Mark Sommer

Author

I have worked at the Buffalo News as an enterprise reporter, and as arts editor, for the past 17 years.

Inside the Market Arcade, a frosted-glass skylight stretches over three levels of shops and offices, creating one of Buffalo's most unusual and decorative spaces. Twin facades of terra cotta and brick on Main and Washington streets feature tall Corinthian columns, rounded arches, sculpted bison heads, palladian windows and egg-and-dart molding. [PHOTO GALLERY: A Clos…

Dick Hirsch has been sharing his dry and occasionally wry sense of humor for decades  in columns. The 84-year-old Buffalonian began writing columns in 1957 for the Buffalo Courier-Express. Later, he hosted and produced three TV shows on PBS -- "Call 17," "In Person" and "Man in the News" -- from 1968 to 1987. He also worked 25 years for a printing company, and owned a …

The Buffalo Zoo's attendance last year was its highest in nearly 30 years, topping the 2015 attendance by 52,000. The zoo attracted 538,100 visitors – the most since 545,800 visitors came in 1987. “2016 was a great year for the zoo,” president and CEO Donna Fernandes said in a statement. "We were very excited to announce our many animal births with the communit…

The Market Arcade has long been one of downtown Buffalo's architectural gems, but its commercial success has not been as sterling. The European-inspired 1892 building was shuttered during the late-1970s. Then the city came to the Market Arcade's rescue in 1985, buying and renovating the building. That kept the building from being demolished. But despite some long-time t…

Constance Lydon, a landscape designer who was on a volunteer Outer Harbor landscape design committee, has joined Erie Canal Harbor Development Corp.'s board of directors. Lydon, a Hamburg resident, replaces board member John Maggiore, who resigned in December. "I"m so glad to be here," said Lydon, one of five board members present at Tuesday's meeting. "I am very, ve…

Workers inside the Richardson Olmsted Complex have completed the main stage of construction as they turn an architectural marvel of the past into the future Hotel Henry. The hotel will open in less than 3 months. The progress comes after three years and $102 million, including $76.5 million in state funds. Three of the 11 buildings of the former Buffalo State Asylum for…

There are no active discussion or activity concerning a new Bills stadium, according to Howard Zemsky, who chairs the Erie County Stadium Corp. The ball is in owner Terry Pegula's court, Zemsky said. "A lot of work and money have been invested in the stadium in recent years," said Zemsky, a Buffalo resident who also heads Empire State Development, the state's develop…

The Buffalo Bills have acquired a nearly 3-acre parcel that will be used as a 100-yard practice field south of the fieldhouse and existing practice facilities in Orchard Park. The Bills will deed the land to Erie County, which owns New Era Field. The project will include realigning Regional Drive so that it winds around the new field. The Bills will pay for the pract…

A beetle assault on the Olmsted parks' 1,200 ash trees has put an added strain on the conservatory's forestry needs and the ability to pay for them. Thanks to Delaware North, that financial burden will now be lessened. The Buffalo-based concessions and hospitality conglomerate  announced Thursday it will put up $100,000 for each of the next three years for the parks…

It's that time of year again -- well, lets face it, the only time of year -- when short films receive their critical due and if lucky, movie theater viewers to boot. The five 2017 Oscar nominations for both live action and animated shorts are once again packaged as separate programs that will be shown back-to-back at the Dipson Eastern Hills Cinema beginning Feb. 10, le…

It looks like love at first sight. Luna and Sakari, the Buffalo Zoo's polar bears, spoon together when they sleep. They gently play fight in the water. And they rarely want to be out of each other's sight. [PHOTO GALLERY: Animals enjoy a winter day at the Buffalo Zoo] So the zoo arranged the bears' "first official date" this Saturday. It comes on Valentine's D…

CHERRY CREEK - This small village, located in the snow belt about an hour’s drive south of Buffalo on Route 83, once hummed with activity. Shop keepers a century ago lined Main Street. The Buffalo and South Western Railroad train stopped at the depot twice a day. Visitors getting off the train stayed at the Cherry Creek House, Bronson’s or The Bacon. The Langworthy …

An entertaining and educational family attraction when visiting our fellow Rust Belt city to the west is the Cleveland Museum of Natural History. The museum is in University Circle, among several cultural and educational institutions, including the Cleveland Museum of Art, Cleveland Botanical Garden and Case Western Reserve University. There are some 5 million ar…

Parkside Candy looks much like it did in 1927 when the doors first opened, with its interior restoration now mostly complete. The candy and ice cream shop in University Heights has a freshly painted pistachio green-colored interior. [GALLERY: Renovations to Parkside Candy] The cream-colored dome ceiling had water damage repaired. Dark walnut wood moldings have …

Buffalo has been the stomping ground for many literary luminaries, and now downtown Washington Street is celebrating them. Double-sided banners on the six blocks between Clinton and Goodell streets display the names and likenesses of Mark Twain, Lauren Belfer, Ishmael Reed, Lucille Clifton, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Susan Howe and Joyce Carol Oates. Also among the 15 dive…