Friday, February 17, 2012

Western New York Walks: Orchard Park

Last month, our walking series took us around the Elmwood Village and Gates Circle for a two-mile walk. This month, we're heading south of the city to the Orchard Park village.

Two years ago, when Ben and I lived on East Quaker Street, we walked this route almost every day, usually with a stop at the library on the way home.

What's unique about this walk are the speakers attached to the light posts along Quaker Street. You'll hear classical music as you stroll along this stretch of road. You'll almost feel as if you're in a movie!

Google estimates that this walking route is 1.7 miles.

1. To start, park at or near the Bank of America.

If you park at the bank, make sure that you do so outside of regular business hours. Otherwise, park nearby in a space alongside the road.

The bank's parking lot faces the historical society.

2. Turn right from the Bank of America parking lot and walk until you reach the next block. 

You'll pass my old apartment building, on the right:

2. Turn right at Potter Avenue.

At the corner of Potter Avenue, you'll see a church. This is where you'll turn.

Potter Avenue is a residential street:

3. Walk to the next block and turn right onto Clark Street.

Take note of the historical marker on the corner, indicating the 1855 site of the Erie County Fairgrounds.

4. Continue walking straight, past South Buffalo Street.

You'll pass the fire department on the right:

On the left is one of my favorite houses in the village. Very stately.

5. When you reach the school, turn left on School Street.

6. Keep going straight until you can walk no further.

The library is at the end of the road – you can't miss it because there's a train station in its backyard. How many libraries can say that?

7. Walk alongside the library until you reach South Buffalo Street, then turn left.

Now you're headed back to the main village, where you'll see (and hear) the speakers that I mentioned earlier. South Buffalo Street is both commercial and residential, with historic houses that would look right at home in a Christmas village.

7. At the corner, turn right at the Realty USA building and walk back to your car.

For a more detailed view of this walk, click here for a Google map.

What I Like About This Walk

Orchard Park is the definition of a quaint. But there are some areas where it becomes too generic – the Stovroff Plaza on North Buffalo Street comes to mind. This walk gives you a peak at Orchard Park's historic buildings while skipping over the mundane plazas and shopping centers.

I also like that this walk includes a library. The book selection isn't as large as at the Central Library, of course, but the Orchard Park branch has many DVDs to choose from, most of them recent, judging from when I was there last.

The one thing I don't like: a lack of garbage cans. Ben and I have a tendency to stop for a drink as we walk, and while I understand that garbage cans aren't nice to look at, they do fulfill a need. On Elmwood Avenue, you can't walk twenty feet without seeing a garbage can, and I'm always thankful for them. Not so in Orchard Park, so be prepared to carry any trash to your car.

Are you familiar with Orchard Park? Where do you like to walk in the village?

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