“Queen City of the Great Lakes” getting rave reviews
Have you heard? Buffalo, New York – the “Queen City of the Great Lakes” – is quietly undergoing a cultural and architectural renaissance that’s getting rave reviews by opinion makers across the country. Last month, the National Trust for Historic Preservation named the city as one of its 2009 Dozen Distinctive Destinations for offering cultural and recreational experiences that differ from the typical vacation destination. Not to be outdone, The New York Times named the City one of the Top 44 Places to Go in 2009.“Buffalo has long been a jewel of New York State, with its rich history in arts and culture, as well as with its direct access to fresh water, an international border and a world wonder. I am pleased to see that Buffalo is getting the recognition it deserves as a city home to many interesting and exciting sights and opportunities for both residents and visitors alike,” said Dennis Mullen, Upstate President of Empire State Development.
“Further, the Natural Trust for Historic Preservation has selected Buffalo to host its annual conference in October 2011. At that time, Buffalo and New York State will have an international spotlight on it, as over 3,500 preservationists and architects will come to Buffalo to experience for themselves the reasons why Buffalo was chosen as the site for this important conference. It is my hope that now marks a time when people will begin to take advantage of all that the City of Good Neighbors has to offer, by way of history, architecture, art and natural wonders.”
From its dynamic downtown and amazing architecture to its cultural diversity and commitment to historic preservation, Buffalo boasts a richness of character and exudes an authentic sense of place.
From Beautiful, Innovative Parks to Amazing Architecture
The City’s parks were designed by Frederick Law Olmsted, the greatest landscape architect and parks designer of the nineteenth century, who knew the importance of what is now known as “quality of life.” He strove to create parks, parkways and circles that would offer residents and visitors a refuge within an urban environment.
Between Olmsted’s pristine network of city parks are National Historic Landmarks by Frank Lloyd Wright, Louis Sullivan and H.H. Richardson. The City also boasts surviving buildings by the nation’s first professional woman architect, Louise Blanchard Bethune.
The Darwin D. Martin House Complex, which is now in the later stages of a multi-year restoration project and open for tours, is one of the largest of Wright’s "Prairie-style" houses, with graceful sweeping lines and a spacious interior. It is considered by many architectural critics to be one of Wright’s greatest works. (716/856-3858; www.darwinmartinhouse.org)
Delight in extraordinary examples of Victorian, Beaux-Arts, Romanesque and Art Deco architecture throughout the City by taking one of the more than 500 walking tours (www.buffalotours.org) available, or by booking a seat on Open Air Autobus Tours (www.openairbuffalo.org).
A Vibrant Waterfront
In 1825 the Erie Canal was constructed with Buffalo serving as its important western terminus and transfer point for goods and passengers traveling across the Great Lakes towards the rapidly growing Midwestern United States. As a result, the commercial activity spurred by this “gateway to the west” had an enormous impact on the City’s expansion and prosperity.
Following an extensive, decade-long redevelopment effort, the 184-year old Erie Canal Harbor has been restored and opened to the general public with much fanfare in June 2008. Visitors to the harbor can look forward to experiencing the refurbished canal district, or simply enjoy this dynamic waterfront location through sun-bathing, non-competitive sports, and other leisure activities on the site’s expansive central wharf grass plaza. (www.eriecanalharbor.com)
Rich Historical Treasures
In addition to the Erie Canal, Buffalo has been connected with several U.S. presidents, including Theodore Roosevelt, who was sworn into office following President McKinley’s death at the Ansley Wilcox Mansion, which is now the Theodore Roosevelt Inaugural National Historic Site (716/884-0095; www.nps.gov/thri).
Buffalo also boasts key sites related to the Underground Railroad, the informal network of secret routes and safe houses used to help Black slaves escape to free states and Canada with the aid of abolitionists. The most famous of Buffalo’s Underground Railroad sites, Michigan Street Baptist Church, was founded in 1837. Prior to the Civil War, the church’s basement served as a refuge for fugitive slaves waiting to be ferried across the Niagara River to Canada and freedom.
Historic preservation is key to Buffalo’s revitalization. Over the past ten years, the city’s neighborhoods are returning to their turn-of-century glory, including the Allentown Historic District, one of the first and largest residential districts in the U.S.
Participate in one of the largest garden tours in America, Garden Walk Buffalo. Held annually on the last weekend of July, the garden walk is a free, self-guided tour of more than 300 Buffalo gardens. Tens of thousands of visitors flock to Buffalo’s West Side to pick up their maps and start walking through gardens, which are located in clusters within a three-mile radius. (www.gardenwalkbuffalo.com)
A Bounty of the Arts and Culture
Today, Buffalo caters to all tastes and interests. There is a lively arts scene that includes the world-class collection of modern and contemporary art at the Albright-Knox Art Gallery. The Gallery's collection is especially rich in post-war American and European art. (716/882-8700; www.albrightknox.org)
Across the street from the Albright-Knox Art Gallery on the campus of Buffalo State College, is the new Burchfield Penney Art Center. The Burchfield houses an amazing collection of the works of Western New York artists, in particular American watercolorist Charles E. Burchfield (1893-1967), who spent most of his life in the region. (716/878-6011; www.yournewburchfieldpenney.com)
Built in 1926 in the style of a European opera house, Shea’s Performing Arts Center (716/847-0850, www.sheas.org), continues to entertain audiences with touring shows, concerts, opera, dance, organ concerts and children’s shows. Kleinhan’s Music Hall, home to the Buffalo Philharmonic, is considered to be one of the top acoustical venues in the country. (716/883-3560; www.bpo.org)
You’ll find eccentric antique shops, eclectic art galleries and studios, sassy boutiques and more than 40 restaurants, bistros, bars and dining spots in Buffalo's charming and funky Elmwood Village, recently designated one of the best neighborhoods in America by the American Planning Association. (www.foreverelmwood.com)
About New York State
New York State features 11 beautiful vacation regions. New York’s attractions span from landmarks such as Niagara Falls, to the wine trails of Hudson Valley and treasures like the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown. Whether it’s wide-ranging outdoor activities for the whole family like fishing, hiking and boating, culinary wonders and farm-to-table fresh foods, or the rich history and culture of one of the 13 original colonies, New York State offers diverse activities for all travelers. For more information, visit www.iloveny.com. Media can find press releases and more at thebeat.iloveny.com.