speakers clearly agreed that Buffalo faces an extraordinary opportunity
for economic and community development under the rubric of “heritage.”
Our resources in general, not only great architecture by America’s acclaimed
masters, but the rich city fabric of downtown, neighborhoods, and parks,
arresting geography, and a community steeped in the great stories of our
nation, bode well for work in heritage development. As the site of the
western terminus of the Erie Canal, however, Buffalo has a kind of “name
brand” recognition and identity that have power across the country and
around the world.
Discovery of remains of the Commercial Slip has brought
this opportunity into public consciousness and magnified its importance.
Karen Engelke said that no other site in Buffalo could match the western
terminus for either historical significance or visitor-attracting potential.
It is a key site for “the story of America,” she said, as well as a potential
world heritage site. It links the story of the growth of Buffalo to the
story of the emergence of New York State to the greater story of the making
of a great continental nation. Others agreed, but also emphasized the
need to find out more about what is there and what it might mean for preservation,
interpretation, and development. Tom Moriarity quoted the English landscape
painter Constable in advising Buffalonians: “we see nothing until we understand.”