Tall Ships event organizers see the festival as a sign the waterfront's future is bright, but they also want it to remind people of its rich maritime past.
Historians at the Buffalo Harbor Museum say the waterfront looks vastly different presently, than it did in the early 1800s. Many of the buildings and housing are no longer there, but pictures on display in the museum paint a very different waterfront than in recent years.
“The waterfront had thousands of people working here every day and living nearby,” said Jack Messmer, Buffalo Harbor Museum vice president.
Messmer says Buffalo was the number one grain port in the world.
"The city was built around the harborfront and that changed around the 1970's. The Seaway was the beginning of the end for Buffalo Harbor."
When the industry started to leave, the waterfront became a much different place.
"For a long time we turned our back on our waterfront,” said Mike Vogel, Tall Ships event organizer. “We turned our back on our city and it was an industrial wasteland down here."
And that history could one people wouldn’t believe currently.
"If you don't see it, you don't talk about it,” said Tall Ship festival goer Rob Strande.
But organizers of the Tall Ships Festival say this event is a sign of resurgence for the waterfront. They're hoping it reconnects Buffalo to its own story and helps people understand its rich maritime history.
"I think it is critically important,” Vogel said. “Not only for those visiting, but to give those of us who live here a greater sense of pride, a greater knowledge of our own heritage, connect us to our own story and make this a pleasant place to live and take pride in."
With millions of dollars invested through different projects along the waterfront, it's making the waterfront somewhere people want to go and learn about.
"The more I read about it because of the tall ships coming in, I've learned more of the history,” said Tim Boland, festival goer.
"It brings people downtown, money downtown, and this is a super thing,” said Mark Iacono, festival goer.
"You put it in front of them, you are made to understand what it is and when parents come down here with kids, they tell them this is what Buffalo was about,” Strande said.