At the end of my trip along the Erie Canal, I had the chance to spend some time exploring Buffalo, New York, and to stop at the Corning Museum of Glass in Corning, New York. I had not visited Buffalo in about 45 years, and I was impressed with some of the things I got to see.
I started my day in Buffalo with a visit to the Albright-Knox Art Gallery. Located across from the entrance of Buffalo State College, and alongside the Fredrick Law Olmsted designed Delaware Park, Albright-Knox’s classical and modern buildings are a beautiful home to its collection of Modern and Contemporary Art.
Its original building was built in 1905 as the home to the collection of modern art owned by John J. Albright, a Buffalo industrialist whose businesses included coal, asphalt and electrical power. In 1962 Seymour Knox II, chairman of the Marine Midland Bank and Woolworth & Co. organized the funding for an expansion of the gallery. He donated over 700 pieces of art, and the name was changed to The Albright Knox Art Gallery. His interest was mostly in Modernism and Abstractionism, and he greatly added pieces in those genres to the galleries’ collections.
Today the Gallery hosts an excellent collection of 20th and 21stCentury art, mostly on display in the building built in 1962. The original building houses galleries that are primarily used to host temporary exhibits by artists alive today.
Detail from Someday We Can by Shantell Martin
Along the Niagara River
The heart of Buffalo’s history is its role in shipping and transportation. It sits at the head of the Niagara River, along the shore of Lake Erie. It was the western terminus of the original Erie Canal, so it became the place where goods were transferred between lake ships and canal barges. It also became an industrial center because it is so close to the Niagara Falls, where Thomas Edison built one of the first large hydroelectric generating plants.
By the late 1950’s things started to change. The St. Lawrence Seaway opened in 1957, and ocean going ships were able to sail directly into the Great Lakes. The Erie Canal was no longer needed to ship goods to and from the Mid-West. During the 1960’s industry started to leave what is today called the “Rust Belt” for other places. Buffalo became one of the poorest cities in the country.
Today Buffalo is trying to revitalize itself. This effort includes the development of its waterfront, much of which had been cut off from the city by highways. The most successful of these attempts is Canalside Park, which sits under the Buffalo Skyway at Lloyd Street. Built along what was the western end of the original Erie Canal. Canalside includes lakeside walking and biking trails, kayak and boat rentals, and a ferry across the Buffalo River to the Times Beach Nature Preserve.
There is also the Buffalo and Erie County Naval and Military Park. The Park is home to the guided missile cruiser U.S.S. Little Rock, the destroyer U.S.S. The Sullivans, and the U.S.S. Croaker, a Gato-class submarine. All are open to the public. There is also a naval history museum and a very good restaurant – The Liberty Hound, which has an excellent selection of beer on tap.
Frank Lloyd Wright Boathouse
Two-and-a-half miles north of Canalside, along the Black Rock Canal, is a small, little known gem – a boathouse designed by Frank Lloyd Wright. Designed in 1905, the boathouse wasn’t constructed until 2007. I sits just south of the Peace Bridge, the major crossing between Canada and Buffalo. There is also a path up to a pavilion that sits just below the bridge, with great views up and down the Niagara River.
The Corning Museum of Glass – Corning NY
Home to both the history and future of all things glass, The Corning Museum of Glass is really a must see stop if you are traveling along the Southern Tier of New York State. Presenting both industrial and artistic uses and histories, its exhibits and galleries are informative and beautiful.
There are exhibits into the history of industrial glass that cover its different uses and strengths. You can watch artists creating glass vases and bowls and doing fine “fire work” to make detailed statues. You can take classes in glass blowing, and even design a piece that the artisans will create for you. The galleries contain some of the most beautiful examples of glass as art in the world.
Glass Blowing Demo (above)
Nocturn 5 by Karen LaMonte (right)
Chess Set by Gianni Tosso: Jews vs Catholics
(below) I saw this set for sale when I visited Venice 20 years ago
- Albright-Knox Art Gallery – 1285 Elmwood Ave. Buffalo NY. Entry -$12 for Adults, $8 for seniors, veterans, students and youths.
- Canalside Buffalo – 44 Prime Street, Buffalo NY. Interstate 190 to Elm Street (exit 6); or Skyway/Route 5 to Seneca Street; or NAFTA Metro Rail to the Erie Canal Harbor Station.
- Wright Boathouse – Take Porter Ave west. Pass the entrance to the Peace Bridge, and cross over I-190. Turn right onto Rotary Row, and gravel street that looks like an alley. Bear right at the fork and you will arrive at the parking lot for the Westside Rowing Club and the Wright Boathouse.
- Corning Museum of Glass – Take Route NY-17(I-86) to exit 46. Follow the signs to the Museum. Adults $19.50, Students, seniors, AAA, and military $16.50.
- Albright-Knox Gallery: Danielle Sauers (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
- John J. Albright: John J Albright by Edmund C. Tarbell [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
- Corning Museum: Stilfehler (Own work) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/-copyleft/fdl.html), CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/) or CC BY-SA 2.5-2.0-1.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.5-2.0-1.0)], via Wikimedia Commons