Buffalo, New York, is known for its horrible snowy winters, its chicken wings, and its NFL football team that failed to win the super bowl four times. But watch out, I am going to let you in on a little secret, one that took me five years to find out. Buffalo has a little bit more to it, and by a little bit, I really mean a lot.
First, I want to dispel a common myth about Buffalo, New York. It is really not that cold, and it is really not that snowy. Fun fact, contrary to the belief many people in America have, it really doesn’t snow in the city. Don’t get me wrong, we can get a bit of winter snow fall, but really it is no different than most of the North East. If you go south of Buffalo about forty-five minutes, then yes, it is a complete blizzard all winter long, but not here in Buffalo.
To get to the point of this post, Buffalo is home to some of the most amazing parkway landscapes in the country. Frederick Law Olmsted created Central Park in Manhattan, as well as the Emerald Necklace in Boston, and Mount Royal Park in Montreal. Big name parks in big name cities, and those are just to name a few. Buffalo, however is home to not just one park, but an entire city park system designed around Olmsted’s vision. To give you the scope of this, check out the Wikipedia site for all of the parks in Buffalo.
I happen to live right smack dab in the middle of some of the most well-kept parkways in the entire city, being right in between Bidwell, Chapin, and Lincoln Parkways. Since I am a runner, I couldn’t have asked for a more beautiful or better place to live and run. I have stretches of green space designed by one of the most prominent landscapers in American history right outside my doorway. Follow Lincoln Parkway for just a little less than one-quarter mile and I hit one of Buffalo’s major parks: Hoyt Lake and Delaware Park. This has a combination of well-kept pathways around the lake, paths through the woods around soccer fields, a large hill that is perfect for hill training exercises (and sledding in the winter!), a Japanese Zen garden, a rose garden and world-class architecture found in the Albright-Knox Art Gallery and Buffalo’s Historic Society.
Running daily through this section of Buffalo has been inspirational. I am able to run for miles looping this way and that, cutting through the parks and parkways, down quiet side streets any which way I please, all the while being in one of New York’s major urban centers. If I want a truly urban run, I can walk a block the other way and run down Olmsted’s Bidwell Parkway through the Elmwood Village, which is bursting with life and is always a great way to motivate me midway through a run, because naturally I run faster when passing restaurant goers who are sitting out on the sidewalk enjoying excellent cuisine at any number of restaurants. I can stop to catch my breath in front of a privately owned Frank Lloyd Wright–designed residence, giggling to myself while curious tourists are trying to decide if they are looking at the right house. (Here is a hint people, it is the one with massive cantilevers and dark, private porches). I could not even attempt to ask for a better place to exercise every day.
Fun fact, aside from being an amazing place to run year-round, it is also an amazing place to walk. Especially for those who enjoy the garden scene. Garden Walk Buffalo is the largest garden walk in the nation. Every summer, thousands of gardens spring up all around the city, from simple arrangements to amazing, cascading water features. For over one month, thousands of people can be seen strolling through Olmsted’s parkways exploring private gardens. Not your typical image of Buffalo, is it?
It took me five years to really discover the secrets that Buffalo has to offer. Images of a frozen Niagara Falls displayed on CBS during every Bill’s home game presents a rather unappealing view of the area. (And it’s not even in the area! That’s in Niagara Falls!) If you delve deeper, stay longer . . . you might just like what you find. Running through the city, through Olmsted’s sculpted landscape, you weave in and out of the past as you criss-cross around historic buildings. It gives you a different view of Buffalo. One that can’t be forgotten.
Buffalo is being pushed by grassroots movements to rise up to its potential. Its booming, high-end medical research is helping drive the economy, with unemployment lower than the national average. According to areavibes.com, Buffalo is listed to be 27.3 percent less expensive to live in than Boston, 46.4 percent less than New York City, even 12 percent less than Albany, New York. Throw in a city-wide park system designed by Olmsted, and I think it’s a pretty good deal.