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SUNDAY ARTS LETTERS

Preserving city's heritage

I read with interest Jeff Simon's recent article, "The City Within," an interview with Buffalo native Nicholas Howe (April 27). It is apparent that Mr. Howe hasn't been back in Buffalo for a while, and/or that he hasn't received any news of recent changes.

The comment that "more people looked at photographs of Buffalo's grain elevators in Berlin than went to see the structures themselves during the summer of 1997," just isn't true. As the president of the Buffalo Industrial Heritage Committee, I can assure Mr. Howe that our "Historic Buffalo River Tours," which begin their 18th year on June 21, have accommodated at least 50,000 people in the last 17 years. (This includes public tours, private tours for organizations, schools, universities, as well as walking tours.)

Our tours have attracted an eclectic mix of artists, writers, politicians, waterfront workers such as scoopers, and tugboat captains, their families and friends, as well as students, tourists and conventioneers.

Moreover, as a non-profit, all-volunteer organization, our time is restricted. We receive many more requests for tours than we can accommodate. To that end, the long-range goals of the Industrial Heritage Committee focus on plans for the Buffalo Waterfront including an Industrial Heritage Trail (a self-guided tour of the Buffalo grain elevators) with designated markers of important historic sites and with one of the major sites serving as a working museum of industry and commerce.

To date, the Buffalo Industrial Heritage Committee has sponsored the documentation of the Buffalo grain elevators by the Historic American Engineering Record (HAER), a branch of the National Park Service funded by the Margaret L. Wendt Foundation and the State of New York, and which is permanently housed in the Library of Congress. It placed a marker at the site of the original Joseph Dart grain elevator (invented in Buffalo in 1842), and sponsored an exhibition of the intensive level HAER survey (which included spectacular architectural drawings and photographs) in 1997 at the Burchfield-Penney Art Center (at the same time that Mr. Howe was in Berlin -- I do not have exact statistics but it would be interesting to compare the numbers in Berlin to those who attended the exhibit at the Burchfield-Penney.)

The aforementioned Industrial Heritage Trail has become the cornerstone of the City of Buffalo's Greenway Trail Plan, and is slated to be a part of the Inner Harbor project, the Southtowns Connector/Buffalo Outer Harbor Project, and the City's LWRP. The Buffalo Common Council has long recommended that the Industrial Heritage Trail be one of the first elements to be completed as part of the Inner Harbor Project. Unfortunately, this project has been stalled for too long.

In addition, the Industrial Heritage Committee's narrated boat tours among the Buffalo grain elevators have been the subject of many local, and national news articles, as well as local and national media coverage such as a recent spot on CBS' "Sunday Morning."

I also would like to assure Mr. Howe that Gerrit Engel's photographs did not go unnoticed by Buffalo. The Albright-Knox Art Gallery presented an exhibition of Gerrit Engel's works: "Buffalo Grain Elevators from November 20, 1999 to January 2, 2000." I met with Mr. Engel, but unfortunately, given the time of the year, we were unable to invite him on a boat tour. However, he was pleasantly surprised to learn of our organization's work, and is eager to return to Buffalo.

Finally, I would like to invite Mr. Howe and all of the News readers to join the Industrial Heritage Committee aboard the Miss Buffalo to get "up close and personal" with Buffalo's gigantic grain elevators, and to help us build the long overdue Industrial Heritage Trail, so that even more Buffalonians, students and tourists will be able to appreciate them.

(Reservations can be made through the Miss Buffalo ticket office -- 856-6696.)
Lorraine Pierro
President, Buffalo Industrial Heritage Committee

More than just oldies

(On Jeff Miers' review of Fleetwood Mac at the HSBC Arena.)

I read Jeff Miers' review of Fleetwood Mac's Buffalo show online. I just had to say thank you for what he said about the new songs. Too many people go and just ignore the new songs, which is such a shame.

I don't know if you know this or not, but Fleetwood Mac has tended to play it safe with the addition of new songs to their shows because of the fan reaction. They have already dropped two new songs from the list, "Running through the Garden" and "Destiny Rules," leaving Stevie Nicks with only two new songs from the album. I was glad to hear they were doing so many new songs, and I'm glad there are people out there who will defend their right to do so. Just because they are old doesn't mean they have to play the same thing over and over.

It was refreshing to realize not everyone is expecting a greatest hit show each time they tour (or ANY band for that matter).
Justin Maravich
Conway, Pa.

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