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Thread: Buffalo's never-built Radburn - Audubon Village

  1. #1
    Cyburbian jsk1983's avatar
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    Buffalo's never-built Radburn - Audubon Village

    A few months ago I was browsing through Ebay and happened across a clipping from [I]The American City[I] magazine from 1929. Anyways this is an article on a proposed, but never built sub-division for Amherst, NY. The site today is mostly green space, including a shooting club (although this has been sold and a mixed-use development is to be built), a town golf course, a bike path/flood control/ park land, and some single family housing. The scans are in the gallery under the Buffalo category. I'll try to post them here and see what happens.






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    Cyburbia Administrator
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    Wow. Simply wow.

    My parents live not too far from North Forest Road, and I never knew that something like this was even proposed, This is forgotten history, and it's amazing. The Buffalo area never had a planned community on such a grand scale; Parkside was as big as it got. If that got built -- either the Radburn-inspired plan or the earlier version, it would have been Buffalo's answer not just to Radburn, but to Shaker Heights.

    Like so many grand never-built projects in Buffalo's history, it was probably a victim of bad timing. I'd guess that the Depression probably put an end to the plans for Audubon Village. Check out air photos of Tonawanda and the hamlets of Snyder and Eggertsville in Amherst in the late 1920s, and they reveal miles and miles of empty blocks. Many of those streets remained empty until the 1960s.



    The character of Maple Road and Millersport Highway would be so much different today if Audubon Village was built. Today Maple Road is a major suburban arterial, and Millersport is almost an expressway. This development would have given them the character of inner-ring suburban major streets, like Main Street in Snyder and Eggertsville.

    I wonder what other forgotten plans were on the drawing board during the time. A plan from the IRC for a rapid transit system would be icing on the cake.

    Read the paragraph following "Location of Public Buildings". It's as if Andres Duany wrote it himself.

  3. #3
    Cyburbian jsk1983's avatar
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    Opps! Forgot the last section of the article when I scanned the page (thoought it was part of the next one). Gotta love that last paragraph!



    I believe I first learned of this from one of the general history books for Amherst. I think it got a two sentence blurb. Unfortunatly (well I guess it doesn't really matter) no light rail was planned. While Eggertsville/Snyder are pleasent areas with attractive, well built homes they seem to lack any kind of definitive "town-center" save a two block stretch at Main/Harlem. Presumably due the fact that there were no large scale developments? I assume Shaker Heights was originally built by one developer.

    Moderator note:
    (Dan) Changed image link to full-size image for readability.
    Last edited by jsk1983; 20 Feb 2007 at 11:16 PM.

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    Cyburbia Administrator
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    Quote Originally posted by jsk1983 View post
    I assume Shaker Heights was originally built by one developer.
    Slightly OT: Yes, it was, the Van Sweringen Brothers. The entire city is in the style of the pre-Radburn design Audubon Village, platted between WWI and WWII. From Wikipedia:

    The North Union Settlement was established in 1822 with just over 80 individuals. The colony peaked around 1850 with about 300 settlers. As the Shakers practiced celibacy, the colony faded away and was closed in 1889. The land was bought by brothers M.J. and O.P. Van Sweringen who envisioned the first garden styled suburb in Ohio for the site. Originally referred to as Shaker Village, the community was incorporated in 1912 and reached city status in the 1930s. Shaker Heights is known for its stringent building codes and zoning laws, which have helped to maintain the community's housing stock and identity throughout the years. Approximately seventy percent of the city of Shaker Heights is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.


    Shaker Country Estates, an massive extension of the original Shaker Heights development, was supposed to be built in the area east of the present-day City of Shaker Heights, on a site that encompasses the present-day cities of Beachwood, Gates Mills, Pepper Pike and Orange. Because of the Depression, Shaker Country Estates was never built, but many of the major roads constructed in anticipation of development are still present.

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    Cyburbian
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    layout

    Interesting layout that many are trying to create today.

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    Cyburbia Administrator
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    A few minutes of OCR, and here's the article text for the search engines.

    The American City for April 1929

    Audubon Village Adapts the Radburn Plan


    Another Community Where Children Will Not Have to Cross Automobile Highways When Going to School

    By NEWELL L. NUSSBAUMER
    Town Planning For George C. Diehl , C.E. Inc. , Vice President, Civic Research Corporation

    A SELF-CONTAINED suburban community, patterned after the idea, "Live where you play," is being developed on a tract of about 950 acres, lying 8 1/2 miles northeast of the main business district of the city of Buffalo, N. Y. Audubon Village, as the new community will be known, is in the town of Amherst, one of the very progressive townships adjacent to the city.

    In 1926 the Charles S. Burkhardt Co., developers of Audubon Village, assembled the tract and had s plan prepared for its development along the conventional lines of a curved street subdivision. The real estate market at that time was not able to absorb development of this size, so nothing was done on the tract until the latter part of 1928. At that time some of the officers of the development corporation visited Radburn, N. J., and were so well impressed with the general scheme adopted by the City Housing Corporation that they decided to use it themselves. We, as engineers for the company, were instructed to prepare a plan along these lines.

    The recreational features include two 18-shole golf courses, a Country Club having tennis courts and croquet grounds; interior play areas and parks on each block, and a large athletic field suitable for baseball, football and other sports. Boating and water sports on the creek and bridle paths round out a diversified program.

