Urban Renewal: The History of City of Buffalo

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After his completion of the Delaware Park and Parkway system with Calvert Vaux throughout Buffalo, New York, Frederick Law Olmsted declared Buffalo as “the best planned city, as to its streets, public places and grounds, in the United States, if not the world.” Inspired largely by the baroque styling of Paris, France, Olmstead wished to create a park within urban Buffalo but rather put the city of Buffalo in a park system. The parks were non-gated and easily accessible for all patrons creating an ever changing green space across an urban vista. Olmsted’s plan only added value to the existing urban fabric consisting of numerous natural and architectural landmarks. Buffalo had prized itself as a commercial and industrial hub at this time. It’s location on the Buffalo River and Lake Erie made it a viable center for railroads and grain-milling. After posting rapid population growth between the early 1800’s and 1950, reaching a high of 580,000 civilians within a metropolitan region of one million, one would be surprised to see the cities condition today. After posting 6 straight decades of population decline, the urban fabric that was once a center for industry and commerce has become like one of many rust belt cities that have struggled to remain proficient in the twenty-first century. The collapse of the grain-mill industry may have been the most crippling to Buffalo’s economy. Today the shorelines of the Buffalo River are besieged by the abandoned grain silos that once defined its skyline and are often in disarray. Shipping through Buffalo became obsolete with the opening of the St. Lawrence Seaway and the railways once vital to the harbor area were superseded by other forms of travel. For the last several decades, poverty, segregat... ... middle of paper ... ...rban landscape. In some instances, cities saw success with various projects. Buffalo rezoned in anticipation of a growing and prosperous city-scape which proved to be erroneous with the loss of industry and the influx of lower-income families. Today, the remnants of a terrifically designed city are still available in Buffalo. From the beautiful tree-lined parkways of Bidwell and Chapin to the framed view of City Hall along Court Street, Buffalo has worth as a metropolitan landscape. However, many residents long for the untapped potential. Eight million people visited the Pan-American Exposition in Buffalo in 1901. Buffalo: The City of Lights was on display to the world. Unforeseen consequences squandered Buffalo’s attempt to remain a top metropolitan city in the twenty-first century but there are plenty of signs improvement which can only give hope for the future.

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