A couple of days ago, on the anniversary of the World Trade Center attack, I got to thinking about the Twin Towers in NYC, One M&T Plaza here in Buffalo, and their common designer/architect, Minoru Yamasaki.
Sow the Seed
My father grew up on the East Side of Buffalo and occasionally shares stories from his youth. He recently told me one about how he worked for a neighbor who farmed his property. This man, remembered by my father only as Mr. Shuh*, owned three homes in a row. He lived in one and rented out the other two. But he farmed all three backyards. He had chickens, grew vegetables, and also loved to grow flowers.
The Glenny Building has intrigued me ever since I learned that the entire facade of the building, all five stories, is made of cast iron. I have never heard of that before. The whole front of a building being built with the stuff of frying pans! I mean everyone who is of, ahem, a certain age, has owned a cast iron frying pan at some point in their lives. I still use the one my mother-in-law received as a wedding shower gift. They absolutely last forever! But buildings?
The Rand Building was built in 1929, just as the country was torn from the Roaring Twenties and plunged into the Great Depression of the 1930’s. It was in fact, the last skyscraper completed in Buffalo before the stock market crashed.
It was designed by Franklyn & William Kidd along with James W. Kideney & Associates. And although you can’t miss it in the Buffalo skyline, it seems to be the Rodney Dangerfield of Buffalo Architecture. It just doesn’t get much respect. I mean, it’s supposedly the inspiration behind the Empire State Building!
Last night I went for a walk with my friend Cathy. We have this little custom of driving to different areas to walk. Keeps it fresh, plus we both love looking at homes and generally enjoy seeing different parts of Buffalo.
This time it was my choice, and I told her I wanted her to take me on a tour of Williamsville. Cathy’s office is in the village, and I know that as a busy small business owner she’s been taking walks through the village now and again to get out of the office, relax and meet her neighbors. The Village of Williamsville is probably one of the best spots around to do just that.
The Dun Building. It’s one that I’ve been admiring for a long, long time. There’s just something about it. For roughly 15 years, I drove toward it on Swan Street on my way to work. It’s my favorite view of it. I walked by it daily as well. And still when I see it, I get a feeling that I don’t quite know how to describe.
The Dun Building was designed by none other than E.B. Green and William Wicks for the Union Central Life Insurance Company, who placed a contingency on the plan stating that they’d build it if enough Buffalonians bought policies with their company. Buffalonians didn’t, and the plans were acquired and set into motion by R.G. Dun & Company.
When I was a kid, my Aunt was somewhat of a local celebrity in military circles here in Buffalo. She was one of the first women in the country to become a U.S. Navy Seabee. So whenever anything happened of Naval importance in Buffalo, she was always involved, and was almost always invited as an honored guest.
In 1802 New York State Purchased the mile wide strip of Native land along the Niagara River known as the New York State Reservation. This property became known as Black Rock, named for an actual black rock formation that jutted out into the Niagara River near where the Peace Bridge is today. Black Rock was a village in its own right and the fledgling village of Buffalo was further south near where the Niagara River, Lake Erie and the Buffalo Creek all come together.
I know it’s the kind of thing that we as Buffalonians, rarely think about but take a moment right now to think about where we live.
Buffalo is located at the convergence of three great bodies of water. Lake Erie, the Buffalo River, and the Niagara River. Now I could go into a long story about Buffalo’s history and how these three affected the city and it’s growth, and normally I would. But today I’m going in a completely different direction.
The West Village Historic District of Buffalo is a 22 acre neighborhood in one of the city’s oldest residential areas. It is one of only a few in our country to achieve three designations as an Historic District under both the City of Buffalo and New York State, and it is also listed in the Federal National Register of Historic Places. The jewel of the West Village Historic District is unquestionably Johnson Park.