Buffalo at a Crossroads

Nicolai Ouroussoff tells the tale of Buffalo, a quintessential rust belt city that seems committed to preserving its architectural heritage but unsure about its future.
November 18, 2008, 2pm PST | Mike Lydon
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"One of the most cynical clichés in architecture is that poverty is good for preservation. The poor don't bulldoze historic neighborhoods to make way for fancy new high-rises.

That assumption came to mind when I stepped off a plane here recently. Buffalo is home to some of the greatest American architecture of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, with major architects like Henry Hobson Richardson, Frederick Law Olmsted, Louis Sullivan and Frank Lloyd Wright building marvels here. Together they shaped one of the grandest early visions of the democratic American city.

Yet Buffalo is more commonly identified with the crumbling infrastructure, abandoned homes and dwindling jobs that have defined the Rust Belt for the past 50 years. And for decades its architecture has seemed strangely frozen in time."

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Published on Sunday, November 16, 2008 in The New York Times
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