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The Campaign for Greater Buffalo History, Architecture & Culture scored a victory for the preservation of a pop culture landmark on July 8 when the Buffalo Preservation Board unanimously approved an application it had prepared to designate the Hotel Elmwood/Voelker’s Lanes complex an official Buffalo landmark. For Campaign members and supporters it was a satisfying first step in process to save the endangered building. Download Hotel Elmwood-Voelker application med-res1 The fourth-generation owner of Voelker’s, who also owns Kenmore Lanes, filed for a demolition permit in April. That initiated the process by which the Preservation Board reviews all demolition applications. The... Continue reading
Posted Jul 10, 2021 at Greater Buffalo
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Voelker's Lanes—the former Hotel Elmwood of the Pan-Am expo, is seen here shortly after a 10-lane bowling alley was added in 1941 (far left, brick). The bar was leased to another operator at the time. The fourth-generation owners of Voelker’s Lanes, the neon- and krypton bedecked landmark at the corner of Elmwood Avenue and Amherst Street, are seeking to demolish it, along with several other buildings in what could be called Voelkerville. It is a two-block section on the west side of Elmwood Avenue, from Woodette Place to Marion Street. It is where working class Black Rock, the industrial Belt... Continue reading
Posted May 25, 2021 at Greater Buffalo
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The New York State DOT’s proposed solution to closing its Route 5 Skyway is to build or expand over five miles of limited-access highway (in red, above) away from where people want to go. At staggering expense, it fails to address Buffalo’s problematic highway history, and reduces citizen access to the waterfront. Hey, Highwayman! Put down your mouse. Back away from the screen. Stop trying to rationalize building an entirely new limited-access highway that goes 2.6 miles in the wrong direction and dumps traffic onto a crowded Thruway, threatening new congestion for 2.3 miles that you propose to build yourself... Continue reading
Posted May 17, 2021 at Greater Buffalo
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Rebuilding the Erie Canal between Pearl and Erie Streets and the rest of Big Picture Plan could be realized under federal highway remediation bill The full folio of Big Picture images can be had here Click to view and download Big Picture folio For those who have worked for decades to remove barriers to the Buffalo waterfront, downgrade the Scajaquada Expressway, and mitigate the Kensignton Expressway, help is on the way. The Campaign for Greater Buffalo's Big Picture Plan, released last week (it includes the Cloudwalk, released seperately in February) is in the wheelhouse of a proposed "reconnecting Communities Act,"... Continue reading
Posted Apr 19, 2021 at Greater Buffalo
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A lot of people are wondering what the 37,000 vehicles a day using Route 5 between Woodlawn and downtown Buffalo would do if the Skyway were closed to vehicles and reprogrammed as the Cloudwalk for walkers, bikers, picnicking and the like. Route 5 in Woodlawn and Lackawanna is at-grade, with cross streets, traffic lights, a 40mph posted speed limit, and six moving lanes (three in each direction). The short answer is to merely insure that there are six lanes crossing the Buffalo River along the waterfront. You don't have to build a new $550,000,000-inland-expressway-and-Thruway-widening to do that. Just return Ohio... Continue reading
Posted Apr 17, 2021 at Greater Buffalo
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From the archives: The lineup for the 2003 Architectural Revival Buffalo. LaearnAboutBuffalo and The Campaign for Greater Buffalo are reviving the series for 2021 LearnAboutBuffalo will be pitching its tent in strategic historic spots during the summer of 2021. This is to replace its programming aboard the Open-Air Autobus, which... Continue reading
Posted Apr 13, 2021 at LearnAboutBuffalo
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The Campaign for Greater Buffalo History, Architecture & Culture is calling on the NY State Department of Transportation, with other state agencies, to restore reclaimed land from Skyway removal to conditions established by founder Joseph Ellicott in 1800 and Erie Canal builder DeWitt Clinton in 1825. The aim is to reclaim Buffalo's heritage, economic advancement, and a measure of social equity. That includes restoration of Buffalo's first public park—The Terrace— as well as the run of the original Erie Canal between Pearl Street and Erie Street and the parallel famed Canal Street, and the Prime Slip, another historic canal which... Continue reading
Posted Apr 11, 2021 at Greater Buffalo
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The Campaign for Greater Buffalo is proposing that The Terrace, a blocks-long public park and promenade linking several squares, be reconstructed as part of the state and federal project to remove all or parts of the Skyway. The Campaign released proposals for the DL&W train shed and the Cloudwalk in January (see Cloudwalk: Skyway recycled), as part of the overall process to reinvigorate historic sites and re-establish the historic street patterns of Joseph Ellicott’s New Amsterdam plan, and the neighborhoods destroyed by highway construction and Urban Renewal. The Canal District streets and Central Wharf were the first fruits of that... Continue reading
Posted Mar 23, 2021 at Greater Buffalo
