What does Buffalo mean to you?

Every once in a while we get an email from a reader who puts his or her thought onto “paper” and sends them along. Most of the time these sorts of writings ask questions regarding developments in Buffalo, or about small businesses that we might not be aware of. Occasionally we get something that looks like the following diatribe by Michael Schifano that rambles (in a good way) about the city, pointing out missed opportunities, memories and the future of the city. I love to read about people who take the time to look at the city in a new light, even when it can be hard to get past the hardships that it has faced. 
That is what the following message does, as it describes growing up in Buffalo at a different time, and eventually coming full circle, to a point where the process of discovery becomes an eye-opening experience that actually heals old wounds. Sometimes we need to move forward despite the “want” to reclaim the past. In doing so we can find places of interest that remind us of our youth, and better times. The more of those special places that we discover, the more that we can reinvent a world that offers us all of the things that we once missed. In the end, it comes down to exploring Buffalo and supporting the businesses and institutions that you feel make this a better place to live. 
Many of Buffalo’s neighborhoods are rebounding, and hopefully someday we can revisit the ones that have not quite begun to resurrect. In order to do so, we must take what we learn in one instance and replicate it. That is the sense that I came away with after reading the following email – from someone who is taking the time to look around at his city in a way that appears relatively unjaded. Now take a trip, through a similar stream of thought that I bet many of us have on a daily basis. Thankfully every once in a while someone actually takes the time to write down the recollections.
By Michael Schifano:
Just a few thoughts after a drive through Buffalo this morning. 
My childhood neighborhood, Riverside, is so dilapidated that it is difficult for me to remember the ‘good old days.’ Three hardware stores, three pharmacies, a five and dime, a top shelf men’s store, a cigar store, furniture stores, and countless others. Now most of them are gone, the men’s store is a vacant lot and the neighborhood looks like it should be in Detroit (sorry). The former Chase Bag building on Rano Street is a handsome remnant of Riverside’s industrial heritage, but down the street stands the derelict hulk that once housed American Standard. We could hear the steam whistle calling for a shift change back when it was in full operation. In fact, there were multiple steam whistles coming from multiple heavy industries back then. Now there is mostly silence and broken windows. 
Gondola Macaroni Products and Sun International Foods on Niagara Street are both amazing places. Never been to the Viking Lobster Company, but it too, looks like a ‘must visit’. Very unassuming. The Viking Deli of Distinction (Facebook) might be the place to start.  
The Erector Set that doubles as an urban transit line has always been an eyesore. All the stops in downtown need to be redone, and cars on Main Street are long overdue. The price for public transportation was too high for what we got. The bridges over Elmwood, Delaware, and Colvin should have been repaired and used for an east to west route for the transit line, along with other freight tracks around the city. Niagara Falls to downtown Buffalo? In an ideal world this route would already have a few trains a day, but things are different in this part of the country. 
The Cobblestone ‘district’ is possibly my favorite area of the city. The progress is painfully slow but I still hold out hope for a full scale revitalization of those beautiful (I’m a frustrated visionary) prime blocks of downtown historical real estate. Sad to see McBride’s Irish Pub go away. In a lot of other cities that area would be bustling with commerce and construction and could have supported such a nice place. Some Buffalo Braves home games would be good for the district these days. 
The DL&W Terminal is a lost opportunity. A parking agreement with whoever controls the ramp adjacent to the arena could present an opportunity for someone to develop the second floor. The first could still house the NFTA’s rail cars and even the final stop for a second floor market and the arena. I’d like to take my kids on a tour of the Edward M. Cotter. Heck, I’d like to take a tour of it even if they did not want to. 
Buffalonians-Buffalo-NY-pride.jpg
The English Pork Pie Co. has some tasty treats. And we’re fortunate to have had them stay in New York state. Their shop is like an oasis on that stretch of the street; and a tasty one at that. 
For the last few weeks I’ve had to drive to the Georgetown Square and accidentally discovered Wolter’s Bakery (Facebook). Very nice products and good coffee. After inquiring, I was told that it was McCullagh Coffee. I’ve been driving to Swan Street (see website) for one pound bags ever since. Mazurek’s Bakery on South Park is great too. The new owner is really keeping up the tradition of the mom and pop better than the grocery store bakery. I’ll be visiting from time to time. 
There are too many Tim Horton’s ‘bakeries’ in this city. Sacrilege? Sorry, but fifty or so of anything is just too many. Thankfully we still live in a free market society, and I’m happy for the owners of these successful businesses, but it says something about our eating habits when chains flourish and so many high quality independent eateries struggle to make it. There was a hole in the wall bakery on Hertel near Delaware called Uhl’s that had the best doughnuts you could find in Buffalo, but it closed a long time ago. Freddie’s was not shab
by either. 
Across town, you wonder what Main and Michigan would look like without Canisius college and all that they have done for that part of the city. Same goes for the area around UB up the street. The sad state of the school system is a major impediment to the revitalization of the city. Twenty some thousand a student will get you Nichols, Park or a host of other high quality schools in the private sector. And in some cases you’ll even have money left over for books and uniforms…
To be continued?
Images and side note: Some of the places of note that remind me (Queenseyes) that it is possible to be rebuild our neighborhoods without losing our old world character – as I read Michael’s email these are some of the storefront images that popped up in my head… and some of the people that are making a difference.

