You may have seen a post earlier today commenting on preservation matters in the historic neighborhood in the shadow of the Peace Bridge, which is threatened by the PBA’s proposed plaza expansion. The comment struck me, frankly, as a bit light in the fact department and a bit thick on innuendo and aspersion — more neighbor-vs-neighbor insider baseball, if you ask me, shedding more heat than light on the matter. Perhaps that’s understandable given the financial, emotional, and health pressures that would wear down the best of us, with a similar sword-of-Damocles hanging over our heads for over a decade.
But if you would like a refreshingly different take on the merits of keeping intact Buffalo’s oldest waterfront neighborhood — both the buildings and the fine folks who live there, who together create a palpable sense of community there — you can’t go wrong by picking up a copy of the October edition of Buffalo Spree Magazine (get it this week, while it’s still on the shelves), and reading the article about the Columbus Parkway neighborhood.
Nicely written by Jana Eisenberg, with photos by k c kratt, the article lays out the preservation case in both words and pictures. While you can check out the article online, I strongly suggest picking up the magazine so you can see k c’s photos in their printed glory. Check out the article, and also check out these comparisons of the footprint of the proposed plaza with the size of, say, Buffalo State campus. Then see if you think such a neighborhood should be threatened with the bulldozer for such a project.
Despite the ever-looming threat, folks in the neighborhood — to their credit — survive and thrive, as do many of the historic houses (at least, those with the good fortune not to have gotten into the hands of the PBA, which has an overt “rot in place” policy for the properties it owns). The Spree article talks about some of the investments residents have been making in their properties, and special architectural tours of the neighborhood are consistently sold out.
There’s been lots written over the years about proposed expansion of the bridge and plaza (Bruce Jackson’s Chronicles, for example, and the articles Buffalo Rising has published). You can walk the neighborhood, and even meet the neighbors and get a peek inside some of the historic homes on special tours. You can also check out the recognition of the neighborhood’s significance from state-level (Preservation League of New York State) and national-level (National Trust for Historic Preservation) preservationists — including a recent action by the federal government’s Advisory Council on Historic Preservation.