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Then and Now: A Google Reminder

The pace of change in Buffalo may seem glacial at times and it certainly can be. But, often we have an inability to perceive change in real-time. We easily forget what has changed after it has changed. It is as if, whatever is there now has always been there in that way it is now. The new thing becomes the norm and the old is gone for good.  Often I’ve passed a familiar block where a building has been demolished or replaced and cannot remember what was there before. Racking my brian I am thinking to myself “I have walked by this corner 50 times, What was here before!”

Thanks to the Google machine we can sometimes look back at the thing before the change and get a little reminder of what was and no longer is.  That would be the case with this very fine house at 596 Niagara Street which was recently renovated to a very high level.  You could walk by it now and think it had always looked this beautiful, the beneficiary of good ownership in a sometimes ragged neighborhood.  In fact the renovation is fairly recent.  Google captured an image of the house just as renovations were being started.  As you can see, not long ago it would have been a candidate for demolition in some people’s eyes.  Luckily the right person came along to show us all what this house really should  and could be.

Buffalo cannot continue to waste these kinds of buildings. They are a major assets that can be leveraged for rebuilding an interesting and unique city.  The rebuilding is already happening. Directly across the street D’Youville College is planning a major investment in its campus. This section of the city has been abused over the last 60 years or so but a lot of amazing urban fabric remains.  Combine this with nearby lake Erie and Downtown and you have all the right stuff for a great city neighborhood. This will someday be a premier part of the city and when that happens people will have a hard time remembering what it looked like in the bad old days.


Written by David Steele

David Steele

Architect ( a real one, not just the armchair type), author of "Buffalo, Architecture in the American Forgotten Land" ( ), lover of great spaces, hater of sprawl and waste,
advocate for a better way of doing things.

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