Buffalo, incorporated in 1832, is located at one end of the famous Erie Canal. This great location allowed Buffalo to become a shipping hub and a thriving industrial center for grain and steel. During both World Wars, the economy prospered due to the automotive, aerospace, and shipping industries. Buffalo’s industrial strength brought wealth and prosperity to the city for many decades. Following a period of decline, the city’s economy stabilized during the 1990s and new industries, such as high-tech and bio-medical, transformed the economy.
Restoration of neighborhoods and buildings has been a high priority for this “Queen City of the Great Lakes” for many years. One of the highest profile projects has been the restoration and reconstruction of the Frank Lloyd Wright-designed Martin House complex. Built between 1905 and 1907, the complex is Wright’s most well known surviving residential complex. Having fallen into disrepair after owner Darwin Martin’s death in 1935, the complex became vacant. Restoration began in 2003, and the complex is still in the process of being restored to its 1907 condition, thanks to more than $40 million in funding.
Buffalo has completed Intensive Level Historic Resource Surveys of approximately 6,000 structures in downtown Buffalo and adjacent neighborhoods. As a result, about 1,500 structures were nominated to the National Register of Historic Places and designated as either individual landmarks or contributing element of historic districts. Between 2002 and 2004, the city updated this inventory and found an additional 3,000 historic structures.
The Buffalo Preservation Board was created to preserve and protect buildings, sites, and districts that are of historic and cultural value. Board members develop appropriate standards and guidelines to assist property owners in preservation, restoration, and rehabilitation of landmarks and properties. The Buffalo and Erie County Historical Society, housed in the Pan-American Building, a National Historic Landmark, collects and preserves artifacts and records related to the history of Western New York and the Great Lakes. Collections include 20,000 books and 200,000 photos, as well as architectural plans and records.
The Buffalo Niagara Convention and Visitors Bureau (CVB) promotes the region as an international center for architecture, design, and the arts. WNED-TV, Buffalo’s local PBS affiliate, and the CVB jointly produced “Buffalo’s Architectural Treasures,” a 10-minute introduction to the best of Buffalo’s buildings. A Web site (www.wrightnowinbuffalo.com), launched in 2006, is devoted to Buffalo’s architecture and art offerings. The accomplishments of the CVB, along with its preservation partners, helped Buffalo become the site of the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s 2011 national conference, which will bring thousands of visitors and is expected to boost the economy.
Designated a Preserve America Community in July 2008.