Heacock Park (Heacock Place)

Heacock Park, more recently referred to as Heacock Place, predates the Olmsted park system of Buffalo. This approximately four acre plot of land was deeded to the city of Buffalo in January, 1854 by Reuben B. Heacock (1787-1854) and his wife, the former Abigail Peabody Grosvenor. It is located at the northern end of McKinley (formerly South Side) Parkway, between present Abbott Road and Southside Parkway. McKinley Parkway which connects Heacock Park with South Park and, via Red Jacket Parkway, with Cazenovia Park.
When the South Side Parkway was laid out, its northern end passed through Heacock Park to the intersection of South Park Avenue (now Southside Parkway) and Abbott Road. Sometime between 1909 and 1915, the central roadway was removed, and to keep parkway traffic back from the busy South Park and Abbott intersection, with new access drives bearing left and right connected with South Park Avenue and Abbott Road, respectively. The new configuration better handled the parkway traffic and allowed the trees of Heacock Park to buffer the view up McKinley parkway. As vehicular traffic continued to increase, these parkway access drive being set back a hundred feet or more from the primary intersection caused a different set of problems with traffic flow. To ameliorate the traffic congestion, during a reconstruction of Abbott Road in the early 1980s the parkway drive to Abbott Road was removed and replaced with turf. That is the configuration of the park today.
While Heacock park formed a part of the southern portion of the Buffalo’s Olmsted park system, it should be noted that it was not, itself, an Olmsted design.
As to Heacock Park’s namesake, Reuben Bostwick Heacock, the park’s donor, was a banker and merchant prominent in business affairs of the young city. His most prominent endeavor was as a founding member of the Hydraulic Business Association in 1827, prior to the city’s incorporation. That company constructed a canal in the bed of Little Buffalo Creek, running some three miles, from what is now West Seneca to Lake Erie, to provide water power to entice industries to located along its banks. The canal’s terminus was the “Commercial Slip”, at present Canalside on the waterfront. The Hydraulic Canal largely lay within the lands of the Buffalo Creek Reservation of the Seneca Indians, who were paid a nominal rent. A disputed treaty in 1838 attempted to extinguish Seneca rights to the land and force the their relocation to Wisconsin and Kansas. In 1842 that treaty was renegotiated and subsequently ratified by the United States Senate. By that instrument, the Buffalo Creek Reservation was surrendered and vacated, and the lands were sold to the Ogden Land Company, but the Senecas were allowed to retain the Allegheny and Cattaraugus reservations. Heacock speculated in the lands made available by the forced relocation, the grounds of Heacock Park being part of the property he had thus purchased.