Buffalo, NY - A Convenient Truth!

While chatting with Michael Clarke from LISC - Buffalo the other day, learned that Buffalo, NY once again has made it into the national consciousness. In the April 2007 Atlantic Monthly Gregg Easterbrook's Global Warming: Who Loses and Who Wins (full text) places Buffalo, NY on top of the pile...finally!
My hometown of Buffalo, New York, for example, is today so déclassé that some of its stately Beaux-Arts homes, built during the Gilded Age and overlooking a park designed by Frederick Law Olmsted, sell for about the price of one-bedroom condos in Boston or San Francisco. If a warming world makes the area less cold and snowy, Buffalo might become one of the country’s desirable addresses.
Ok, Gregg is from Buffalo, NY and aside from being a contributing editor at Atlantic he's also a visiting fellow at the Brookings Institution. Here's Gregg's website and if you just happened to like Jared Diamond's Guns, Germs and Steel, I warn you, you're not going to appreciate Gregg's New York Times review - There Goes the Neighborhood. Oh, well. Not everyone likes Al Gore either...

update...3pm...received an email from Michael Clarke - LISC Buffalo - see comment below. I've archived both reports Mike mentions. Here the links to the .pdf files.
Artspace ArchiveAnnals of NeglectBAVPAWhere is Perrysburg?Broken Promises...
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Jefferson said...

I don't know about others but I take offense at the use of the word "declasse" which means to come down in social standing. That's NOT why housing in Buffalo is so much cheaper than in other cities. Economic standing is more like it.

Derek J. Punaro said...

Ah ha! Finally proof that global warming is a sham! The logic works something like this...

If something good is in Buffalo's future > it surely won't happen.

Global warming is good for Buffalo's future.

Therefore, global warming won't happen.


Anonymous said...

That Buffalo is a dreadful place is something that everyone "knows," just as we "know" that New Yorkers are pushy and rude and we "know" that Texans are big, dumb bigots.

So I agree with Jefferson about the gratuitous use of "declasse." If writers want to seem smart, perceptive, or erudite, all they have to do is distill their audience's favorite stereotypes.

Michael Clarke said...


Global warming aside, I think there will be a rise in the future value of vacant land in Buffalo if we follow through with the suggestions in Blueprint Buffalo. I was at a session where Frank Alexander, one of the members of the National Vacant Properties Campaign, discussed the attached paper - which is largely technical - but his characterization of vacant land as a "public asset" is right.

Finding the most efficient ways to target our current neighborhood preservation efforts into more focused areas in order to meet the needs of our actual current population, while banking and managing the rest like Mayor Williams is talking about in Youngstown, OH, will give Buffalo a significant advantage when the "go to" places start running out of developable parcels, have commutes and transportation costs that become outlandish, etc. We can reinforce and reinvest in the more built-up parts of the city while cleaning, holding and planning for the reuse of a lot of other acreage.

Eventually people may tire of paying $800,000 for a 1200 square foot house in California. It isn't the house that costs that much vs the land it's sitting on. The costs of getting land cleared and ready for redevelopment here should eventually be recoverable as other places continue to get ridiculously expensive, but there are still signs that Americans love their burbs and that movement is still fairly strong, even among immigrants. See the testimony of Brookings Institution VP Bruce Katz to Congress on 2/28 about how both housing and transportation policy need to be reshaped.


fix buffalo said...

I'll add the two reports that Michael Clarke mentions in an update...