BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – Buffalo’s Olmsted Park Conservancy is offering park guests a “portal to the past” with the new augmented reality (AR) feature on their revamped app.
The new app launched right before the July 4 holiday, Catie Stephenson, director of development and communications for the Buffalo Olmsted Parks Conservancy, said.
Users can get a glimpse of how two – now lost – parts of the parks looked in Frederick Law Olmsted’s day – Delaware Park’s Quarry Garden and the Lake View House at Front Park.
You can see the remnants of the Quarry Garden in the two stone bridges that now stand on land near the Parkside Lodge.
It was an original part of the park and was around when Olmsted came to Buffalo in 1868, Stephenson said.
“The rock that was in the quarries here was used to build various buildings in downtown Buffalo, and the bear pit at the Buffalo Zoo,” she added.
After it was finished being a working quarry, the space was transformed into a “beautiful, enchanting garden”, designed by Olmsted and his team.
“People would walk through and enjoy a little water feature – there were native plantings there,” Stephenson said.
The quarry was filled in in the 1950s with the building of Route 198.
The Lake View House was built in 1882 at Front Park, designed to provide shelter and refreshments to visitors.
Guests to both parks can see the parks how they looked in the 1800s by finding the AR signs and holding a smartphone to them with the new Olmsted Parks app open.
“This is a really exciting opportunity for us to educate people about landscapes that no longer exist in their Olmsted system,” Stephenson said.
The 2.0 version of the app also includes an update on the wayfaring feature, which helps guests find each park’s amenities and allows them to plan their visits.
The Buffalo Olmsted Parks enjoyed a surge in popularity over the pandemic, and it hasn’t slowed down.
Stephenson says there has been about a 40 percent increase in park use over the whole park system.
The conservancy is really proud that we were able to be here for the community, especially as other community amenities were forced to close,” she said. “We were able to stay open and have a place for people to exercise and safely gather, and we’re still seeing that increase.”
Keep an eye out for exciting things happening in the parks system next year, as Olmsted park systems across the country celebrate Olmsted’s 200th birthday.
“There will be a lot of exciting things happening in Buffalo, since this is Olmsted’s first park system,” Stephenson hinted.