Mike Miller of the Central Terminal Restoration Corporation recently forwarded a BRO post titled ‘Casting Stones‘ to Robert Klara, Managing Editor of Architecture Magazine.
I recently sent Robert Klara the link to the “Casting Stones” post in BR. While it seems that some of his readers do not support his (and our!) position on preservation of the terminal, Robert’s comments about Harlem (in the last paragraph) are very apropos to what could happen on the east side of Buffalo. Perhaps his article will be read by one of the developers with “vision” that he mentions. I know it wouldn’t have been possible without Robert’s interest. Thank you! -Mike Miller
The following is Robert Klara’s response:
Thanks! I’ll have to give it more time to read all the responses. It’s funny, I’ve gotten more bile over this thing than I’d expected. Some of my readers seemed rather angry about it–suggesting that I’m naive to call for the station’s redevelopment, or that I don’t understand the complex dynamics at work. The latter may be true, but I had only 550 words to recount a history and make a difficult argument. I also heard from one reader in St. Louis who was angry about that city’s own station redevelopment project and elected to make me the lightning rod for it.
It’s strange; we try our best to serve and inform, but everybody’s obviously got their own unique perspectives and ideas of what we should be doing, or doing better. Still and all, I think the story made its point.
And, as it turned out, I was just about the see the Buffalo terminal for the first time myself! I just got back from vacation, having taken a round-trip of the continent by rail (to the west coast through Canada and then back via the United States.) The train I took to Toronto from NYC passed by the Buffalo station, and I was able to snap a few quick pictures of it. It was even more impactful than I’d imagined–a hulk, in fact, rising from the ground beneath the dark clouds, bathed by a snowstorm that had just started. The station was majestic and ominous. If I lived up there, I know I would surely be one of the volunteers trying to keep the place secure and clean and stable. Such a monument to commerce!
While it’s bad form for me to argue with readers who write us (and I did not), I really don’t agree with those who slammed me as naive for thinking a developer would go in there. I had one guy basically say that if the market would support such development, it would have happened already. Well, fine. But is there not also a compelling case to be made for going in NOW, early, ahead of the curve? Here in NYC, for decades, people said that Harlem would never again rise, and anyone who said that 125th Street could again be a major strip were called naive and idealistic. And now, look: Old Navy, Starbucks, and a slew of other national chains have “discovered” the place. Nobody’s calling THEM naive, surely. And while I understand the complexities associated with any rundown site, there were similar forces hobbling Harlem as Buffalo’s east side: Deteriorated infrastructure, distance from downtown, poor citizens, crime, and so on. All of these factors were overcome by a few developers who saw the potential.