Finding Beauty, Hope and Opportunity in Buffalo’s Urban Decay

The slideshow below shows off what two hours of urban exploration around Buffalo will get you. Its fun to explore,wander and dive into these structures and places and to bring these places into the public eye once in a while.

We all have different definitions of beauty. However, regardless, we are fortunate to have so many structures still standing, still waiting for their next purpose in their long lives. We are lucky to have had the best of the best in Buffalo at the turn of the century, a time that still dominates our lives through our building stock, Buffalo heritage and values. We had the BEST architects, construction workers, organizations and power people fighting to grow Buffalo to be the greatest city on earth.

Today, we have the relics of the past and the promise of a better future through recent growth and expansion. We have weathered the storm of the white flight and we are now seeing the return of families and businesses come into our city core.

As we grow, we must continue to preserve what made Buffalo – Buffalo.  We can do that through preservation,  rehabilitation, and through recreation. We can also build new alongside of our historic giants, incorporating the future into the past.  Its not rocket science, many cities – New York, Chicago and Toronto are doing it. We can too.

Saving beautiful buildings does not define preservation. Preservation goes beyond the beauty and aims to preserve history and importance to a person, place or thing. The chicken wing is not beautiful (although very tasty!) yet if the anchor bar closed, I am sure people would want to see it stay opened and take action to see it saved. Same goes for the Buffalo Bills. Right now many people think we are at risk of loosing them. The increased demand and attention from citizens and politicians for a better stadium is actually in an effort to preserve the Bills because the investment will hopefully keep the Buffalo Bills in Buffalo. Think about this – You cannot walk down the street without seeing Bills memorabilia. The team, regardless of success in the season is important to us and to Buffalo as a whole. So guess what? When the time comes, we will fight to preserve the Buffalo Bills.

My friends, the same attitude should be given for our churches, buildings and historic artifacts. Who cares if Trico isn’t as beautiful as City Hall? It still demands the same respect. In fact, day light factories are dwindling these days, making such a handsome building even more valuable. And what about the grain elevators? You don’t think there are a bunch of hipsters that want to party, watch shows, hang out or work in a grain elevator? There are. And taking a leap will attract more people to our City. Baltimore turned one grain elevator into condos which has been a super successful project. We can create the demand. Rick Smith, owner of Silo City has shown Buffalo that people do have interest in the grain elevators. Rick Smith is creating the buzz, capturing the audience and helping people across WNY find the beauty in the urban decay through events, tours and investment.

These photos represent opportunity, hope and a beauty that very few cities have. Our urban decay and density of the past will be our future. We need to build on what we have instead of destroying it. We are lucky to have these gentle giants waiting patiently for new life. We are fortunate to have a growing number of citizens finding interest in our urban environment. Preservation mixed with development can and will happen, we just have to continue to demand the best, just like our past Buffalonians did 100 years ago.

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