why would anyone go to Buffalo New York?
well, if you will recall one of my first blogs this summer was about how to handle the heat of the California desert. the 5 Point Peterson Prescription. and step 4 was to travel. to get out of the desert.
that is why one goes to Buffalo New York in the summer
Buffalo has had hard times. in 1950 it was the 15th largest city in the country. similar to Detroit, it has lost 50% of its population over the last 67 years. similar to Detroit a significant percentage (30%) of the population lives below the poverty line, making it the 3rd city in the country after Detroit and Cleveland with the highest percentage living below the poverty line. 50% of its population is non white. in recent years it is has accepted a number of Burmese refugees. A large percentage of Buffalo’s newcomers from Burma belong to the Karen (Kuh-ren) ethnic group. Right behind Spanish, Karen is the second most spoken foreign language in the Buffalo Public Schools.
having said that, Buffalo gets a bad rap. the City and the Western New York region includes counties of Erie, Chautauqua and others, and the cities of Niagara Falls, Cheektowaga, East Aurora, Jamestown to name a few.
I will admit that I am an optimist. I see the glass as half full. so, let’s focus on the positive. Buffalo and Western New York have a lot going for them.
first, and most importantly, they have hockey. hockey is really important in Buffalo. the home of the Buffalo Sabres as well as many very good school hockey teams. when I stay in Buffalo I stay at the Marriott Harborside which is a hotel which sits atop two hockey rinks. I can take the elevator to the 6th floor which has two ice hockey rinks, both of which are in use all day and most of the night. if you like hockey, this is heaven. at any point in time, I can go watch hockey being played.
second, it is a waterfront city on the banks of Lake Erie, with Niagara Falls and Lake Ontario nearby. it is also one end of the Erie Canal, an unbelievably important development in the history of commerce in the United States when it was completed in 1825.
third, they are just 50 miles from Toronto, the second largest city in North America which is vibrant and exciting — a truly international city.
fourth, they have very interesting weather. just today, in a 24 hour period, many hours of vibrant sunshine, a violent thunderstorm warning, wind gusts, intermittent rain showers and a tornado warning. they are well known for their “lake effect” snow accumulations in the winter. the City averages 94 inches of snow a year, and 40″ of rain a year (almost twice what Seattle gets). during the summer, the lakes provide a natural cooling, with temperatures rarely getting into the 90’s.
fifth, the city has some interesting history. in addition to the Erie Canal mentioned above, they have one of, if not the largest, park systems in the country designed by none other than Frederick Law Olmsted. Non-dairy whipped topping was invented in Buffalo in 1945 by Robert E. Rich, Sr., the father of Bob Rich who captained the hockey team I played on at Williams College. President William McKinley was assassinated at the Pan-American Exposition in Buffalo on September 6, 1901. McKinley died in the city eight days later and Theodore Roosevelt was sworn in as the 26th President of the United States in the city. The movie The Natural was filmed in Buffalo in 1984, and the young boy in the movie was the son of Paul Sullivan, whom I had dinner with last night. When Paul was a freshman at Williams College, I served as his Dorm Daddy. we both played hockey at Williams. last night was the first time we have seen or talked to each other in 52 years. it was terrific to reconnect.
finally, they have some real cultural gems. in particular the Albright- Knox Art Gallery which I was able to visit recently. it is a masterpiece situated on a beautiful piece of property in north Buffalo. the building was designed by Skidmore, Owings and Merrill architect Gordon Bunshaft.
one fascinating fact — the Albright-Knox’s current exhibition space can accommodate only 200 works — just 3% of its 6,740-piece collection. The gallery’s collection includes several pieces of Impressionistic and Post-Impressionistic styles which can be found in works by artists of the nineteenth century such as Paul Gauguin and Vincent van Gogh. in addition the Gallery has modern pieces showing styles of abstract expressionism, pop art and art of the 1970s through the end of the century represented by artists such as Jackson Pollock and Andy Warhol.
bottom line — when spending a summer in the California desert, Buffalo is not a bad travel option.