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The Cloudwalk would transform the lives of bike riders and walkers. For bike riders, getting to the Outer Harbor becomes a scenic one-minute ride across the Buffalo River and City Ship Canal. A walker could traverse the distance in five minutes. What happens when you deliver such a radical improvement to a transportation mode? You induce traffic. In this case, the virtuous kind, for urban vitality as well as personal vitality. The New York State Department of Transportation’s Skyway environmental review process is being steered to a pre-determined outcome featuring a new inland limited-access highway with three interchanges, a de... Continue reading
Posted Feb 10, 2021 at Greater Buffalo
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The Central Terminal Restoration Corporation, working with a $5,000,000 state grant and a report by the Urban Land Institute, has been working on urgent building-envelope and utility needs, as well as developing long- and short-term strategies for its property, which includes the iconic office tower, concourse, and a five-story baggage wing, in addition to the elevated plaza that forms the terminus of Paderewski Street and open land between Memorial Drive and Curtiss Street. It has spent much of the year on public outreach and discussion of community priorities. The Campaign for Greater Buffalo has long felt that the entire historic... Continue reading
Posted Dec 31, 2020 at Greater Buffalo
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Quick, decisive action by The Campaign for Greater Buffalo stopped the destruction of St. John's iconic tower. The church, opened in 1927, is a masterpiece by architects Oakley & Schallmo. Out-of-the-way but not out of mind, the greatest piece of architecture in Black Rock was being taken apart. But fate was about to intervene. Shortly after 7:00pm on Tuesday October 6, Campaign for Greater Buffalo Executive Director Tim Tielman was driving by the former St. John the Baptist R.C. Church on Hertel Avenue and East Street in Black Rock, and noticed a rental lift on the lawn next to the... Continue reading
Posted Dec 17, 2020 at Greater Buffalo
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Drawing by Lawrence McIntyre from the book "Designated Landmarks of the Niagara Frontier," shows significance of recently destroyed tower of St. John the Baptist Church to overall composition of building Condition of tower, with temporary shoring, after an illegal attempt by owner to remove it was stopped by The Campaign for Greater Buffalo. Owner intent was to leave only bottom tier of tower. 2007 photo shows glazed terra cotta ornament on stone or cast stone plinths on either side of entrance have been removed, and the plinths capped with copper. It remains unclear who funded or directed the illegal destruction... Continue reading
Posted Oct 9, 2020 at Greater Buffalo
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The tower of the former St. John the Baptist on the morning of Oct. 7, after demolition work had been stopped. Emergency water-shedding measures have been approved by the City. The ornamental ventilator of the historic school is visible through the tower's arch. The demolition work at the former St. John the Baptist Church in Black Rock has been halted, thanks to the timely intervention of The Campaign for Greater Buffalo. Buffalo Commissioner of Permits and Inspection Services James Comerford dispatched inspector Tracy Krug to the site at 62 Hertel Avenue shortly after 7:00 AM upon receiving a call from... Continue reading
Posted Oct 7, 2020 at Greater Buffalo
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The East Street elevation of St. John the Baptist shows the tower as it existed last month An illegal demolition at the former St. John the Baptist church at 60 Hertel Avenue in Buffalo's Black Rock neighborhood has been uncovered. The church is one of four masterpieces designed by the firm of Oakley and Schallmo in the 1920's. St. John, in a group with Blessed Trinity, St. Luke, and St. Casimir, displays the highest level of craftsmanship in brick architecture in the city. Shortly after 7:00pm on Tuesday October 6, Campaign for Greater Buffalo Executive Director Tim Tielman was driving... Continue reading
Posted Oct 6, 2020 at Greater Buffalo
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The Campaign for Greater Buffalo History, Architecture & Culture is sponsoring a series of design studios this fall and next spring with Cornell University and the University of Buffalo. Two studios, one at Cornell and one at UB, are researching a concept of The Campaign for an intercity public transit system utilizing high-speed articulated vehicles in the median of the Thruway at average speeds above 100mph. The UB studio, led by professor Jeffrey Rehler and consisting of Environmental Design and Architecture students, will evaluate mobility systems and explore the design of the new road bed, stations, and the station areas.... Continue reading
Posted Sep 24, 2020 at Greater Buffalo
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The New York State Department of Transportation has released a preliminary scoping document that rejects the first-, second-, and third-place prizewinners in Governor Cuomo's "Aim for the Sky" competition to develop new plans for the Skyway corridor. In fact, DOT rejected all 16 of the contest's finalists, and every single concept in its public comment phase that called for retaining any part of the Skyway between Tifft Street, south of the Buffalo River, and Church Street in downtown Buffalo. The Campaign for Greater Buffalo had submitted comments in favor of its "Cloudwalk" proposal (then called Skywalk). Not only did DOT... Continue reading
Posted Sep 1, 2020 at Greater Buffalo
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On hot holidays, like July 3, 2020, locals head to The Log Cabin and the Falls. You either spectate from a perch on the porch, patio, or the rocky bed of Tonawanda Creek, or you jump right in. This ritualistic frivolity occasionally raises concerns or hackles, and the authorities are called. Like every week. The sheriff’s department, so we are informed by the indefatigable staff of The Batavian, has a special rig and rope team at the ready (for dispatches like this: “Man down in Indian Falls, bleeding from the head, water rescuers called.”). On July 3, before your correspondent... Continue reading
