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My View

Shaking off the rust, Buffalo roars back

By Barbara Jezioro

Lately, so many things have been happening here in Buffalo. For me, the Albright-Knox Art Gallery expansion is one of the most exciting developments, in part because I have been a docent there for more than eight years.

In 2022, thanks to the leadership of director Janne Sirén, the generosity of Jeffrey Gundlach, and the willingness of the Board of Directors, we will have a new campus with double the exhibition space, new green space and even underground parking.

Since 2013, the Albright-Knox Public Art Initiative has partnered with government, community groups and artists to create murals all over the city, so in the meantime we can all enjoy this open-air museum as well as Albright-Knox Northland and its innovative installations.

Some still call this a Rust Belt city. I have lived in Buffalo all of my life and I can remember when we really were one. I can remember when the waterfront was a dismal mess, when we were in danger of losing our orchestra, when our parks were in a state of decay. Today there is new construction across the city along with kayaking on the Buffalo River and bike paths along the Outer Harbor.

Take a good look at Buffalo and you will see a cultural mecca. From intimate performances at the Irish Classical Theatre to Broadway shows at the 3,000-capacity Shea’s Buffalo, we have an enviable live theater scene. What other city, outside of New York, can make claim to more than 20 professional performance companies?

Another cultural gem is Kleinhans Music Hall, a national historic landmark, known for its near perfect acoustics and graceful design and home to the flourishing Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra.

Barbara Jezioro.

Music is also happening at Buffalo Silo City, along with poetry and film. Reconditioned from more than a dozen old grain silos and warehouses, Silo City is a continuing project with plans for apartments, retail space and artists’ studios, surely proving that Buffalo has been able to build on and even transform its past. Just look at the makeover of the old Buffalo Psychiatric Center, which now houses the stunning Hotel Henry.

After a two-decadelong restoration, Buffalo’s Darwin Martin House Complex, one of architect Frank Lloyd Wright’s favorites, is now pristine and attracts worldwide visitors. Buffalo also boasts six other Wright structures.

Buffalo has a park system designed by Frederick Law Olmsted, a revitalized Canalside, and a state-of-the-art Medical Campus that employs more than 12,000 people. In 2015, National Geographic ranked Buffalo third on their list of the world’s "Top 10 Food Cities.” There aren’t too many other places where you can sample Chinese, German, Japanese, Korean, Vietnamese, Thai, Mexican, Sicilian, Italian, Arab, Indian, Myanmar, Caribbean, soul food and French cuisine.

Buffalo is an affordable place to live and thrive. Contrary to what many believe, we also have a great climate. We may have snowy winters, but we also have the sunniest and driest summers of any major city in the Northeast and we are naturally cooled by lake breezes.

Buffalo is changing and will continue to transform. While there is still much to do, we are headed in the right direction. Currently, we are in the midst of a resurgence. Right now, I for one, couldn’t be prouder of my city.

Barbara Jezioro is a lifelong Buffalo resident.

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