How can Buffalo maintain its identity even as it continues to reinvent itself?
That question is at the center of an event organized by Bruce Fisher, director of the Center for Economic and Policy Studies at Buffalo State and a visiting professor of economics and finance, to be held on Saturday, September 8. Fisher will lead a group of civic leaders, journalists, philanthropists, and scholars from Hamilton, Ontario, on a daylong tour of Buffalo. The tour will conclude with a panel discussion, the Buffalo-Hamilton Connection, at the Burchfield Penney Art Center auditorium at 3:30 p.m.
The panel is free and open to the public. Panelists include Albert Michaels, professor of history and author of Classic Buffalo, A Heritage of Distinguished Architecture; Curtis Haynes, associate professor of economics and finance; and Catherine Schweitzer, executive director of the Baird Foundation.
Fisher has been collaborating with leaders in Hamilton since the 1990s, when he was deputy comptroller of the City of Buffalo. Recent conversations about the regional economies of both Hamilton and Buffalo led to the idea of bringing leaders from each place to explore the successes and challenges of the other.
"Western New York has a lot to teach," said Fisher. "I will be showing them some examples of our successful adaptive re-use of the world-famous architecture such as the Richardson Complex, the Statler, and the Darwin Martin House. I’ll be showing them vernacular architecture, too—the utilitarian, industrial architecture like the grain mills and a couple of our churches." He discussed the tour in detail in a recent Artvoice column where he listed other sites including the Lafayette Hotel, the Central Terminal, and the newly redeveloped Larkin District.
What can Buffalo learn from Hamilton?
"Hamilton and its environs redefined itself as a region, with the city as its core," Fisher said. "Figuring out how to do that is our challenge, too."
Fisher, who holds a law degree from the University at Buffalo and both bachelor’s and master’s degrees in history from the University of Illinois in Chicago, is fascinated with cities in general and Buffalo in particular. His long-running blog, The Fisher Variations, claims as its premise that "civilization is about cities." He is also intrigued by Buffalo’s unique relationship with nearby Canada. His book Borderland: Essays from the U.S.-Canadian Divide was published in March by SUNY Press.
It’s no surprise that Fisher is excited about Buffalo State’s Year of the City. "The Year of the City is a great opportunity to showcase some of the intellectual energy that’s specifically here, at Buffalo State," he said. "We are a hidden center of tremendous activity."
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