In most hero stories, there comes a point where the main character is knocked down, beaten up, and looks down and out. Inevitably, they get themselves off the mat, dust themselves off, and get back to work.
Ladies and gentlemen; Buffalo, NY is your newest Rocky story.
As we all know, the steel industry vanishing in the 70's was our version of Ivan Drago (or for the younger generation, our "He who shall not be named"), and for the next couple of decades, we laid on the mat, trying to figure out a way to overcome all the obstacles put in our way. We weren't going to be Apollo Creed, but could we ever be Sly Stallone?
To steal a phrase from a certain campaign from a couple years back, yes we can. (and are).
All of this bubbled up to the top today as I was driving from the south towns, along the lake, back home into the city. The sunset was gorgeous, and it illuminated the shoreline, the giant, hulking windmills that always make me think "that's the beautiful future of energy right there". All of the places along the waterfront were jam packed, Dug's Dive didn't have a parking spot to spare. Boats where out all along the water, people were jogging and walking along Gallagher beach, along the pier, and everywhere I looked people were having a great time.
At that point i thought to myself "I am done apologizing and playing down how awesome Buffalo is to other people." I work in a sales field where i talk to people from all over the country, and I always attempt to talk to people about how great it is. Inevitably, someone brings up a blizzard (that happened 35 years ago), or super bowls (that happened 2 decades ago), and that we're a rust belt city. Damn right we're a rust belt city,have they taken a look at other rust belt cities recently? Pittsburgh is a great town. Cleveland has come along greatly. We are all picking ourselves up from past loses and dusting ourselves off.
And oh, how we've dusted ourselves off. We have some gorgeous shopping districts, a great nightlife, a park system that would be the envy of anyone in the world, gorgeous galleries, sports teams that are on the rise (and the eternal optimism that goes with them), and area's like Canalside that are a true pearl, and only gaining more and more steam by the day. This isn't even to mention all the events. I drove right by the Taste of Buffalo as they were closing up shop until next year, over 50 restaurants come together on a beautiful weekend in July, and we as a community embrace it.
Yes, like we embrace the snow, yes like we embrace our sports teams, like we embrace our neighborhoods, and our faults, and all of our highs and lows as The Queen City. But what I will no longer embrace is people from outside Buffalo trying to tell me that we are a second class city. And certainly not the small segment of us from Buffalo trying to tell us we're all doomed. Ladies and gentlemen, leave your homes, head downtown, enjoy all that there is to offer, and if you can't find something you absolutely love about Buffalo, then I honestly don't know what is wrong with you.
I'll compare our 4 full seasons, our art, history, architecture, quality of life, and anything else you wanna compare right down the line. And for every time i hear "well you're not exactly (insert some trendy cities name here)", my reply is going to be "well they're not exactly The Queen City, either."
-Bob Z, proud lower west side home owner.