Buffalo NY Finally Gets it Wright

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WHY GO: Once the terminus of the Erie Canal, Buffalo NY had more millionaires than any other city at the turn of last century. Two US Presidents, Millard Fillmore and Grover Cleveland, spent time here. And one, William McKinley, was assassinated here.

Louis Sullivan Building - Buffalo NY

Frederick Law Olmsted designed parks and roadways, industry flourished. The “Amazon.com” of its day – the Larkin Company – employed thousands. Frank Lloyd Wright was hired to design homes, office buildings and even a gas station. And the Pan American Exposition was held here in 1901, though the celebration was marred by the assassination of President McKinley.

Then came the Depression and this industrial city was hit hard. It never really recovered in the 60’s and 70’s, when other wealthier areas of the country demolished grand old buildings to make way for the ugliness of “Urban Renewal.” In the long run, this was to Buffalo’s advantage.

Buffalo On the Rise

Now, exceptional architecture, a burgeoning medical research and development sector, waterfront development and repurposing of these iconic buildings is attracting a growing number of history buffs and epicurean–minded visitors to New York State’s westernmost city.

Buffalo NY street scene

Several years after I wrote the above introduction, Buffalo continues to add fantastic restaurants and innovate by creating public spaces from once-decaying factories and institutions. New in 2017: two boutique hotels, the grain-silos turned brewery and adult playground – Riverworks. Plus, more improvements of Canalside.

Buffalo NY is on such an upward swing, in fact, it’s inspired the exceedingly popular website BuffaloRising.com, which says it all. Read on for the current best of the best to do in this energized city.

Darwin Martin House by Frank Lloyd Wright - Buffalo NY

Frank Lloyd Wright House Tours

VISIT: Frank Lloyd Wright’s Martin House Complex

The Martin House was built at a time when Buffalo was the 8th largest city in the USA, and one of the first to be completely wired for electricity. Consisting of five structures built 1903-1905, this complex was one of Frank Lloyd Wright’s largest commissions.

By the 1990’s three of the original structures had been demolished. Restoring them necessitated a painstaking restoration that began in 1997 and continues to this day.

Greenbatch Pavilion - Darwin Martin House - Buffalo, New York

Begin at the glass-encased Visitor’s Center, designed by contemporary NYC architect Toshiko Mori. There, opt for either a one or two hour tour of one the the country’s signature FLW sites.

LLoyd Wright’s Dynamic Views

Like all Wright designs, the main house consists of natural materials, with a dynamic view the minute you walk through the front door. A 175-foot pergola connects the main house to the statue of Winged Victory in a plant-filled conservatory.

Pergola at Frank Lloyd Wright Darwin Martin Complex
175 foot long Pergola, Darwin Martin Complex,

Wright urged the “Soul to Soar” through architecture. His spaces were compressed, but his designs were light-filled for those Victorian times.

Kitchen at the Darwin Martin Complex
Kitchen at Frank Lloyd Wright Darwin Martin Complex

Most homes of the day were finished in mahogany, but Wright favored the lighter fine-grained rift-sawn White American Oak. His iconic art-glass windows with iridescent gold-leaf rectangles filtered light into the interior generating green and golden hues. 

Wright abhorred clutter, hiding books in innovative cabinets and heating grates behind art glass doors that once again have been meticulously restored by the best craftsmen today. Mon, Wed, Fri. Sat – one-hour tours begin on the hour from 10am (11am Jan-April) till 4pm, Sundays from noon – 3:30, $17 for one hour tour, $35 two-hour tour. Not wheelchair accessible. Must reserve tickets in advance.

Graycliff Estate - A Frank Lloyd Wright house in Buffalo NY
Graycliff Estate, Frank Lloyd Wright design, Lake Erie

VISIT: Graycliff Estate, Derby

Built on a cliff of gray limestone (hence the name) overlooking Lake Erie, Graycliff was constructed for Darwin Martin’s wife, Isabelle, as a “country house” to replace her beloved summer place in the Adirondacks.

By the early 1920’s Isabel’s eyesight was so bad, she consulted with Frank Lloyd Wright to design this getaway, 15 miles from Buffalo. Its walls of glass allowed views through to the lake, and plenty of natural light.

After Isabelle passed away in 1945, the Piarist Fathers purchased the property (in 1951). The priests covered up many of the fine features with additional buildings and lean-tos. In the 1990’s, when the Order vacated the property, it was slated to be torn down. That is, until a small, passionate group formed the “Graycliff Conservancy” and raised an initial $20,000 to stave off demolition.

Grassroots Restoration

Since then, funds have been rolling in to support the restoration, rendering the Graycliff Conservancy one of the most successful grassroots efforts in the region to rescue one home. Before one wall or floor could be restored, tens of thousands of dollars were spent on structural issues. Tons of dirt had to be removed from the basement, and cement chipped from flowerbeds.  

A state of the art “misting” system was installed to prevent damage from either fire or too much water. Next, an asphalt roof installed by the Fathers was removed. It was replaced with 25,000 hand-stained cedar shingles, as Wright had designed. Exterior walls were re-stuccoed, using sand from the beach below.

