Gateway Harbor recognized with state heritage award

Photo by Pierre WilliotGateway Harbor of the Tonawandas is among the winners of the Erie Canalway National Heritage Corridor’s 2020 Erie Canalway Heritage Award of Excellence.

Gateway Harbor of the Tonawandas in North Tonawanda and Tonawanda is among the winners of the Erie Canalway National Heritage Corridor’s 2020 Erie Canalway Heritage Award of Excellence.

Erie Canal Heritage Park at Port Byron and the Port of Newark in Newark were also recognized.

“We are proud to recognize these extraordinary places that have capitalized on their canal heritage to revitalize their waterfronts and communities,” said Bob Radliff, executive director of the Erie Canalway National Heritage Corridor. “Each project is unique in scope and concept, but they all make the Canalway Corridor a more vibrant place to live and visit. They serve as valuable models for what can be accomplished with thoughtful planning, sound investments, and collaboration among diverse stakeholders.”

The Heritage Award honors significant places of the Erie Canalway National Heritage Corridor and recognizes excellence in advancing the goals of the Erie Canalway Preservation and Management Plan.

In announcing the award, officials said Gateway Harbor of the Tonawandas, North Tonawanda and Tonawanda represented decades of collaborative investment and waterfront revitalization, calling it a vibrant public space and regional destination.

“By crossing county and community boundaries, Tonawanda and North Tonawanda created a single campus that unites north and south by water and enhances both communities.”

Projects included developing 1,000 feet of dockage and amenities for boaters, creating paddlesport access, converting an adjacent street into pedestrian-only green space with passive and active recreation, developing a network of trails, attracting mixed-use commercial development, designating a downtown historic district, and connecting the harbor with adjacent downtowns. The collaborative efforts between Tonawanda and North Tonawanda were funded in part by the NYS Department of State Local Waterfront Revitalization Program, the Buffalo Billion Smart Growth Community Fund, and NYS Canal Corporation Canalway Grant Program.

The harbor’s success has sparked reinvestment in long-abandoned commercial properties along the waterfront and attracted new businesses to both cities. Visitors and residents are drawn to the waterfront restaurants, local attractions, and recreational opportunities at Gateway Harbor, extending their stay and boosting the economic impact of tourism in the region.

“The Erie Canal has historically been the most influential, defining feature of the Twin Cities of North Tonawanda and Tonawanda,” said Arthur G. Pappas, mayor of North Tonawanda. “Gateway Harbor Park’s development has transformed the downtowns of the Tonawandas into a vibrant summertime destination and allowed thousands of visitors every year to experience the history, heritage, and recreation that the Erie Canal offers. We are so honored Gateway Harbor Park has received the Erie Canalway Heritage Award.” The Erie Canalway National Heritage Corridor has conferred the Erie Canalway Heritage Award of Excellence on exceptional sites since 2008. 

Learn more about this year’s recipients and prior winners at

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