Buffalo’s Young Preservationists and Preservation Buffalo Niagara are co-hosting a conference to discuss preservation’s role in revitalizing Legacy Cities. Sometimes called Right-sizing or Rust Belt Cities, Legacy Cities formed the basis of our country’s growth early in the 20th Century, but have since experienced severe population decline, segregation, and poverty. These cities are located mainly in the Northeastern and Midwestern states, and often have significant historic structures and neighborhoods that have either fallen into disrepair or have been abandoned. Financially depressed cities view demolition as the only answer to these problems.
Surely there must be other options for our cities. What role can preservation play? What role should preservation play in making important decisions regarding our cities’ futures? How do we ensure that preservation is fair in telling the story of everyone in our community? And perhaps most importantly- what kind of city do we want for our future?
The first Legacy Cities conference was held in Cleveland, Ohio in 2014. Co-hosted by the Cleveland Restoration Society, the conference highlighted the challenges of applying historic preservation to under-served neighborhoods, most of which were heavily affected by the mortgage crisis of the past decade. Despite having previously invested more money on demolition, Cleveland showed how their Cultural Gardens and Grenville neighborhoods were able to benefit once the city took advantage of historic preservation benefits.
The second conference was held in Detroit, Michigan in 2016. Co-sponsored by the Legacy City Partnership, the conference’s theme of preservation was on the dichotomy in Detroit planning policies; how poverty is located next to wealth, how some schools flourish while others struggle, and how abandoned buildings and struggling communities are subject to debates between demolition and preservation. While investments are often centered on the downtown area, the conference highlighted Detroit’s Grandmont, Rosedale and Corktown neighborhoods as examples of combating blight and poverty by encouraging preservation opportunities.
The third conference will be held here in Buffalo July 11-14 under the moniker, “Buffalo ReGenerated.” Conference attendees will attend tours, special events, and panel sessions designed to spark discussion as we answer the question, “What type of city do we want?”
Conference tracks will be organized around the following themes: Preservation for Whom?; Neighborhood Health and Environmental Preservation; and Thinking Outside the Box. Each track and session has been carefully selected to provide insights for attendees to bring back to their own communities.
We hope you will be regenerated and reinvigorated, ready to lead our Legacy Cities into the 21st Century as positive, equitable, beautiful, and sustainable urban oases. If you would like to register for the event, or learn more about sponsorship opportunities, call our office at 716-852-3300, or visit the official website, http://www.bfloregenerated.com.