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Discovering Buffalo: The View From Toronto

By Michael Binetti

Mention “Buffalo” to most Torontonians and all they will talk
about is Walden Galleria Mall, the outlet malls of Niagara Falls, and cheap
flights at Buffalo-Niagara Falls Airport. A few may even mention how
depressed Buffalo looks from the freeway and how dead the city was if they
actually did venture away from the Walden Galleria to check out downtown.

Well for this Torontonian and urban planning student, “Buffalo”
does not mean Walden Galleria Mall or cheap flights. Buffalo means world-class
art, world-renowned architecture, a historically significant and grand parks
system, and great entertainment and dining.

Every time I tell fellow Torontonians that I am going to Buffalo I am asked, “Oh,
are you going to Walden Galleria?”  
I love to tell them that I am not going to a suburban mall, but instead
going to check out the amazing Albright Knox Art Gallery, or take a stroll in
Delaware Park, or stroll the Elmwood Strip. I love telling people about the
nice areas of Buffalo – and that the entire city is not run down and in decay
like certain East Side areas that people riding to the airport might get lost
in by accident (that happened to my family once).

My praise for Buffalo has had a small but great effect. A
co-worker of mine had a relative visit from Germany, and her relative insisted
they go to Buffalo to the Albright Knox Art Gallery. Having seen my pictures
and praises of Buffalo, she asked me what else do to. We worked out a little
weekend getaway for her, and she came back with nothing but praise for Buffalo.
In fact she wanted to plan another trip to the Queen City to see more.

Working in downtown Toronto, I often see Buffalo residents at my
place of employment. One such resident I ended up seeing on more than one
occasion and we started chatting about Buffalo. She went on about how she
wished Buffalo had a great downtown like Toronto, and I told her to maybe spend
a weekend in Buffalo for once and enjoy what the city has to offer. After all,
if everyone keeps fleeing to Toronto on weekends, than downtown Buffalo will never
fully come back.  I’m glad to
report she actually stayed home a weekend and enjoyed her own backyard. She
thanked me for my advice and said she had a great time on Elmwood Avenue,
rediscovering Buffalo, and that not all is as bad as residents think it is.

We all know Buffalo is not perfect, and there are serious issues
with urban decay and poverty that must be addressed. But overall Buffalo has a
lot to offer, and if I can help get the word out even to a couple people at a
time that there is more to Buffalo that the Galleria, than I will. I wish
Buffalo would market its amazing offerings to the Canadian market. Get the news
out that there is more to Buffalo than a suburban mall.  I always have a
great time in the Queen City, and I hope more Toronto people will discover what
the Queen City has to offer. After all it was not even 40 years ago that
Toronto people made the weekend trek to the big city for excitement and that
city was Buffalo.

Image: Japanese Gardens on Delaware Lake behind BECHS.

Written by Buffalo Rising

Buffalo Rising

Sometimes the authors at Buffalo Rising work on collaborative efforts in order to cover various events and stories. These posts can not be attributed to one single author, as it is a combined effort. Often times a formation of a post gets started by one writer and passed along to one or more writers before completion. At times there are author attributions at the end of one of these posts. Other times, “Buffalo Rising” is simply offered up as the creator of the article. In either case, the writing is original to Buffalo Rising.

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