Restoration of the Grand Staircase in Delaware Park

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.

Along the shores of Hoyt Lake, the steps present a formal entrance to one of the most vibrant open spaces in all of Western New York, with breathtaking views of Buffalo’s architecture and landscape in a 360-degree panorama. The iconic Grand Staircase represents Olmsted’s design principle for connected parks and green spaces and, if not the oldest, it is among the oldest remaining features of the Delaware Park of the early 1900s. With new construction and improvements to the renamed Buffalo AKG Art Museum slated to be unveiled in late 2022, the staircase restoration provides a tremendous opportunity to enhance this beautiful viewshed once again. Across the entire community, people access these steps for weddings and proms, for exercise and conversation. Numerous memories are enhanced and visually captured at this staircase year after year.

The Need

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.
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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

Project Timeline

  • 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
Click here to view project budget

Special thanks to our generous supporters who have helped us meet our fundraising goal for this restoration project!

Your donation to this historic park feature will benefit generations to come.

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.

With matching funds from the Ralph C. Wilson Jr. Foundation

For any questions, please reach out to Stephanie Crockatt or Catie Stephenson