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Thursday, January 10, 2013

Top 5 Travel Experiences of 2012, An Architectural Tour of Buffalo

Friends laughed when I mentioned that I was headed to Buffalo last July, before dropping my son off at the Eastman School of Music in Rochester. “Not exactly Paris, huh?” Little did they realize that the city was undergoing a cultural renaissance, rehabbing many of the architectural wonders that Buffalo is blessed with. In the early 1900s, the affluent community, rich with Erie Canal commerce, helped persuade Louis J. Sullivan, Frederick Law Olmsted, and Frank Lloyd Wright to come to town to create skyscrapers, parks, and estates. 

 
Wright’s Darwin Martin House (1905), rivaled only by Fallingwater in scope and mastery among his residences, just completed a 10-year, $50 million renovation. This includes the renovation of a conservatory and carriage house, linked to the main house via a 100-foot long pergola. This was my third tour of a Wright house, include Taliesen West, and was by far the most impressive. 
 
I also checked out the former Buffalo State Asylum for the Insane, a castle-like assemblage of 14 buildings designed by H.H. Richardson in the late 1800s. The gothic-looking towers have been rebranded the Richardson Olmsted complex and will soon become a boutique hotel and center for architecture. Other noteworthy stops include Louis J. Sullivan’s 13-story 1895 Guaranty Building, the first skyscraper in America, and the Albright-Knox Art Gallery, considered one of the finest collections of modern art in the country.
 
To top it off, the food was exceptional. On the first night we had inspired Polish fare at Bistro Europa, including pierogies and golabki, stuffed cabbage that would make my grandmother proud. The second night, we dined at the spanking new Mike A’s Steakhouse in a downtown building that was dormant the past 40 years. Saved by Buffalo’s favorite son, developer Rocco Termini, the circa-1904 Lafayette Hotel has reclaimed its French Renaissance and Art Deco glamour and is now a boutique hotel with a vintage bar. 
 
From the Saturday morning farmers market to Shakespeare at Delaware Park, the city was energized and proud locals were having the last laugh. 
 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 01/10/13 at 01:00 PM
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Longtime Boston Globe travel writer, Steve Jermanok, dishes out his favorite travel locales and provides topical travel information that comes across his desk.

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