Buffalo, N.Y.?! “No-respect” Rodney Dangerfield would fit right in.
I sometimes question why I’m such a staunch advocate of this weather-beaten city on the Great Lakes. But when I had the chance to go “on camera” and publicly share my thoughts and dreams for my hometown, I didn’t hesitate.
A film crew for the National Trust for Historic Preservation came to town last July to interview Buffalonians about places they treasure. Here was a chance to “tell it like it is” and share the real Buffalo.
I joined hundreds of passionate Western New Yorkers who gathered at various meet-up spots for the Trust’s “Buffalo Unscripted” web documentary project. I met the team of enthusiastic, young videographer/interviewers in the airy, art-glass addition to the Frank Lloyd Wright-designed Gardener’s Cottage. It’s part of the Darwin D. Martin House Complex in North Buffalo where I’ve been leading tours as a certified docent for 11 years.
“Describe Buffalo in one word,” I was asked.
“Surprising,” I responded.
I spoke of the newly-restored Martin House as “a shining example” of what could be accomplished when people come together to work toward a common goal. I spoke of the “P word” (“potential”), so often applied to Buffalo, yet too often unrealized.
I said many out-of-towners can reiterate the stereotypes (chicken wings, losing football teams and lots of snow) but they’ve never really been here to see and experience this remarkable city for themselves.
Fortunately, the final cut of “Buffalo Unscripted” will premiere during “Alternating Currents,” the Trust’s 2011 conference, which will bring thousands of preservation-minded people to Buffalo Oct. 18-22 to see what locals admire (and, yes, respect) about this unique place. The public is invited to the free premiere screening on Friday, Oct. 21, from 6 to 9:30 p.m. in the Market Arcade Film & Arts Centre, 639 Main St. in downtown Buffalo.
The conference is bringing some much-deserved national attention to Buffalo. Here’s what Priya Chhaya, program associate with the Trust’s Partnerships Office, wrote in a recent blog:
“I believe that if you come to Buffalo for this year’s National Preservation Conference you will have the opportunity to look at preservation through the eyes of a city that is embracing the future through its past. The work that the community and preservation organizations are accomplishing involves taking a realistic view of the changes in our economy and a way of life—and understand that change does not only mean building new, but also looking at new ways to use existing assets to revitalize a city that many have long since written off.”
I’m excited to be some small part of this event and I’m proud that the community is coming together to make it something really special for scores of visitors.
WNED Public Broadcasting Boosts Buffalo
Significantly, DVDs of WNED’s 2006 national documentary “Frank Lloyd Wright’s Buffalo” proved to be a key promotional tool for attracting the conference to Buffalo.
WNED’s radio stations will be further promoting Buffalo’s architectural gems just as conference attendees are discovering them first-hand. “Buffalo Architecture,” a new radio series celebrating the city’s storied structures, will air October 10-14 and 17-21 as follows:
- WNED-AM 970: 6:30 a.m., 8:30 a.m., 12:30 p.m., 5:45 p.m.
- Classical 94.5 WNED: 9 a.m. and following the 3 p.m. “BBC News”
Ten three-minute segments will highlight the city’s significant architectural past, as well as its promise for the future. The series also will offer context, exploring the inter-relationships between urban life and architecture as well as changing perceptions of the role of architecture.
Eight specific sites, including six of Buffalo’s nine National Historic Landmarks, will be featured:
- Guaranty Building
- Kleinhans Music Hall
- Buffalo City Hall
St. Paul’s Cathedral
- Richardson-Olmsted Complex
- Darwin D. Martin House Complex
- Buffalo & Erie County Historical Society Building
To explore more, visit “Buffalo as an Architectural Museum.” I think you’ll be amazed at all that’s here in Western New York! You may even gain a bit more respect for the old “Nickel City.”
Have you ever been to Buffalo, N.Y.? If so, what’s your impression?