I was thinking about Jimmy Griffin and Carl Paladino on a recent stroll down McKinley Parkway on the city’s south side. South Buffalo has traditionally generated many of Buffalo’s most famous people including its most colorful politicians. Former mayor Jimmy Griffin comes to mind. He came to City Hall to shake things up refusing to follow the rules. He was gruff and controversial and did not care if he offended people. He was the long time face of South Buffalo – even after leaving office. That is, until the south side’s latest high profile politician, Carl Paladino, stepped up to the plate.
“Colorful” does not quite fully capture the fledgling Paladino political career and like Griffin he is gruff, controversial and says the status quo has to go. South Buffalo has also produced some not quite as controversial major celebrities such as Tim Russert. But, then the south side also gave us Patrick Kane (who also started his fame in a somewhat colorful way). Strolling down the quite beautiful Olmsted designed parkway I thought of how odd it was that this quiet and sleepily comfortable section of the city was able to produce these over-sized personalities. Where are they coming from?
Music by Neko Case
South Buffalo is almost a separate town within the city. It is well defined by geography and, in spite of Paladino’s last name, by its Irish heritage. People here have deep roots in South Buffalo making it one of the city’s most stable (and somewhat insular) sections. Celebrity is not expected in this part of Buffalo as could be seen in Russert’s own disbelief in what he, as a south side boy, had achieved. These high energy South Buffalo personalities are all linked by their love and pride in their city. The close-knit nature of South Buffalo is part of the reason for that devotion to the city.
Check out the slide show included here for a brief look at some of the solid comfortable houses that make up a good-sized chunk of South Buffalo. Most of these images are from McKinley Parkway, which runs north-south through the center of South Buffalo. The parkway takes a slight bend and runs briefly through Lackawanna ending on axis with the South Park Botanical Garden. It is lined with the priciest addresses in the southern half of the city. Many are big but not ostentatious. The residents take great pride in their street and have a block club organization which is always a good sign for a neighborhood. I believe this group was instrumental in getting one of the traffic circles restored into the original Olmsted plan. I am pretty sure also, that Paladino lives on McKinley Parkway. Is this the street of New York’s future governor?