Located in the Elmwood Historic District, this 8.8 acre 700-foot-wide circle was designed by Olmsted, Vaux & Co. beginning in 1868 with a plan produced in 1871. A central hub of the West Side park approaches, where Chapin, Bidwell, and Lincoln Parkways converge, this inverted “Y” funnels traffic from downtown towards nearby Delaware Park a quarter mile to the north. The monumental park approaches with 200-foot-wide, tree-lined thoroughfares connected by equally impressive traffic circles were inspired by the grand boulevards and circles of Baron Haussmann’s renovation of Paris. Constructed in tandem with the adjacent parkways, Soldiers Place opened to traffic in 1873.
A plan to place a military monument in the central circle was never realized, instead civil-war era cannons and ammunition were installed in 1908 and removed in 1937. In their pace flagstone paths and a round planter, underwritten by civic leader Kneeland Wilkes, were added in 1948. Shaded by concentric rings of equally spaced elm trees, the planting pattern of the circle differs from the distinct quincunx arrangement of elms within the wide medians of the bisecting parkways. The circle was listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1982 along with other Olmsted parks and parkways in the system. In 2004 the maintenance and operation of the park system was ceded to the Buffalo Olmsted Parks Conservancy.