Urban planning community

+ Reply to thread
Results 1 to 6 of 6

Thread: A Field Guide to Buffalo's Armchair Planners

  1. #1
    Cyburbia Administrator Dan's avatar
    Registered
    Mar 1996
    Location
    Upstate New York
    Posts
    14,538
    Blog entries
    3

    A Field Guide to Buffalo's Armchair Planners

    Blue Collar Stan and Working Class Joanne




    Also known as: Old Buffalonains, Whenwes ("When we moved into our first house on Box Street ...", "When we were kids, growing up off of Genesee Street ...", "When we lived on Deerfield near Grider ..." )

    Number: very common

    Age: 50s and up.

    Place of residence: a small ranch or Cape Cod house in Cheektowaga, Depew, Sloan, Tonawanda, Lackawanna, or West Seneca.

    Occupation: retired, works "ee-yat thuh plee-yant" or in the building or mechanical trades

    Planning experience: read a public notification letter regarding a neighbor's setback variance for an above ground pool.

    Reads: sports section of the Buffalo News, missal, Valu Home Center newspaper insert.

    Usually sighted at: old-school taverns with neon Genesee signs, Bills games, Speak Up WNY forums, fire halls, mass, buffet line at the Imperial Palace hotel in Las Vegas.

    Armchair planner beliefs and quotes:
    * The best place for a new stadium is in the middle of downtown, or right on the waterfront.
    * Broadway-Fillmore/Kensington/Schiller Park/Hamlin Park would still be good "sections" today if it weren't for the "coloreds." (Unfortunately, people still believe this.)
    * The transit mall, perceived lack of parking, and "loud kids" killed downtown.

    * "They should just tear down those Allenhurst Apartments, and move those people back to the city where they belong."
    * "What they need to do is bring back [Freddie's Donuts/Cambria's Old Spain/Town Casino/Carl Meyer's Hof/Pat's Hot Dogs/Lombardo's/some other long-gone establishment from the 1950s]."
    * "I don't go down to Elmwood Avenue. There's not enough parking there. They ought to tear down some of those older buildings. If they had better parking, more people would go down there."

    What they're doing to help: reelecting incumbents over and over and over again, maintaining immaculate lawns.

    Best defense against attack: play the old Satters "998 Broadway" jingle and watch them freeze up and cry, point off in the distance and say "Look! A Dolphins fan!", introduce them to your significant other Shaniqua or Latrell and watch their heads explode.


    Allentown Alan and Elmwood Emma



    Also known as: Elmwoodians, Elmwoodies

    Number: somewhat common in certain areas, very rare outside of the city limits.

    Age: early 20s to late 30s.

    Place of residence: north of downtown, east of Richmond, south of Delaware Park, west of Main, with a few honorary members near Hertel Avenue and in University Heights.

    Occupation: graphic design, coffee shop owner, bike courier, anything related to the liberal arts.

    Planning experience: read Mark Goldman's books, knows who Jane Jacobs and Richard Florida are, took a couple of geography or planning classes at Buff State or UB before deciding to major in English.

    Reads: Buffalo Rising, Artvoice, Buffalo Beast, bad poetry zines, posters on light poles.

    Usually sighted at: Panos (despite their feelings on the demolition of 1089 Elmwood), The Towne, Mykonos, Spot Coffee, Home of the Hits, poetry slams.

    Armchair planner beliefs and quotes:
    * Elmwood Avenue would be a much cooler place if there was a massive rezoning, allowing all those unnecessary houses along the street to be occupied by even more coffee houses and consignment shops.
    * Most of Buffalo's woes are due to the Kensington Expressway, the suburban location of the UB North Campus, and the Amherst Industrial Development Agency.
    * Chain stores and restaurants are bad, bad, bad! Well, except for cool chains that they desperately want to come to Buffalo, like Ikea, Trader Joe's, Urban Outfitters, American Apparel, H&M, Whole Foods ("Wegmans is better, though.") Chipotle, World Market ...
    * Main Street in downtown, Broadway, and Grant Street are actually viable locations for upscale retail stores, and Ikea will jump at a Buffalo location long before they open stores in Denver, Cleveland, Las Vegas, St. Louis, Kansas City, San Antonio, Milwaukee, Raleigh, Columbus ...
    * Bufalo's extremely cheap housing is an asset, not the indicator of lack of demand.
    * It really doesn't matter what happens outside of the West Side.

    * "The old Aud would be a perfect location for an Ikea store."
    * "The old Latina's Supermarket would be a perfect location for an Ikea store."
    * "The empty lot next to Pano's would be a perfect location for an Ikea store"
    * "They should build a Crate and Barrel at the corner of Broadway and Fillmore."

    What they're doing to help: responding to blog posts, actually living in the city and patronizing its businesses.

    Best defense against attack: tell them their poetry sucks and watch them freeze up and cry, play 97 Rock on a boombox within hearing distance, tell them there's a rumor that Benderson Development is going to build an Applebee's at Elmwood and Forest and watch their heads explode.


    Booster Bill and Patriot Patricia



    Also known as: Buffaholics, Loganberry Drinkers

    Number: not very common, but very visible and vocal.

    Age: early 20s to mid 50s.

    Place of residence: mostly in the city and the first ring suburbs, although the suburban members of the group are often in the closet about their location.

    Occupation: finance, marketing, publishing, economic development.

    Planning experience: Mark Goldman, Jane Jacobs, Richard Florida and other urban pundits? Too negative. They have some economic development and Buffalo history-related classes in college to their credit, though.

    Reads: Buffalo Spree, Buffalo Rising, Buffalo News, Buffalo CVB publications, and any of the books on Cynthia Van Ness's (excellent) Buffalo Fiction list.

