Niagara Falls Riverway, Niagara Falls, NY

For New York State Parks Office of Recreation and Historic Preservation, NYS DOT

Heritage Landscapes authored the landscape components of the design reporting and developed construction documents for the redesign of the Riverway at Niagara Falls State Park. Originally laid out by Olmsted and Vaux as a narrow scenic drive, this project removed the 1960s highway interchange and road that severed park and river from the neighborhood allowing only through traffic.  As the project landscape architect, we drew on the Olmsted Vaux 1887 design approach to shape a scenic park on fill along the Niagara River and Rapids, with a path network at accessible grades, a pond, layby parking and informative signs for daily community enjoyment and tourist use. Heritage Landscapes work included:

  • Analyze Olmsted-Vaux original design principles and character
  • Assess historic images and evolution for landscape character
  • Use origins and evolution to inform landscape design alternatives
  • Design grading, drives, walks and plantings in Olmsted-Vaux style
  • Detail new trees, pond and entry with native, ecotone plantings
  • Prepare informative, graphically rich interpretive sign panels
  • Develop full construction documents and assist during work

Informed by historical research we designed the enlarged land area of the Riverway in a manner that respects and interprets original intent and fulfills 21st century aesthetic and functional needs. The Riverway new park landscape restores passages of scenery for public enjoyment, as the Niagara Reservation originally intended. 

WORKS Riverway Park and Parkway construction, 2013- 2017; NYS Design Report, Alternatives, Community Outreach, Approvals, 2007-2012.


Heritage Landscapes, Landscape Architects,team lead Hatch Mott MacDonald, with interdisciplinary consultants team


“What is mainly importantis . . . the enjoyment of certain passages of natural scenery of a distinctive character–that shall plainly control all the arrangements." Fredrick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux, General Plan for the Improvement of the Niagara Reservation, 1887