Wright was a nut for nature – bringing gardens and patios inside whenever he could. The Fern Room features flower boxes and unique corner windows that open. Touring Graycliff provides a rare chance to witness a work-in-progress restoration of one of Frank Lloyd Wright’s most unusual designs. 

Tours various times through the year, so consult website. Open daily in summer and early fall, closed Wed otherwise. Most tours 10:30, 11 and 2 M-F, more on weekends.  $16 adults, $10 kids. Do not wear high heels!

Waterfalls of Niagara Falls

More Fun Things To Do In Buffalo NY

GO: Niagara Falls

Chances are you’ve been here. But if you haven’t, see one of the natural wonders of the world from several vantage points. It’s a short 20 minute drive from downtown Buffalo, so plan to stay in the city, and make the Falls a day trip.

Cave of the Winds at Niagara Falls, NY Cave of the Winds at Niagara Falls, NY

Experience Maid of the Mist – the US boat that takes you right into the thundering roar of Canada’s Horseshoe Falls, grinding the engine in the pummeling whitewater for several dramatic minutes. Then walk in the splash of the American Falls through the Cave of the Winds.

For both, you’ll be issued flimsy ponchos. (You will get wet, guaranteed). And, at the entrance of the Cave of the Winds, you’ll receive a complimentary sturdy water-sandal souvenir in your size. Open May – mid-October. Discovery Pass, $36 adults, $29 youth, gets you into five attractions including Maid of the Mist and Cave of the Winds with take-home souvenir sandals.

Exterior of Anchor Bar in Buffalo NY
Anchor Bar, home of the Original Buffalo Wings

TOUR: Buffalo Wing Trail

Of course the city that brought spicy chicken wings to the world has a Buffalo Wing Trail. This guide takes you to 12 different pubs and taverns, each with its own version of the original Anchor Bar Chicken Wings. There’s even a “Wing Crawl” on select days. You may just find a new favorite.

Sol LeWitt Installation, Albright-Knox Gallery, Buffalo NY
Sol LeWitt Installation, Albright-Knox Gallery

VISIT: Albright-Knox Art Gallery

Since 1862, the Albright-Knox has been collecting “paintings while still wet.” The 1905 Beaux Arts building  boasts the second-most number of columns in the country. The first is the U.S. Capitol Building. A contemporary wing was added in 1962.

The Albright-Knox takes the long view of Modernism, with its strongest holdings in Post War American Abstraction.

After a world-tour, one of the most thrilling installations is back – Lucas Samara’s Mirrored Room. It’s joined by famous works by world-renowned artists. Permanent galleries feature works of Picasso, Renoir, O’Keefe, Warhol. Don’t miss the fantastic Sol LeWitt stairwell installation, created from millions of graphite scribbles. It looks from afar like steel. $12 adults, $5 kids, Tues-Sun 10-5.

Burchfield-Penny Art Center, Buffalo NY
Burchfield-Penney Art Center

VISIT: Burchfield/Penney Art Center

Though he was the first artist chosen for a solo exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art in NYC in 1930, most people have never heard of Charles Burchfield. But a visit to this 2008 LEDE-Certified museum, moved from Buffalo State College across the street, will change all that.

Burchfield began his career designing wallpaper. Among the 30,000 objects of his here, you might just be mesmerized by Burchfield’s bizarre take on nature – a mashup of Munch, Van Gough, and Audubon on hallucinogens. Look for eyes in trees, stormy skies, Lucy in the Sky With Diamond colors. Tuesday-Saturday from 10am-5pm, Thursday from 10am-9pm and Sunday from 1-5pm. Admission is $10 (adult), $8 (senior), $5 (student).

Frank Lloyd Wright Gas Station, Wright's Cord L-29 Cabriolet at Pierce-Arrow Museum, Buffalo NY
Frank Lloyd Wright Gas Station, Wright’s Cord L-29 Cabriolet at Pierce-Arrow Museum

VISIT: Buffalo Transportation Pierce-Arrow Museum.

What was just until lately the vanity project of an antique-car collector is now the home to never-built-in-his-lifetime but now realized Frank Lloyd Wright Filing Station. But first, the museum itself.

Because Buffalo was the terminus of the Erie Canal, it was an engine of industry and manufacturing. Buffalo-based Pierce Arrow employed over twelve thousand people during its heyday. It turned out more trucks during WWI than any other car manufacturer in the country.

Ohio Electric Car with Patent Leather Fenders at the Pierce Arrow Museum, Buffalo NY
Ohio Electric Car with Patent Leather Fenders at the Pierce Arrow Museum

The high-class Pierce-Arrow Motorcar, the “Rolls Royce of America,” was the official White House vehicle from Taft to FDR. You can see several meticulously restored versions among a warehouse of other notable autos, including the “Playboy” – a white convertible brand put out of business by General Motors – and a cherry red Chevy Impala 409 of “she’s real fine, my 409” fame. The 1902 Buffalo Electric Car, designed primarily for women, didn’t require cranking.

