slip.

Barges that had come from New York City or headed back there would be loaded and unloaded at stations along those various canals.  All of them would provide access to the Buffalo River and eventually the lake.

The new project downtown will provide some historical perspective and a link to the city's rich connection to the Erie Canal.