A Living Museum: The Architecture of Buffalo

Walking through the streets of Buffalo is like visiting a museum exhibition of 100’s of years of architectural history. Formerly one of the largest and most important cities in America, Buffalo’s rich history is evident in its construction. Two-hundred years of American architectural traditions are represented in Buffalo, spanning from the Colonial Era to the postmodern period. It has historically called one of the best designed American cities. From the unique Art Deco style of the City Hall to the Prairie School design of the Frank Lloyd Martin house, Buffalo has buildings that draw visitors from around the world.

Built in 1901, the classic Buffalo Savings Bank is one of Buffalo’s most well-known buildings. Its characteristic gilded roof and the neoclassical Beaux Arts style makes a building difficult to forget.

Besides the classic buildings from Buffalo’s heyday, the newer modern buildings add to Buffalo’s character. The postmodern Key Center at Fountain Plaza stands as an example of this.
Many of Buffalo’s most acclaimed residential neighborhoods, such as the Elmwood Village, were built in the late 19th century, when Buffalo was at its height. A great example of this is a house Red Door sold last year on Richmond Avenue, located in Elmwood Village:
Built in 1883, this beautiful Victorian style 3-bedroom home standouts in the neighborhood as a prime example of Buffalo architecture. The umbrella term “Victorian” applies to the architecture style(s) of the European 1800s, specifically during the reign of Queen Victoria. Victorian architecture has its own unique varieties depending on where it’s found, and here we see a classic Buffalo design, with its prominent large windows and a porch. Buffalo would not truly be the Buffalo we know without houses like this.
Sold by Red Door in April, the following house is a local classic, the Buffalo Double, of the Industrial Vernacular style. It is one of the most common residential buildings in Buffalo and was built between 1890-1930. The Buffalo Double consists of a two-floored building containing two, usually three bedroom flats, porch and balcony included. These houses were very popular amongst immigrants because they allowed extended families or friends to live together.
Rich history and aesthetics aside, the homes of Buffalo are the physical manifestations of the people who have lived and currently live here. The soul of Buffalo lives through its architecture, and that is why it so important to understand it.
By: David Reuveni
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