"A sense of place is the sixth sense, an internal compass and map made by memory and spatial perception together.” —Rebecca Solnit
“Buffalo, New York, is my home.” Many people would despise ever having to say that. They would rather live almost anywhere than Buffalo. People think of Buffalo as a poor city that is perennially buried in snow, and for the most part, they are right. Buffalo, New York, is my home, and what people do not know is what an amazing place Buffalo actually is. There is a special bond between the city and its inhabitants.
Buffalo was once a large city with a booming economy and growing population. The Erie Canal, completed in 1825, brought tremendous amount of trade into buffalo as it connects the Midwest to the Atlantic Ocean. Immigrants poured in looking for work. By the turn of the century, Buffalo was one of the largest cities in the United States. It was the leading grain-milling city in the nation, as well as a mass producer of steel. With the completion of the St. Lawrence Seaway in 1959, the trade and industrial giants left Buffalo, beginning the slow decline from which the city would never recover.
What makes Buffalo so unique is the diverse people that live there. When Buffalo started to decline, many people lost their jobs and were forced to leave the city they called home. Those that remained were mostly blue-collar workers who would go on to live in Buffalo for the rest of their lives. Today, the people of Buffalo are united by this common struggle, as well as Bills’ football.
Buffalo’s future looks brighter than at any other point in my life. New businesses are opening up downtown, concerts at the harbor are more crowded than ever, and efforts are being made to improve the downtown waterfront district. While Buffalo will probably never be what it once was, it remains a very special city and a perfect place to live and grow up.
It is not the snow or the small downtown that defines Buffalo; it is the people. No matter where I live for the rest of my life, I will always be a Buffalonian.