Tag Archives: Buffalo Central Terminal

Buffalo vs. Detroit, an Art Showdown

There’s a little inter-Rust Belt rivalry going on right now.

Abandoned crochet work from the Packard Plant in Detroit. Photo: Christen Clifford

The antagonist is Buffalo. Inspired by Detroit’s DIY art scene, especially Tyree Guyton’s Heidelberg project, Buffalo is nurturing a cross-regional artistic competition.

Artist Christen Clifford, a NYC-based Buffalo expat, is the brains behind a large scale art installation that seeks to imbue the Buffalo art scene with the same activist flavor as Detroits’.

Clifford is asking Buffalo area residents, as well as expats from near and far, to contribute to a knitting project. They are planning a 167-foot knitted strip, representing the 16,719 abandoned houses in the city. The fabric will then be hung on Buffalo’s infamous Central Terminal.

Clifford is called the project Buffalo vs. Detroit: Opportunity City Deathmatch. It will be part of the Echo Art Fair, of which Rust Wire is a media sponsor, taking place July 8 and 9th.

Clifford had this to say about the installation:

The project highlights the deep interrelations between knitting and mathematics, homemade dedication and the struggle to stay warm; it’s a combination of architecture and craft. It is a commentary on de-industrialization and housing and, hopefully, becomes a beacon of community interaction. It draws on the importance of warmth, of keeping something or someone warm. It pulls on my sense of motherhood and urgency to nurture. It brings a sense of home, of what was and what can be to a blighted section of Buffalo struggling to survive.

The installation will also include chalk drawings that are inspired by Detroit’s Guyton.

I see this as a big compliment to Detroit. Your art scene definitely has a distinctive brand that is inspiring followers. Maybe Buffalo isn’t too far behind.

-AS

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Beautiful Buffalo in Pictures, Part 1–Buildings

The bad news is, we ticked off some Buffaloians with some of the verbiage in our photography solicitations. The good news is, a bunch of them sent us photos offering some of the more appealing scenes in the City of No Illusions.

So now Buffaloians are going to show us what the city is all about.

We have received so many submissions that I had to break it down into a few categories. This first one is dedicated to Buffalo’s beautiful buildings. (Next post will be on natural landscapes.) Unfortunately, this won’t be an exhaustive look at all the fine architecture in Buffalo, just a taste of some of the more memorable. Thanks to everyone who submitted! Sorry about the inadvertent slight!

This fantastically detailed stained glass window adorns City Hall. This building is the reason I have been dying to visit Buffalo. The building was designed by Louis Sullivan, father of modernist architecture and mentor to Frank Lloyd Wright. Buffalo City Hall was primarily designed by John J. Wade- who was partnered at the time with George Dietel, and was assisted on the project by former State Architect Sullivan W. Jones. Here’s a few more views from the building. (Both photos courtesy of Cynthia Van Ness of Buffaloresearch.com.)

Buffalo is an architectural hotbed. Below is a photo of another of the city’s grand buildings, the Albright-Knox Art Gallery, by the same photographer. The gallery displays modern and contemporary art and is home to Buffalo Fine Arts Academy, one of the nation’s first art institutions.

Here’s another gem: Buffalo’s Central Terminal. This photo was submitted by Marty Biniasz of ForgottenBuffalo.com. This 17-story art deco building once served 152 daily trains. It was abandoned in the ’80s only to be purchased by a preservationist in the late 1990s for $1.

Forgive me for this, but this was taken straight from Wikipedia:

Currently, the Buffalo Central Terminal is host to approximately twenty major fund raising events each year. Work continues to progress and new areas of the building are cleaned up and reopened to the public each year. Since 2003 over 90,000 people have visited the building. This is more than the local Frank Lloyd Wright properties of Western New York have had. The building has been a host to tours, art shows, local political events, train shows, annual Dyngus Day and Oktoberfest, weddings, as well as a temporary art installation by controversial artist Spencer Tunick in 2004.

Stay tuned. More great Buffalo photography coming soon!

-A.S.

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What To Do With Old Train Stations?

Detroit’s City Council has voted to raze the old Michigan Central Station, Tuesday’s Detroit Free Press reported. (If you click on the link to read the Free Press story, be sure to look at the series of historical photos that accompany it.)

The last train pulled out of the station in 1988.

michigan_central_station

“I want it down now,” Councilwoman Barbara-Rose Collins, who introduced the resolution to raze the structure, told the Free Press. “It’s obviously a public hazard.”

I’ve never been inside the station, but I have driven by it a number of times. It’s pretty unbelievable – it looks almost apocalyptic. It is strange to see something so massive that is completely vacant and ruined, yet has a kind of haunting, sad beauty to it. It’s hard to explain. But I know I’m not the only person who feels this way. The site has been photographed by countless people looking to capture a symbol of the city’s decline. (Rust Wire had a post on some of these photos not too long ago.) It has also been used in several movies.

It’s hard to imagine the ruin we see now as anything else, but the waiting room had a spectacular 76 foot-high ceiling, massive arches, and marble columns, according to the Free Press. When it first opened, passengers could go to the barber shop, or cigar stand, a restaurant, a bath or go to dressing room or to the men’s reading room in the station.

There have been a number of schemes and ideas to reuse and reopen the station (including a suggestion by former Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick to relocate police headquarters there) but none have come to fruition. But it is hard for me to imagine it actually being torn down. After all, it has been sitting there empty 20 years.

The city of Buffalo has a similar large and vacant old train station, the Buffalo Central Terminal. I actually have been inside this one, actually only a few weeks ago:

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The last train left this station in 1979. There is actually talk of having the station be part of a state-wide high speed rail system.

Unfortunately, the station is isolated, as this recent Buffalo News editorial points out. It doesn’t make make much sense to pour money into the station, without someway of connecting it with the rest of the city.

“Yes, the Central Terminal is a legacy of the glory days, not only of Buffalo, but of rail travel in general,” the editorial states.

“Yes, it is a horrible shame to see it stand there, at the end of Paderewski Drive, with so little to do, despite the best efforts of Terminal lovers who have attracted successful community events and continually sing its praises.

But the point is to make Buffalo a more successful community by improving its connections to Albany and, via Albany, New York City. We would surely be derailing that effort if we deposited these hasty visitors in a building, historic though it may be, that sits in the middle of a snarl of railroad tracks, in a lonely neighborhood that misses passenger rail even more than the Terminal does, without a quick way to move them, just as quickly, into downtown Buffalo or the other places they might be bound for.”

It will be interesting to see what both of these cities decide to do with their respective stations.

-KG

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