Got to wander a bit. Set aside your anecdotal memories of a spot and explore. While that is a bit of greeting card wisdom, I’m beginning to think there is a lot of truth to it. Given my pretty cool day job, I get to see a lot but also hear from a pretty nice cross section of perspectives from around Buffalo. A couple of months ago, I represented my employer at an event at the Transit Valley Country Club. It wasn’t exactly tough duty as you can imagine and not exactly what you would call the hood either. It confirmed a suspicion of mine that folks can get a little compartmentalized here. I do some work with a few groups that try to entice more visitors from out of town, but think folks from half an hour might be in for a bit of a surprise.
There isn’t anything really wrong with that. If you live in Snyder, your kids are in WIlliamsville schools, and your job takes you in the Amherst area, it’s natural that your axis tends to form around those points. Again, nothing wrong with that, but it struck me that at the Country Club event, many of the folks participating remarked that they hadn’t been down there (meaning my employer and probably the North Buffalo area) in x amount of years (x being at least five or more). Now, I’m not griping. There are plenty of other folks who sit in the back of the internet throwing spitballs, I’m not that guy.
I’ve been a city resident since 1988 and it’s a kick to be able to see things happening, but also witness little things popping up. It’s a nice change to see major construction cranes working on projects downtown. I’m sure larger cities might think our excitement is “cute,” but it is a nice thing to see stuff happening from the medical campus, Elm-Oak arterial, to the HarborCenter. All good.
But the power of letting yourself meander can reveal what folks are talking about with Larkinville, shopping at Horsefeathers Market on Connecticut Street (yup, the streets with states for names aren’t so scary), eating at some pretty great spots on NIagara and Grant streets.
The old H.H. Richardson complex near Buff State is about to start morphing into a retail and hotel space that always seems like a no-brainer for the Elmwood area. The Hertel Avenue area, especially between Main Street and Elmwood Ave, is doing a pretty good job out “Elmwood-ing” Elmwood. The big projects, like Harborcenter, are awesome. I think the sense of excitement comes from seeing something substantive actually happening, in enough size and scope that you can see it from the thruway even as you are passing through. The fact that you are passing by projects that are happening, that there plenty of “was that always there?” sorts of sites, is a refreshing change.
Some of the folks who like in my parents neighborhood of Clarence think I might as well live on Mars instead of 15 minutes down the road, using phrases like “came all the way out to see the folks?” like I had to stop in Cheektowaga to complete the journey. That always struck me because any other city I’ve ever visited if you can get to someplace cool in 15, you’re not talking about it you’re gone.
Venture out, I know a place you can get a killer egg sandwich.