    Highways and Parkways

    The highway system is planned to continue and connect main thoroughfares which already exist and to provide access to a beautiful townsite where people may reside away from the bustle of traffic with maximum safety for their children. Sheridan Drive, Grover Cleveland Highway and the Forest Road are the principal thoroughfares paved at the present time. The Shell Road, Koenig Road and Willow Drive connect with important roads on the west. Maple Road is the only street connecting with important centers on the east. A beautiful 200-foot parkway extends from the southern business district up to the Country Club House, which is the main axis about which many of the h civic features are grouped.

    The center island of this parkway will be 100 feet wide and will be planted along its borders with beautiful shade trees. Down the center a formal bridle path will be built which mill later be connected with other paths dong the creek. Bordering the parkway on both sides will be multiple type houses arranged in attractive groups and apartment houses. All other main connecting roads will be 75 feet and 100 feet in width, sufficient to amply take care of traffic for many years to come.

    Location of Public Buildings

    Many people feel that planners in the United States do not pay sufficient attention to the location of public buildings. In Audubon Village we have followed the European ides of opening up an impressive vistas for all imposing structures which may be built and whose location can be anticipated on the town plan. It will be noticed that such buildings as churches, schools, the Country Club, the community buildings and some of the apartment houses are so located as to be visible for some considerable distance, and each is located on a plot of sufficient size to give buildings of dignity and importance s proper setting which can be enhanced by landscaping.

    All civic buildings used for municipal purposes are located to best serve the population in the most convenient and economical way. We have taken particular pains to see that all the schools have playgrounds adjacent to them, and that they are centrally located in the districts which they serve.

    Area and Architectural Control for Business Districts

    Two business districts will be built, one at the southwest corner of the property and the other at the north end, both at the intersection of main thoroughfares. The type of architecture, height, and use of the various business blocks will be controlled by the company. The area devoted to these districts has been allotted on the basis of commercial use in and around Buffalo, so there will not be a large amount of vacant business property to pull down values.

    Although the zoning rules for the community have not yet been definitely established, the general idea is to restrict commercial use to the areas indicated; and to confine moderate-priced homes to the large garden blocks and the areas between Maple Road and Sheridan Drive. The more expensive homes will be adjacent to the Country Club and on those cul-de-sacs surrounded by golf courses. The type of architecture and other main features of all buildings are subject to the approval of the development company.

    The area immediately adjacent to the Lehigh Valley Railroad will, during the course of construction, be used for industrial warehouse sites. Whether the restrictions will be maintained after the community is built up, has not yet been decided.

    Provisions for Comfort and Safety

    As at Radburn, we are here providing many conveniences and precautions to add to the comfort and safety of the residents, especially children. Underground crossings will be constructed between blocks, so that school children will not have to cross the street. Definite areas for parking adjacent to shopping districts will be designated. The principal means of transportation between Buffalo and Audubon Village will be by busses. A centrally located bus terminal will be provided from which express busses will operate directly into the business district of Buffalo and local busses wiIl operate through the Village. Provisions will be made for all athletic facilities and recreational games which can be promoted without disturbing the adjacent homes.

    So as to be prepared for the time when the common individual use of the aeroplane comes, the development corporation is arranging for additional land adjacent to Audubon Village to be used as an airport site. We feel that use of an airport in connection with a suburban community of this nature will be a valuable and indispensable asset.

    Much has already been written about the advantages of the garden blocks at Radburn. Three outstanding features will appeal to the purchaser of a home. First, that the cost of municipal improvements is considerably less than by any other known arrangement. Second, that the yard, the back portion which is so often neglected and poorly kept, is all placed in front of the house or in common areas which are a benefit to the whole community. Third, that by proper technical supervision and by mass production more value can be built into homes and a more attractive community created than by individual effort.




    The site today:



    What could have been:



    Typical Maple Road today, at the western end of the former Audubon Village site.


  7. #7
    Cyburbian Planit's avatar
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    What college / university is in the northwest corner?
    "Whatever beer I'm drinking, is better than the one I'm not." DMLW
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    Quote Originally posted by Planit View post
    What college / university is in the northwest corner?
    State University of New York at Buffalo, North Campus.

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    Cyburbian Linda_D's avatar
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    That explains why the area around the SUNY campus was named "Audubon" this and "Audubon" that when the campus was built in the '70s and 80s! I always thought it was just to honor the bird painter!

    In fact, IIRC, there was supposed to be a "new planned community" (called Audubon, of course) around SUNY. I guess, like the original Audobon, it, too, never got built!

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    Cyburbia Administrator
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    Quote Originally posted by Linda_D View post
    I guess, like the original Audobon, it, too, never got built!
    It did, actually! Its the development north of the UB North Campus. However, it was originally supposed to extend north of I-990, almost to Tonawanda Creek. Audubon New Community (not to be confused with Audubon Village) has LOTS of Pacific Northwest-ish shed-style residences.

























    There's few sidewalks in Audubon New Community. That's because there's paths behind all the houses. Sound familiar?


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    Cyburbian RandomPlanner's avatar
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    The Suburb of Amherst

    Wow. Imagine if this was built in the 30s. What a different community Amherst would have been.

    Offtopic : In the aerial photo, you can see my first apartment building in Western NY. nice.
    How do I know you are who you think you are?

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    Cyburbian jsk1983's avatar
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    Here's the paragraph from the book where I originally found out about this.


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