In the past I've been to a ton of openings - homes, shops, restaurants, etc. While I tend to get around and see a lot of things, I've never seen anything like what I saw last evening. An opening of an entire city district. The Larkin District is a sight/site to behold. It's as if, almost overnight, this part of town sprung up from nowhere. But that's not the case. The Larkin District is steeped in history, and while the ghosts of the past have reawakened, there is also a brand new energy that is being infused in order to create a place that has as storied of a future as its illustrious past.
In order to say thanks to all those who made the recreation of the Larkin District possible, including many neighbors and those who work in Larkinville, it was decided to host a kickoff celebration. Part party, part concert and part festival, last evening gave the district its first glimpse as to what the site was capable of, and how visitors would react to the amenities. The square's central grill station (and bar) was activated, oversized pillows were placed about, food trucks were brought in, the Larkin Filling Station's garage doors were rolled up and a stage was set up (featuring headliners 10,000 Maniacs).
Finally, the last magical ingredient was added - the people, which instantly turned Larkin Square into a lively and festive town square. "Larkinville was the original neighborhood of innovation and industry in Buffalo", said Larkin Development Principal Howard Zemsky. "We have been committed here from Day One to the creation of a vibrant mixed use historic district. Through our relationship with First Niagara Bank, and our many tenants who share a common vision, we've been able to re-imagine this district as a vibrant hub of energy and commerce."
While you may be thinking to yourself, "That looks like a lot of fun... I wish I could have been there," I have some good news to share. Every Wednesday, throughout the summer and into the fall, Larkinville will be promoting a music series called Live at Larkin
. That's when the corner of Seneca and Swan Streets in Buffalo will play host to the city's most talented performers, while Buffalonians roam the grounds in search of good food, frosty brews and even a few fun games such as pickleball.
While all of the sensational activities are a welcome addition to the district, I'm just as impressed with the subtle details that tie everything together - attractive garbage cans... large rocks for sitting... LED lighting... bike racks... lounge chairs and oversized community tables... right down to the people who walk around tidying up after the crowd. It all makes a big difference.
Down the road there will also be wandering performers and buskers, which is great because in other parts of the city these creative elements are usually frowned upon. If you think about it, this is a district that goes against the grain of status quo in so many ways. All of the things that we have been asking for - fair playing fields, inclusivity, creativity - it's all here. And it just goes to show you that this is not rocket science after all. Projects like this are driven by passion, not politics. Larkinville is a pleasant place to be - there are a lot of other parts of the city that could learn a thing or two from the visionaries behind the project. Hopefully Live at Larkin will ultimately take on a double meaning. Now... let the games begin!
Wednesdays @ Larkin Square, 5-8pm - Buffalo, NY
6/20 Hot Club of Buffalo & After Hours
6/27 Dive House Union & Jony James Band
7/11 Son of the Sun & Stacy Clark
7/18 Grace Stmberg & Dee Adams
7/25 Peter Case & Whitford-Winsick
8/1 Babik & Brian Wheat
8/8 South Buffalo Night w/ the Willies, The Leftovers and many many more
8/15 The Rockaz & Gruvology
8/22 Chris Nathan & Caitlin and the Jamie Moses Band
8/29 School of Rock w/ Alison Pipitone, Eris Crittenden, Music is Art & WNY music students
9/5 Aqueous & Free Henry
9/12 Buffablog Night w/Andrew J Reimers CPX, Bryan Johnson & Family, Brad Gower
9/19 The Ragbirds & Chilharmonic Orchestra