Another Buffalo Summer is upon us, and I cannot wait for it.
Buffalo, New York appears to be on the up-and-up, there is no denying it. Following the recession, people and businesses decided to invest in Western New York as it was relatively cheap and stable which has led to this new optimistic feel surrounding the city. With the turn of the year, a lot has been going on in the Queen City and hopefully this trend continues
Ten years from now, if Buffalo is really back on top, I think people will look back to the Summer of 2014 as its tipping point towards greatness. But just what is it about this summer more than past years that is setting up for Buffalo’s future success? Well, let me tell you…
A general subheading, but it is true: a whole lot of new buildings and ideas are coming to Buffalo.
The biggest addition to the Buffalo landscape is obviously the Harbor Center, the exhilarating extension to First Niagara Center, which is set to be completed in September with the Marriott hotel coming in May 2015. The Harbor Center will have two ice rinks (which will be the home for Canisius College and ECC), a landmark Tim Horton’s, a unique bar and restaurant entitled “(716)”, and much more which you can read about here. In all my life, I do not recall anytime where there were more than two cranes in the Queen City and that alone is enough to get me excited.
Along with the new buildings, new ideas are coming to Buffalo highlighted by 43 North’s world’s largest business competition with over $5 million in cash awards. From about a month ago, it was reported by WBFO that there are already applicants from 48 states and 56 countries. All entries are due by the end of May and finalists will present their ideas during a week-long event come mid-October. The best part for Buffalonians is that all 11 winners will be required to operate out of Buffalo for a minimum of one-year, which will ideally push the city into a business hub.
Buffalo is Cool, Man
But don’t take it from me.
A groundbreaking piece from The Buffalo News just about a month ago brought up facts citing that young people, specifically “millenials” (those between the ages 20 – 34), are moving to the Buffalo Niagara region. The region boasts a 10.1% increase in millenials from 2006 to 2012, more than both the New York State and national average. There’s a good chance you are a millennial reading this article right now and your generation is coming to Buffalo.
Another article that was making its rounds on Buffalonians’ social media pages in late February came from Lauren Modery’s Hipstercrite blog explaining her agreement with Buffalo being America’s new “it city”. She talked about everything cool in Buffalo, from Allentown to the Central Terminal to Larkin Square and beyond. Modery was literally stuck in Buffalo by chance (her flight got cancelled due to snow, who would have guessed?) but her 14-hour experience inspired her enough to write a full blog post about our great city. This also spawned from The Washington Post’s “What’s In and What’s Out for 2014” which dubbed Buffalo the new “in” city, surpassing Austin, Texas. I always thought Buffalo was cool, but now we have official “cool” people agreeing with me.
Now, where do you think a male gay couple from New York City would move if they felt so inclined? Answer: Buffalo. For one example, Billy and Pat Sandora-Nastyn needed a lifestyle change from the Big Apple had figured they could move anywhere in the United States. So they packed up and chose Buffalo as their new destination. Who are Billy and Pat? They are a semi-famous YouTube vloggers who discuss their life as a gay couple through videos on their channel. And they decided on Buffalo as their new home. Why? Because they are cool.
Food & Drink
The average Buffalonian food pyramid consists of wings, beef on weck, Loganberry, Jim’s, Ted’s, Mighty, ETS, and a whole lot more heart attack inducing food. But a new level of this pyramid is coming to Buffalo this summer as highlighted by this Buffalo Eats article.
Everything from the aptly named Blood and Sand bar and restaurant to Mercado to a “gourmet hog dog” restaurant in shipping containers is coming to Buffalo and I for one am excited to gorge on something new.
Also, we already have 25+ food truck companies across Western New York, and that number is only growing with Betty Crockski, Macarollin’, and Amy’s Food Truck all new this spring. Not only do we have such a wide variety of food trucks, but we even have our own day of the week dedicated to them with Larkin Square’s Food Truck Tuesdays.
Depending on the success of these new restaurants and Mercado, Buffalo could become a food mecca for tourists, well more than it already is.
Regardless of your musical preference, Buffalo has a lot to offer this summer whether it is at the inner/outer harbor, Lewiston’s Artpark, Darien Lake, or various other local spots.
