Delaware Park: Buffalo, New York


Delaware Park is often defined as the "heart" of the community, blending culture in a melting pot of human activity. Thousands of people visit the park daily to enjoy and participate in the many quiet and active features offered.

Designated Area

Encompassing 350 acres, bounded by Nottingham Terrace to the north, Parkside and Delaware Avenues to the east, Lincoln Parkway and Elmwood Avenue to the west, and Rumsey Road as well as the Scajaquada Expressway to the South.

Marcy Casino. Photo by Joe Cascio.

Planning Excellence

Delaware Park is often defined as the "heart" of the community, blending culture in a melting pot of human activity. Thousands of people visit the park daily to enjoy and participate in the many quiet and active features offered.

The park was designed by landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted, best known for his design of New York's Central Park. Using the existing rolling meadow punctuated by groves of mature trees, Olmsted formed his design to reflect the image of pastoral parklands he admired during visits to England. He wanted the visitor to feel immersed in the landscape, escaping from the stresses of urban life. Even today, once inside Delaware Park, many users claim they do not sense the hustle and bustle of the surrounding city.

Delaware Park was the site of the 1901 Pan-American Exposition. The latest technological advancements were showcased, most notably electricity, and many of the fair buildings were covered in light bulbs that drew power from a hydroelectric dam at Niagara Falls. Unfortunately, the exposition is most remembered as the location of the assassination of President William McKinley.

One of the many prominent features in the park is the Marcy Casino Building, built for the 1901 fair. The building underwent an extensive restoration in 1990, refurbishing the original features of the 1901 design by architect E.B. Green. The Casino remains a popular place for holding events and gatherings. The original boat house was designed by Olmsted's partner, Calvert Vaux. Construction was completed in 1875, but the boat house was destroyed by a fire in 1900.

After years of neglect, aging infrastructure, and underfunding, the residents of Buffalo demanded a dramatic improvement in park conditions throughout the city, particularly in Delaware Park. The park's condition was dramatically improved when the Olmsted Parks Conservancy took over funding and maintenance of the park system in 2004. Over the past decade, the park had been restored to its former glory, and a previous commissioner of parks for New York City stated that the Buffalo Olmsted Parks are "the best maintained parks in the nation."

Rose Garden. Photo courtesy Buffalo Olmsted Parks Conservancy.

Defining Characteristics, Features


  • Frederick Law Olmsted and partner Calvert Vaux submitted the first plan for Delaware Park (1870)
  • The Pan-American Exposition of 1901 attracted thousands of people to the park with its ornate, multicolored buildings and gothic statutes; some remain today
  • In 1962, the Scajaquada Expressway was constructed through the park, separating it into two halves
  • Listed on the National Register of Historic Places (1982)

Amenities and Features

  • The Buffalo Zoo has been part of the park since 1875 and has expanded greatly from the deer and buffalo paddock of Olmsted's design into a major wildlife attraction for the city
  • Parkside Lodge (1915) now houses a golf shop and conservancy headquarters
  • Hoyt Lake, originally known as Gala Water, is the focal point of the southern portion of the park
  • The Rose Garden, located south of Hoyt Lake, is a formal garden and popular destination for photographers and birders
  • Ivy Bridge is one of the most scenic and photographed features in the park
  • The northern half of the park serves as the active recreation space with baseball and softball fields, an 18-hole golf course, tennis courts, playgrounds, croquet lawns, and ring road popular with runners, walkers, and cyclists


  • Shakespeare in Delaware Park, a summer tradition since 1976, is a nonprofit theater company that hosts free performances in Delaware Park
  • Flurrious! is an annual family-oriented winter festival with a snowman-making challenge, fun run, and cross country ski tour of the park
  • An annual event for the last 34 years, the Corporate Challenge attracts over 12,000 runners for a 3.5-mile road race through Delaware Park, raising money for the National Academy Foundation.

Aerial view of Delaware Park. Photo by Jim Cavanaugh.


  • Friends of Olmsted Parks was formed to begin restorative and preservation park efforts to the Olmsted Park System (1978)
  • Friends of Olmsted Parks commissioned a study to identify greenways in the City of Buffalo which connected Olmsted parks and all other parks and green spaces in the city (1994)
  • City of Buffalo adopted the Greenway Implementation Plan (1998); recommended the replanting of trees and shrubs throughout the Olmsted park and parkway system
  • Buffalo Olmsted Parks Conservancy began to operate and primarily fund the maintenance for the entire Olmsted Parks System, which includes Delaware Park (2004)
  • Buffalo Olmsted Parks Conservancy, City of Buffalo, County of Erie, and The Urban Design Project, developed Plan for the 21st Century; created framework for the restoration and enhancements of the parks, places, and parkways of the Olmsted system (2008)
  • Marcy Casino Building underwent a $1 million restoration (2013)
  • Future plans include a New York State Department of Transportation planning study to explore the potential for reducing, reconfiguring or removing the Scajaquada Expressway from the middle of the park