Sunday, November 6, 2016

Polishing Up the Rust Belt

We drove by some ginormous houses this morning on our way to brunch at a new, hipster restaurant I read about online. Buffalo, like so many rust-belt towns, has endured some very hard times over the last 40 years: mills and factories have shed thousands of what were formerly solid, blue collar jobs that allowed workers to comfortably support their families, and a majority of young people have moved away from the contracting economy.

Over the last few years, though, small signs of a tiny turn around have become more and more evident. Some tech start-ups, state grants funding a huge solar panel plant, a rise in reputation of SUNY Buffalo and a new medical corridor have reinvigorated the area in many small, but meaningful ways. The waterfront has been restored with restaurants, museums, bike and paddle boat concessions, and an open-air concert stage. Old mills are being converted to cool loft condos, and the traditional ethnic and comfort food that the town is rightfully known for, fish fry, wings, pierogies, char-broiled hot dogs, beef on weck, kielbasa, sponge candy, and handmade donuts has been joined by some micro-breweries, healthy fast-casual joints, and some new restaurants like the one we visited today with menus that can compete with some of the places near us at home.

Oh, the food was a little disappointing, but the place was still fun. On the way home, I used a real-estate app to price properties in real time as we rolled past them. How about a 7-bedroom, 3 1/2 bath, 4100 square foot Victorian with finished studio within walking distance of the zoo, Olmstead's Delaware Park, and Frank Lloyd Wright's Darwin-Martin House for 329,900.00?

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