Records of The Park (aka Delaware Park) from 1898 show that boat rentals were a concession. That year, the "boathouse and boating privileges" were let to Mrs. J.E. Nunan for $750 per year.
The photographic record shows that canoes and/or rowboats were rented, depending on the concessionaire.
Owner of the gondola, seen in a few photos from the early 1900s, is not known.
The late George Kunz, Buffalo teacher and writer, recalled in Buffalo Memories that in his youth, there were canoes for rent on the lake which were painted each year by Parks Department workers and in reds, greens, yellows, and blues. The rental was 75 cents per hour with a $5 deposit or "a secondhand watch."
Kunz said that young men hoping to impress a lady would bring a portable record player on board and "over placid waters, you could hear the gentle crooning of Bing Crosby: 'When the b-b-blue of the night/Meets the g-gold of the day...'..."
The Park Lake (aka Delaware Park Lake and presently Hoyt Lake) was once the scene of Sunday boating while bands played along the shore. According the Buffalo News, boat rentals ceased in the 1950s because the lake was polluted.
Boats returned to Hoyt Lake June 27, 2008, when five 16-foot rowboats were placed in the water. The boats were designed by John Montague, Executive Director of the Buffalo Maritime Center at Buffalo State College. They were built at the Center by students from the Police Athletic League, Maritime Center volunteers and PAL mentors in 2002, according the to Olmsted Parks Conservancy.
2008 rental prices are $10 for 30 minutes, $15 for an hour. For historical views and details about the Delaware Park Casino, look here.