downtown buffalo skyline

Buffalo, New York: What You’ll See Driving Around Downtown

downtown buffalo skylineIt’s a city with a reputation. I wouldn’t say Buffalo has a bad reputation, at least not like Detroit, Cleveland or other rust belt cities. I would say it’s more of just an indifferent reputation. It’s a city most just have no opinion about and have no desire to visit. However, I’d say that the city is vastly underrated.

The downtown core of Buffalo is historic and several buildings can be found on the National Register of Historic Places. “So,” you say. Detroit is much larger with considerably more history, right? Sure. The difference is that the buildings in downtown Buffalo are still occupied and maintained.

Coming from the other side of the Niagara River, Canadians see what is a surprisingly beautiful skyline when crossing the Peace Bridge from Fort Erie, Ontario. However, those from Canada drive directly past the downtown core, barely batting an eye, on their way to the Walden Galleria, out of town to Darien Lake or destinations long down the I90. Perhaps, it’s time to get off the freeway, if just for a moment, and check out this wonderfully historic city centre. It lacks the intense traffic of Toronto and is considerably safer than other cities in the rust belt (at least downtown).

What follows is a video we took of the area at the start of November, 2017. The footage is pretty extensive and covers most of the downtown, along with an extended trip below the Interstate, finishing at the KeyBank Center, home of the Buffalo Sabres of the National Hockey League. Below that, we go into more detail about the landmarks that are seen in the video with a map (courtesy of Google Earth) pointing out the location of each.


Buffalo, New York Downtown Video

Video Route

Downtown Buffalo, NY Landmark Map

Downtown Buffalo, New York Highlights

Buffalo, New York

Buffalo, New York Downtown Video

Video Route

The above video starts going west on Interstate 190 before exiting at Church Street. On Church Street, we turn left onto Delaware Avenue, passing through Niagara Square, before taking a left on Edward Street. After another left on South Elmwood Avenue. Not quite making back to Church Street, we make a left on West Eagles Street before another left on Franklin Street.

At West Tupper Street, we take a right hand turn. A block later, we turn right again onto Pearl Street. We take Pearl Street all the way back down to Church Street, turning left. At Washington Street, we turn left again before another left at East Huron Street, at the iconic Electric Tower.

After turning into West Huron Street, we make another left onto Delaware Avenue, our second time on that street. We go back to Church Street and once again turn left. This time, we turn right onto Washington Street, go under the interstate and make a final left at Perry Street, at the KeyBank Center, before ending the video.

One landmark we didn’t visit in the video is the Buffalo Central Terminal. This 20 floor tower and train station is four kilometres from the downtown core and has been abandoned since 1979. We did visit the site for a photo. You can see more of that here: Buffalo Central Terminal.

Downtown Buffalo, NY Landmark Map

The map below covers the area from the video above. Match the numbers up with the descriptions below and see them in the video.

buffalo new york downtown landmarks

Downtown Buffalo, New York Highlights

The following list of Buffalo, New York iconic landmarks corresponds with the number on the map above. Each can be found on the video above with some buildings appearing various times from differing angles.

(1) Buffalo City Hall

Buffalo City Hall is the historic anchor of the Buffalo, New York skyline, and has been since 1931. The art deco structure is located at 65 Niagara Square and stands 378 feet tall (398 to the tip of the roof top tower). This building can be seen through the video and was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1999. The builders are also responsible for the nearby Statler Hotel and Buffalo Athletic Club.

This was Buffalo’s tallest building until 1970 when One Seneca Tower was completed. Near the top, there is a free to visit observation deck dubbed ‘Windows on Buffalo’. Monday to Friday, from 8:30 AM to 4:00 PM, you can take the elevator to the 25th floor before walking three flights of stairs to the 360 degree observatory.

(2) KeyBank Center

On September 21, 1996, the KeyBank Center (then known as the Marine Midland Arena) replaced the Buffalo Auditorium as the home of the Buffalo Sabres of the National Hockey League. It was called the HSBC Arena from 2000 to 2011 and the First Niagara Center from 2011 to 2016. The venue seats 19,070 for hockey and, for the second time, will be home to the IIHF World Junior Hockey Championships in 2018 (December, 2017 to January, 2018).

