Monday, July 07, 2008

Why Buffalo?

City of BuffaloImage via Wikipedia
"There is a fine line between something and nothing and Buffalo manages to walk it straight despite the large quantities of alcohol it consumed in hopes of blurring that line just a little wider."
This is one of many brilliant quotes in a piece called: "How Buffalo get a Warhol?"

Written in 1997, it's a look at Buffalo that's all at once proud, confused, funny and frustrating. Fact is, our fair city is the second poorest in the nation. Only new Orleans, where Katrina literally washed everything away, beats it.

And yet.

This weekend, we were walking along Elmwood with the kids. A couple with three kids stopped us and began asking us about Buffalo. They were moving here from Texas (had moved here) and were looking for houses.

It's at this moment, and after this weekend of glorious sunny weather that I feel the need to talk up the second poorest city in the nation. The city of neglect. The city filled with amazing things that are either reminders of a better time, or simply crumbling.

It's very easy to take a drive through the second poorest city in the nation and think things can't get better. It's just as easy though, to think that things can't get worse. And if you get there, then you can begin to see little signs here and there that there is progress.

There's a sense that Buffalo can be an architecture mecca. From the Gothic City Hall, to the Millionaires row on Delaware, there are architectural treasures in the city. There's a desire to take back the waterfront. Check out the waterfront, I just visited at lunch. It's right next to HSBC arena and you can see -- dare we say it -- progress.

At it's best, Buffalo offers a place to raise kids that's pretty solid. But clearly, it's not all rosy. We told the people on the street that the Elmwood village was nice and safe. We told them that there are a lot of kids on our street and in the neighborhood in general. We didn't tell them about our second place finish. We didn't tell them about the vacancies.

Indeed, last night at a BBQ, a young couple told me they were looking at buying a house for $30,000. That doesn't come up in conversation, although it does come up that Buffalo is a good place to buy a house.

It's kind of place that doesn't really need a traffic report because the traffic left years ago. But my commute is 8 minutes. I live in the city, work in the city, and everyone in a while, will stand up and defend the city. There's lots to see and do here.

There's also lots that needs to be done. It's easy to focus on that last part. We're good at wanting what we don't have more than we're good at noticing what we have. That's why people will go away and take pictures of gorgeous churches, but never once shoot Our lady of Victory National Shrine and Basilica. It's no slight to them, I've never shot it.

On that note, what else have I yet to do?

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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Why NOT Buffalo?
I used to think "man, I need to get outta here and explore other cites." After paying an outrageous amount for our small home in NJ I think "man, I need to get outta here and explore Buffalo a bit more."