Buffalo used to be a major hub for concerts decades ago, hosting shows such as The Rolling Stones, The Who, and The Clash among others at Rich Stadium. Of late, Buffalo does not seem to get the big name shows and Western New Yorkers either have to go to Toronto, Darien Lake, or somewhere further to see certain bands. Some believe this can be attributed to Buffalo having bad concertgoers (this 2013 article from Trending Buffalo sums up the idea well).
But I think this too is changing.
The Outer Harbor Concert Series pleased many with their announcement of both Vampire Weekend (making their Buffalo premiere, I believe) and a combined show of City and Colour, Young the Giant, Tokyo Police Club, and Clear Plastic Masks this summer. If indie rock is not your taste, Justin Timberlake’s rescheduled concert is set for July 9th. Also, Alternative Buffalo 107.7 is hosting their first Kerfuffle music festival on July 26th with nine different bands performing including Cage the Elephant and Bear Hands. This list is already tremendous and I have not even mentioned Lewiston Artpark’s stellar lineup featuring oldies-but-goodies Styx, Boston, and Aretha Franklin and newer hip bands including the Arctic Monkeys (also making their WNY premiere), O.A.R. with Phillip Phillips, and Sara Bareilles.
Even with more announcements looming, specifically the Thursday at the Harbor series (coming on May 8th), Buffalo’s summertime will be filled with an eclectic sort of music. Hopefully the Queen City can remove itself from certain bands’ “blacklists”, as explained in the Trending Buffalo article above, so that this summer can be a springboard into luring more big name shows in future years.
This one might be a stretch but hear me out.
The most excited I have been about Buffalo sports in the past 10 years was obviously the back to back Conference Finals for the Sabres in the ’05-’06 and ’06-’07 seasons. Beyond that, the Bills and Sabres have been pretty dreadful and on paper their most recent seasons have not looked much different.
But times are a changin’.
I have never been so pumped for Bills football so early in the year. It is still four months away but September 7 looms large on my calendar already. The individual components of the Bills seem to be coming together well: the overall defense is menacing, CJ and Freddie will have a bounce back year, and depending on the draft our O-line and receiving core could both take a large step forward. The obvious lynchpin for both the offense and franchise is EJ Manuel. While Manuel did not prove himself in his rookie season, he had his moments. As long as he has a decent season…I smell playoffs, baby.
The Sabres on the other hand…not so much. The 2014-2015 season for the blue and gold will not be much different than this past year. However, with the young talent and excessive amount of picks in the coming drafts … mark your calendars for 2017 and beyond for some Playoff Party in the Plazas.
I believe both the Bills and Sabres will mirror the rise of Buffalo and will provide for a communal sense of excitement in the Queen City. Just the idea of both teams playing in their respective playoffs in the same season gives me goosebumps.
I know what some are you are thinking, “John, Buffalo is far from being great! We still have so many problems with crime, poverty, segregation, our public schools, the skyway, etc.” and I agree with you! The segregation in Buffalo public schools highlighted in an April headline of The Buffalo News was downright disturbing. There’s a chance that the May 6th election for three at-large seats on the Buffalo School Board might help turn things for the better in the BPS system, but that is not guaranteed. These problems should not and cannot be ignored, but change has to start somewhere.
Not only that but everything I have listed could easily fall apart: the winners of 43 North may all leave after their required year, the Harbor Center might end up being a huge flop, and all the millenials could easily hop on their $300 dollar bicycles and ride away to the new “it” city, leaving Buffalo to fall apart just as it did in the 1950’s.
I do not want this to happen (and I do not think it will) but to truly prevent this, it starts with you, Buffalonians. These great things coming to the Queen City can only remain great if we support them. We can only have these new restaurants as long as we keep choosing their delicious food over McDonalds and Chipotle. Young people will stay in Buffalo and continue to move here if they feel accepted by The City of Good Neighbors. The Queen City can succeed if her citizens maintain their Western New York pride.
And so the future of Buffalo lies with you and it starts with this summer. Let’s make it a good one.