Frank Lloyd Wright Gas Station

Frank Lloyd Wright Gas Station, Built from Renderings in 2014, Pierce-Arrow Museum, Buffalo NY
Frank Lloyd Wright Gas Station, Built from Renderings in 2014, Pierce-Arrow Museum

The pièce de résistance of this museum, though, is a Frank Lloyd Wright gas station that was never built. Until now. In 1927, having just completed Graycliff, Wright was broke, and in the midst of a nasty divorce and scandalous relationship with an underage foreigner.

Scorned and under a microscope, he was nevertheless hired by TYDOL to design a state-of-the-art gas station at a time when these pit stops were literally a pump and a shack.

Wright imagined a copper-roof filing station that would spoil travelers with fireplaces, deluxe restrooms, and an ingenious gravity-flow rooftop gas dispensing system.

The final design was much too expensive to build, and so it never was.  Now, you can see it exactly how Wright had envisioned it – gleaming copper roof and all.  Thurs-Sun 11-4, $10 adults, $5 kids.

Buffalo NY City Hall
Buffalo NY City Hall

TOUR: Architectural Tour

Start at the imposing 1932 City Hall and take the elevator to the 25th floor observation deck for a bird’s eye view of Buffalo and Lake Erie. (FYI, you’ll have to climb an additional 2 floors to get to it). It’s also a nice camera angle to capture the top of the Liberty Bank Building and its two 30-foot bronze replicas of the Statues of Liberty facing east and west. Take a free one-hour tour of City Hall Monday – Saturday at noon.

Two 30 ft. Statue of Liberty Replicas Face East and West Atop the Liberty Building, Buffalo NY
Two 30 ft. Statue of Liberty Replicas Face East and West Atop the Liberty Building, Buffalo NY

Hotel Lafayette

Next, the Hotel Lafayette, is notable for its creator, Louise Bethune, America’s first female architect. Built in 1905 with hot and cold running water and phones in every room, it was among the most technologically advanced hotel of its day. After a recent renovation, the Lafayette is back in vogue as a boutique hotel.

Ellicott Square Bldg

Ellicott Square Building Interior
Ellicott Square Building Interior

Next  – hailed as the largest commercial building when constructed, the Ellicott Square Bldg. features an incredible interior with mosaic floor, wrought iron railings, double-staircases, and spectacular glass ceiling. Bonus: you can get your Beef On Weck at Charlie The Butcher’s Express here for the ultimate Buffalo experience.

Louis Sullivan Guaranty Building

Louis Sullivan's Prudential Building, Buffalo NY
Louis Sullivan’s Prudential Building, Buffalo NY

Stop at the Louis Sullivan Guaranty Building, built in 1895 for Prudential Insurance.  Sullivan, called “The Father of the Modern Skyscraper,” covered exterior surfaces with spectacular terra-cotta ornamentation.

Buffalo Architecture tours through “Explore Buffalo.” This organization provides multiple tours per day on a double-decker bus for optimal viewing. Other tours by “foot, bike, bus, and kayak.”

Handwritten manuscript of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Buffalo Public Library
Handwritten manuscript of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Buffalo Public Library,

AMAZING FIND: Handwritten Huck Finn Manuscript at the Buffalo Public Library

Stand within inches of a portion of Twain’s handwritten Huck Finn story, discovered in 1990 in an old trunk that hadn’t been open since before the owner’s death in the 1960’s.

Twain had donated the other half to the library in 1885, when manuscripts weren’t worth much.  It’s here, in Twain’s own handwriting, cross-outs and all. Several pages plus the title page of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn on on display. Unbelievable.

VISIT: Buffalo History Museum

The Buffalo History Museum is housed in the only building remaining from the 1901 Pan American Expo, now within site of the Albright-Knox Art Museum and Burchfield-Penny.

Theodore Roosevelt Inaugural Site, Buffalo NY
Theodore Roosevelt Inaugural Site

VISIT: Theodore Roosevelt Inaugural Site

Like Lyndon Johnson on Air Force One, Teddy Roosevelt was hastily sworn into office at his friend’s home, following the assassination of President McKinley at the Pan American Exposition in 1901.

The Wilcox home is now a National Historic Site. Find videos and exhibits about the man who used the “Bully Pulpit” to push through anti-trust legislation, champion the conservation movement and increase consumer protections. Guided tour only, $10. Mon.- Fri 9-5, Sat/Sun noon-5. Last tour 3:30.

Riverworks Industrial River front

GO: Riverworks

This multi-purpose space on the industrial riverfront has evolved rather organically from the ruins of humungous Wheeler-GLF grain silos painted to look like beer cans. Yep, there’s lots going on here, so hold on to your hats. (Especially if you take the party Cycle Boat or floating Tiki Bar on a quick jaunt).

Riverworks - a brewery inside a grain silo.

Riverworks is home to the world’s first brewery inside a grain silo. The “Beer Garden” is dressed up with pretty floral landscaping in and around the concrete rubble. It’s just one place to enjoy your drink or bite ordered from a massive indoor bar overlooking the Queen City Roller Girls roller rink. (I said there’s a lot going on).

Kontiki hut and boat tour on Riverworks in Buffalo NY

You can also rent kayaks, hydro-bikes, or rock-climb on the exterior or interior of silos. In 2018, RiverWorks launched what’s proven to be a very popular Zip Line course from the top of one of the silos as well ($35 weekdays, $45 weekends).