About the author  ⁄ queenseyes

Founder of Buffalo Rising. Co-founder Elmwood Avenue Festival of the Arts. Co-founder Powder Keg Festival that built the world's largest ice maze (Guinness Book of World Records). Instigator behind Emerald Beach at the Erie Basin Marina. Co-created Flurrious! winter festival. Co-creator of Rusty Chain Beer. Instigator behind Saturday Artisan Market (SAM) at Canalside. Founder of The Peddler retro and vintage market. Instigator behind Liberty Hound @ Canalside. Catalyst behind the Pierce-Arrow Film Arts Center. Throws The Witches Ball at The Hotel @ The Lafayette. Themed New Years mayhem at various locations. Next up: Porchfest... Also offers package tours of the city for groups or individuals. Contact Newell Nussbaumer | Newell@BuffaloRising.com

14 comments
sbrof
sbrof

A Victoria native here. Still go to BT regularly and ponder how to resurrect what should be a great neighborhood.

sbrof
sbrof

A Victoria native here. Still go to BT regularly and ponder how to resurrect what should be a great neighborhood.

rheumpa
rheumpa

My Dad grew up in Blackrock in the 1950s and 60s. He loved it there and watched it's decline over the years. His family moved to the 'burbs in the 1970s and he and my mom settled in Kenmore. Over the past 6 or 7 years he was so excited to see the great things happening on Amherst Street. He became a "regular" at Sportsmen's and was so excited to grab a slice of pizza at Joe's across the street after seeing some great live music. He was so happy to see the Dog Daycare move in, BRKB and Delish too. He would tell us about "the good ol' days" but truly thought that Amherst Street could be even better than before. He passed away over a year ago, but the revitalization of Blackrock was so important to him and I am glad he got to see it!

rheumpa
rheumpa

My Dad grew up in Blackrock in the 1950s and 60s. He loved it there and watched it's decline over the years. His family moved to the 'burbs in the 1970s and he and my mom settled in Kenmore. Over the past 6 or 7 years he was so excited to see the great things happening on Amherst Street. He became a "regular" at Sportsmen's and was so excited to grab a slice of pizza at Joe's across the street after seeing some great live music. He was so happy to see the Dog Daycare move in, BRKB and Delish too. He would tell us about "the good ol' days" but truly thought that Amherst Street could be even better than before. He passed away over a year ago, but the revitalization of Blackrock was so important to him and I am glad he got to see it!

rb09
rb09

Buffalo has what is most important, quality people.

Buffalo's greatest asset is it's people...

