Gregory Delaney, “Architecture and the Buffalo Renaissance: Building Momentum”


If you’ve spent time in Buffalo or you’re an architecture buff, you are familiar with Buffalo’s gorgeous architecture. From the old beautiful mansions on Delaware to the majestic churches, the Art Deco influence seen in City Hall and the mid-century modern homes of Frank Lloyd Wright, Buffalo buildings represents the very best of American architecture over the late 19th and 20th centuries. If you want a firsthand experience of American architecture, Buffalo is the place to find it. (Indeed, there are many Buffalo tours that do focus on architecture, including ones offered by Preservation Buffalo Niagara.)

Unsurprisingly, then, would Buffalo Humanities Festival include Gregory Delaney’s timely discussion of architecture and the Buffalo renaissance. Professor Delaney will speak to how architecture in Buffalo’s renaissance will set the tone for the city’s future and how it will understand the past.

In 2008, Nicolai Ouroussoff in The New York Times Art and Design section described Buffalo’s architectural history and its contemporary preservation movement:

The architects who worked here were among the first to break with European traditions to create an aesthetic of their own, rooted in American ideals about individualism, commerce and social mobility. And today its grass-roots preservation movement is driven not by Disney-inspired developers but by a vibrant coalition of part-time preservationists, amateur historians and third-generation residents who have made reclaiming the city’s history a deeply personal mission.

This tradition, this architectural history, is truly a big part of Buffalo’s identity. Even now, Buffalo continues to attract architects wanting to work with the city’s historic landscapes, which Ouroussoff mentions in his article. Modern architects include the New York-based Gwathmey Siegel & Associates, responsible for the “sleek new zinc-and cast-stone-clad home for the Burchfield-Penney Art Center,” where Professor Delaney’s talk will take place.

Are you an architecture junkie? Then don’t miss Gregory Delaney’s BHF talk, “Architecture and the Buffalo Renaissance: Building Momentum,” from 2:30-3:30pm on Saturday 9/24 in the Burchfield-Penney Auditorium.

Gregory Delaney is Clinical Assistant Professor in the School of Architecture and Planning at UB. He is a graduate of the Knowlton School of Architecture at The Ohio State University, where he also taught courses in architecture and landscape architecture. His teaching emphasizes the history of architecture as a vehicle for contemporary design.


Celebrating Annie Edson Taylor, the “Queen of the Mist ”

Queen-of-the-MistA key factor in selecting this year’s “Gender Bender” festival theme is the fact that Western New York is closely linked to the American women’s rights movement. But one piece of colorful local history that you probably haven’t heard about is the story of a solo female pioneer, Annie Edson Taylor, the first person to go over Niagara Falls in a barrel and survive. And she was 63 years old when she did it.

Taylor was an adventurer well before she attempted her most daring stunt on October 24th, 1901, a date that was, incidentally, also her birthday. Born in Auburn, New York, she was a schoolteacher in her early adulthood, but when her husband died just four years after their marriage along with her infant son, she spent the rest of her adult life traveling and working odd jobs.

In Bay City, Michigan she trained to be a dance instructor, and when she couldn’t find work, she opened her own studio. She later became a music teacher, then moved to San Antonio and on to Mexico City. Reaching old age and having little monetary wealth despite her many skills and experiences, she decided to become the first person to go over Niagara Falls in a barrel.

Although many believed it to be a suicide mission, Taylor went over the Falls in a custom made oak barrel padded with a mattress. Two days prior to her stunt a cat was also sent over the Falls in a barrel in an attempt to determine whether or not it would be possible to survive. Both Taylor and the cat lived, and posed for the press together in the photo above.

After completing her Niagara-Falls stunt, Taylor continued to travel and earned a modest income by speaking about her harrowing experience. Unfortunately, she never earned the fame and fortune that she had hoped to gain, and when her manager stole her famous barrel and disappeared it became more difficult for her to make a living off of her story.

Nonetheless, Taylor persevered and remained independent, continuing to speak at tourist destinations and even finding work as a clairvoyant until her death in 1921.

You can read more about Annie Edson Taylor in Charles Carlin Parish’s biography entitled The Queen of the Mist. And you can learn more about other daring women and men in history, literature, and the arts at this September’s Buffalo Humanities Festival!