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America’s Best Designed City

2 Oct

This is a very nice video, beautifully shot and edited. While I have some issues with its content, I’m wondering who, exactly, is its intended audience? It reinforces for people the notion that you’re not a moron for wanting to live here which is, in and of itself, valuable, but at the end it implores an unidentified person to come and “see it emerging”, and to “feed our enthusiasm and give us courage” and that you can come and “get involved very quickly” and that it’s open to “new ideas”. I beg to differ on that latter point. 

Billed as a movie about the “best designed city” in America, it’s sponsored by a lot of organizations that employ/ed the people being interviewed, and goes off on a few tangents about how we made mistakes with respect to the Kensington, the Scajaquada, the 190, and the Skyway. 

What is the intended audience here? Visitors? People looking to move here? City residents as a love letter to themselves? I don’t get it. Yes, downtown has some gorgeous buildings – separated by massive surface parking lots and no reasonable parking plan, despite a city planner being featured in the video talking about “streetcars” and removing the 190. Yes, Elmwood is nice and walkable. Yes, Larkin is a very nice development that is removed enough from the downtown core that it has a London cab to shuttle workers to where other things are. Yes, Buffalo has made a lot of progress on certain things in the last decade or so, but the majority of residents and neighborhoods live in abject poverty, fear, and dependent jobless hopelessness. Downtown, Elmwood, and its immediate surroundings are touted prominently, but the majority of the city and her residents are not mentioned, except to blame boarded-up east side houses on the Kensington Expressway. 

Buffalo is still a poor field-office city. It’s still a city that is dependent on the charity of foundations set up by the ultra-wealthy families of long-gone industries that used to employ people. Buffalo is still a place that needs a Trico factory more than it needs an Oshei Foundation to tell it what to do. 

Anyway, John Paget is a very talented filmmaker and he made a very nice video. I think it could have used a writer, though.