Posts tagged ‘buffalo’

June 25, 2011

Letters from you: Hooray for Buffalo

Canoe sculpture at Albright-Knox Art Gallery

The stunning new canoe sculpture by Nancy Rubins, unveiled earlier this month at Albright-Knox Art Gallery. It features 57 canoes. (Julia Pelish photo)

A lot of people love Buffalo — I learned that this week.

And they’re passionate about it — which I discovered last weekend when I was there. The letters and comments have poured in. Most are on the bottom of the article that got everyone fired up enough to express their love for the city, but some came directly to my inbox or to the Toronto Star’s Travel department or on Twitter. Here are a couple of those as well as some of the ones I liked most from the comment feed.

I like to think the outpouring of affection for the city spurred by the article is a testament to the power of the written word. But those words could have just given voice to a sentiment that was long overdue to be expressed. In any case, the piece seems to have served as a conduit for Buffalo to show its civic pride and, hopefully/possibly, for those readers outside the city to think twice before dismissing it as a travel destination.

See everyone in the Queen City on November 11 (if not before)!

GIVING IT A TRY
“I’m glad someone bothered to look past the stereotypes, cheap malls, hockey and wings and actually see the city. I’m not from there nor do I have any agenda. I just like to see places ­­— especially the ones people mark as dangerous, boring or ugly. I enjoy Buffalo every time I go and wish people would at least try.”
– Sabina

CANADIAN MOVING TO BUFFALO
“I was reading your article on Buffalo and wanted to express my interest in it. I currently live in Mississauga and am going to D’youville College in Buffalo in August for graduate school.

I was there a couple of weeks ago looking for a place to live with a lot of hesitation and worry…being a girl. Again, we’ve all heard how bad certain areas of Buffalo are but a landlord who has lived in Buffalo has told me about areas that are gems like you had stated in your article.

It really is a beautiful place but has had some unfortunate stories and reputation as being a bad area. I am hoping to eventually convince my friends that Buffalo isn’t just good for outlet shopping and Walden Galleria. I really hope that Buffalo continues to strive and become more reputable for being a nice town. It has a lot of heritage and potential but is always masked by the bad things.

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June 20, 2011

How I overcame my prejudice against Buffalo

James at Tempo in Buffalo serves up Maine Lobster Risotto

James at Tempo in Buffalo serves up Maine Lobster Risotto. (Julia Pelish photo)

BUFFALO, N.Y. — “I’m a journalist and I’m writing a travel article about how to spend a weekend in Buffalo.” With those words, I had managed to disarm a U.S. border guard, a young man who immediately stepped back from my car and took a seat on the stool inside his booth. He placed a hand on his shaved head and then swiped it down across his perspiring face.

“You’re going to say good things about the city, right?” he asked without any hint of authority. It was more of a plea.

“I have every intention of being fair,” I answered.

“Have you been to Buffalo before?” He fingered through my passport but didn’t appear all that interested in it.

“Just for hockey games and a couple of concerts a long time ago.”

“What are you going to be doing?” Having collected himself, he stood and once again walked closer to the car.

“The tourism board gave me some suggestions …”

That seemed to worry him. He became more concerned with who the tourism board might be and what potentially lame itinerary they’d set up than with the line of cars waiting to cross the Queenston-Lewiston Bridge on Friday night. “So, where are you going to be staying?”

“The Mansion on Delaware,” I said, totally delighted at this point that I’d found some warmth in a situation that can often be cold and without humanity.

“Good, good, that’s a good start.” He leaned in and tapped a thumb on the roof of the car while I searched for the agenda. “What else? Where’ve they got you going?”

“Dinner at Tempo …”

“Never been there, but heard good things. What else?”

“The Albright-Knox Gallery …”

“Ok, sure. Good. And?”

“A Spirit of Buffalo cruise, Shakespeare in the Park, drinks at some bars.”

“Oh, yeah.” That last bit crossed into familiar terrain for him and he asked, “Which ones?”

“Allen Street Hardware Café …”

“Yeah, so-so, in my opinion. You’re in Allentown, good area, but you should head up to Elmwood and Forest, and try Hertel.”

“Ok.”

“There’s lots to do. I can’t think of anything else off the top of my head right now, though.”

“That’s ok. I’ve got a lot planned.”

“Buffalo doesn’t have a very good reputation.”

“I know.”

“I have to stand up for my city,” he said and handed back my passport. “Have a good time. Write something good about it.”

That ended the best conversation I’ve ever had at a border crossing and began a weekend in Buffalo full of charming encounters such as this.

For those of us in southern Ontario, picking on Buffalo and Buffalonians has been our guilty pleasure. We’ve laughed while fate dumps a torrent of snow on them; we’ve snickered at their failures, exchanging enough “wide right” jokes to keep us going straight on with our bias; and we’ve used their serious misfortunes — high crime rate, low prosperity — to make us feel superior about ourselves and where we live. It’s not very neighbourly, let alone Canadian.

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