Friday, November 16, 2007

shufflin' off to buffalo, art deco style (1)


A month ago, I took a carload down to Buffalo to check out the city's first cross-border edition of Doors Open. Time only allowed us to explore two buildings, but both proved to be wise decisions on a day full of surprises.
The first surprise came when we reached the border. I had prepped the others, in my usual semi-paranoid state, what to expect when crossing the Niagara River. Turned out none of this was necessary, as we had a border guard who didn't seem partially cybernetic. We handed her the Doors Open program, which she thought looked interesting. No strange questions were asked and we passed through without any strange looks.

Niagara Square
Coming into downtown via Elmwood, we parked near Niagara Square, which was devoid of life. The combination of grey skies, solitary monuments and wide, empty streets left us feeling like we were in a zombie movie (28 Days Later was tossed around). We expected a creature to shuffle down the street at any second.

The monument in the square is dedicated to President William McKinley, assassinated a few miles north during the Pan-American Exhibition in 1901.

The Maple Leaf Forever!?!
We crossed the street to Buffalo City Hall, noticing a modest numbers of vistors. Had this been a Toronto Doors Open, the line would have wound around the block. Opened in 1931, the face of this art deco gem is awe-inspiring.

Vintage Fruitage
The region's agriculture heritage is among the themes celebrated in the building's artwork. It was also the first time I had ever seen the word "fruitage".

Oct 11-14_07 Ravines and Buffalo 061 Oct 11-14_07 Ravines and Buffalo 058
Classical personifications line the upper walls and entryways in the lobby.

The Mayor's Desk
We were impressed with the council chamber. Admirable qualities, such as "fortitude" are etched into the pillars of the semi-circular room. Shwon above is the mayor's seat.

Stained Glass Ceiling
The ceiling of the council chamber, showing a stylized sun.

Next stop was the observation tower, which provided great views of the city. Despite the clouds, we were able to see the spray from Niagara Falls and a fire to the east (though it didn't appear far enough to be in Cheektowaga).

WKBW Channel 7 Buffalo
Looking south at WKBW-TV.

Sabres Country
Two homes for the Buffalo Sabres. Up front is the Buffalo Memorial Auditorium (1970-96), backed by HSBC Arena (1996-present).

The Statler
The Statler building, outside of which we found a bird that met a sad end. Buffalo was the birthplace of the Statler hotel chain - this one was the company's second incarnation in the city, opened in the early 1920s.

Next: Awestruck at the Terminal.

All photos taken October 14, 2007. Full set on Flickr

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