Canalside - Buffalo NY

STROLL: Canalside

Thanks to General Mills, the smell of Cheerios lingers in the Buffalo air, particularly by the industrial waterfront. Day or night, by foot or boat, this formerly shabby, now revitalized Niagara River/Lake Erie area sparkles with life, history and participatory events.

You might stumble upon a vibrant Zumba class. Or a concert. Or kids learning to hoola hoop. On Saturday mornings, the Artisan Market brings shoppers to the esplanade. Rent a kayak from Buffalo Harbor Kayak ($15 hourly) and you can paddle right up to factory buildings, like the Archer/Daniels Midland Grain Elevators, cement plants and General Mills Cheerio facility.

Sharkgirl statue at Canalside in Buffalo NY

PHOTO OP: Shark Girl at Canalside

Ever since Shark Girl has been installed here, she’s been an Instagram selfie darling. Things continue to get cooler at Canalside. Now, besides kayaks, you can rent Ice Bikes in wintertime when this mini-Erie canal turns into a giant skating rink.

Larkin Square, Buffalo NY
Larkin Square, Buffalo NY

PARTY/MUSIC/FOOD TRUCKS: Larkin Square

Howard Zemsky and his wife, Leslie – the “Director of Fun: Larkin Square”  – took an abandoned manufacturing complex and turned the city around. Or at least this part of it. The Larkin Co. was “the Amazon of its day,” starting with soap making and then kitchen craft, fashion, home goods and furniture.  All goods were sold by catalog, or by women who earned furniture rather than an income. Larkin was one of the largest companies in America, but went out of business by the 1940’s.

Larkin Company, Buffalo NY
Larkin Company, Buffalo NY

The community-minded Zemsky’s saw opportunity in these abandoned buildings and repurposed them into new office space. But they didn’t stop there.

They carved out a public park – like a quad on a college campus – where people can gather, eat, sit in lounge chairs and play games for free. 

Though nearly 2,000 people work here, many more come for “Food Truck Tuesdays,” “Live at Larkin Wednesdays,” and “Outdoor Urban Market Thursdays.” The renovated 1930’s Filling Station is now a locally sourced café, and across the street is the great pub, Hydraulic Hearth. Come on any given summer’s eve and the place is hopping.

BIKE: Reddy Bikes

Red bikes are ready for use (haha) as Buffalo’s new bike share. Just grab one from a rack situated around town and go.

GO/MUSIC: Colored Musicians Club

Celebrating 100th anniversary of the Colored Musician’s Union, jazz musicians have been playing here after other Buffalo performances since 1917. Davis, Coltrane, Gillespie – all the jazz greats have jammed here after hours. Musicians are invited to join in on Sunday night jam sessions. It’s an intimate way to listen to live jazz, and you never know who’s going to show up.

Bubble Man on Corner of Allen and Elmwood, Buffalo NY
Bubble Man on Corner of Allen and Elmwood, Buffalo NY

SHOP/EAT/DRINK: Elmwood Ave. Bubble Man

A bit over two miles long, this street has boutiques, restaurants. And The Bubble Man! This famous hidden guy blows bubbles from his second story window on the corner of Allen and Elmwood.

Buffalo Wings at Anchor Bar in Buffalo NY
Buffalo Wings at Anchor Bar

Restaurants – Buffalo NY

BUFFALO FOOD: Buffalo Wings

The now ubiquitous bar food wasn’t always. Invented on the fly at the Anchor Bar in 1964, Theresa Bellisimo needed to satisfy a hungry hoard of college kids with the scraps she had on hand. The deep fried, hot sauce snack, as we now say, went viral.

Beef on Weck sandwich from Charlie the Butcher in Buffalo NY
Beef On Weck from Charlie the Butcher

Beef On Weck” 

It’s rare roast beef on a salt and caraway seed kimmelweck bun. Get one quick at Charlie The Butcher’s Express while ogling the interior of a Buffalo icon – the Ellicott Square Building.

Sponge Candy 

This chocolate covered crunchy confection looks just like a wild sponge. It’s a Buffalo thang.

Parkside Candy Interior

Find them at Watson’s or Fowler’s or Parkside Candy, an old-fashioned ice cream parlor (open since 1927!) that some folks argue serves the best sponge candy.

Salad at Toutant

EAT: Toutant

Named for the fish camp Chef/owner James Robert’s granddaddy owned in his native Louisiana, Toutant is a revelation. And Roberts is a culinary genius.

Every Creole dish that emerges from the kitchen is a brilliant – and brilliantly plated – twist on the traditional. From Shrimp and Grits ($24) to Buttermilk Fried Chicken ($20) to the in-house smoked Jambalaya Smoked Chicken ($19), you can’t go wrong.

Some greens in the just picked salad have been flash fried, lending a salty crunch to the dish. Everything is OMG great. But don’t pass up desert. You’ll want to try the Ooey Gooey Cake topped with Brown Butter Ice Cream. Go ahead – I dare you to stop at just one bite.

