BUFFALO, NY – July 12, 2017 – Buffalo is undergoing a once-in-a-lifetime transformation, and its proud history and incredible architectural legacy weave their way into every aspect of the visitor experience. Visitors sleep in hotels that were former mansions and an insane asylum, tour the largest home ever designed by Frank Lloyd Wright in its restored grandeur, rock climb and drink craft beer among the ruins of grain silos and enjoy live performances in reclaimed movie palaces, churches and historic social clubs.
A palpable enthusiasm winds its way through the city’s streets and neighborhoods, as locals who have summoned the collective will to revitalize their city are finally seeing their efforts paying off after decades of work. Here are “then and now” examples of Buffalo’s new developments – and the unexpected experiences awaiting visitors this summer.
THEN: The Buffalo State Asylum for the Insane, built in the late 19th century by acclaimed architect Henry Hobson Richardson and set on grounds designed by Frederick Law Olmsted. The building sat disused for over 30 years.
NOW: Hotel Henry, an 88-room urban resort and conference center, opened this spring and honors the building’s original architectural features. The Olmsted landscape has also been beautifully restored.
THEN: The Grange League Federation (GLF) operated an extensive grain milling and storage facility on Buffalo’s waterfront; Buffalo has one of the largest collection of grain silos in the world.
NOW: The world’s first craft brewery inside a grain elevator, rock climbing on grain elevator walls and a beer garden in adjacent silo ruins opened in May. A zip lining and urban adventure course will launch this summer.
The Curtiss Hotel
THEN: The Harlow C. Curtiss Building was an ornate early 20th century downtown office building that was abandoned by the 1990s.
NOW: The Curtiss Hotel, a 68-room boutique hotel featuring an all-weather urban hot springs, rooftop patio and other high-end amenities, opened this summer.
THEN: The Martin House was Wright’s most significant commission to date outside of Chicago and his largest residential design when it was completed in 1907. But the building fell into disrepair by the mid-20th century; portions of the complex were sold off and demolished.
NOW: Following a 15-year, $50 million restoration, the complex’s outbuildings have been rebuilt and visitors are seeing the house in its restored grandeur for the first time in generations. Both the Martin House and the lakeside Graycliff Estate are celebrating the 150th birthday of Wright with a summerlong series of events.
THEN: With roots dating back 100 years, the exclusive club once hosted the likes of legends Dizzy Gillespie, Miles Davis and John Coltrane as they performed on the U.S. Jazz circuit.
NOW: The historic club has opened a museum dedicated to Buffalo’s rich jazz history and now invites the public to attend its music sessions on Sunday, Monday and Thursday nights.
Many of Buffalo’s eateries are housed within historic settings and repurposed architecture. Parkside Candy has restored the interior of its ornate, 1927 retail shop and ice cream parlor in the city’s University Heights neighborhood, with exterior restoration work to begin this summer. The Swan Street Diner, dating back to the 1930s and originally hailing from Central New York, will open in Larkinville, the city’s revitalized warehouse district, in September.
Breweries & Distilleries
THEN: Pre-Prohibition, Buffalo boasted dozens of breweries and distilleries that took advantage of the region’s abundant freshwater and boatloads of grain stored along the waterfront.
NOW: The region once again boasts dozens of breweries and distilleries that have redeveloped the city’s industrial architecture and infused new life into Buffalo’s neighborhoods. Lakeward Spirits recently opened in a beautifully converted space in the 113-year-old Barrel Factory in the city’s Old First Ward, while Buffalo Distilling Co. opened in 2017 in the former Duchmann & Sons carriage manufacturing building in Larkinville.
Music Is Art, Sept. 9, Buffalo RiverWorkss: Goo Goo Dolls bassist Robby Takac founded this festival, which has moved to Buffalo’s waterfront and is part concert, part bazaar, street fair and art gallery.
Curtain Up!, Sept. 15, Buffalo Theatre District: To commemorate the launch of Buffalo’s theater season, the Theatre District on Main Street becomes a spectacle of live street performances and music.
Tesla Fest, Sept. 22: In its inaugural year this electrifying festival is a homage to Nikola Tesla’s lasting legacy on Buffalo and its reputation as the City of Light. Take part in historic tours and a “Power Banquet”.
Art of the Senses, Nov. 4 – Feb. 4, Albright-Knox Art Gallery: Exhibits at the Albright-Knox rarely encourage you to touch the artwork, but that’s exactly what you’ll find at Art of the Senses. This contemporary exhibit will have you seeing, hearing, feeling, smelling and even tasting art in a whole new way!