It was only a matter of time before someone published a book about Buffalo’s rebirth. Author Jeff Dahlberg recently completed his work, which recounts everything from preservation success stories to the advent of Solar City. Each chapter is a new account of Buffalo’s ability to bounce back – there are five chapters altogether, each one describing a detailed event that came to pass – when compiled together, they help to tell the story of this city’s rebirth.
Chapter 1 tells the story of how the Buffalo Bills stayed in town after owner Ralph Wilson passed away. The second chapter is the tale of how the Sabres tanked to draft Jack Eichel. Readers can learn how the western terminus of the Erie Canal was preserved instead of being bulldozed and replaced by a replica in Chapter 3. Chapter 4 expands on historic preservation success stories, and details the efforts to save and restore the Guaranty Building, Allentown, Chippewa Street and the Calumet Building, Larkinville and the Lofts at Elk Terminal, among others. Chapter 5 showcases 4 of Buffalo’s new economy developments: Solar City, the Buffalo Medical Campus, IBM and HarborCenter.
We’re all aware of the success stories, but such detailed narrative, all in one place, to read about any time, is a pretty awesome thing. Dahlberg has amassed a number of the recent highlights that have been the talk of the town as of late. Now he’s sharing them with all of us, in the form of his new book – “Not Just Snow and Chicken Wings: Positive Stories About Buffalo’s Rebirth”.
Sports fans will certainly enjoy the first two chapters. In Terry Pegula and Some Loyal Fans keep the Bills in Buffalo (Chapter 1), author Jeff Dahlberg describes how Buffalo managed to avoid going the way of St. Louis and losing their NFL team. After Bills’ owner Ralph Wilson passed away in 2014, three major bidders emerged who wanted to buy the team: Buffalo Sabres owners Kim and Terry Pegula, then real-estate developer Donald Trump, and a Toronto business group headed by front-man Jon Bon Jovi. The Pegulas were ultimately successful, but the final outcome was by no means assured. Dahlberg details how Bon Jovi and the Toronto investors made a serious bid to move the team to Canada’s largest city. They were thwarted, not only by the Pegula’s vast fortune, but also by two concerned fan groups who discredited the conglomerate and exposed their secret plans to the media.
Chapter 2 begins with the early history of hockey in Buffalo. Then it pivots to tell the nail-biting tale of how the Sabres finished last in the NHL standings to draft Jack Eichel. The tank, like the Bills staying in Buffalo, wasn’t a sure thing. Buffalo News sports writers were against it, Coach Ted Nolan didn’t support it and the Sabres started picking up late season wins. It took Chicago Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews to score two goals within 47 seconds to beat the Sabres and keep the tank alive. The story ends on a happy note when the Sabres win the tank and draft Jack Eichel.
History buffs and Erie Canal enthusiasts can revisit the struggle to preserve and restore the original western terminus of the Erie Canal in Chapter 3. The Erie Canal’s terminus was buried in the 1920s and wasn’t found or excavated until 1998. That’s when archaeologists working for New York State uncovered the remains of the Commercial Slip, the first water link between Lake Erie and the Canal. The book traces behind-the-scenes political battles. Empire State Development Corporation, the state agency overseeing the excavation, wanted to rebury the Slip and build a replica a short distance away. Local preservationists took them to court and won. Thanks in part to their efforts, visitors to Canalside can gaze on the actual terminus of the Erie Canal, the place that linked the Great Lakes with the Atlantic Ocean and transformed Buffalo from a sleepy village into a major city.
“Not Just Snow and Chicken Wings” expands on the history-based theme in Chapter 4, where Dahlberg explores more historic preservation success stories. Readers can learn how and why preservationists saved and restored the Guaranty, the Calumet Building, the Elk Terminal Building, the Webb Building and the Larkin Terminal Warehouse. Whole neighborhoods such as Allentown, Chippewa Street and Larkinville were also redeveloped. The Queen City’s crowning success came in 2011, when the National Trust for Historic Preservation held its annual conference in Buffalo. That’s when outsiders could see all the renovation and restoration work Western New Yorkers had been witnessing.
The final chapter of the book covers Buffalo’s recent economic progress. After describing Buffalo’s manufacturing rise and decline, the author details construction of the SolarCity plant in South Buffalo. This largest planned solar panel manufacturing facility in the world isn’t Buffalo’s only new economy success story. A major medical research and life science complex has been growing at the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus. IBM is building an information technology center at the KeyCenter Building on Main Street. HarborCenter, a new hockey-related mixed-used complex in downtown Buffalo, was built in record time and changed Buffalo’s negative image with record speed. “Not Just Snow and Chicken Wings: Positive Stories About Buffalo’s Rebirth” is available on Amazon.com, in both Kindle and paperback.