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Home > Our City > Buffalo My City > Buffalo My City Watercolors > 09-A Buffalo City Hall (1990)

09-A Buffalo City Hall (1990)

Narrative by - David M. Rote
(Narratives are copyrighted)

The great Art Deco seat of Buffalo city government is viewed looking westward from Main and Court Streets. At an earlier time the impressive home of Judge Samuel Wilkeson, builder of Buffalo's harbor and mayor of Buffalo, stood on this site.

Completed in 1932 at a cost of more than $7,000,000 and designed by architects Dietal & Wade, City Hall may be viewed from all points of the compass, yet the most aesthetic and imposing view is that captured by this painting.

Above the colonnaded entrance is a stylized frieze, sculpted by the Englishman Albert T. Stewart, which depicts various cultural and economic aspects of Buffalo life in the early 1930's. Unique and colorful inlays may be seen at various levels of the building, blending American Indian themes with the Art Deco style. The colorful "crown" of the building honors Buffalo's longtime position as "Queen City of the Lakes". Excess funds from Buffalo's sesquicentennial celebrations in 1982 permit City Hall to be lighted during the evening hours. An observation deck on the 28th floor is open to the public during the day and a visit to the impressive common council chambers on the thirteenth floor, complete with a stained-glass skylight, is a must.

Directly fronting the main entrance to City Hall is Niagara Square, dominated by a marble obelisk erected by the State of New York in 1907 to honor President William McKinley, who was assassinated in Buffalo while attending the Pan-American Exposition in 1901. Two other presidents, Millard Fillmore and Grover Cleveland, keep watch over the Square in the form of bronze statues sculpted by Bryant Baker. Fillmore's home was formerly located on the corner of Delaware Avenue looking onto the Square, site of the present Statler Towers which opened in 1923 as the new Statler Hotel. Ellsworth M. Statler had opened his first Statler Hotel at Washington and Swan Streets and in 1923 that hotel was renamed the Hotel Buffalo. Statler's first restaurant was opened in the Ellicott Square Building.

Court Street is home to federal and state buildings, designed by E.B. Green, as well as a bank, various businesses and offices and several restaurants. The tracks of Buffalo's light rail rapid transit system, opened in 1985, can be seen in the foreground.