“There are darknesses in life and there are lights, and you are one of the lights, the light of all lights.”
― Bram Stoker, Dracula
Pride of place is a powerful thing. Buffalo’s revitalization is born of the gritty determination of people who held onto their city’s proud heritage despite decades of decline. Most of us only ever heard stories of our city’s rich history. Buffalo’s heyday in the first half of the 20th century faded almost entirely from living memory and was replaced by a saga of depression, poverty and flight.
But the stories of dignity and prosperity endured and were woven into the fabric of daily life. They were whispered across dilapidated monuments and echoed in architectural prodigies, broadcast in sports arenas and told over and over by those who call this place home. Whether they set up shop here or left to seek opportunity elsewhere, Buffalonians stayed proud, and more than a little plucky.
The manifestations of this pride and pluck can be seen all over the city: in the vibrant urban renewal movement, in the illuminated grain elevators at Canalside, in the entrepreneurial hub of the Medical Corridor. The stories of Buffalo’s past, fused with the potential of the present and the promise of the future, have taken on a bright new life.
Video credits: 43North
Buffalo’s true strength comes from our blue-collar, immigrant roots, but the everyday stories of the people who make our city shine are not always front and center. Their diverse voices can be heard in classrooms and block clubs, on bar stools and shop floors and around dinner tables. They’re the ones who make this place the City of Good Neighbors, and their stories animate and inspire.
The inspiration for Buffalo City Lights comes from the desire to encourage Buffalo’s flourishing by connecting to the city’s origins and telling good stories. One of Buffalo’s nicknames is the City of Light, so-named because it was the first city in America to have electric street lighting, powered by hydroelectric from Niagara Falls.
Buffalo is a unique hybrid of former industrial powerhouse and producer of renewable energy, driven by the world’s oldest hydroelectric plant, and in recent years, wind turbines. The next evolution of the City of Light is already underway with the surge in solar energy technology and the proliferation of more sustainable, energy-efficient architecture and adaptive reuse. We have the power to transform our hard-working and inventive Rust Belt legacy into a shining example of clean prosperity for all, and each one of us has a part to play.
This blog is for all of Buffalo’s bright lights, big and small.
If you’d like to recommend someone for a profile on Buffalo City Lights, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
About the author: A Buffalo native, Natalie Photiadis spent several years abroad before returning to her hometown to work on sustainability and community building. Learn more on her website.