Buffalonians are people who are proud of who they are: Loyal,

generous, compassionate, and resourceful people linked by a common connection to each other.

Growing up in Buffalo will shape you in important ways. It will instill in you kindness, generosity, resilience, integrity, and a strong devotion to community.

Becoming a cog in Buffalo's revival is a lot more fulfilling than praying for its resurrection from a neighboring state's bar-stool... :)

http://www.authenticbuffalonian.com/#!/

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Authentic-Buffalonian/234773749949623?ref=tn_tnmn

Travelrrr
Travelrrr

So, can you write to the Mayor and ask him to stop tearing down said "best architecture"?

Buffalobooster7
Buffalobooster7

Born and raised in New Jersey.This city has the best architecture in the states.Even better than many European cities I've visited.Better marketing and advertising in NYC and the burbs there will definitely start a buzz.

colonlacky
colonlacky

Oh, right! The former owner of the Buffalo House, right? Now I remember! Thanks!

LouisTully
LouisTully

It's a soon to open tavern on Allen at Elmwood, one door in from where Sweet Tooth used to be located. There was an article a while back but the place wasn't yet named.

colonlacky
colonlacky

Where is "The Alley Cat?" I don't seem to remember an article about this.....

Old First Ward
Old First Ward

Some quick things that come to mind.

Food: Bocce Pizza, Chicken Wings, Texas Red Hots, Pepsi

Places To Eat: Chefs, Louies Texas Red Hots, Mighty Taco

Employers: General Mills, Republic Steel, South Buffalo Railroad

Neighborhoods: Old First Ward, The Westside, Kaisertown

The Bars: The Hoffer House, Whiteys, Fibber McGees

Festivals: The Italian Festival, Allentown Art Festival, St. Patricks Day Parade

Hottest Girls: Italians, Polish, Puerto Rican

Most Notable Sites: Grain Elevators, City Hall, Peace Bridge

Parks: Delaware Park, South Park Lake, Cazenovia Park

Favorite Buildings: Richardson Complex, Old Post Office (ECC), Anything 19th Century Brick

Demolished Buildings: Old Library, Erie County Savings Bank, Central High School and so many more...

Mayors: Griffin, Sedita, Brown

Most Overrated: Panos, North Buffalo, Andersons Roast Beef

Most Underrated: Costanzo's Bakery, Fran Ceils Custard, Abbott Texas Hots

Most Overpriced: Chicken Wings, Slice of Pizza, Gas

Most Underpriced: Super Mighty Taco, Delta Sonic Car Wash, Dollar Menus

buffalorr
buffalorr

I agree with the first comment.

I moved back to Buffalo last November after having left 36 years ago.

First went to NYC, then Chicago and finally S. California for the last 22 of those 36 years.

Loved living in all of those places, but alway's had the feeling that I need to return to Buffalo, my home town.

It hurt to see the neighborhood I grew up in ( Fillmore-Leroy ) looking like a war zone.

Many other places, my old church, friend's houses and even the Central Park Plaza have all been torn down.

Alternately, Hutch Tech, Shea's, the old Trico plant on Main St. and all the other wonderfully restored landmarks that we barely noticed in the 50's and 60's make me so optimistic about Buffalo's future.

Seeing Buffalo this past weekend covered in snow under a clear blue sky on Sunday was amazing.

Forest Lawn, Delaware Park, the inner harbor and many neighborhoods in between could easily have been photographed to make spectacular post cards--which by the way I did do.

I can honestly say now, I have no regret's at all about returning and that includes experiencing the weather that so many, especially the media, so often put down.

Trust me, day after day of sun and month's without rain become old and boring after a while.

You don't fully appreciate what you have until you've left it.

lfh
lfh

I've been gone from Buffalo for 48 years and don't have any family remaining in the city. However, I still think of and call Buffalo HOME.

john.straubinger@gmail.com
john.straubinger@gmail.com

Buffalo is where my sense of place comes from. It's where my heart lives most of the time even though I live in Massachusetts.It will always be my hometown.

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