This is an iPhone photo “tour” of downtown Buffalo intended to give the reader a brief glimpse into the interesting architecture and big city feel that the city elicits. There is no deeper insight here other than the reminder that, even in winter, Buffalo’s urban landscape is intriguing and captivating, with limitless potential moving forward into the future.
Last Friday I took a quick trip to downtown Buffalo get a better sense of the historic city. Admittedly, I haven’t spent much time in Buffalo… for whatever reason, I’ve focused more of my travels on the central and eastern portions New York. But the intrigue of rebirth that is thundering through a city that once held a prominent place in our country’s landscape has drawn my growing attention. More than that, Buffalo is beginning to become a sort of mini-obsession of mine and I’m not quite sure why.
Despite a decidedly dreary Upstate New York late November day, I walked the streets and traveled the NFTA Metro Rail line to many of the stations and neighborhoods to the north. Yes that’s right, Buffalo has light rail, which spends time above ground downtown, and below ground along Main Street to the University of Buffalo South Campus. I mention this because I would make a hard wager that most New Yorkers have no idea Buffalo has this type of infrastructure. That being said, its presence and features are a perpetual foreground in the landscape of downtown Buffalo.
Downtown plays host to an array of buildings that appear to be an incongruent blend of three architectural generations… a time when Buffalo was one of this nation’s greatest cities, a time when Urban Renewal tried and failed to recreate its former glory, and the modern day reinvestment in a downtown that is opening eyes again. The rugged but spectacular architecture from a city on the edge of greatness still stands side-by-side with a relentless Art Deco influence. But the brutalism and cookie-cutter influence of the 70s and early 80s invades the cityscape at every turn with a collective sigh of dispassion. And today? The shine of new development sneaks into the fray, adding another element of nuance to Buffalo’s changing urban makeup.
Moving north from downtown along the rail line, Buffalo boast an endless sprawl of residential neighborhoods, colorful local shops and excellent eateries.
By no means whatsoever is this post intended to give you the reader anything other than a brief superficial glance at Buffalo’s architectural core. But sometimes an abbreviated tour of what beats the aesthetic heart of a city can shift minds, and remind us all that despite many hard decades in our Upstate urban landscape, there is so much to see, do and appreciate. Our cities are starting to get a foothold once again, and Buffalo appears to be on the forefront. Stay tuned for more.