The history of Buffalo is rich in innovation extending back to the 19th and early 20th centuries. The city’s origins as a thriving transportation and industrial center paved the way for what it has become today; a vibrant home to creativity and culture. Our industrial heritage brought wealth and prosperity to the city. With so much to do it’s no wonder that our waterfront has become a prime recreational area for residents and visitors alike. From concerts to festivals to water-related activities, Canalside continues to attract more people than ever before. From the Central Wharf to East Canal Park, special events throughout the year will give folks even more reasons to come downtown and explore. The convergence of our waterfront, downtown skyscrapers, cobblestone streets and the new HarborCenter make for a perfect backdrop to witness a beautiful sunset on Lake Erie. Silo City on the Buffalo River is a collection of grain elevators and former industrial buildings that has emerged as a hub of adventure and culture. Invented in Buffalo in 1843, the grain elevator consists of conveyors of vertical buckets which carried grain from a ship’s hold up to a superstructure where it flowed by gravity into a series of silos. Fourteen of these enormous structures, which inspired European Modernist architects in the early twentieth century, still line our river and waterfront. Industrial areas are now becoming one of the fastest-growing, hippest spots in town. Businesses and residents share space in the renovated warehouses throughout the city. Look for new retail and restaurants emerging in these new urban neighborhoods. You’ll find all sorts of touring options in our Sightseeing section to enhance your visit to Buffalo.
Allentown Historic District
Allentown paints the perfect picture of city living with its diverse inhabitants and historical background. Not only is it one of the largest residential historic districts in the U.S., it is also within walking distance of downtown Buffalo. Exhibits by national and local artists, musicians and street performers take place during the Allentown Arts Festival and the Allen West Festival, which are celebrated at the same time. Discover colorful Victorian and neoclassical homes, which create Allentown’s unmistakable artistic and Bohemian atmosphere. Several local venues participate in “First Fridays Allentown” - an event that occurs on the first Friday of every month and invites visitors to enjoy all of the cultural attractions the community has to offer including art, music, food and live performances. This area has re-invented itself as the go-to destination for live music and casual fare in many of the bistros and pubs.
The Elmwood Village
Constantly busy with locals and visitors, Elmwood Avenue is lined with an array of shops, restaurants and boutiques. This historic district is perfect for those looking to explore someplace out of the ordinary. The annual Elmwood Avenue Festival of the Arts brings culture and excitement into this residential community. Regional artists and performers share their talents while local organizations discuss ways to make the community stronger and more environmentally friendly. The “Museum District” encompassing the Albright Knox Art Gallery, Burchfield Penny Art Center and Buffalo History Museum are located at the northern end of the Elmwood Village. The Village is always busy with various activities and events including the free summer concert series and local farmer’s market in Bidwell Parkway. There’s great people watching at the diverse range of pubs, bistros and other dining spots, especially on the patios during the warmer weather.
North Buffalo/Hertel Avenue
With multiple international influences in the area, the North side of Buffalo embodies urbanism. The strong Italian culture that gave the region its nickname “Buffalo’s Little Italy” is nicely complemented by the unique Russian, Native American and Middle Eastern influences. To name a few of its many attractions, Hertel Avenue is lined with antique shops, specialty stores and galleries. As the sun sets, Hertel Avenue comes alive with nighttime entertainment and people watching on the patios of its many dining and drinking establishments.
Visitors to our area are overwhelmed by the contributions of so many esteemed architects such as Frank Lloyd Wright, Edward B. Green, Henry Hobson Richardson and Louis Sullivan. It’s no wonder Buffalo is recognized as one of the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s Dozen Distinctive Destinations. The Darwin D. Martin House is Frank Lloyd Wright’s most extensive residential complex; a prime example of his prairie-style homes. The unique art-glass patterns, also designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, are more plentiful in this complex than in any other one of his works. Five other residences including Martin’s summer home, Graycliff Estate, can be found within the region. The Prudential (Guaranty) Building is considered to be the first skyscraper ever built, and was designed by Louis Sullivan, mentor and instructor to Wright. Sheathed in terra cotta embellished with ornamentation of Sullivan's own highly original design, the interior ornament continues in the iron, stained glass and mosaics of the beautifully restored lobby. Buffalo’s Hyatt Regency was designed by Edward B. Green, and their steakhouse proudly bears his name. The Buffalo History Museum’s main building, designated a National Historic Landmark in 1987, is the only permanent building erected for the Pan-American Exposition in 1901. Buffalo architect George Cary designed the building in Doric style, faced and corniced with Vermont marble. The Italian Renaissance-style Ellicott Square Building, designed by Charles B. Atwood, is organized around a large light court which allows natural light to enhance the ornate concourse. The rich mosaic and rare marble tiles of the main floor were designed by brothers Edward Austin Kent and William Winthrop Kent. The building was named after Joseph Ellicott, the planner and surveyor who laid out the then-village of Buffalo. Art Deco architecture is exemplified in the overall structure and colorful exterior details of Buffalo’s City Hall. Filling every inch of the lobby and main floor hallway are references to Buffalo’s rich past. The 28th floor offers exceptional views and is open to the public. Henry Hobson Richardson designed the Buffalo Psychiatric Center, built in 1870. Its Romanesque structure and red Medina sandstone towers are just a few details that qualify it as being Richardson’s greatest achievement. Another excellent example of the Richardsonian Romanesque style is the Church of the Good Shepherd on Jewett Parkway. The impressive interior features eleven early Tiffany windows. Temple Beth Zion, designed by Max Abramowitz, is awe-inspiring on the outside and the interior, featuring scalloped walls, colossal stained-glass windows designed by artist Ben Shahn, 30 foot high commandment tablets and 60 foot ceilings. Eliel and Eero Saarinen make up the proud father-son team that designed Kleinhans Music Hall, home to the prestigious Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra. This radiant concert hall has become an architectural model for its acoustical excellence. Louise Blanchard Bethune, the nation’s first professional woman architect, would be proud to know her masterpiece, the neoclassical Hotel Lafayette, has been brought back to its grand historic beauty.
These are just a few of our favorites - enjoy exploring!