Posted Jul 4, 2020 at Greater Buffalo
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This is another in our occasional series of decoding Buffalo postcards. Today, in honor of the Independence Day holiday, a detail of a colorized postcard c. 1906 showing Buffalo on the eve of, likely, July 4th, and at its peak in the hierarchy of American cities. It is one of our favorite views of the city. The artist Childe Hassam made his living painting similar scenes of New York City 10 years later. Based on a photograph, the image is unusual for its elevated perspective in the middle of a busy street, and rich in information. To wit: Ellicott Square,... Continue reading
Posted Jul 3, 2020 at Greater Buffalo
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"Seven Reasons," (c.1959) a slide image taken by an employee of the Buffalo Department of Planning documenting pre-Urban Renewal conditions. The photograph in all probability is on the Lower East Side. The pencilled title, on the slide's paper frame, is indicative of the notion, at least among some bureaucrats, that, in order to give these children a better life, their homes and neighborhood had to be destroyed. Besides the enormous social toll, that cost Buffalo thousands of historic structures and businesses, including those listed in various editions of the Green Book, which The Campaign for Greater Buffalo is documenting. The... Continue reading
Posted Jun 3, 2020 at Greater Buffalo
Buffalo, like so many American cities, still has wounds and physical defects dating from the Urban Renewal era. Massive demolition programs claimed thousands of irreplaceable buildings. Many sites are vacant to this day (camouflaged, if you will, by parking lots). When new structures were built, they were often built with ignorance and disregard for how humans behaved and cities succeed. Thus, in Buffalo, we erected buildings with long stretches of blank walls, which suppressed sidewalk activity and destroyed the contiguity which made walking useful and pleasant. Jane Jacobs, in Death and Life of Great American Cities (1961) pointed this out.... Continue reading
Posted May 14, 2020 at Greater Buffalo
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First page of architect-author-illustrator Yen Liang's 1958 book The Skyscraper. Jane Jacobs saw this as the very picture of urban health, equity, and functionality. Author Yen Liang saw it as a menace to health and property values that had to be destroyed in order to build a new, clean, and ordered city Trigger warning: this article contains soul-crushing depictions of the American City. Look at images of street scenes any American City around 1900. Look at that city today, and you are likely to see a selection of glorious masonry architecture intermixed with glammy office buildings (in larger cities) and... Continue reading
Posted May 12, 2020 at Greater Buffalo
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Frank Lloyd Wright's Heath House, viewed from Soldiers' Circle. The Buffalo Common Council withstood many attempts to landmark Frank Lloyd Wright's Heath House and Davidson House over the last 20 years, but on March 17, 2020, faced with a court order won by The Campaign for Greater Buffalo History, Architecture & Culture, it quietly approved designating both prairie-style houses as City of Buffalo landmarks. They had long been on the National Register of Historic Places—as long as their lack of local recognition was a civic embarrassment. The Campaign mounted several attempts to get them landmarked, but each was thwarted by... Continue reading
Posted Apr 14, 2020 at Greater Buffalo
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On a bitterly cold day, the Ernest Franks House at 184 West Utica Street was demolished at the behest of developers Nick Sinatra and partner William Paladino. Despite being approved by Preservation Board for landmarking, Buffalo Mayor Brown approved the demolition The Ernest Franks House, a piece of Buffalo's cultural patrimony, was willfully destroyed on Thursday, February 27, 2020, less than 36 hours after the Buffalo Preservation Board voted unanimously to designate it as a local landmark—which would have made demolition much more difficult—and send it to the Buffalo Common Council for final approval. A full description of the house... Continue reading
Posted Mar 12, 2020 at Greater Buffalo
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The Campaign for Greater Buffalo is holding a rally to save the threatened Ernest Franks House at 284 West Utica St., Buffalo on Saturday, February 22 at 9:00am. We'll have information on the house, explain the demolition request for a too-big Sinatra-Paladino townhouse development, and what citizens can do. You can download the flyer and our newsletter on the Franks House: Download Save Franks House Download Greater Buffalo #28.1.02131515 Continue reading
Posted Feb 17, 2020 at Greater Buffalo
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The Ernest Franks House at 184 West Utica Street is a rare Flemish Revival style house, and perhaps the first house designed by noted architect Albert Schallmo The Campaign for Greater Buffalo has filed a City of Buffalo landmark application to protect a rare Flemish Revival style house at 184 West Utica Street in the Elmwood West National Historic District. Sinatra Development, which owns the house and an adjoining parking lot, has applied for a demolition permit for an 18-unit townhouse development that it is partnering on with Carl Paladino's Ellicott Development. Neighbors and concerned citizens opposed to the demolition... Continue reading
Posted Feb 1, 2020 at Greater Buffalo