Who says you can’t teach an old dog new tricks? Settled by the French in 1758, Buffalo is an old working-class metropolis that bears the battle scars of a rich and tumultuous history. It prospered during the glory days of the industrial revolution, and was subsequently blighted by the changes in industry and depressions that ensued. But as the second-biggest city in the state of New York, represented by an increasingly young, vibrant, and educated demographic, rumour has it that Buffalo is making a comeback.
With its prime geographic location on the eastern shores of Lake Erie and the Buffalo River, Buffalo grew up as a substantial port whose economic mainstay was the transhipment of grain from the Midwest to New York City. This was facilitated by the construction of the Erie Canal, whose completion in 1825, along with the world’s first grain elevator in 1843, made Buffalo a pioneer in engineering and heavy trade. When transhipment moved to the railroad during the latter part of the 19th century, however, the Canalside became obsolete, and the once-majestic grain elevators on the Buffalo River fell into disrepair.
Today you can visit the historic Canalside district, which has undergone major redevelopment in recent years with a $295 million investment programme to bring people back to the area. Highlights include some 750 events, from outdoor yoga and children’s crafts, to the popular Thursday at Canalside: a weekly free event showcasing concerts by national rock groups.
You can also explore Buffalo’s military history at the Buffalo and Erie County Naval & Military Park – America’s largest inland park of this nature – or take to the waters of Lake Erie and Buffalo River yourself with a canoe, kayak or SUP rental from BFLO Harbor Kayak or a guided paddle tour with Buffalo Niagara Riverkeeper.
Buffalo is renowned for its eclectic range of architecture, from abandoned industrial warehouses to some of the greatest American building design of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Landmark structures include the Buffalo State Hospital designed by H.H. Richardson, the iconic Guaranty Building by Louis Sullivan, and the Art Deco masterpiece City Hall. Choose from one of several architecture-specific tours with Buffalo Tours, and learn more about the fascinating history of the cityscape.
Stumble across the Bohemian district of Buffalo, and you may be forgiven for thinking you’d fallen asleep on a long-distance freight train and woken up several days later in Portland. Formally known as Allentown, this neighbourhood is seriously hipster: run by a community of freethinkers and artists who pioneer schemes of civic involvement and grassroots programmes, from art and music to theatre and literary events. Allentown is also home to some of the best dining and nightlife hotspots in Buffalo, including the legendary Frank & Teressa’s Anchor Bar where Buffalo wings were invented back in 1964.
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Have you visited Buffalo recently? Have you experienced any of the attractions listed here? Share your thoughts and comments with us below.
Written by Elizabeth Gourd
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About the author: ElizabethGourdElizabeth Gourd
Elizabeth Gourd suffers from an acute case of the wanderlust, which no amount of travelling or adventure can cure. She has lived in London, New York, and Berlin; experimented with nomadism in North America, and climbed to the freezing heights of Kilimanjaro on a whim. Future travel plans include getting lost in South Africa, keeping a menagerie in Europe, and finding herself in India before she is old.