Buffalo, NY. It’s a town known for hockey, chicken wings, and the side of Niagara Falls you can visit if you have a criminal record. I don’t recall ever coming here, or even having a particular desire to. Not for any specific reason. Only because it was like a ton of other cities and towns across the country today. Built by rail, canal, or the automobile industry, and left to die a slow death in the aftermath of economic downturn that has decimated so many places in this country.
The hotel we arrived at this morning did not seem to be suffering any ill effects from this trend. For a city that is either second or third behind Detroit in percentage of residents who live below the poverty line, you would not be able to tell that walking around downtown. This seems to be a change that is moving outwards form the downtown area. A few years ago, a plan called the Buffalo Billion was introduced to try and bring the city back to it’s former glory. From all I have seen so far, it seems to working.
With tons of beautiful old buildings being restored, and more construction than I could avoid, it seems like things might be improving here. Paul and I went out to lunch with a co-worker of his, and I noticed something very interesting during our walk through the city. Not about Tim mind you. He is an interesting guy and likes Batman so he is good in my book. About his attitude toward the place he lives.
His first words as we went to cross Delaware street were “I remember when things were medieval…” That is pretty harsh sentiment for your hometown. I have called my hometown lots of things, but this makes Buffalo sound like it was a place to avoid. Every where we stopped, Tim would have some variation of “It was really bad, but they have done a ton of work and now this place is nice.” Whether it was the Buffalo Niagara Convention Center, or just the various streets we wandered down in search of mid-day sustenance, the common theme seemed pretty clear to me.
Things were really bad, but now they are getting better.
I can’t really say I disagree. Clearly, a ton of money has been spent to revitalize this area. A quick walk down to the Canalside will show that some serious people with some serious money are serious about making Buffalo something to be proud of again.
I only spent an hour walking around the water in the sweltering heat, and I was excited enough to want to bring my family here for the day. Full of eye catching architecture and plenty of vendors, the canal seems to be a town fair that doesn’t actually end. There were families, couples, even tourists taking full advantage of this wide open and beautiful space right next to the old Gold Medal Flour company.
Battleships, boardwalks, and nifty little… cellar fort looking things… are just a few of the interesting spots all clustered around the main attraction. The canal.
All of this positive change can be seen and felt in the event G33kpod is here to cover this weekend. Nickel City Comicon is Buffalo’s very first large scale comic convention. It is the kind of thing you cannot pull off if things aren’t getting better in your city. It has an impressive guest list, ranging from movie and TV stars, to some of the greatest and soon to be greatest artists out there. Sean Astin(from the Goonies and some other movie by that directer Peter Jackson who did some gory movie in the 80’s that was banned.), Ray Park, and The Nature Boy Ric Flair along with the cast of AMC’s Comicbook Men are going to be hanging out for the weekend. That’s a damn good guest list for your first time out. It is a damn good list for any city outside of SDCC or NYCC. For a city that was on the brink less than a decade ago, it seems to me that the residents should be damn proud of where they are and where they are heading. Now if only we could get Fulton to follow their example…
See you at Nickel City Comicon…