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A look back at Buffalo: 1902

Photo from Pan-American Exhibition screen grab

blog by Kathryn Przybyla  • 

Things were good in buffalo back in 1902. The city was booming after a successful Pan-American Exhibition in 1901 and technology was thriving. Buffalo installed America’s first street lights, built one of the world’s first skyscrapers and was home to the world’s largest office building—at the time.

So what has happened since then to give Buffalo the rap for a struggling city? If you ask the people here, most will back up their city, but it’s no secret that things were much better a hundred years ago. The Queen city was the NYC of it’s day and The Atlantic Cities feels that some of that demise is due to poor urban planning.

Buffalo 1902


They pulled sections from a map of Buffalo in 1902 and have compared it to recent overhead shots of the city today. It’s fascinating how easily recognizable some streets look and also how different others look. Allen street is literally frozen in time with the layout and development with that area, keeping a vibrant community that is still very popular today.


Buffalo 1902


But then you see areas where the skyway or other highways have completely taken over along with parking ramps and lots. Those areas aren’t overwhelmed with economic success and prosperity—there is nothing to do there except drive your car.


Buffalo 1902


It’s a great representation of what was, what is now and what could happen with our city. Looking back to see both the successes and mistakes can only help you make better decisions in the future. With waterfront development and the city’s economic standing always part of the conversation, this comparison between Buffalo 1902 and now is a great visual look at urban planning decisions for the future.

Screen grab pictures are from the original “The Atlantic Cities” article here.

TAGGED: old buffalo, pan-american exhibition, the atlantic, the atlantic cities

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