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Buffalo viability

kguru

Cyburbian
Messages
26
Points
2
I have heard about Buffalo attempting to remake itself from a rustbelt city to a more information technology city. Is Buffalo still livable or has it lost most of its business viability?
 

jonclarke2

Member
Messages
5
Points
0
Yes, that is true. For many years now the city has been attempting to bring back some industries that have left in search of A) lower taxes B) lower labor costs. Buffalo has a Blue- Collar workforce. I believe there is a push to get high tech computer companies to relocate to Western New York. Huh!!!!

Personally, I would not characterise it as a sucess but, a rather a feable attempt. City officals are still trying to figure out a way to revitalize the water front (politics and money). That has been going on for twenty years. I look at what Clevland did and wonder why is it taking so long.

The population growth of Buffalo has been in steady decline since the 60's. why?, you don't have to look very hard to find the reasons.
 

Dan

Dear Leader
Staff member
Moderator
Messages
17,326
Points
53
(The start of a rant ... I'll be working on it over the next few days)

Buffalo is my hometown, and I've seen the decline firsthand. The neighborhood I grew up in turned from one of the city's few ethnically diverse, middle-class communities to a lower income, high-crime "'hood" from the time I was born to the time my parents left in 1992. I never saw Buffalo during a time of growth -- I only saw decline. As an example, there were five large, full-service department stores downtown in 1980 (AM&As, Hengerer's, Hens & Kelly, L.L. Berger and Sattler's); now there's none.

Traditionally, Buffalo's politics resembles that of 1960s Chicago, where patronage rules the day, and staying in power takes precedent over public service. Local governments provide a vast array of services -- it keeps people employed, and thus the politicans in power. However, few of those services are provided very well. (Exceptions -- snow clearance in Amherst, suburban public schools, and inner city magnet schools.) There are hundreds of fragmented school districts, fire districts, water districts, sewer districts, and so on, and consolidation isn't even a thought -- the leaders are reluctant to give up power over their fiefdoms. Despite each new politican's promise of change, of reform, it never happens.

Buffalo's blue-collar culture is deeply rooted, and in-your-face. Despite the presence of many colleges and universities, and a few bohemian neighborhoods in the city, the collective lifestyle of Buffalo tends to revolve around bingo, bowling, 'da fire hall, and 'da BIlls. Pop culture trends are slow to arrive; if ever. Listen to Buffalo Radio, for instance -- playlists haven't changed much since the early 1990s. The metro area is usually last on the list of expansion plans for major national retail and restaurant chains. Although some might say it's for the better, the fact that there's no Macaroni Grill, no Morton's Steakhouse, no P.F. Chang's, no Crate and Barrel, no Restoration Hardware, and so on, is a sign that the market that can appreciate and afford the products and services they they offer aren't there. You'd be hard-pressed to find a Thai, Ethiopian, or Mongolian restaurant in town -- it's either strip-mall Chinese, old-school Italian, Greek diner, neighborhood pizzeria, or corner bar wings and fish fry, and that's about it.

(more to follow)
 

kguru

Cyburbian
Messages
26
Points
2
I am currently in Tallahassee. Its a fairly small backwater city, with the exception of it being Florida's capital. The city has a population of about 150,000. The state has recently laid off about 1/4 of their workforce which is the largest employer in the area. The city has a very large amount of ghettos and homeless people for its comparatively small size. The city has attracted some malls and has mostly discount stores (catering to the large college student population). Some areas of the city have decent housing available for a reasonable price. Unfortunately, the south side of the city is very undeveloped when compared to the north side.

On to Buffalo again. Is Buffalo a good city/region to study in and work in as a planner? How easy is it to get around without a car? I recall passing through the area and remember seeing a lot of buses and a subway, but I only was briefly passing through the area.
 
