Buffalo Has A Narrative

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St. Louis does not. At least this city doesn’t project a narrative. Of course Buffalo (in this video) appears to be in denial that it snows there, or dank winter clouds linger for weeks, but the voice of the city is admirable. And it’s not just boosterism, there’s some progressive thinking, recognition of history and more. Buffalo has challenges, many of them, but being able to tell a story about itself isn’t one. Perhaps St. Louis would do well to pronounce itself to greatest brick city in the world, or the capital of the hearland, or the confluence of nature, history and people.

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  • Steve Kluth

    I’m guessing they don’t consider Cleveland an Eastern city. However, the only time of year they have sunsets over Lake Erie is from October to March. Other times it sets over Fort Erie, Ontario. Still probably nice but not quite the same thing.

    I do think it’s pretty misleading to claim there has been this great city planning while trying to gloss over building a freeway through the park on the lakefront. They do spend time on Buffalo converting a parkway to a freeway, which would be similar to making River Des Peres Blvd into a freeway. (Probably only saved because it’s in the City rather than the County.) They also don’t mention the other freeways that cut the Niagara River completely off from the city and the freeway that destroyed a park and river valley on the north side. Robert Moses would have been proud.

  • samizdat

    It also doesn’t hurt that a kick-ass chick like Ani DiFranco pulls hard for her home town. She still makes her home there, and has been working towards increasing arts opportunities for her fellow citizens, by way of restoring a 19th century church, and turning it into a top-notch performance venue, arts center and home to her record label, Righteous Babe.

    What a babe: http://www.babevillebuffalo.com/

  • NL7

    The video has some nice shots of streets and buildings, but it didn’t make me think of living in downtown Buffalo as an option. It seems to be targeted towards urban planning enthusiasts as an audience, not residents. It explains the early planning history from the nineteenth century (not the early history generally) and then goes into planning mistakes in the mid twentieth century. After it finally got to one small new neighborhood downtown, I stopped watching. If a few square blocks are the first thing downtown to mention, and then only after lengthy history lessons, then I guess there isn’t much happening downtown worthy of note.

    The parkways and park system made for cool shots, but they don’t make me want to live in a place. The city looks huge and unwalkable (not saying it’s true, but the enormous parks make it look that way) and advertising that you have huge and pretty streets is attractive to automotive suburbanites but not downtown pedestrians.

    I’m not really worried about stl finding a theme or narrative. Every place to live has narratives picked and shaped by the inhabitants, residents, and businesses. The best narratives will be picked and shaped by people trying to sell friends and family on moving to a place. The focus should be on letting St. Louis be a great place to live and then inhabitants will sell their far-flung friends and family on the appropriate narratives (each narrative shaped to fit the goals of the person being sold). No need to come up with a single marketing campaign for a town as diverse and broad as stl.

    • NL7

      Also, a nitpick of the video: doesn’t Cleveland also have a sunset over water?

  • STLgasm

    I think the video is great and I definitely dig Buffalo, but aren’t promo videos like this really just preaching to the choir? It’s not like young 20-somethings in NYC or DC or Seattle are going to sit around and watch a 12 minute video about Buffalo, so will the people who should be watching this ever see it? Doubtful. That is the ongoing challenge that rust belt cities are up against. I still think its an inspiring video, though.

    • John R

      Yet we’re all watching and discussing it here. You’re a young grad and got a job interview but it’s in Buffalo… eh, you think, Buffalo? This is the type of intro to the city that can awaken people to the fact that it may just be right for you. And of course the video itself is made by a West Coaster who made Buffalo his home.

      Saint Louis definitely needs something like this. But not so much for outsiders but primarily for our own. This Buffalo CVB and Economic Development Org are sponsoring a film that extols the virtue of tearing down expressways and re-healing neighborhoods. Here, that thought remains scandalous with leadership. I’d love to make this film required viewing for civic leadership here and then have a discussion on how we are truly going to move forward.

  • Adam

    with the exception of having shit-loads of water, st. louis can make all the same historical claims and more (okay no olmsted parks but an amazing park system nonetheless. and maybe our street grid wasn’t planned quite as well.) somebody needs to make a similar video for STL.

    p.s. buffalo looks gorgeous in some of those aerial shots.

    • Alex Ihnen

      I think their film is really beautiful – I send it to everyone, but it’s not a narrative in the same way as the Buffalo video. IMO – St. Louis needs a voice, we need our political leaders speaking out on what they believe is the city’s future. It’s very cool to see all the places that make St. Louis special, but we need to see and hear from the people, right?

      • John R

        I agree tat the anastasisfilms are visually pleasing but lack a fundamental storyline. Buffalo was physically designed for greatness. Most of that heritage survives and the city is a dynamic place to live with great, walkable neighborhoods. What’s more, a re-awakened citizenry is re-healing the mistakes of the expressway era. That is a powerful narrative told is a succent, visually pleasing way. We need that, too!

      • The Anastasis video is better for general audiences: it’s prettier, and it’s shorter. The Buffalo video is a long piece seemingly geared toward graduate students.

        • Alex Ihnen

          Could be, but I think the appeal to anyone would be seeing civic leaders talking about big ideas, owning their city – extolling a narrative, a vision. A talented videographer can put a shine on a city, but cities are about people and their story, not just zoos, sculpture parks, brewpubs, etc. The STL video does a much better job succinctly showing off the city, but the Buffalo piece give me a better idea of what and who the city is.