I grew up in Buffalo and I didn’t know until I read this post from architectural writer Alexandra Lange that I grew up in an architectural mecca. Lange’s article drove me to rediscover my home town.
As a native Buffalonian and garden lover, I was surprised to learn that Fredrick Law Olmsted designed the city park system. I already knew that Louis Sullivan built the amazing, and almost-demolished, Guaranty Building and that City Hall was designed by John Wade in what he dubbed the Americanesque Art Deco style (1932). The city’s booming growth came to a grinding halt just 30 years later. In the 1960s, the city became crusted over with the orange patina of rust when middle class, people, such as my parents, realized that Buffalo had experienced a reversal of fortunes. Their story is a familiar one. Typically, those with white collar jobs moved to the suburbs. For instance, when I reached school age, my parents moved to the suburb of Amherst. In 1969, they joined the great migration of educated workers who gladly moved to Florida, to escape the economic “armpit of the nation.” Little did I know that 40 years later, I’d return to rediscover it’s rich architectural history and some preservationists know they have a treasure to protect.