Exploring the Historic Architecture of Buffalo New York on a City Break Weekend

Historic architecture in Buffalo, New York: Art Deco City Hall
A self-guided tour of the architecture of Buffalo is a fantastic (and free!) way to spend a city break weekend in Western New York. Buffalo hit its stride in the early 20th century and it was during the heyday of the Art Deco style that many of the skyscrapers in Downtown Buffalo were built. If you enjoy architecture, spending a weekend in Buffalo is a must do. Join us as we explore the eclectic styles of well-preserved architecture of Buffalo's downtown core and surrounding area.

Refreshed Opulence at the Newly Opened Curtiss Hotel

Art Deco dining room at the Curtiss Hotel in Downtown Buffalo New York
We visited Buffalo in August 2017, just a few weeks after the newly renovated Curtiss Hotel opened its doors. The Curtiss Hotel features a Belle Eqoque-inspired French restaurant and an Art Deco facade and interior decorating.
Chandelier in the Art Deco dining room at the Curtiss Hotel in Downtown Buffalo New York
This converted office building in Downtown Buffalo is an ideal spot to spend a city break weekend exploring the architecture of Western New York.
Facade of the historic Curtiss Building in Buffalo, New York

The Mansions of Elmwood Village

Mansions in Elmwood Village in Buffalo, New York
Elmwood Village is just a 10 minute drive from Downtown Buffalo and is a great place for a walk on a Saturday morning. Pick up some treats at the Elmwood Village Farmer's Market and then take a walk and admire the huge Victorian-era mansions.
Mansions in Elmwood Village in Buffalo, New York
Buffalo is extremely close to Niagara Falls and these streets were some of the first with lights powered by electricity thanks to the hydroelectric power generated by the Falls.
Mansions in Elmwood Village in Buffalo, New York

Frank Lloyd Wright's Martin House Complex

Frank Lloyd Wright's Martin House Complex in Buffalo, New York
Frank Lloyd Wright designed many buildings in Buffalo. Sadly, a number of Frank Lloyd Wright's masterpieces were destroyed in the name of progress in the latter part of the 20th century. Thankfully, some of his projects still remain and are well-preserved including the Martin House Complex in the city of Buffalo near the Buffalo Zoo. There is an entry fee to go inside, but you can have a look outside for free.

For an interesting read on the rise and fall of Buffalo over the course of the 20th century, check out City on the Edge below.
While I always associated Frank Lloyd Wright with northern midwest cities like Buffalo, Pittsburgh, and Chicago, did you know that you can find his architecture as far South as Arkansas at the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Arkansas?

Parkside Candy: An Old-Fashioned Ice Cream Parlour

Parkside Candy sign in Buffalo, New York
Parkside Candy is one of my favorite examples of Buffalo architecture. Parkside Candy is an old-fashioned ice cream parlour with a well-preserved neon sign out front and a pastel interior that screams: "sweet!" Stop in for some sponge candy or orange chocolate. For more on things to eat in Buffalo see: A Taste of Buffalo: What To Eat in Western New York On A Food-Filled Weekend City Break
Inside Parkside Candy in Buffalo, New York

Buffalo's Art Deco City Hall

Explore the architecture of Buffalo: Art Deco City Hall
A self-guided walk exploring the architecture of Downtown Buffalo was a highlight of our weekend city break in Western New York. In particular, Buffalo's City Hall is an Art Deco masterpiece. City Hall is closed on the weekend but walk around outside and admire the overall structure before zooming in on the Art Deco details.
The facade of Buffalo's Art Deco City Hall
Art Deco crest of the city of Buffalo on the facade of Buffalo City Hall
Art Deco eagle on the facade of Buffalo City Hall
Art Deco scene on the facade of Buffalo City Hall

Downtown Buffalo's Art Deco Fire Department

Buffalo architecture walk: Buffalo's Art Deco Fire Department
Just around the corner from City Hall, continue your self-guided architecture walk and check out the Buffalo Fire Department. Speed lines, one of the hallmarks of the Art Deco style, draw the eye up the tower.

