Finding my way home: Buffalo

October 25, 2015

buffbuildings

I was thrilled to see this post from The architectural writer Alexandra Lange who visited Buffalo, NY. this summer.

Lange’s article gave architectural tourists like me  a good reason to rediscover my home town. The city has more than Chicken Wings going for it. It’s one of the country’s most architecturally and culturally  historic places.

As a native Buffalonian and garden lover, I was surprised to learn that Fredrick Law Olmstead designed the city park system. I already knew that Louis Sullivan designed the Guaranty Building and that the monumental 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 workers, such as  my parents, realized that steel production and other industrial jobs were disappearing fast. Their story is a familiar one. Typically, those with white collar jobs moved to the suburbs.  For instance, when my siblings and I reached school age, our parents moved us to the suburb of Amherst.  In 1969,  they  joined the great migration of educated workers who gladly moved to Florida, happy to leave the economic has-beens — the industrial cities of the Great Lakes region.  Little did I know that 40 years later, I’d return to rediscover it’s rich architectural  history.

 

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