by/ Feb. 2, 2019 12pm EST
For our special blizzard-impacted issue, we asked the community for wide-ranging responses to a general question: “Where is Buffalo now?” Below is one such submission.
You ask, “What does Buffalo need to take the next step toward being the city you want it to be?” My answer is: Buffalo needs to ensure that its status as a city inhabited by working class people and immigrants does not become a thing of the past.
When I first moved to this city a few years ago, I was impressed by the history of this city to such an extent that I now moonlight as a tour guide. My appreciation for Buffalo was kindled when I first discovered Gene McCarthy’s pub in South Buffalo. I was instantly hooked and it is now my official watering hole; you could say that I fell in love. I believe the reason why, apart from the amazing food and beer, is because I felt some sort of cosmic pull or connection to the community. I am not a superstitious person, but when I discovered that my great-grandmother was born and raised not two blocks from where McCarthy’s stands today, I could only conclude that the universe was trying to tell me something. I believe I was being told to stay awhile, and I have.
My first apartment was located near Kleinhans, and I loved the neighborhood. I felt surrounded by history, stunning architecture, beautiful city planning (driving down Richmond Avenue is always a pleasure, especially in Spring and Fall), awesome food, and diverse communities. It has been a joy to watch the Grant Street neighborhood begin to thrive, especially the West Side Bazaar, however, I fear that this community, like so many in the Buffalo area, is actively being gentrified.
When I began looking for a new apartment last summer, I realized that although it had only been three years since I moved in, I could no longer afford to live on the West Side. So I moved to the Riverside community where the rents are cheaper. I am happy to report that I am enjoying myself here, but I worry that the forces of gentrification will ultimately push me out in the years to come.
I realize that in order for the city to continue to thrive, wealthy people need to be encouraged to continue to invest in the city, but their investment should not come at the expense of driving out others like me. Keeping us here will require advocacy, rent control, reform, and occasionally curbing the forces of gentrification. Therefore, I ask everyone to remain vigilant, to speak up, and to hold our elected officials accountable. Above all, support your neighbors and be kind to one another. Despite being a desolate winter wasteland for a few months of the year, I have always felt warm and welcome here.
—Daniel Flynn, 34, student
If you’d like to submit an answer to our question to our readers—”Where is Buffalo now?”—email your response, in whatever form it might take, to firstname.lastname@example.org.