    Usually sighted at: mostly the same places as Allentown Alan and Elmwood Emma, but not afraid to venture beyond the West Side and North Buffalo ... because all of the Niagara Frontier is fantastic! Difficult to find outdoors on Friday nights, because most retreat to dumpy but "real" taverns for the obligatory fish fry.

    Armchair planner beliefs and quotes:
    * Every aspect of Buffalo -- food, schools, people, architecture, music, weather, natural surroundings, and urban environment -- is far superior to that of every other metropolis in North America. Everything about Buffalo is also more "real", too; it's not "fake", "corporate" or "plastic" as in places that actually have a growing population.
    * Taxes, weather, de-industrialization, white flight, blue-collar attitudes and corrupt politics are just exaggerated excuses for Buffalo's alleged malaise. Buffalo's biggest problem: it's collective low self-esteem. If locals only knew how great the area was, and how awful everyplace else is, Buffalo's potential would be unlimited.
    * The key to Buffalo's revitalization: it's great as it is! Look out, though, when those tired of sanitized, plastic, fake and placeless cities finally discover the Niagara Frontier, the last outpost of "authenticity" in the country.
    * Also Buffalo's savior: smooth-flowing traffic. It's not an indicator of a struggling economy, but rather outstanding transportation planning.
    * All those things common to other cities and regions that are lacking in the Buffalo area, such as dog parks, upscale chain stores and restaurants, weekly free alternative newspapers, lifestyle centers, eclectic cuisines, new urbanist development, smart growth, form-based zoning with design review, and expanding light rail transit systems? Just "fee-yads" that will make Buffalo seem just like sterile, placeless Phoenix or Raleigh if they come to the region.
    * Brain drain, expanding urban prairie, ethnic insularity, racially segregated neighborhoods, Members Only jackets and Zubaz, machine politics, a tiny black middle class, high property taxes, depressed real estate values, flipping, and a large elderly population? Well, some other places have some of those problems, too.
    * Chain stores and restaurants are bad, bad, bad! Except for Wegmans, Anderson's, Teds, Mighty Taco, Bagel Jay's, Hoagie Brothers, Mike's Giant Subs, John and Mary's, Valu, Hector's Hardware ...

    * "There's plenty of jobs in Buffalo! If you can't find work, you aren't looking hard enough. People that move down south for work are just lazy and weak. Besides, Charlotte's fakeness and 120% humidity will eventually push them back."
    * "You can't shovel a hurricane or an earthquake!"
    * "Why do you need supermarkets like Trader Joe's or Whole Foods? They're overrated. Besides, the Lexington Co-op is much better. It's also authentic, and has more character than those overpriced yuppie chains."
    * "It took me three hours to drive a mile on the Perimeter in Atlanta at midnight, but I can drive from Lewiston to Orchard Park in twenty minutes during rush hour!"

    What they're doing to help: keeping the Talking Proud! campaign alive 25 years after it officially ended, making the city's problems worse by completely ignoring them.

    Best defense against attack: forget it. They have an answer for everything. Right-wing radio talk show hosts, Pyongyang tour guides and Linux fanboys take their lessons from these guys.

  2. #2
    Cyburbian joshking2's avatar
    Registered
    Apr 2007
    Location
    Music City USA
    Posts
    115

    Allentown Alan

    Ouch! I did major in planning at Buff State!

  3. #3
    Cyburbian RandomPlanner's avatar
    Registered
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Dibs on the Northeast
    Posts
    630
    Quote Originally posted by joshking2 View post
    Ouch! I did major in planning at Buff State!
    I could have qualified as an Elmwood Emma (before I got my planning degree), but you're wrong Dan -- I lived just north of Delaware Park!! (so there)
    How do I know you are who you think you are?

  4. #4
    Cyburbian drucee's avatar
    Registered
    Aug 2004
    Location
    Minneapolis
    Posts
    229
    Don't the Elmwood Emmas and Allentown Alans who complain about the lack of an IKEA realize that they're closer to one (Burlington, Ontario) than anyone in Denver, St. Louis, Raleigh, Cleveland, San Antonio, Columbus, Charlotte, etc.?

    They went to Canada to buy beer when they were 19, didn't they? It's not that hard to jump over the border for some reasonably priced furniture to go with that reasonably priced Elmwood apartment.

  5. #5
    Cyburbian joshking2's avatar
    Registered
    Apr 2007
    Location
    Music City USA
    Posts
    115
    I made that trip many, many times. I was the only one in my group who had a pick up truck!

  6. #6
    Cyburbia Administrator Dan's avatar
    Registered
    Mar 1996
    Location
    Upstate New York
    Posts
    14,538
    Blog entries
    3
    Quote Originally posted by joshking2 View post
    Ouch! I did major in planning at Buff State!
    As did I in my undergrad years!

    Next in the series: Feelgood Johnny and Jane (senior centers, neighborhood gardens, neighborhood clinics, and free paint programs are the key to Buffalo's future), and Uber-preservationist Paul and Paula (the ultimate BANANAs).

+ Reply to thread

More at Cyburbia

  1. Replies: 56
    Last post: 20 Nov 2013, 1:52 PM
  2. Cyburbian Armchair Road Trip
    Friday Afternoon Club
    Replies: 7
    Last post: 02 Jan 2009, 10:38 PM
  3. Replies: 6
    Last post: 10 Oct 2008, 11:10 AM
  4. Do most planners stay in the field?
    Career Development and Advice
    Replies: 12
    Last post: 22 Mar 2007, 9:01 AM
  5. A Field Guide to Sprawl
    Friday Afternoon Club
    Replies: 2
    Last post: 17 Jun 2004, 2:49 PM