Snow, wings and a bad football team may be the first things you think of about Buffalo. But, if you’re a fan of architecture, you know the Nickel City as a capital of some of Frank Lloyd Wright’s best works.
Due to its location on Lake Erie and the terminus of the Erie Canal, Buffalo was once one of the richest cities in America. In the early 1900s, executives of the Larkin Soap Co. decided to use their Gilded Age cash to commission Wright to build them lavish private homes.
This month the master of the Prairie School style would have turned 150. To honor his works, an All Wright, All Day trolley tour is being offered on select dates now through Oct. 27. The tour takes in the highlights of Wright’s Buffalo work, including structures that were designed by Wright but built decades after his death in 1959.
The tour begins at historic Forest Lawn cemetery (1900 Main St.) and rolls over to the nearby Martin House Complex (125 Jewett Pkwy.) for an extended tour of the historic landmark.
Next is the Filling Station designed by Wright for Buffalo in 1927 and built in 2013 inside the Pierce Arrow Museum (263 Michigan Ave.).
After lunch, it’s a quick ride over to the Fontana Boathouse (1 Rotary Row), built in 2007 on the Black Rock Canal. A drive down the shores of Lake Erie then takes you to Graycliff (6472 Old Lake Shore Rd.) for a tour of the summer home. The day ends back where you started, with a tour of Forest Lawn’s Blue Sky Mausoleum, built in 2004.
Want more Wright? After the tour, you could see two of Wright’s other Prairie Style masterpieces: the William R. Heath House (76 Soldiers Place) and the Walter V. Davidson House (57 Tillinghast Place). Both are private homes and not available for tours, but they are completely viewable from the street.
IF YOU GO
The All Wright All Day Tour is offered June 23, July 14 and 29, Aug. 11 and 26, Sept. 23, and Oct. 7, 20 and 27 from 8:30 a.m.-5:15 p.m. It costs $130 per person. Reservations are required and close at noon five days in advance of the tour. For more info, call 716-856-3858 or visit darwinmartinhouse.org.
While you’re there…
Want to plan a long weekend? Or don’t care about architecture? Don’t worry, Buffalo has a lot more to offer this summer.
Outdoor concerts at Canalside Live
Highlights of this summer waterfront series include Gary Clark Jr. (June 15), Sheila E. (June 22), Ghostface Killah with Slick Rick (July 13), Dark Star Orchestra (Aug. 3) and Robert Randolph and The Family Band (Aug. 10). Shows start at 5 p.m. (tickets $5; 44 Prime St., canalsidebuffalo.com/concerts).
Minor league baseball
Buffalo Bisons, the AAA affiliate of the Toronto Blue Jays, play at Coca-Cola Field (home games through Aug. 31, tickets $10.50-$13.50; 1 James D. Griffin Plaza, bisons.com).
The vast collection of early automotive history at the Buffalo Transportation Pierce Arrow Museum (admission $10, $5 ages 6-15; 263 Michigan Ave., 716-853-0084, pierce-arrow.com) includes one of the first electric cars, a 1902 Buffalo Electric Stanhope. The car had wooden wheels with hard rubber tires, could reach a top speed of 14 mph and travel 50 miles on a single charge.
At the Founding Fathers Pub (75 Edward St., 716-855-8944), come for the cold beer, stay for the collection of presidential and political memorabilia. For more presidential history, take a short walk up to the Theodore Roosevelt Inaugural Site (admission $10, $7 seniors and students, $5 ages 6-18; 641 Delaware Ave., 716-884-0095, trsite.org), where the president took the oath of office after William McKinley died from an assassin’s bullet at the 1901 Pan-American Exposition in Buffalo.
Parks and recreation
At the 350-acre Delaware Park (84 Parkside Ave., 716-838-1249, bfloparks.org) designed by Frederick Law Olmsted — that guy from Central Park fame — enjoy a stroll, play a round of golf on the 18-hole course or check out the Buffalo Zoo (admission $12, $10 seniors, $9 ages 2-12).
Famous permanent residents
Founded in 1849, the 269-acre cemetery Forest Lawn (1411 Delaware Ave., 716-288-5999, forest-lawn.com) includes the graves of President Millard Fillmore, funk legend and Buffalo native Rick James, Native American leader Red Jacket and the mausoleums of the city’s 19th-century movers and shakers, such as Willis Carrier, inventor of modern air conditioning.