Five Points Bakery Toast

EAT/BREAKFAST: Five Points Bakery

It’s a “Toast Café!” Order the toasted bread of your choosing. (It’s a bakery, after all). It comes with sides either sweet or savory. This place goes way, way beyond Avocado Toast.

Tempo Restaurant, Buffalo NY
Tempo Restaurant, Buffalo NY

EAT: Tempo

You’ll find one of Buffalo’s top fine restaurants on Millionaire’s Row – Delaware Ave – in a stone townhome modeled after a Tuscan villa. Food is excellent. The low-lit atmosphere is appropriate for family pow-wows or an intimate tete a tete. The classy, knowledgeable waitstaff are attentive, but not overly so. Hand-rolled Gnocchi ($26) with gooey mozzarella is sinfully good, as is the light as air Chicken Milanese ($34) – delicately breaded cutlet topped with arugula salad.

Ballyhoo Exterior

EAT: Locals Love

There is no end to the growing food scene in Buffalo. Consequently,  the “Best Chicken Wings” debate extends into fine and casual dining as well. Consensus for best include Left Bank for Modern American. Hutch’s for Seafood. Lombardo’s – another fine Italian. Allen Burger Venture – for innovative, quirky burgers. Buffalo Proper – a posh cocktail bar. Ballyhoo near the GM plant – a cool new cocktail bar in the former workmen’s watering hole that was Malamute. And Rue’s Pierogi – the best of Grandma’s pierogi dough recipe with a modern twist.

DRINK: Founding Father’s Pub

Locals love this quirky place.  Trivia Nights and free nachos make this friendly neighborhood pub an international favorite.

DRINK: Resurgence Brewing Co.

One of a bundle of craft breweries in town, Resurgence makes a “Sponge Candy Stout,” allowing you to both sample the beer and Buffalo’s signature confection at the same time. Resurgence also features a Beer Garden where you can munch on burritos and meat pies while enjoying your brews.

DRINK: Thin Man Brewing Co

Thin Man Brewing Co. is named for the Crash Test Dummy, invented in Buffalo NY. Fans are keen on Thin Man’s preponderance of sours. 

Where to Stay in Buffalo NY

Hotel Henry Buffalo NY

STAY: Hotel Henry

Hotel Henry was once the H.H. Richardson designed Buffalo NY State Asylum for the Insane. Built in 1872 as a compassionate, sunlit residence for several hundred mentally disturbed patients, it became overcrowded and, well, less sunny and compassionate over the years.

The psychiatric hospital closed in the 1970’s, leaving the building vacant for decades until the Richardson Center Corp., completing Phase One of a several phase project, transformed it into a stunning, bright, modern, and eminently hospitable 88-room hotel, with corridors so wide, they are used for special events.

What was once a secluded mental health facility is now seeking to engage with the community, and from the looks of it, the Buffalo public is excited about this new establishment. A hundred people were expected to attend a soft-opening tour. Over 2,000 showed up.

Billed as an “Urban Resort,” Hotel Henry has no golf courses, pools, spa services (for now), or anything to indicate the type of “resort” that most travelers expect. Instead, the surrounding city of Buffalo – its cultural institutions, its architecture, its adult playgrounds – are the treasures to be enjoyed. The “resort” in other words, is the design-rich city of Buffalo itself.

First Impressions of Hotel Henry

Common Area Hotel Henry Buffalo NY

Hotel Henry, located a few blocks from the world-class Albright-Knox Art Museum and Burchfield Penny Museum, is nestled among the campus buildings of Buffalo State University (though not part of the school, the hotel will offer practicum for students pursuing a degree in Hospitality), so your GPS is correct when it turns you onto college streets.Room Corridor Hotel Henry Buffalo NY

H.H. Richardson’s architectural design was so fashionably unique in the mid 1800’s, the Richardson Romanesque style became all the rage.

Fortunately, the Richardson Center Corporation preserved the magnificent and imposing structure, clad in dark Medina Sandstone and brick. Its two ornamental watchtowers now stand sentry over the hotel guest parking lot.

Entrance Hotel Henry Buffalo NY

Park your car and enter through a glass lobby built over the original entrance. There are signs pointing you in the direction of an elevator, which you must take to the 2nd floor reception desk to check in.

On your way, pass the Lipsey Buffalo Architectural Center. This architectural organization provides an educational component and in-house museum, focusing on Buffalo’s prominent architecture. “The permanent collection is not within the hotel walls, but outside in the city itself.”

Preserved Staircase Hotel Henry Buffalo NY

Interior designers have taken care not to “kitsch” things up, so as not to insult the dignity of past patients. Décor, though stunning, is subdued in almost every way but art, which is used effectively to enliven walls in common areas and throughout the in-house restaurant, 100 Acres.

Guestrooms at Hotel Henry

Guest Room Hotel Henry Buffalo NY

There are 28 different configurations of rooms – all with 16 or 20 ft ceilings, high windows, cashmere-like throws, and some of the most comfortable beds I’ve ever had the pleasure to dive into. They’re dressed in modern purple/off white hues, beaded silver wallpaper, and upholstered headboards.

