A few weeks ago I visited Buffalo, NY for a family wedding, pre-snowpocalypes. My mother is from Kenmore, a suburb of Buffalo, so I have visited the city just under a dozen times in my life. This trip, however, was my first time vacationing during the fall, so I was delighted to experience a true autumn. In Tucson there are basically two seasons – summer and winter – so to see streets lined by brightly colored trees and to be able to crunch through piles of leaves on the ground was a wonderful new experience.
Though quite beautiful, Buffalo is similar to Detroit or Baltimore in that it has a fairly bad reputation. When I tell people who have never been that I’m visiting, they sometimes ask “Why are you going there? Isn’t it shitty?” But that couldn’t be further from the truth.
Buffalo is a great city that was once spectacular. After the opening of the Erie Canal in 1825, it quickly grew to become an economic hub of the northeast. The city’s impressive past is reflected in its architecture that includes buildings designed by some of the most iconic american architects, including Frank Lloyd Wright, and parks developed by landscape architect Frederick Olmsted, who most famously designed NYC’s Central Park.
Not only is Buffalo a beautiful city, but it’s filled with beautiful people. Buffalonians are quite a friendly bunch. Like many cities in the northeast, the people of Buffalo have a lot of pride. They are quick to defend their home and there is a sense of kindness in the community that is easily distinguishable. The people are welcoming and ready to prove that their home is better than you thought it would be.
Buffalo reminds me of a quote I read recently from Maya Angelou: “Perhaps travel cannot prevent bigotry, but by demonstrating that all peoples cry, laugh, eat, worry, and die, it can introduce the idea that if we try and understand each other, we may even become friends.”
Traveling is such an essential learning experience in which we develop empathy and learn that although people may be different, we are all intrinsically the same. So before you judge a city, remember that it’s someone’s home and that there’s still something to be learned by visiting.
Oh, and did I mention that Anthony Bourdain gave the city his seal of approval? That’s reason enough to visit.