(3) Coca-Cola Field

Coca-Cola Field opened on April 14, 1988 and was originally named Pilot Field. In 1995, the name changed to Downtown Ballpark and from 1999 to 2008 was named Dunn Tire Park. The venue seats 16,907 and is home to the AA Buffalo Bisons, affiliate of the Toronto Blue Jays.

(4) Niagara Square

When Niagara Square first opened in 1805, Buffalo was still called New Amsterdam. Designed by Joseph Ellicott, the square intersects with Delaware Avenue, Court Street, Genesee Street and Niagara Street.

The monument in the centre of Niagara Square commemorates the assassination of President McKinley. William McKinley, the 25th president of the United States was shot while attending the Pan-Am Expoin Buffalo on September 5, 1901. He died on September 14, 1901.

(5) One Seneca Tower

The tallest building in Buffalo since its completion in 1972, One Seneca Tower was originally named Marine Midland Center. From 1999 to 2013, the tower was named One HSBC Center. The building stands 529 feet in height and contains 40 floors.

(6) Rand Building

The Rand Building is located at 14 Lafayette Square and was completed in 1929. The roof height is 351 feet while it’s 405 feet to the top of the antenna. There are 29 floors in the building and it remains the third tallest skyscraper in Buffalo.

(7) Main Place Tower

Located at 350 Main Street, the Main Place Tower was completed in 1969. The structure has a height of 350 feet with 26 floors. Main Place Tower rises from the Main Place Mall, downtown’s only indoor shopping mall.

(8) Liberty Building

Once the tallest building in Buffalo, until the City Hall was completed, the Liberty Building is located at 424 Main Street and was opened in 1925. The structure stands 333 feet in height (345 feet to the tip of the antenna) and has 23 floors. It still comes in as the fifth tallest building in Buffalo.

(9) One M&T Plaza

In the boxy, boring style of the 1960’s, One M&T Plaza was completed in 1966. With a floor count of 21, the building stands 318 feet in height.

(10) Electric Tower

Originally the Niagara Mohawk Building, it is also known as the General Electric Tower. Located at 535 Washington Street, this is the epicenter of Buffalo’s annual New Year’s Eve celebrations. The Electric Tower was built in 1912 and stands 294 feet in height. There are 14 floors and it is the seventh tallest building in Buffalo. The Electric Tower was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2008.

(11) St. Paul’s Cathedral

Located at 139 Pearl Street, St. Paul’s Cathedral was completed in May, 1873. The spire of the Episcopal church stands 274 feet in height. This building was nearly destroyed way back in 1888 due to a natural gas explosion.

St. Paul’s Cathedral was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1973. In 1987, it was further declared a National Historic Monument.

(12) Key Center Towers

A pair of towers at 50 Fountain Plaza that were completed in 1990. The North Tower is the tallest at 275 feet and has 17 floors. The South Tower is a bit shorter at 225 feet and 13 floors.

(13) Erie County Hall

Also known as County and City Hall, the Erie County Hall was completed in 1875 and housed the Buffalo City Hall until the new building was opened in 1929. Located at 95 Franklin Street, the granite structure has a 270 foot high clock tower. On May 24, 1976, this building was added to the National Register of Historic Places.

(14) Statler Hotel

Known more recently as Statler Towers and Statler City, the Statler City Hotel was built in 1923. The former hotel is located at 107 Delaware Avenue and is identifiable by its ‘capital E’ shape. In the mid 1980’s, the building closed and was empty for about 15 years. In the 1990’s, it was sold and renovated. The structure stands 265 feet in height.

(15) 10 Lafayette Square

Also known as the Tishman Building, 10 Lafayette Square opened in 1959 and is located at 447 Main Street. The building stands 263 feet in height and has 20 floors. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places on February 2, 2012.

(16) Robert H. Jackson United States Courthouse

Located at 2 Niagara Square, adjacent to the Buffalo City Hall, the Robert H. Jackson United States Courthouse is one of the newest buildings in town. The building opened in 2011 and stands 200 feet in height. It’s 255 feet to the tip of the spire and the building contains ten stories.