A photo of part of the building is printed on silly-string-ish acoustic tile. These do double duty as sound muffler and atmosphere enhancer. For such a large volumes of space, rooms feel like a cozy contemporary nooks. Private Bathroom Hotel Henry Buffalo NY

Each guest room was created from 3 patient rooms. The Hospital was progressive when built. Each 2,800 sq. ft. corridor was designed as large sunlit space where patients could socialize. Now, there are 14 guest rooms on each of these light-flooded hallways. The hotel staff takes great delight in customizing programs, parties, meals, and even yoga – in these spaces.

Dining at The Henry

100 Acres Restaurant Hotel Henry Buffalo NY

The in house restaurant, 100 Acres, is spread out among several rooms.From all accounts, the food is as excellent and beautiful as the setting.

Bar Hotel Henry Buffalo NY

The bar is atmospherically backlit in a room big enough for large groups.

Cafe Breakfast Hotel Henry Buffalo NY

And, another room serves as a breakfast and lunch café, with dewy fresh fuits and vegetables, soon to be even fresher after an organic veggie garden is planted on property. Rooms from $155 per night includes free parking and wi-fi.

Standard room, Mansion on Delaware, Buffalo NY
Standard room, Mansion on Delaware, Buffalo NY

STAY: Mansion on Delaware Buffalo NY

Built in 1869 as a home for a family of three (with 12 servants), the Mansion sat empty for 30 years before its debut as a 28-room 4 Diamond hotel in the early ‘aughts. And like that family of three, you’ll be spoiled rotten by a bevy of butlers at your beck and call.

Décor is stunning. It’s Marimekko meets Art Deco with bones and woodwork intact –  a mash-up of moderns highlighting the original architecture to beautiful effect. Even the smallest of rooms exude charm, with graphic-design pillows in rust and black, patterned carpet in hues of green, glass desk, and contemporary accessories.

European Breakfast Spread, Mansion on Delaware, Buffalo NY
European Breakfast Spread, Mansion on Delaware, Buffalo NY

But what makes this stay so unique are the “Butlers” on call 24/7.  Need your shirt and pants pressed? Call. Just call. First two items are complementary. Require ice?  “Please don’t do it yourself, ask us.”  Require a ride to a great restaurant? The house Land Rover will shuttle you within three miles.

Between 5 and 7pm, join other guests in the boldly decorated billiards room and salons while enjoying complementary wine and cocktails. (Two per person before honor-bar kicks in).

Memories are made of the “European” breakfast that includes cheese and smoked salmon and the most decadent, cream-centered chocolate croissants. Ever. Rooms $190-$450 include free wi-fi, parking, afternoon cocktails or wine, European breakfast, clothes pressing, shuttle service, butler service.

Urban hot springs at Curtiss Hotel in Buffalo NY

STAY: Curtiss Hotel Buffalo NY

Opened within a few months of Hotel Henry, Curtiss is South Beach wild to Henry’s New York cool.

Even before you walk through the front door, you can peek into the hotel’s “all weather urban hot springs.” This very public, but small, heated indoor outdoor pool claims space in a partially enclosed patio.

The interior swirls with Rococo-crazy moldings and designs. Buffalo’s old revolving bar, Chez Ami, was recreated here. And yes, it revolves. Roofdeck lounge, Vue, features patio “views” of the city skyline, Lake Erie, and Canada. $169-$799.

STAY: Hotel @ Lafayette

The first woman to be admitted into the American Institute of Architects, Louise Blanchard, designed this building in 1904. It’s now a trendy, contemporary boutique hotel. Rooms $170-$210 per night.

Buffalo NY

66 thoughts on “Buffalo NY Finally Gets it Wright”

  1. A very well researched article (not many people know about Bubble Man!).

    Could use a little love from a copy editor, though. (High “heals” – within “site”…).

    Plus, the photo used for Canalside is actually the Erie Basin Marina.

    Great stuff, though.

  2. Hi John – Thanks for reading and commenting. I actually took that photo in Buffalo last week at Canalside (at least – that’s what I was told it was as I walked from the Lighthouse to the Kayak rental place, snapping pictures). I’m my own copy editor – so rely on attentive readers like you to point out typos and misspellings! Thanks – Malerie

  3. DOWNTOWN
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    SCHOOL TOURS
    We are proud to provide tours to schoolchildren, to instill in them an appreciation for Buffalo’s architecture and history at an early age.

  4. Hi – I did link to your website. Wish I had more time to take some of your quirkier tours. Malerie

  5. Chris – Rochester is certainly on my list to explore! I just might take you up on it! – Malerie

  6. My family moved to Western NY 25 years ago. This is the best kept secret in the country. We will never leave.

  7. Hi Malerie,

    I am the Retail Director at the Martin House. Nice piece on the Martin House. I would however like to point out 2 corrections and a plug. We are open on Sunday’s and we are wheelchair accessible and if I do say so myself, we have a really good museum store that is not just the shop at the end of the tour. Thanks, Joe Incao

  8. Thank you for your wonderful article. Grover Cleveland spent much of his life here, but he actually grew up in Fayetteville, NY and was born in Caldwell, NJ. He moved to Buffalo to work for his Uncle Lewis Fahey Allen, who owned a huge chunk of land which in no known as modern day Allentown. Great read though! Thanks!

