Home » Buffalo Architecture and Black History

Snow comes to mind when the word Buffalo is uttered. Granted the city does get blanketed in snow almost weekly during the winter, but it makes up for it in the summer when locals enjoy three months of almost dry, sunny days with temperatures ranging from the mid 70’s to high 80’s.

Architectural Buffalo

buffalo architectureThe New York Times called Buffalo “home to some of the greatest American architecture of the late 19th and early 20th centuries.” In the 1900’s Buffalo was a wealthy city. A dynamic group of architectural innovators was transforming the American landscape. The city is home to works by Frank Lloyd Wright, Frederick Olmstead, Louis Sullivan and more. Railroads were built connecting the canal boats to the Great Lakes cargo. When the industry collapsed, Buffalonians realized they had a legacy of lavish mansions and Victorian houses to preserve. These days the city has declared many of these building landmarks that visitors can step through history and witness the visionary works of these great artists.

One of the best ways to experience Buffalo’s architecture is on an Open Air Bus. Tree filled parks, streets and mansion lined parkways design by the “father of American landscape architecture,” Frederick Olmstead. Olmstead designed the Buffalo Parks System as the first of its kind to create little islands of tranquility amidst and emerging bustling city.

Buffalo is also home to six houses built by Frank Lloyd Wright, as well as a mausoleum and a boathouse. These properties represent the largest concentration of his work outside of Chicago. The city is currently renovating the Darwin D. Martin House Complex and visitors are welcome during this process. The estate is regarded in high esteem because it was designed as a group of interrelated and connected buildings, while the outside appears to be one residence.

African American History in Buffalo

Buffalo has a lot to offer visitors with an invigorating mix of African American culture and heritage. In 2008 the city was the recipient of the “Authentic African American Heritage Tourism Destination Award” from the Travel Professionals of Color, an honor received by only one other city. Buffalo was the last stop on the Underground Railroad and the birthplace of the Niagara Movement (the parent organization of the NAACP). The city has a map for a driving tour where the first stop is Michigan Street Baptist Church, the oldest property to be continuously owned and operated by African Americans in Western New York.

The city will host its thirty-sixth annual Juneteenth Festival this year on June 13-14. Juneteeth emerged as a celebration that marked President Abraham Lincoln’s proclamation to free persons in forced bondage in 1862. The weekend is marked by the picnics, guest speakers, family gatherings and an art and crafts fair. Resident, Reginald D. Greene comments:

Juneteenth is an expression and extension of American freedom and, like the Fourth of July, a time for all Americans to celebrate our independence, human rights, civil rights and freedom.