Johnson Park

Johnson Park and South Elmwood Avenue
Buffalo, NY

Submitted by: A Gareis

This public space was the first park in Buffalo, NY.

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Why It Works

1.01 acres of land boasting 100+ year old chestnuts and oaks, this is a public space that experiences outdoor plays and children's fairs and events each year. The first Mayor of Buffalo, Ebenezer Johnson, deeded his estate to the city to create the first park and then modeled it after other urban, residential parks in NYC and Washington, DC. This is also the site of one of Grover Cleveland's residences during his law school days.

The residents of the park reformatted the Johnson Park Association (JPA) as a 501 c 3 nonprofit group and have changed this former site of urban blight and decomposition into what Buffalo Spree Magazine terms one of Western New York’s "Great Neighborhoods" within one year's time.

New York’s Senator Hillary Clinton has commended the JPA for their work in education of grammar school children on the roles and responsibility to their land and the history of their own region...“With the vision and planning of the Johnson Park Association, the greenway environment in the West Village of Buffalo can, and will, become a hub of education and development for area youth.” - United States Senator (D-NY) Hillary Rodham Clinton

What Makes Johnson Park a Great Place?

Public use includes students from Hutchinson-Technical High School for various outdoor classes and activities, The Herman-Badillo Elementary School for recess and physical fitness, T'ai Chi Lessons each Saturday, The New Phoenix Theatre outdoor performances each summer, "Arts in the Park - Back to Our Roots" celebration of families, children and culture; lunchtime visits from workers in the downtown area., and much more.

An easy walk through this space provides a partnership with nature and history. A monument from the students of Hutch-Tech HS greets the visitor with the history of the park. A wide path through the length provides easy access for all. The 100+ year old oaks and chestnuts along with the Victorian circular gardens provide a space for children and their guardians to talk about how things were and can be again.

The park is also surrounded by homes, 83% of which were built pre-Civil War, mostly of brick due to a city ordinance after the great Burning of Buffalo.

The Buffalo Parks Department and residents have partnered to keep the park green clean and well manicured. More gardens are being added each year.

The JPA also dedicated the park back to the people during an interdenominational park blessing this past July. Peter BonSey of TLC's "While You Were Out" is also a contributor to this great, historic space. We have also dedicated a website to the history and future of this greenspace.

Hacky-sack, frisbee, picnics, meetings, lunch and dinner stops, theatre, musical performances, films in the summer, children's festivals, community cookouts, T'ai Chi and self-defense courses are all available.

We are truly a family here - the JPA also has created a neighborhood relief fund to assure all around are taken care of in time of need. Neighbors meet and greet visitors with history brochures and architectural guides. It is truly a welcoming and warm place in downtown Buffalo.

Contact Info:

Johnson Park Association: -716-847-8478
Marilyn Rodgers, President, Johnson Park Association

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