This beautiful 60-acre island in the area that has become Buffalo’s Black Rock neighborhood was first named De-dyo-we-no-guh-doh, meaning “Divided Island,” by the Seneca; the “divided” refers to the island being divided by a marshy creek that, at a later time, came to be known as Smuggler’s Run. It was proposed that the original Native name be reinstated when the request was made to change the island’s first English name from a derogatory term, but ultimately, on July 6, 2015, the Buffalo Common Council voted to change the island’s name to Unity Island.
The island has seen much more action than just a name change. This is where the British warship HMS Detroit was beached, burned, and sunk in the War of 1812, and the island was a significant site in the Underground Railroad. At one time used as a municipal garbage dump, the island is now home to Broderick Park, Unity Island Park, and a waste-treatment facility. Unity Island also provides access to Bird Island Pier.