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jonclarke2

Member
Messages
5
Points
0
I too am a Buffalonian by birth and now a transplanted northerner. I think that anyone from Buffalo could rant and rave for hours. I would not suggest taking the bus unless you like wearing a bullet proof vest and packing some heat. There are some pretty rough neighborhoods up there. I would say that you do need a car especially if you are planning on going to UB. On a positive note, UB has a great Masters program for Urban Planning. Buffalo is a classic city of what happens when urban sprawl sets in. The city is a gost town while most of the growth is in the burbs like Amherst and Lancaster.
 

jonclarke2

Member
Messages
5
Points
0
Forgot, that is not a subway system. It is an expensive trolley that goes nowhere. Proffesional jobs are few and far between up there. It is good to know some one first.
 

kguru

Cyburbian
Messages
26
Points
2
What are you thoughts about planning jobs in Tallahassee? It is possible to get around without a car but it can be a challenge to do so.
 

el Guapo

Capitalist
Messages
5,985
Points
29
What is the deal with...

..Floridians and their fascination with Buffalo? This is getting to be a trend.
 

kguru

Cyburbian
Messages
26
Points
2
Re: What is the deal with...

El Guapo wrote:
..Floridians and their fascination with Buffalo? This is getting to be a trend.
The trend began for me when I first arrived at FSU and some people had come from upstate New York and were saying that the area was really nice, just that it was cold. Others said Buffalo was run down and was dead. I then got interested in planning. I wanted to go up north to get connections with northern areas. I then found out about UB and U Albany. Noticing that UB has a big planning department I stumbled across a link to these forums and have been lurking for a few weeks. I am a New Yorker by birth, but my parents transplanted to southern Florida. I yearn for winter and a stop to the never ending summer heat. Also, I wanted to be in a place with mass transit to commute. Much south Florida has very little mass transit. Tallahassee has a moderate amount because of a large amount of carless students. Ideally, I'd like to go to Boston or New York to work eventually, but MIT is kind of expensive for planning school (their website estimated costs to be about $44,000 a year). One thing I do know is that FSU's planning department took some major funding cuts making it diffcult to get courses.
 

Dan

Dear Leader
Staff member
Moderator
Messages
17,326
Points
53
kguru wrote:
On to Buffalo again. Is Buffalo a good city/region to study in and work in as a planner? How easy is it to get around without a car? I recall passing through the area and remember seeing a lot of buses and a subway, but I only was briefly passing through the area.
Buffalo is a great region in which to study planning. Its built and social environment demonstrate, perhaps to a greater extent than other cities, the good, bad and ugly of the planning profession as practiced in the United States, and the evolution of the American city.

Buffalo has bohemian neighborhoods like Allentown and the Elmwood District, places that are the envy of much larger cities. Buffalo also has neighborhoods like Kensington, that are in the middle of white flight. Buffalo's inner ring suburbs are just starting to experience symptoms of decline; until just recently, they seemed immune to the troubles of the city that gives the metro region its name. You'll find wonderful examples of both the City Beautiful movement, and Robert Moses-like highway plans that inflicted permanent social and physical scars on the city. There's suburban areas such as Kenmore and East Aurora, which actually served as models in the foundation of the New Urbanism movement, and the unplanned sprawl of Amherst, Clarence and points beyond -- places that mysteriously continue to grow despite a decline in population.

Downtown is relatively safe, and although it might seem "dead" the northern end, around Chippewa Street and the Theater District, boasts a wonderful nightlife and a budding loft district. There are hurting neighborhoods on much of the East Side, and some working class areas like Black Rock and the middle West Side are fairly shabby, but Buffalo also has something that Cleveland and Detroit don't ... comfortable middle and upper income neighborhoods in the city limits.

Learning planning in Buffalo is one thing. Practicing is quite another. Most suburbs are quite large, both geographically and in population, but they have very small planning agencies. It's easy to find an internship, but a full-time job is a different story. Residency requirements limit applicants to those that actually live in the city or town where the job is, and even then you have to have "connections" to land a job -- there's many "planners" working in local government that don't have a planning degree. Some large municipalities, like the Town of Tonawanda and the Town of Cheektowga, don't have planning agencies; land use matters are often handled by a building department or the Town Clerk. Buffalo's planning department has just 15 full-time planners; Amherst has five; Niagara Falls, Clarence and Hamburg each have one. However, if you're into economic development or community development (i.e. housing rehab, paint-up-fix-up programs, organizing block clubs, etc.), there's no shortage of jobs. Pay isn't that great, especially in the community development arena, but there is something.

