The first group sees them as something to be removed; they are a sore sight, an unwelcome reminder of Buffalo's golden years that have long since passed, and they rest on valuable waterfront property, if not for projects now, then projects in the future. For this group, despite the fact that demolition costs may be astronomically high, it is still more worthwhile than the long-term costs preservation and maintenance projects would need.
For the second group, they provide inspiration for a future that is just as bright for Buffalo as at the turn of the 20th century, when the city was a center of innovation, art, and industry. Unlike the first group, these individuals see the Grain Elevators as fixtures that are just as integral to Buffalo's revival as they were to its past.
One of the organizations in the latter category is the Emerging Leaders in the Arts Buffalo (ELAB), who plans on using the grain elevators of Silo City to highlight that past, as well as provide entertainment, performances, food and beverage, tours (on foot, bike, and in kayaks), and education about preservation opportunities.
The Following is taken from the "City of Night 2012" Facebook page:
City of Night also happens to fall near the end of a long season of events centered around the Grain elevators, as the Erie Canal Harbor Development Corporation (ECHDC) has been hosting performances, lectures, and other entertainment events on Ohio Street along the Buffalo River, where the hulking grain elevators tower behind the stage. Those events continue through October.
The demolition of the GLF elevator highlights the danger faced by these relics of Buffalo's past, as city planners consider routes of "right-sizing" rather than preserving. Buffalo is one of only few cities with grain elevators this densely located, and if properly utilized, they can contribute even more to the city's character. Mark Byrne highlights some of the challenges and successes of grain elevator reuse plans throughout North America, and some of the ideas, like Montreal's "Northern Lights" exhibit, are finding traction here in Buffalo as well.
The future of the grain elevators is tied to the future of Buffalo. With revitalization projects in the Canal Side and the Larkin District coming to a close, it will be interesting to see if and how those projects will spread throughout the rest of South and East Buffalo, and if developers will soon start looking at the grain elevators as something other than expensive place holders to be bulldozed. One project is already under development near Silo City.
For now, Buffalo should cherish the these enormous windows into the past, while they are unadorned, unaltered, and most importantly, still standing. While events like City of Night intend to pump optimism into an area that many still view unenthusiastically, they are also meant to celebrate the elevators' past, show that they worth preserving, and most, importantly, that they can be part of an innovative and creative future.