One of America’s most fascinating pieces of underdog architecture lies in the heart of Buffalo, New York.
Internationally, people hear “New York” and immediately picture architecture like the Empire State Building. If that’s the case, it’s time to check out Buffalo’s City Hall (65 Niagara Square #218, Buffalo NY), stat.
This 32-storey art-deco-style masterpiece was built in 1931, designed by Dietel, Wade & Jones, with John Wade as chief architect, and George Dietel assisting. At the time, it was one of the most expensive city halls in America and for many years City Hall was not just Buffalo’s most majestic building, it was also its tallest.
Of course, the fact that Buffalo is oft-criticized for its rough exterior gives City Hall a special boost. If those surroundings can be perceived as rough, then the grand building itself certainly qualifies as a jewel, or at the very least, a hidden gem. That said, the building might be more at home in say, Gotham City, than Buffalo.
Inside and out, this building tells a story about the people of Buffalo. From the working-class figures depicted in the relief sculpture over the building’s entranceway, to the statues of Virtue, Diligence, Service, and Fidelity inside the cathedral-esque lobby main lobby, to the wonderful colourful murals, this building stands guard over the city. In fact, its placement has been key to the overall design of the downtown area’s business district.
For Canadians especially, a lot of the art in City Hall will make you think. This stuff is pretty intense. Some of the art explores the connections between Buffalo and its close neighbours just north of the border.
Inside the council chambers, your eyes will be taken skyward to the native-inspired psychedelia that is a prismatic sunburst glass window. Carved into the wall below are the words:
“The People’s Councilors Reflect the People’s Will.”
Fun Fact: every chair in the Council Chamber was equipped with a hat holder under the seat.
The total floor area is 566,313 square feet, and there are 1,520 windows from the first to the 25th floor. All of the windows open inwardly for cleaning ease.
Also, don’t forget to check out the building’s observation deck and gaze out over all of Buffalo! Tour guides can even help you identify a number of buildings visible in the skyline.
Finally, in 1999, Buffalo’s City Hall building was added to the National Register of Historic Places.
For tour information, please click here.
Address: 65 Niagara Square, Buffalo, NY14202