Urban planner Chris Hawley is getting ready to roll out his book, Industrious: The Story of the Hydraulics. Real Estate investor and partner in the Larkin Development Group, Howard Zemsky has championed Hawley’s efforts, and as a by-product of the book, the blog The Hydraulics was born.
Hawley, who works part-time for Zemsky and full-time for the Department of Economic Development at Buffalo City Hall (with a focus on zoning codes), gives much of the credit for the upcoming, high-quality, soft-cover book to the Buffalo and Erie County Historical Society. “Even if no one reads a word I wrote,” he says, “the photographs the Historical Society provided are thrilling.”
Hawley describes the book as a cross between coffee table book and historical documentary, saying that you can put it in your knapsack and go – presumably to the Larkin District in order to get a bead on the area from a historical perspective. “It’s a comprehensive study of the Larkin District and the Hydraulics from 1827 to present, and it should interest anyone who’s interested in urbanism.”
The role of the book, according to Hawley, goes beyond entertainment and education, and will tackle the real job of branding the area as a heritage development site, therefore contributing to future development.
“The Larkin Development Group has always tried to tie this history and future together, and there was a time when the idea of a major bank moving its headquarters to a warehouse would have been looked at as absurd,” Hawley explains. “It made more sense to people at some point to demolish buildings like those in the area in order to create shovel-ready sites.”
Hawley says it’s been his pleasure to compile information and photographs about the district because he has a love and passion for it. “‘Industrious’ refers to the industry and the people,” Hawley says. “This is a story of a neighborhood, and Howard has driven the interest. And now, people can become part of the story again. This can become another business district in Downtown.”
Zemsky says he recognizes Hawley’s “boundless enthusiasm for everything Buffalo,” and notes that “he’s been able to really sink his teeth into the compelling history of the Hydraulics. Our district has a long, rich history, and we’re committed to revealing it in fun ways.”
There is no release date for the book yet, but it will be out some time this year. We’ll keep you posted.