716 Transformers: The Storyteller

By Nancy J. Parisi

Published on

Mark Goldman tells Buffalo’s stories. He’s the author of four books about the city (“High Hopes,” “City on the Lake,” “City on the Edge,” and, most recently, “City of My Heart”), a raconteur, and an activist who has made Buffalo his adopted home since the 1970s when he came for a doctoral program at the University at Buffalo.

Gregarious and funny, Goldman’s writing is conversational and impeccably researched. He’s also written one children’s book (“Max Meets the Mayor”) and two biographies, one about his mother (“Tillie: A New York City Girl, 1906-2001”) and the other about one of Buffalo’s early benefactors and businessmen – “Albright: The Life and Times of John J. Albright.”

His Buffalo books relate the history and present contemporary issues. “A big change in Buffalo is now people feel confident and positive about their city,” he said. “There’s no running away metaphorically or actually like in the past. Transformation is an attitude more than anything else.”

“City of My Heart” (published in 2021) is my memoir of my fifty years here,” he continued. “People are thankful that I’ve taken the time to understand and explain their city to them. Our city. I am most proud of the relationships that I’ve made here, I can go anywhere in the city and people recognize me on the street. I guess I should stop hanging out so much,” he laughed.

“One of my favorite aspects of Buffalo, besides the fact that we have no traffic jams, is the light here, there is no better light. I have hundreds of photos of sunsets and sunrises. Eugène Atget (early-20th-century French street and architectural photographer) would have flipped if he had seen the light near the river in the First Ward, it’s unbelievable.”

716 Tips

“For something that’s special and unique go to the First Ward — there’s nothing cooler or more interesting, or more poetically romantic and artistically provocative than the First Ward. It’s fabulous because of the light, and the scale of the landscape. Its mix of industries, railroads, boats, the water, and little houses. Walk around the neighborhood and then go to Gene McCarthy’s. At 7 o’clock the train comes by and the moon is over the grain elevators.”

Nancy J. Parisi headshot

Nancy J. Parisi

Nancy is a social documentation photographer based in Buffalo, NY.