Tag Archives: architecture

Buildings and a couple other things…

I had the day off today and was out on my bike (surprise, right?). It was such a beautiful day, almost spring-like (55F). And after stopping for coffee I meandered around downtown and then stopped to take a photo of the interior of the Ellicott Square Building (pictured above). It was lunch time; the 30″ Christmas tree was lit and there was a high school choir singing Christmas Carols…really nice. And as I stood there listening to the sweet sound of song I marveled at the building. Really incredible. We (the city of Buffalo) have such a rich architectural history, and I never grow tired of the free structural art–the free gift–that is available in our old city; the gift of beautiful architecture. As I have often taken photos of some of our local landmarks, I felt moved to choose a few (I have hundreds) and post them in one place. Some of these you may have seen before; others have not been posted previously. Some were taken today or within the last couple days; others were taken over the last couple years. Anyhow, if you’d like to learn a bit about some of the buildings and the people who designed them, follow this link.


Urban Simplicity

Buildings and a couple other things…

I had the day off today and was out on my bike (surprise, right?). It was such a beautiful day, almost spring-like (55F). And after stopping for coffee I meandered around downtown and then stopped to take a photo of the interior of the Ellicott Square Building (pictured above). It was lunch time; the 30″ Christmas tree was lit and there was a high school choir singing Christmas Carols…really nice. And as I stood there listening to the sweet sound of song I marveled at the building. Really incredible. We (the city of Buffalo) have such a rich architectural history, and I never grow tired of the free structural art–the free gift–that is available in our old city; the gift of beautiful architecture. As I have often taken photos of some of our local landmarks, I felt moved to choose a few (I have hundreds) and post them in one place. Some of these you may have seen before; others have not been posted previously. Some were taken today or within the last couple days; others were taken over the last couple years. Anyhow, if you’d like to learn a bit about some of the buildings and the people who designed them, follow this link.


Urban Simplicity

Lady Liberty, an Uncredited Quote, and a Few Other Things…

So I had the day off of work yesterday and felt like taking a few photos. I’ve been meaning to go to the observation deck at city hall for a while so that’s what I did. The view really is spectacular. In the rear of the building there is an incredible vista of Lake Erie and the Canadian shoreline, to the north I could clearly see the roof to my house, and to the east a spectacular view of our city and another of my favorite buildings…the Liberty Building, which is pictured above, below, and a closeup in the very bottom photo. The photo directly above and below are the view as you walk out onto the observation deck. There is an inspirational quote etched into the glass (click the below image for a larger view). I was surprised to see that the quote was uncredited. I had to Google the words to find her. The words are from the gospel song, Remind Me Dear Lord, written by singer/songwriter Dottie Rambo and popularized by singer/songwriter Alison Krauss. Anyhow, as I was exiting the building and unlocking my bike a guy approached me. I could see that he worked at city hall because of his name tage. He asked me if I were taking photos, to which I said I was. And at first I thought he was going to warn me or something. But as it turns out he just wanted to tell me to go to the Common Council room to take photos of the stained glass windows. I didn’t know it was open to the public, but he assured me it was. And to my surprise I went back in and up to the thirteenth floor and pulled on the large wooden door and it opened. Anyhow, the building truly is beautiful, and these are likely mre photos than you care to see. But feel free to click any for a slightly larger view. They are in no particular order. To see a few evening shots of city hall, click here.

Urban Simplicity.

Before the onion fell…photos and words

So first a few things. I am not a preservationist in that I chain myself to buildings before they are torn down (though a few people did to this one). Nor do I want to get in the way of “progress” or have a decrepit and unsafe building fall down on its own. But I am someone who has a keen interest in the rich history of the city which I call home. And I am also aware of the many (many many) old houses of worship that are vacant or falling down (though the national movement called Mass Mob may help some of this and in fact originated here in Buffalo and has made headlines in the Boston Globe and most recently the NY Times). This said, when I saw this article in Buffalo Rising this past Saturday as I sat sipping coffee and checking my email I put down my cup and made a b-line to our city’s east side. I had first seen this building many years ago and was struck by its unique appearance, but what I didn’t know is that it was our city’s oldest standing synagogue (the image below shows the building in 1903 and again just before it was demolished). And for the last few decades it has been used as a Christian church. When I arrived I was standing out front and talking to a few others and then I heard the crunching sound. So I locked up my bike and walked to the side of the building. It looked to me as if some sort of ravenous mechanical monster was consuming the building…but did they have to start with the sanctuary?  Was it on purpose…I know nothing about demolishing a building but it seemed even more sad that the very center of the building–where so many generations of both Jews and Christians worshiped–was the first to be eaten. There were still curtains on the windows as the mechanical monster chomped and chomped away. There were maybe a dozen or so people there besides the workers and everyone just sort of stood in silence. And I am not one of those people who sees Jesus in a slice of burnt toast, but I couldn’t help notice that there was a distinct cross–part of the debris–hanging from the rafters as the machine chomped (see inset second from the bottom). I had to leave before the onion fell as I had to work that evening, which was fine as I really didn’t want to see its most distinctive feature come crumbling down. But this morning I had a doctor’s appointment before work which was also on the east side and thought I’d stop by to take a look at the rubble. It was pouring rain and I was soaked (I had my camera wrapped in a plastic bag). I was surprised to see some of the facade still standing (see the very bottom photo). So I parked my bike and took a few photos. As I was walking back across the street to my bike I half-heard someone saying, “who are you?” Not thinking they are talking to me I kept walking. By now the rain is teeming and I am soaked. Then I hear the same question again. Turning, I see a guy with a hard hat and a coffee cup had followed me and was standing in the pouring rain asking who I was. “What, I mean, excuse me,” I say. “Who are you,” he asks again. “Umm…my name is Joe, who are you?” He then went on a mini-rant of how he was the foreman and that I needed permission to take photos, etc. I was standing on a city street well beyond the cordoned area, I said, and taking photos of a building that was owned by the city and commissioned by the city to be demolished, and that I didn’t think I was doing anything wrong and meant no harm. It looked like he was about to blow a gasket. He told me I needed permission to take anyone’s photo. I felt bad for him because I’m sure he’s been dealing a lot with local preservationists and the press (there were two TV stations there on Saturday). I assured him that I “was nobody” and that I just like architecture and wanted pictures of the building being demolished not the people demolishing it. He seemed a little calmer after that. But as I rode my bike away in the pouring rain I could still hear the monster crunching eating the building–and part of our local history–into oblivion.

Urban Simplicity

Past and Present…the view from my handlebars 83 years later

These photos are a continuation of a series that I post now and again. I’ll find an old photo from somewhere in the city, print it out, and then try to recreate the picture. Sometimes this is easy, and other times it can be difficult because of the angle of the original shot. Yet other times it is difficult because buildings are missing or there are others in their place. Anyhow, both of these photos are taken in my direct neighborhood. The set directly below is on a stretch of Allen Street near Elmwood Avenue that I pass every single day, and the bottom set is also on Allen Street but at the very beginning where it meets Main Street. The original photos are said to have been taken in 1930; the others I took today. To see more in this series click here, here, or here.

Urban Simplicity.

A Few Intersting Buildings I Saw While Riding Home Today…

One of the many things I enjoy about riding a bike, and one of the many things I enjoy about living in Buffalo, is being able to ride around and admire our incredible architectural history. And I was thinking just this today as I rode home. I had a camera with me so I snapped a few pictures on this cold April afternoon. Anyhow, here’s a few.

From top to bottom…a former Friends Meeting House (now a residence), a former nipple factory (hence the turret’s shape) now residences and food store, the Tift Row Houses, St. Gabriel atop Gabriel’s Restaurant, and the Theater of Youth (originally, the Allendale Theater).

Urban Simplicity.

Things I Saw While Riding My Bike Today (a photo essay)

Firstly I have to say a couple things. Mainly an apology (if these pictures bore you). This is the most photos I’ve posted at one time. But sometimes I simply cannot help myself. I am proud of my beautiful city and it’s long history. Yes, I realize–to my friends “across the pond” who are reading this–by some standards Buffalo is not an old city, but in North America it is. Anyhow, it was such a beautiful spring morning (crisp and not a cloud in the sky) that I felt like taking a bike ride (big surprise, right?). So I packed a couple cameras, lenses, and a tripod on my bike and rode through a few of our cities oldest and original neighborhoods…the Cobblestone District, the Old First Ward, and the area around the Grain Elevators and the Buffalo River. While the First Ward is a residential area, the others are not…especially around the grain elevators. And when I went there this morning it was–not surprisingly–devoid of people; the crumbling buildings in the Cobblestone District was the same. And it felt incredibly beautiful to me…big hulking grain elevators with the sound of nature all around me. There were, for example, wild geese all over the place. It’s as if the area has regressed into an unofficial nature preserve without the help of humans. The abandoned grain elevators and buildings in the Cobblestone District were like architectural ghosts…not really living but not ready to make the transition to the other side. They themselves–without words–have a story to tell about the Queen City. I shot nearly a hundred photos this morning, and here’s a few I thought I’d share.

Urban Simplicity.

Past and Present…The View from My Handlebars (#2)

This is really a continuation of a previous post that is similar. I had the day off today and went for a bike ride downtown (on a cold, cold day I may add) armed with a couple cameras and prints of old photos. All of the original photos were taken–I believe–somewhere between 1895 and 1910. And one of the most interesting things, I think, is how it feels to be standing and taking photos in the same spot–or close to it–as the original was taken. Anyhow, the photos are as follows: St. Paul’s Cathedral in what was then known as Shelton Square (I’ve not heard it referred to as this in my lifetime). The next photo is of the original Buffalo Savings Bank (the Electric Tower, which was built in 1912, is of course not in the original). Next is Lafayette Hotel as viewed from Lafayette Square. The two remaining images are a bit sad, I think…at least the current versions are. The second to last is a view of Swan Street in Buffalo facing east and looking past Main Street. The building on the left and in the distance is the Ellicott Square Building, but in the current day image of today an entire block of buildings on the right side are gone. And lastly, the bottom image is of Buffalo’s original YMCA. The building still stands but is all but obscured by our extremely ugly convention center; the building is now called Olympic Towers and houses restaurants, offices, and a health club. Click any image for a larger view.

Two Views from my Handlebars

The weather this past week has been–as far as I’m concerned–perfect. Idyllically autumn. Crisp, barely a breeze, or cloud in the sky. Also perfect weather to be on a bike. The above photo is a building I pass everyday, and as I coasted past this evening the sun hit it just right. This is also a great example of beautiful Buffalo architecture. And below is a picture of another incredible sunset as I was just coasting into the parking lot of the health club. Click either for a larger view.

Urban Simplicity.

Things That Can Be Carried on a Bike (#469)

A nylon bag containing–among other things–a laptop computer, an extra camera, a book, a journal, a small magazine, and two granola bars.

Urban Simplicity.

A Cold and Snowy Ride on the Mundo…and a few things I saw and experienced.

This past week I’ve had off work (have to go back tomorrow…not looking forward to it) and because of the very cold weather that has returned I’ve been in a sort of hibernation mode and have only using bikes for very short rides (and have been using my truck more than I like). At any rate, yesterday it was a such a beautiful and sunny day (to start) that I thought I’d do a bit of a personal biathlon…a few miles on the Mundo followed by a half mile swim (and 30 minutes in the shvitz). And as I mentioned, while it was cold 19F (-7C) the day had begun very sunny…but that didn’t last. When I came out of the health club after my steam and swim I encountered a brief but heavy lake effect snow shower. The above photo is just after I reached home; it was coming down so heavy the snow was accumulating on me and the bike as I rode…at one point I could not see a few feet in front of me (because I had to squint) so I actually stopped and put on my swim goggles so I could keep my eyes open…but then everything had a slightly blue hue to it…very soothing. Anyhow, I thought I’d share a few photos; here’s a few things I saw on the way.

This is a bit ironic (and scary), I thought. After being cut off by an SUV driver I pulled into a parking lot to adjust my scarf and coat and have a sip of coffee, I looked up and saw this billboard on the side of a building.

Next I rode down to Erie Basin Marina, which in the summertime is packed with people…now I was the only person, save for a few people in cars and a lone jogger. I didn’t have to worry about obeying the sign below.

Here’s a photo of the Buffalo (main) Lighthouse where three bodies of water meet: the Buffalo River (which also connects to the Erie Canal), the Niagara River, and Lake Erie. Off to the right is Canada. Very tranquil.

Though this is just on the edge of downtown it feels as if you are miles away from the city at times (especially in the dead of winter). Two rabbits zipped past me, and I stopped to watch a goose burrowing for food in the frozen grass.

One of the things that is beautiful about Buffalo is it’s architecture (mostly from a bygone era), and it’s something I never tire of looking at. I always have to stop and admire the beauty of our majestic city hall.

Lastly I leave you with a blurry self portrait after arriving home in the snow. My hands were so cold it was difficult to hold the camera; you can see how red any exposed skin was on my face. Brrr….

None-the-less, it was still a fun ride and it felt really good to be out in the elements; gives me a feeling of accomplishment  (though I will admit it felt better to get home and throw another log on the fire).

Sunday Morning Walk

Sometimes I find a walk is better than a bike ride. If you can see more on a bike than in a car you can see even more when you’re using just your feet. Anyhow, I went for a meditative Sunday walk this morning, and one of the things that I love to do when I walk is to look at architecture…I never tire of it. Buffalo is a shrinking city, yes, and a city smack dab in the middle of the rust belt, but it is a city that always has (and continues to have) a rich arts and cultural heritage…and one of my favorite things is the architecture (to visit the Buffalo Architecture website click here). I love walking around like a tourist in my own city and being in awe of it’s beauty…I went on such a walk this morning and thought I’d share some of what I saw. To see detail, click on any image for a much larger view.