  9. Thanks, Mickey – I see that Fillmore was born closer to the Finger Lakes, too. So I will fix. Thanks for reading and pointing out my error and for your kind words. – Malerie

  10. malery, you visited bflo at the right time. (late sept, early oct might be a bit special, also.) especially considering our winters season. only makes us appreciate this weather all the more. a suggestion, next time you are here , I suggest you visit the goldome bank downtown on huron and main, formerly bflo savings bank, now m&t. and whil your there go inside an see the lobby with the amazing mechanical bank collection. a hidden gem not to be missed.

  11. Malerie,

    Great article. I must pat myself on the back for covering every single thing in your piece. Might I also suggest The Roycroft Campus, the birthplace of the American Arts & Crafts movement and a National Historic Landmark. Located in East Aurora, about 20 minutes from Buffalo, it’s also home to Millard Fillmore’s house, Fisher Price and Vidler’s, the ultimate five and dime store!

  12. THANK YOU SO MUCH for highlighting our beautiful City! You are welcome back anytime, and tell your friends! 😉

  13. Malerie, good article on Buffalo. I just wanted to say you missed one other Frank Lloyd Wright gem I know of in the queen city at the foot of the Peace bridge, FLW’s Fontana Boathouse. Here is the link to it http://wrightsboathouse.org/

  14. Duffs! I feel like Duffs is missing from the best wings list. Thanks for the great write up. Our city needs all the praising it can get!

  15. In defense of the original caption, the “incursion” into the marina is only a few yards from the northern edge of Canalside. Also, in the interest of scrupulous accuracy, Bubble Man plies his trade from a third-story window (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qq2bUYFmFOA), which gives him greater range. (This is, of course, if you adhere to the American practice of referring to the ground floor as the first floor, Europeans disregard this digression.)

    And while where a politician is born, raised, etc., gives many places claim to him, Fillmore gets props for being buried in Buffalo (thus one of only 39 sites where a former president is in permanent residence!). And, as a organizer of the University of Buffalo (1846) and Buffalo General Hospital (1855), he was responsible for arguably the two most important drivers of the region’s economy in 2014: Eds and meds. (This is NOT to disparage the role of Dr. Roswell Park, whose work at the Gratwick Laboratories begat the first comprehensive cancer care center in the U.S., in 1974, by then the Roswell Park Cancer Institute.)

    Cleveland, while marrying a Buffalo gal (guess she came out that night!), was the local sheriff and mayor, and rose from sheriff to president in four years flat (making President Obama’s rise from local politico look glacially slow by comparison); unfortunately, he retired to New Jersey, not the city that launched his career.

  16. Good Lord… where is this writer from?…

    Most articles about my beloved Western New York tell the world that a bunch of fat-ass Buffalonians deal with snow and ice 12 months a year, as we ignorant slobs daily consume chicken wings by the bucketful and live in a bunch of crumbling steel mills…

    It looks like this writer ACTUALLY VISITED Buffalo!… Holy Crap!

    Well, young lady, thank you so much for coming to our area… Next time you come, you will have to visit Our Lady of Victory National Shrine and Basilica in Lackawanna, our world-class zoo, spend the day in Delaware Park, take a boat trip down the Erie Canal or visit Old Fort Niagara…

    Oh yeah… you don’t have to order chicken wings… next time, try the Beef on Weck – with horse radish sauce, of course…

  17. One small punctuation error: in your eats section the “innovative rising star” is “Martin Cooks,” not Martin Cook’s.

  18. Great article! Read the HuffPost one first and there was one minor error in that. Elbert Hubbard’s Roycroft Campus (which is well worth a visit) is in historic East Aurora (not Aura, as stated in the article) which is also home to the HQ of Fisher-Price toys (since it was started in EA — everyone in EA knew Mr. Fisher and Mr. Price way back when).

    Incidentally, the grain elevator was invented in Buffalo and General Mills was essentially founded there (even though it is no longer HQ’ed there). Dun & Bradstreet was founded there as well (check out the Dun building — beautiful architecture).

  19. Hi Ian – Thank you for reading (both pieces) and for your comments. I will try to have the Huff Post editors change Aura to East Aurora – several other people pointed that out. I’ll have to go back and visit the Royroft Campus as well. Thanks so much for taking the time to read and comment! Malerie

  20. Hi Alan – Thanks for reading and pointing that out. I just fixed it. Wish I could have stayed in Buffalo long enough to have a meal in each of the restaurants I recommended! Malerie

  21. Hi Mark – thank you so much for your kind words. Yes I did visit Buffalo and LOVED it. Friendly, beautiful and the residents have such pride in their city! I do have to return and see everything I missed. Thanks so much for reading and commenting. Malerie

  22. Thanks for having a great city to champion. Buffalo is very deserving of praise. Thanks for reading and commenting – Malerie

  23. Hi Chris – great info here (and cleverly presented, too). I have to stick by my “second story” window re: Bubble Man, though. His perch seemed to be the floor above ground (1st). Thanks so much for taking the time to read and comment – Malerie