Getting around without a car -- Buffalo is better than most similarly sized cities, but the NFTA has some quirks. Bus routes are based on late 1800s streetcar routes, and often stop at the city line. When routes cross into the suburbs, there's tens of "subroutes" -- 13A, 13B, 13C, 13D, and so on, each going down a different set of side streets in an attempt to bring every subdivision within walking distance of a bus line. However, this hurts service frequency. In the city, though, no problem. Buses and trains are clean and safe, and depending on the route, actually used by commuters and not just the car-less.
 

Nemesis

Member
Messages
51
Points
4
Buffalo 66

I often listen to Dan talk about the Buffalo culture and think about all of us who attended Buffalo A&P School and now work in other cities. If any of you have the opportunity to rent the Movie Buffalo 66 or Canadian Bacon you can get a feel of the sterotypical culture of living in the area. Dan, your comment of lack of ethinic food is not true.....You list all these ethnic "chains" not attracted to the area, but that is what makes the region a better place. Granted these chains represent growth and developent but there are many local ethnic establishments are thriving. Where else can you get Carribean in a Steel workers bar, authentic Vietnamese next to Mediteranian, around the corner from a Polish Restaraunt. I also enjoy returning to the area for its diversity of food. What I wouldn/t give for a Ted's or Mighty Taco, or a butter lamb for this Sunday. I have lived in so many areas where the "chains" are the culture that after 6 months they all taste the same to me. Buffalo is better for it.
I'll turn the light out now.
 

jonclarke2

Member
Messages
5
Points
0
Yes I agree, Buffalo does have some great food! Go a head and ask for a beef on weck or a pop in Florida.

You can't mention Ted's and Mighty Taco without Duff's, Hoagie Brothers AKA Mike's Subs and the almighty Shittycanoe.

For all the dispaced Buffalonians, Webers mustard will soon be no more. A little birdy told me that the factory is closing.
 

Nemesis

Member
Messages
51
Points
4
I also heard Webers was closing because the economic development folks only wanted to assist pie in the sky projects and not small companies like Webers. I don/t think business retention and growth is something Buffalo economic development folks should put on their resume - I guess they can only get better since they are at a low point. I wasnot happy to hear about Webers and sent my father(also a small business owner) over to Webers to find out. One of the owners of Webers went to high school with me assured him they were not closing, at least as of a year ago. Webers did sell him a really nice gift pack they ship for gifts that I was the recepient of.

On a side note. The Buffalo News ran an article this week talking about the forced closing of the underground gay club that has been in existance for 100 years on Main Street by a pro development mainstreet organization who moved next door. You had to be a in a hole not to know about the existence of it.
I found the article so hysterical and ironic, I am asuuming they are the last business on main street to close. Their other neighbor, the brew pub, took the economic development money given them, closed up shop with no guarantee to the city and left town. I always thought the city should go back to its true historica nature and cater to porn, gambling and booze. Buffalo at the turn of the century besides one of the wealthest cities had one of the roughest, seedest areas in North America because of the Erie Canal . This is well documented and I always point this out when officials in Buffalo try talk about incorporating the history of Bufalo in plans.

I'll turn on the night lite.
 

jonclarke2

Member
Messages
5
Points
0
Because Downtown Buffalo is nothing but an empty shell of once was. City officials are so eager to give away money to busieness that are located there that they do not have any recourse when things like this happen. Granted it is tough to keep business open in the city just because theres nothing to draw people back to it once they have left for the day. A lot of people work downtown but very few live there. Most people commute from the burbs.

Look at what they did to the Aud after the new arena opened; NOTHING. Everyone had a great idea. Some of them I thought were just plain idiotic, but that is not the point, the point is now it just sits there falling apart. Typical !! So if and when they decide to renovate it , it will end up costing the taxpayers more money.
 
Messages
54
Points
4
Buffalo is coming back

Sure, Buffalo has been a dying city for the past 50 yrs or so, but it is on the rebound.
Someone mentioned no plans for the old Memorial Auditorium (hockey rink) but it is being turned into the regions intermodal transportation center as I type. It is also the planned site of a Bass Pro Shops mega store. These stores are huge sports and hunting stores, most of which include an indoor fishing tank.
There are also loft apartments being built downtown, there are currently~ 300 units under construction, this may not seem like much, but it is a step in the right direction, it should also be mentioned that new apartments in downtown are rented out before they are even built.
Buffalo is making steps to improve itself, regardless of governmental Support.
 
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