Downtown Buffalo's Guaranty Building

A self-guided architecture walk in downtown Buffalo: Guaranty Building
Continue your walk around Downtown Buffalo to the Guaranty Building, a late 19th century skyscaper.
A self-guided architecture walk in downtown Buffalo: Guaranty Building
Later taken over by Prudential, the Guaranty Building has an exceptional detailed Art Nouveau facade.
A self-guided architecture walk in downtown Buffalo: Guaranty Building

Buffalo's Ellicott Square Building

A self-guided architecture walk in downtown Buffalo: Ellicott Square Building
Walk on toward the Ellicott Square Building, another late-19th century addition to Downtown Buffalo. The Ellicott Square Building was built in the Italian Renaissance style by Daniel Burnham.

Buffalo's Liberty Building

A self-guided architecture walk in downtown Buffalo: Liberty Building
The Liberty Building in Downtown Buffalo is another stand-out piece of architecture on the Buffalo skyline. Built in 1925 in a neoclassical style, you can't miss the Liberty Building. On your self-guided walk, simply look for the twin statues of liberty adorning the apex of the skyscraper.

The Dun Building: Buffalo's First High Rise

A self-guided architecture walk in downtown Buffalo: Dun Building
The Dun Building rises above it's neighbors in Downtown Buffalo and has the distinction of being the first high rise building in Buffalo. Built at the end of the 19th century, the architecture reminded me a bit of buildings I'd seen in lower Manhattan.

Buffalo's County Courthouse

A self-guided architecture walk in downtown Buffalo: Erie County Hall / Courthouse
Buffalo's Erie County Hall (now the county courthouse) is an impressive granite structure built in the 1870s and is another gem to discover on a self-guided walk around Downtown Buffalo.

Gold-Domed Buffalo Savings Bank 

A self-guided architecture walk in downtown Buffalo: Gold dome of Buffalo Savings Bank
One of my favorite buildings that I discovered on my self-guided walk around Downtown Buffalo was the over-the-top gold-domed Buffalo Savings Bank. Built in neoclassical Beaux-Arts style, Buffalo Savings Bank is a real architectural treasure (see what I did there? ;-)).
A self-guided architecture walk in downtown Buffalo: Buffalo Savings Bank

Shea's Buffalo Theatre

A self-guided architecture walk in downtown Buffalo: Main Street in Downtown Buffalo with view of Shea's Buffalo Theatre
Shea's Buffalo Theatre is an iconic landmark along Downtown Buffalo's Main Street. The inside is decorated in a mix of Spanish and French Baroque and Rococo styles. If you want a glimpse of the interior, pop by in the evening after a performance and the ushers might just let you sneak a peek.

Downtown Buffalo's Electric Tower

A self-guided architecture walk in downtown Buffalo: Buffalo's Electric Tower
Buffalo is synonymous with electricity in my mind because of the proximity to Niagara Falls and the hydroelectric induced heydey at the start of the 20th century. The Electric Tower in Downtown Buffalo aptly lights up at night. During a daytime architecture walk, you can admire the Beaux-Arts Classical Revival style of this early skyscraper.

There you have it: a self-guided tour of the highlights of Buffalo's eclectic and well-preserved architecture. Taking yourself on an architecture city tour is a great free way to spend the weekend in Western New York.

Are you interested in learning more about Buffalo's history? Check out: Take A Buffalo River Silo Cruise: Exploring the Queen City's Forgotten History 

Map of a Self-Guided Tour of Buffalo's Historic Architecture with a Focus on Downtown.


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Exploring the Historic Architecture of Buffalo New York on a City Break Weekend

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Sidewalk Safari: Exploring the Historic Architecture of Buffalo New York on a City Break Weekend
Exploring the Historic Architecture of Buffalo New York on a City Break Weekend
Explore the historic architecture of Buffalo, New York for a city break weekend. A photo-rich post by travel blogger, Jennifer (aka Dr. J) from Sidewalk Safari.
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Sidewalk Safari
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