There are lists. And then there are lists.
I am a listmaker. It feels good to have a finite list of tasks, and it feels really good to check off each and every one of them. Much less satisfying is rolling items on to tomorrow's list.
But the kind of lists that I'm talking about are the "The Best" lists and the "The Worst" lists. You know what I mean - the best place to eat a taco and the worst place to retire to. They're rampant, and an enormous category of what are known in the biz as "listicles." Do you note a hint of disdain? I admit it. I cannot abide listicles. The Top Ten Tennis Shops and the Ten Worst Waffle Houses. Yuck.
Buffalo used to end up on some pretty sorry lists. The Five Poorest Cities in the Nation. The Three Most Racially Divided Cities in the East. Remember? How times have changed. Now Buffalo seems to be popping up on a list nearly every week, and many of them are picking up on Buffalo's many assets. But some of these lists are pretty bogus. Inclusion on them can be "bought" with paid junkets for the compiler (I'm resisting the appellation journalist here), social media campaigns to stuff the ballot box -- you get the idea.
Allentown just turned up on a Thrillist The Best Drinking Neighborhoods In The Country list. No surprise here - Buffalo, with its blue collar pub pedigree has long been a drinking town. Matt Meltzer advises: "Wait out the winter, friend, then get yourself to Buffalo. Specifically to Allentown, a neighborhood that will dismantle your misconceptions of this city." Get past the obligatory poke at winter, and be grateful for the exhortation to reconsider out-of-date perceptions of the Queen City. And Allentown is awesome (says the publisher of Allentown: A Photographic Journey in the Heart of Buffalo). This list puts Buffalo in good company: New Orleans, Austin, Atlanta, Louisville...and Buffalo sits right up at the top. It includes the right spots: Gabriel's Gate, Allen Burger Venture, Allen Street Hardware, the Old Pink... It even includes the insider secret that Gabe's wings are probably the best in B-Lo.
All in all, a good list to be on, and a reputable listicle.
Far overshadowing this list, however, is a truly great list that Buffalo turned up on recently. Not the Amazon top 12 list, unfortunately. But the New York Times list of 52 Places to Go in 2018: A Starter Kit for Escaping the World. Now THAT's a LIST. The New York Times is not just read and respected in New York City, but from coast to coast and around the globe--especially the Travel Section.
There are only 11 U.S. locations on the list: New Orleans (LA), Cincinnati (OH), Baltimore (MD), Branson (MO), Chattanooga (TN), Downtown Denver (CO), Rogue River (OR), Disney springs (FL), Seattle (WA), Montgomery (AL)--and Buffalo. International locations range from the exotic (Fiji, Bhutan) to the sublime (Iceland, Chandigarh), to the who-knew-this-place-existed (São Tomé and Príncipe, Kuélap). Do yourself a favor. Don't just scroll to Buffalo (#37), read through the entire travelogue. It's an amazing array of topography and built environment, rife with bucket list treasures.
How do you compile a list like this? The Times says it asked their regular contributors, "many of whom live overseas or roam the globe," for ideas. "We get hundreds of them and pare things down from there." They were looking for why now? "Why is this the year to go to a particular place?" They were also trying for "geographic and thematic diversity.... and a mix of destinations both well-known and off the beaten path." They say "a marathon-length meeting, in which we discuss each idea" is how they narrowed down the list. "We get pretty punchy toward the end but are always happy with the final list." Now that's a meeting I would be happy to sit in on.
A Rust Belt city has a renaissance was written by Dave Seminara and features a fabulous photo of the new entrance to the Richardson Olmsted Complex and Hotel Henry taken by Buffalo's own Kim Smith: