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The Greenhouse at MLK Park.

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It is one great purpose of the Park to supply to the hundreds of thousands of tired workers, who have no opportunity to spend their summers in the country, a specimen of God’s handiwork that shall be to them, inexpensively, what a month of two in the White Mountains or the Adirondacks is, at great cost, to those in easier circumstances.

~Frederick Law Olmsted

I’ve seen this greenhouse before but have never been to it. And I am jumping ahead as I often do. Let me begin again. The park in which this greenhouse resides is Martin Luther King, jr. Park on Buffalo’s East Side. It is part of Buffalo’s incredible park system which was designed by Frederick Law Olmsted, who also designed Central Park in NYC and Golden Gate Park in San Francisco, among others.

I’m not sure if I mentioned previously, but I’ve started a new job which is much farther than previous jobs. It’s on the east side and a little more than five miles from my house. I don’t bike every day, it depends on the weather. If it is raining, for example, I take the subway and bus as I don’t want to arrive at work soaking wet. But when I do ride, as I did today, this park is about my half-way point.

To put it not-so-mildly, I have fallen in love with this park. There is so much there in such a small parcel of land. One of my favorites is to stop in the cottage park, which was originally called the rose garden, which is a walled-in micro-park within the park. At 6:20am it is a beautiful place to stop and finish my coffee or to meditate or contemplate the day ahead.

Anyhow, as I was riding home today I stopped to take the above photo and saw a guy busy at work. He stepped outside for a minute and I asked if I could come in to take some photos. I also asked if the greenhouse was open to the public. It’s not open to the public, he told me, but you can come in and take a few photos if you want. He even suggested I bring my bike inside, which can be seen in the second to last photo. I told him I’d be quick as I could see he was closing up shop for the day.

The worker’s name is Jeff, he has worked there since the 1980’s, and told me a bit about the place and showed me an old photo. It was originally open to the public but it isn’t any longer, he told me. No it is used for production. Basically anything that is grown or planted in any of Buffalo’s parks begins here. Thus said, I walked around and snapped a few photos. Jeff, if you are reading this, Thank you again for letting me into your work space. I will definitely be posting more photos and info about this incredibly beautiful park. Click any photo for a slightly larger view.

Urban Simplicity.

A Walk in the Woods (without leaving the city)

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One of the things that is unique about living in Buffalo, NY is while it is a medium sized city it is also a small town, and with that one doesn’t have to go far in order to encounter wilderness. In fat, one doesn’t have to even leave the city limits. I’m referring to two nature preserves that are along our shoreline and are just outside of downtown. Both of these preserves, Tifft Nature Preserve and Times Beach Nature Preserve, are less than a 5 mile bike ride from my front door. Indeed, in the summer months the trip is much shorter with the aid of Buffalo Bike Ferry. Anyhow, thus said, a couple days ago I had the day off and the morning free and felt like I needed a bit of recharge so I rode over to Tifft Nature Preserve and went for a walk. It truly is what I needed. Here’s a few things I saw. To see previously posted pictures from Tifft, click here, and from Times Beach, click here.

The View from the Top…

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This is a series of photos I shot last week from the observation deck of Buffalo’s incredibly beautiful City Hall. The observation deck is visible in the above photo as the strip of glass that surrounds the very top of the building. The first photo below was taken from the steps, looking up. This, in my humble opinion, is one of the most underused and free attractions to our city. To see photos of the interior of the building, here’s a series I shot last year, and if you’d like to see a couple photos of the building at a distance and lit up at night, click here.

Anyhow, the photos are as follows…the second photo below is looking east over the city just as you walk out onto the observation deck, when you are up there it is easy to see how the street patterns were laid out in a sort of wheel pattern in the same way as Paris. Walking around the side of the deck and looking northwest one can view Niagara Falls 20 miles away, that’s the next photo (if you look close you can see the mist from the actual falls). The photo below is a zoomed in photo of the tightly packed West Side, my neighborhood. The last photo is a zoomed in photo of the top of the Liberty Building, which is also visible (in the distance) in the photo looking out over the city. What I find interesting about this zoomed in photo is that if you look past the city you can see dozens of windmills in the distance, those I believe are the windmills off to the east of Buffalo in Cattaraugus and Wyoming counties. Anyhow, whether a local or visitor to the City of Good Neighbors, the observation deck as an excellent and interesting way to spend a (free) half hour or so.

