When I first came to Buffalo, NY from the West Coast, I was impressed by its design. Around every corner was an incredible piece of architecture or craftsmanship. Each morning, I bicycled past the ornate Lafayette High School, through the stately Colonial Circe and up Bidwell Parkway to Caffé Aroma on Elmwood Avenue. The daily journey offered more than a jolt of caffeine; it provided the bolt of creative inspiration that can occur while rolling down a grand, tree-lined boulevard.Rust Belt cities have been kicked around a lot. As a filmmaker, I’ve always loved to tell the story of the misunderstood and maligned—the underdog. I yearned to make a film about my adopted hometown. The opportunity came with “Buffalo: This Place Matters,” produced for Visit Buffalo Niagara to highlight Buffalo’s architecture.
America’s greatest architects came and built their best works here. In return, Buffalo offered them the best canvas: oceanic waterfront vistas, elegant radial streets established by Joseph Ellicott, and the necklace of parks and parkways designed by Fredrick Law Olmsted. This visionary urban design led Olmsted—America’s greatest landscape architect—to call Buffalo, “the best planned city in America, if not the world.”Today, a new cadre of activists, entrepreneurs and innovators are living and working in Buffalo. With true Rust Belt grit, they’re rediscovering and restoring America’s “best designed” city. This film is dedicated to them.