by Kelsey Bradbury

M&TBankToday I took the opportunity to be a tourist in my own city, heading out on the self-guided “Walk Buffalo” tour, available free of charge from the Buffalo Niagara Visitor’s Center.

The introduction in the tour guidebook tells an abridged story of Buffalo’s past and forecasts the city’s bright and promising future. The tour guide includes written directions to each location and a labeled map. Those who take the “Walk Buffalo” tour can look for a blue buffalo painted on the sidewalk in front of each site.

The 2.5 mile tour begins at the Market Arcade Building, located at 617 Main Street, home of the Visitors Center and the offices of the Buffalo Niagara Convention and Visitors Bureau, then continues down Main Street and to a few notable sites in the immediate area.

I was immediately smitten with the calm, but charming M&T Center (site #3), located across from Fountain Plaza. Noting the wide variety of eateries close by, I made a mental note to keep this space in mind as the perfect spot to take a break and savor a sandwich or a cup of coffee after a day in downtown Buffalo.

From there, I passed a number of impressive buildings with impressive histories. In addition to devoting a few paragraphs to tell the story of the site, the tour guidebook lists the architect and the date each building was built. Many are listed in the National Register of Historic Places, and date back to the “gilded age” of Buffalo, when the city was a hub of cultural activity and majestic architectural development.

Old County Hall, St Paul’s Episcopal Cathedral, historic hotels, and numerous commerce buildings are the highlights of this 28-stop tour. The tour finishes up with Chippewa Street and Shea’s Buffalo Theater, two points of interest which are best seen in the evening. In the afternoon, Chippewa Street is a great place to stop for lunch or an appetizer, but it is much livelier in the moonlight, as it is the hub of Buffalo nightlife and theater. Shea’s is the anchor of the Downtown Buffalo Theatre District, with a regal interior and a reputation for world-class shows. At night, the famous “Shea’s Buffalo” sign twinkles with a classy, retro brilliance.

For more information about the Walk Buffalo tour visit www.walkbuffalo.com or stop by the Buffalo Niagara Visitors Center, located at 617 Main Street, Buffalo, NY 14203.

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