(17) Verizon / AT&T Building

Built in 1914, this building was formerly known as the New York Telephone Building. Located at 65 Franklin Street, the structure stands 258 feet in height and has 16 floors.

(18) Main Seneca Building

Originally the Marine Midland Trust Company Building, or just Marine Trust Building, the Main Seneca Building dates back to 1913. The structure is 250 feet in height and has 17 floors. The building is located at 237 Main Street.

(19) Genesee Building

More recently the Hyatt Regency Hotel, this structure opened in 1923 as an office building. The height is 249 feet and there are 15 floors. Located at Two Fountain Plaza, the building went into bankruptcy in 1976 and was purchased by Hyatt Hotels in the 1980’s.

(20) St. Louis Roman Catholic Church

Located at 35 Edward Street, the St. Louis Roman Catholic Church was completed in 1889. The Gothic Revival structure has a capacity for 2,000 people and was the first catholic church built in Buffalo. The height of the steeple is 245 feet.

(21) HarborCenter

Located at 100 Washington Street and across Perry Street from the KeyBank Center, the HarborCenter opened in 2014. Along with the 20 floor, 205 room Buffalo Marriott hotel, there are two hockey rinks, located on the seventh floor. Both rinks are NHL sized with one having seating for 1,800 and the other for 150. This serves as the practice facility for the Buffalo Sabres. The building is 240 feet in height.

(22) The Avant

Located at 200 Delaware Avenue, The Avant opened in 1973 as the Thaddeus J. Dulski Federal Building. It was vacant from 2005 to 2009 before being completely gutted and renovated for a 2009 re-opening. The building stands 207 feet in height and has 15 floors.

(23) Edward A. Rath County Office Building

Located at 95 Franklin Street, the Edward A. Rath County Office Building was completed in 1969. The building is 233 feet in height and has 16 floors.

(24) Delaware Avenue Methodist Episcopal Church

Located at 339 Delaware Avenue, this gothic style church was built in 1871 and is now home to Righteous Babe Records. The building was added to the National Register of Historic Places on November 15, 2003.

(25) Prudential Building

Opened in 1896 as the Guaranty Building, the Prudential Building is located at the corner of Church and Pearl Streets. Originally meant to be named the Taylor Building, the Prudential Building is 167 feet in height with 13 floors. Added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1973, the structure was named a National Historic Landmark in 1975. A fire occurred in the building in 1974 and threatened the already rough structure with demolition. It was restored in the 1980’s.

(26) Ellicott Square Building

Located at 283 Main Street, the Ellicott Square Building was completed in 1896. At the time, it was the largest office building in the world (until 1908). The structure is 164 feet in height with ten floors.

(27) Olympic Towers

Located at the corner of West Mohawk Street and Pearl Street, the building was originally known as the Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA) Central Building. The structure was completed in 1902 and stands 161 feet in height with eleven floors. It stood as the third oldest YMCA in North America until being converted to an office building in the 1980’s. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places on September 8, 1983.

(28) Buffalo City Court Building

Not the place you want to work in if you enjoy sunlight. The Buffalo City Court Building was completed in 1974 in the brutalist architectural type. This means it has concrete walls with very few windows. Located at 50 Delaware Avenue, the structure has a height of 154 feet with ten floors.

(29) Convention Tower

Located at the corner of Franklin Street and Court Street, the Convention Tower was completed in 1924. The building has 12 floors and a height of 128 feet.

(30) Buffalo Athletic Club

The Buffalo Athletic Club was built in 1922 and is located at 69 Delaware Avenue. The building, once named the Chemical Bank Building, has 12 floors and a height of 141 feet.

Buffalo, New York

Buffalo, New York is located at the eastern end of Lake Erie, across the Niagara River from Fort Erie, Ontario, Canada. The city has a population of 260,000 with 1.1 million in the metro area. The population is eternally shrinking from a high near 600,000 in the 1950’s. The city was founded in 1801 and incorporated as a city in 1832.


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