Living on the Edge...

After reading the three part Buffalo News series on abandonment, demolitions and vacancy I went over to Ruhland Avenue (google street view) on Wednesday afternoon. I spent three hours talking with residents about the series and some of the problems they face living in this neighborhood.
Additional 'urban prairie' pics - right here
I'm a supporter of sustainable development that near the core - Main Street - or surrounding a nexus of existing and viable long term cultural and community assets. On Ruhland there is nothing. Residents recognize this, too. After some of the most candid and spontaneous conversations involving the intersection of race and economics that I've had in a long time, I learned that the residents of Ruhland Avenue that I talked with are all on the same page...they'd prefer to move than stay where they are.

The rational, text and the blueprint in how to get from here to there and how to transition from the abandoned and dead neighborhoods to an urban vibrancy have been clearly identified. They've been spelled out - Getting Smarter about Decline - and a growing set of 'best practices' is readily available.
I'm not certain what sort of modeling or metrics need to be used to determine which neighborhoods need to shut-down in our city - streets, sewers and sidewalks simply removed - at first blush it seems as though this street would be a good candidate. There are seven one block streets in the immediate area bordered by the CSX railroad lines and Sycamore Avenue. This includes one block sections of Oberlin, Gittere, Titus, Ruhland, Miller, Goodyear and Koons. In total there seem to be 100-150 houses in this neighborhood.
I'll be returning to the neighborhood soon and completing an informal 'vacancy survey' of existing structures. I'll matrix my findings through ownership records and determine which houses are owner occupied and which are owned by the city. I just looked at live and google maps images for the area. Those seem to be years behind the reality of the situation on the ground.

ArtspaceBAVPAWoodlawn Row HousesfixBuffalo flickr
the creativity exchangeshrinking cities


Watson said...


I'm glad that you took so much time to talk with the people who actually live in these conditions. Too often assumptions and decisions are made without talking to the people most affected.

I have lived on the East Side of Buffalo all my life, and some areas of this side of the City have been neglected and ignored for so long by different City administrations that many houses are beyond saving.

If you haven't already done so, you might also want to talk to community and religious leaders as well as block clubs and community organizations who have been fighting against blight and related problems for a long time.

fixBuffalo said...


Thank you. When you have a moment, please shoot me an email.




Anonymous said...

I spent many days on Ruhland and made it one of my main focuses when filming Flipped.I also did a study 3 yrs ago on Gittere,Oberlin ,Howlett & Ruhland as an ideal candidate for landbanking..expanding it to 7 streets now is a good idea especially since there is a playground at the end of Howlett on Sycamore that is never maintained. Michele Johnson