Gill Creek, Niagara Falls, NY

The public works portfolio of Robert Moses is associated mostly with New York City and its suburbs. But on the map there are a couple of places on the state’s map where his name appears: a State Park in the Thousand Islands, and until 2019, a parkway along the Niagara River. His name was removed because the present generation no longer regards his heavy-handed tactics as positive. In the Niagara region, Moses designed a hydroelectric plant and reservoir that took land away from the Native Tuscarora Nation. The project resulted in the loss of land and the rerouting of two creeks within the reservation: Fish Creek and Gill Creek.

The Native people lost 550 acres to the reservoir, which does not have a name on most maps. Moses proposed it as the Tuscarora Reservoir in his plans, but the Natives likely were offended to have the land taken, flooded, and then named after them. Gill Creek was reduced to a ditch that flows around the perimeter of the reservoir on its way to the Niagara River. Naming the reservoir after Robert Moses also would have caused offense to the Natives. Some maps call it the Lewiston Reservoir after the town in which it is located.

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Canalside, Buffalo

The second largest city in the State of New York is also home to the only New York football team that has its stadium within the state. Buffalo is referenced in art and literature as the western terminus of the Erie Canal that made New York an economic powerhouse in the 19th century. At the historic end of the canal is a reconstructed inlet of Buffalo Creek that serves as a commercial and entertainment district that celebrates the impact of the canal on the city.

Looking down at Canalside from the ramp of the Buffalo Skyway, we see a dry trench spanned by three replica bowstring bridges and a children’s museum at this T-shaped canal restoration. Behind the highway viaduct this canal flows into Buffalo River which enters Lake Erie. A mile to the north of this confluence, the lake funnels into Niagara River. In the second half of the last century, the decline of industry gave this area a neglected appearance akin to Gowanus in Brooklyn pre-gentrification. In the center of the declining cityscape was the Buffalo Memorial Auditorium, a sports arena that was demolished in 2009 in favor this historical-theme district. With the removal of the arena, there is talk of removing the highway to give the area a more pedestrian-friendly look.

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