1. The Vision
At the first commencement of the Buffalo Medical Faculty in 1847, university chancellor Millard Fillmore called Buffalo the “Queen City of the Great Lakes.” It was not an idle phrase. For Fillmore it meant that the influence of the city, and the university that it nurtured, extended to the surrounding countryside and eight other states. The Queen City Hub: A Regional Action Plan for Downtown Buffalo, in concert with the City of Buffalo’s Comprehensive Plan, builds on that vision and takes it forward.
The Queen City Hub envisions Downtown as a place where citizens of the city and the surrounding region live, work and play. The Queen City Hub sees a stronger urban core as a regional center for culture and entertainment, heritage, education, health care and life sciences research, and commerce. It understands that Downtown’s role as the Western New York center for government, finance, banking, and legal services makes it part of the backbone of the regional economy. The vision presents Downtown as the diverse neighborhood of neighborhoods for the whole region and it celebrates Buffalo as a historic waterfront city in the bi-national Niagara region.
The most basic elements of the vision are already in place – embedded in Joseph Ellicott’s 1804 radial plan for the city and reinforced by Frederick Law Olmsted’s park and parkway system. Taken together, these historic plans link all the neighborhoods to Downtown and both the neighborhoods and Downtown to the waterfront. The Queen City was, according to Olmsted, “…the best planned city in America.” It needs no new grand physical vision, only respect for the one that helped make it great, along with a commitment to build on the strategic investments already made Downtown, a dedication to the development of a new regional economy, and creative responses to our contemporary problems
This vision for Downtown starts with the basics. It is a place that is clean, safe, pedestrian friendly, and beautiful. It is accessible, appealing, and “green.” It is a place where important economic sectors are encouraged to grow and thrive in “strategic investment areas.” Yet, it forms a coherent whole, knit together by its own emerging residential districts, and connected with adjacent neighborhoods and the waterfront by celebratory gateways, Ellicott’s “great streets,” and Olmsted’s park and parkway system. The Downtown of this vision is a place of life, twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, twelve months a year. In short, it is a place where residents and visitors alike live their lives well.