Urban Simplicity.

After the Parade, and a Few Other Things I’ve Seen Recently While Walking or Riding a Bike…

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So a couple things. One is that I’ve begun carrying my camera with me again on a regular basis, hence the photos. It’s therapy for me (seriously). The first three photos (the one above and two below) were shot today just after the St. Patrick’s Day Parade (Buffalo recently ranked the #1 city for this event). I didn’t see the parade but as I live very close to where it happens I snapped a few photos afterwards. While the above shot–which is one of my favorites–may seem a bit snarky I don’t mean it to be. It’s three drunk people stumbling along and holding one another up (if you saw them in person they sort of swayed in a synchronized motion as they walked). Anyhow, I thought it was nice how they all held one another up. Years ago (many years ago) that may have been me. This rest of the photos are in no particular order. They were shot over the past week or so, where we basically experienced every season (except truly hot summer) within the course of the week. Click any photo for a slightly larger view.

Urban Simplicity.

Thin Ice, Blood Church, and a few other things I saw while riding my bike yesterday…

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Life is one long decay, no? There’s a lot of beauty in it.”

~ Urs Fischer

So I had yesterday off of work and had an appointment on Buffalo’s East Side. I love riding my bike through the neighborhoods for a couple reasons. One is that my heritage is there. I was born on the East side, and generations before me lived there. But also the neighborhoods. While the East Side is home to some of the most impoverished neighborhoods in our city, I find it oddly peaceful to pedal and coast my way through the streets with often dilapidated buildings and urban prairies. I feel the presence of souls past as I coast through the quiet streets.

It was cold out (I was glad it actually felt like winter) and I was pedaling into a strong headwind, so for a bit of reprieve I stopped for breakfast at Mattie’s Restaurant on Fillmore and was served by Miss Mattie herself. And with a full belly and warm coffee I pedaled the rest of the way home and felt grateful to be on a bike, to be able to experience my short 10 mile round trip with all my senses.

Urban Simplicity.

 

The views from my handlebars on a late winter’s eve

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So I had the day off today and was out running errands on the bike bike (surprise, right?). Normally by this time of the year I am so tired of the snow that I can’t wait for it to end, but it has been such a mild and mediocre winter that mostly what I am waiting for is the gray and wet to end. Anyhow, it started to snow and I had my camera with me so I took a few photos, and here they are. Click any for a larger view.

Three Photos of Three Buildings…a few things I saw while walking today.

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Firstly, I would like to say that these are all iPhone shots, with of course some post upload editing. Anyhow, that out of the way, I was downtown this morning and am still so much in awe by the architecture of Buffalo. I never tire of it. These are just three examples as they were buildings I happened to be in this morning. The first (above) is the current home of Erie Community College City Campus. This incredibly beautiful building was originally the Buffalo Post Office. I had a meeting there and when it was done it was lunchtime, so I thought I’d head to my favorite downtown Greek diner, and on the way I took a shortcut through the Ellicott Square Building (first photo below). I climbed one of the staircases to snap the photo and just stood and admired the building for a moment. And lastly, as I headed to the diner I also passed one of my favorite downtown churches, St. Paul’s Cathedral (bottom photo). Knowing that the doors are always open during business hours (which is sadly a rarity for a church these days), I stopped in for a brief 10-minute respite. I was the only one in the grand sanctuary and I just sat and listened to the old building creek and groan in the wind. It was beautiful. Then, after having my spirit filled with all this beautiful and inspiring architecture (and all within a 5-minute walk from one another), I carried on and went and had my stomach filled. And these are just a few of the things I saw this morning as I walked home through the City by the Lake.

Urban Simplicity

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