Sense of Place, For Real

While the Buffalo Niagara Convention & Visitors’ Bureau is busy attracting geriatric architecture nerds to come and look at cornices and decorative concrete, the Buffalo Niagara Enterprise is doing this: 

There is no mention of “sense of place” or that “this place matters”. There is no talk of “for real“, or Buffalo being more authentic than other places. There is a complete absence of talking heads praising our unmatched street grid or making completely ignorant claims about Buffalo having the only water sunsets west of the Pacific. The CVB’s “For Real” series of videos, hosted by local musician Nelson Starr, are better at showing off the people and things to do in the region, but the signature pieces are pedantic and verbose. 

What this simple video from a local business development agency does that the CVB hasn’t been able to articulate is what makes Buffalo different and attractive. Yes, I realize that it was developed for a wholly different purpose and a completely different audience. But the message and its delivery are matter-of-fact, and emphasize people having fun in our natural and built environments; not the environments themselves. 

Nice work, BNE. You made Buffalo seem like a nice place to live, work, and play. 


  • That is very good, but I think the CVB’s (or VBN’s to use the official acronym) product has a place in the mix as well. There’s no need for every agency to put the same spin on things.

  • What? A video about Buffalo sans smug urban planner type? Quelle Horreur!

  • Not sure why attacking preservation seems to be a theme here on Artvoice Daily. Almost every sucess story in this city involves preservation in one way or another. Allentown, Elmwood, West Side, Black Rock, Larkinville, Chippewa, and many other areas all benefited greatly from preservation efforts. Most people recognize quality architecture and the appeal of old buildings and homes. There is indeed a unique “sense of place and authenticity” in older built environments that cannot be duplicated. Again, most people recognize this and those that mock it just don’t have the capacity to comprehend or have not been fortunate to have experienced it on a firsthand basis. Buffalo’s greatest asset is our built environment, without preservation there would be little investment or interest and Buffalo would be a ghost town.

    • Well, again, I don’t quite understand a particular Buffalo population’s complete and utter lack of a sense of humor – or perhaps simply an underdeveloped one – but I was poking fun at the CVB’s stated policy of working to attract “cultural tourists” who are mostly older and interested in looking at inanimate objects and then getting out of here.

      The point you’re missing is that EVERYPLACE has a “unique sense of place and authenticity”. To pretend that Buffalo is somehow the Paris of the Great Lakes is just stupid. You know, as nice as the Guaranty Building is, there isn’t a goddamn thing to do in or around it. Same for the Dun Building, Electric Tower, etc.

      Chicago, New York, Boston, and Detroit also have great architecture, and you know you’re in one of those cities when you’re there (i.e., sense of place).

      Buffalo’s greatest asset is absolutely not our built environment. It’s our physical location and what we can do with it that is unique from everywhere else, and this particular video makes much of that fact.

      • Alan- Always enjoy your political rants but don’t understand your disdain for preservation. As for sense of humor I like to poke fun as much as the next guy (see my Safe Act rant on ‘good news everywhere’)
        I never claimed Buffalo is the only place that has a unique sense of place and authenticity, all old cities share this advantage. Buffalo does indeed have a large quanity of quality architecture for a city of its size. We were once one of the wealthiest cities in America and that wealth left a legacy.
        Our physical location is also an advantage but our built environment has proven to be a more tangible asset. Our buildings and homes continue to be the driving force in the city’s renewal, that investment is real and adds to the tax base while encouraging further investment. People are attracted to Buffalo for reasons beyond our location, they come to live in fine old homes and interesting buildings. They come to be part of vibrant neighborhoods and to enjoy all the amenities of an older built environment.

      • “Buffalo’s greatest asset is absolutely not our built environment. It’s our physical location…”
        Thanks you for that. I have been saying that for years. How many “places” can you ski and sail? Summers are just too good and we do have all that water. Fresh water. As for me I been hankerin’ fer a good ol’ Buffalo Blizzard.

  • Several other people have mentioned this, but the best representation I have seen of Buffalo in years was the recent episode of Top Gear. If you didn’t know any better, you would assume that Buffalo is nothing but gorgeous waterfront and green trees. They even made the Skyway look cool.

  • That’s the single best video anyone has ever made about living in Buffalo.

  • ugh fixies

  • ugh she is riding a fixie, looks like i’ll be staying out here in the desert

  • Whoever got the shot of the little girl with her dad at 0:47: Well done!

  • Must admit—Great Video. No Autumn, no spring, and about 20 seconds of an 8 month winter. Didn’t show folks digging their car out of drifts and “plowed in”, no snowblowers running at 5AM so you can get to work, no shots of paperboys pulling their wagons on sleds in scrotum high snow, no shots of folks on foot because city streets are impassable after a storm. Didn’t mention our Professional sports teams either—perhaps because they have the perennial worst records in their leagues. Also didn’t say—Want to live where you can “reach out” and touch your neighbors home? You can do all that in Buffalo too. There IS a sense of place in Buffalo. When you grow up there like I did, you’re used to it and it’s all you know. For someone to move there from another locale—life in Buffalo is not for the faint of heart.

    • Hah, somehow, “scrotum high snow” seems a lot worse than “waist-deep snow”.

    • Hank- You must be gone a long time, its almost 50 outside right now, going to be close to 60 tomorrow. We rarely get snow that lasts for more than a week or two anymore. As for 8 month winter? come on, that’s just plain silly, I close my southern tier camp up in December and open it in March. I have never owned a snowblower, never really been stuck, and never got up at 5am to get to work. Paper boys haven’t pulled wagons in probably 20 years, I think they are now collector items. My sidestreet has never been impassible but does require some skill, front wheel drive works much better than the rear wheel drive we grew up with. I will agree Buffalo is not for the faint of heart, it takes perseverance and stamina to make it here, traits I admire and respect.

    • City of No Illusions

  • It was good but did nothing to debunk the stereotypes that haunt us. Just read Hank’s post for examples. Aside from the fact they did ignore autumn and spring (which is ridiculous), everything he says is a complete misrepresentation. Unfortunately that is the general perception.

  • Buffalo for real……Very little opportunity for good paying jobs, abundant corporate welfare provided by state/city/county, build new hospitals to replace old hospitals that were supposed to be shut down, build new office building so that others can sit empty, new bars on Chip to replace old bars that shut down, abundant casinos to foster gambling addiction/embezzlement etc, Mayor who is solely concerned with photo op’s and pretending everything is great, sports teams that cant compete, School system that cant graduate students ……nice video, though……..

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