  24. Hi Liz – I did hear quite a bit about Duffs, but I had to go with the place that actually invented the wings. Next time, I’ll try your favorite! Thanks for reading and commenting… Malerie

  25. Thanks, Lisa. I’m telling everyone! Thanks for reading and for your kind words…Malerie

  26. Hi Joseph – I loved the gift shop at the Martin House! As the daughter of a FLW-style architect and Mom of an Architect in training, there was so much there I wanted to purchase. I made the change about the Martin House being open on Sundays, but I was told (and it states the website) that the tours are not wheelchair accessible. Thanks for reading and commenting – Malerie

  27. Pingback: Spotlight on Buffalo, Ver. 66 | I Choose Buffalo
  28. Beautifully written article, Malerie. Really nicely done. As a citizen of Buffalo and a strong believer in the city and surround communities, you really did a great job conveying all of what makes Buffalo a spectacular place to live and thrive in. With the resurgence of downtown, business and jobs flocking to the city/surrounding areas, infrastructure updates and the Waterfront/Canal-side being revitalized, there is a lot to love about Buffalo. Thanks again for comprising a lot of information about Buffalo in a pleasant, succinct article.

    – John Osberg

  29. Some of the remaining (abandoned) grain elevators are being repurposed as “Silo City” and are starting to host various art & music events (some at the same time). The location on Childs St & tours are mentioned by a previous commenter. General Mills actually still uses some of theirs.

  30. Don’t forget how quickly & easily it is to get around. My 8 mile rush hour commute is 21 min; other hours is 12 min. Nothing is over 20 min away (by car)from anything else, including Canada (just remember your passport). Much of what is in the article is walking distance apart & the above ground portion of the “subway” (downtown portion of Main St) is free.

  31. Good catch even noticing thr bubbleman in Allentown. I work downtown & most of my coworkers don’t know of him. He doesn’t get out, so this is his small way of brightening the spirits of those who cohabitate/visit his small portion of this earth.

  32. Great promo for Buffalo Niagara! For more information on Buffalo and Niagara Falls visit our website. We also publish a beautiful hard cover guide that has more information. You can order your own copy online; these guides are featured in all the better hotels (in-room) throughout the Buffalo Niagara region.

  33. Very nice research especially with all the pics my wife and I have gone to Pittsburgh and Cleveland just because of their waterfront nice to see buffalo finally catching up

  34. Great article! The origin of Buffalo’s name is worthy of mention. Originally called Beau Fleuve, the name morphed into Buffalo and Buffalo have never been native to the area. Would love to see the original name used once again.

  35. Wonderful article….The Buffalo Botanical Gardens and Our Lady of Victory Basilica are also great places to bring out of town guests.

  36. not mentioned ……Parkside area……First planned suburban community in US with Delaware Park and Buffalo Zoo……Wide residential steets..etc

  37. A great collage of Buffalo interests. Been gone from WNY for over 20 yrs. but we love coming back yearly to enjoy the city and family. Christmas shopping on Elmwood was a treat this season. THANK GOODNESS the amazing and beautiful architecture is preserved. What about adding Sheas?

  38. Well you have gone and done it, every time I read an article like this I miss my hometown and seriously contemplate moving home. #buffalove

  39. Wonderfully presented summary of the best and proudest of so many BuffaloNY treasures. On the one hand, I am born and raised and educated here and that makes me somewhat amazed at the national interest in all things 716. Working at Main Place Mall in 1977 not cool. On the other hand, I have moved and lived elsewhere (twice) and moved back to the Buff twice so am thrilled to have links like this to back up my Buffalo Proud blah blah blah to friends. Thanks for a well done site!!!

  40. Great article Ms Cohen,

    Wish I had known you were in town doing research on my beloved Buffalo. Would have made sure you toured the Michigan Street Heritage Corridor. Not one but two centuries of African American History. Underground Railroad Church, the first church built by black people, orginally named the Michigan St Baptist Church. Rev Jessie Nash was the Minister during the Niagara Movement which led to the birth of the NAACP. Rev Nash’s orginal home is now the Nash Museum, a site to see complete with full size figures of he and Mrs Nash. Also located in the Corridor is the oldest Colored Musicans Club, complete with museum on the premises. Lastly and certainly not least is the site of the home of Mary B Talbert, one of the founders of Federated Womens Club.

    Oh so much more to love about Buffalo!!!!

  41. Frank – thanks so much for the kind words! I found Buffalo people to be extraordinarily friendly. Malerie

  42. Hi Amber – I think you’d be joining lots of expats who want to return if you did! Thanks for reading and commenting! Malerie

  43. Just noticed that Louise Bethune named in the item about the Hotel Lafayette became Louise Blanchard later in the Stay@Hotel Lafayette near the end of the article. Nicely done, all in all, and something to keep for our visitors. thank you.

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  45. Amazing post! Buffalo is one of my favourite city! Certainly next year i will visit this beautiful place! Thanks for sharing these useful informations!

  46. Excellent article. And the two photos depicting Canalside are, indeed, the “replica canals” at Canalside. There are no photos in the article of the Erie Basin Marina.

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