13 October 2014

where's the shopping district?

Another Buffalo field trip so that I can go to the chapter meeting of the Society of Architectural Historians this evening. The speaker is David Torke who chained himself to the fence around the Jefferson Avenue shul which was demolished a couple days ago. Sigh.

My first stop was the Pierce-Arrow Museum, aka Buffalo Transportation Museum. They constructed a gas station recently that was designed in 1927 by Frank Lloyd Wright. It hadn't been built and, of course, it's rather different inside a museum than it would be at the corner of Michigan and Cherry streets. The museum also has a bunch of cars and automobilia. Lots of Pierce-Arrow automobiles including a presidential limousine, but also Mustangs, Corvettes, and Model Ts. And signs and stuff. By the way, Pierce-Arrow was based in Buffalo until it went bankrupt in 1938.

After the Pierce-Arrow and Wright, I walked around downtown and was grooving on the wonderful art moderne city/county building, the former romanesque revival city/county building, various churches including an Episcopal church that was nicely off grid with the street, and the Guaranty (Prudential) Building designed by Louis H. Sullivan. As I walked back to the car, three people were walking toward me and one of them asked where the shopping area was. He spoke in a British accent. I realized that I hadn't really seen many shopping opportunities as I meandered.

Leaving downtown, I went up to Talking Leaves Books out Main Street and am now at the Caffè Aroma near the Elmwood branch of Talking Leaves. I took Hertel Avenue across from Main Street to Elmwood and there were shops most of the way along Hertel and people walking on the sidewalk. So the shopping opportunities seem to be out of downtown. At least Hertel and Elmwood are in the City of Buffalo and not in a suburb. If you read about dying/reviving Rust Belt cities, you've probably been reading about Buffalo along with Detroit and other places. The New York Times had an article a couple days ago about flash mobs, aka mass mobs, with people from the suburbs having services at Catholic churches in central cities. The "movement" started in Buffalo and has spread to Detroit, Columbus and Cleveland, and elsewhere. There's hope. The generation of kids that grew up in the suburbs (some the children of white flight) are intrigued again by the big old INTERESTING churches in the cities.

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