It’s been five years since the Open-Air Autobus starting touring people around the city. The autobus was one of the first touring vehicles to make an impact on the way we see our city. Up until the launch, walking tours were the only way to go, and now, five years into the venture, the touring vehicle has been upgraded with all sorts of fancy improvements. Not only are their swanky new amenities, including cool snow-leopard seats and all weather-proof roll down roofs, there are also added tour stops to make an outing that much more memorable. “That’s a huge improvement,” says Jason Ochetrski, Campaign for Greater Buffalo’s tour coordinator, “Now people can make plans for tours or charters no matter what the weather.”
Among new and notable tours is the highly anticipated route of the millionaire mansions and buildings designed by the likes of McKim, Mead & White, Green & Wicks, H.H. Richardson, Joseph Silsbee, Marling & Burdett, and Frank Lloyd Wright during Buffalo’s Golden Age. It’s being called ‘This Old Mansion’ tour, and along with the architecture comes the stories of riches and ruins. Here’s the rest of the tour information as presented by Campaign for Greater Buffalo:
New this year is “This Old Mansion,” a tour which focuses on the feats, foibles, habits, and habitations of Buffalo’s rich. Grain traders, real estate moguls, legal consiglieri, nickel-and-dime millionaires–all had different routes to riches (and sometimes, ruin), but, for a period, they all had the good manners to hire the best architectural talent. This Old Mansion is a tour of textbook High Style architecture as practiced at the pinnacle of taste and refinement in late 19th-century and early 20th century America.
This Old Mansion is scheduled for 6pm Thursday May 31, June 28, July 19, and Aug. 9. It is one of five different in-depth tours offered on rotating Thursdays. Othres are Industrial Strength Architecture: The Belt Line; Very Big and Extremely Close: Buffalo’s Grain Elevators; The Atomic Age Suburb; and Frank Lloyd Wright and Buffalo.
The most popular Autobus tour is the aptly named Whirlwind Tour, a jam-packed look at Buffalo highlights from a historic and architectural perspective, and includes buildings by H.H. Richardson, Frank Lloyd Wright, Louis Sullivan, Olmsted’s park system, the reconstructed Commercial Slip, and downtown’s many significant buildings, as well as Chippewa Street and sections of Elmwood Avenue. The Whirlwind tour runs Fridays at 6pm, Saturdays at 10am, and Sundays at 11am.
Tours depart from Elmwood Avenue at Bidwell Parkway (except for waterfront tours, which depart from Erie Basin Marina), last 2 hours and cost $20. There is a $5 admission for children 11 and under. Admission is on a first-come, first-serve basis, so paid reservations are recommended (716-854-3749 or Reservations@OpenAirBuffalo.org). The Campaign is a nonprofit organization and all tour revenue supports historic preservation.
Details and a printable schedule can be found at www.openairbuffalo.org, or call The Campaign at 716-854-3749 for a brochure.