Buffalo History Tour (Self Guided), Buffalo

Buffalo, the second largest city in the state of New York, has a rich and colorful history. The War of 1812 was fought in Fort Niagara, just north of it. A growing city with a burgeoning economy in the early 20th century, Buffalo earned a nickname "the City of Light" for its widespread electric lighting. Great American companies, such as American Express, have been founded here.

The Buffalo History Museum is the natural place to start one's journey of discovering the city's past. Several American presidents have lived, been inaugurated, murdered and buried in the city. Laid to rest at the historic Forest Lawn Cemetery are the numerous statesmen, civil war heroes, and other notables who have left their mark in the history of Buffalo.

Theodore Roosevelt Inaugural National Historic Site was one of the few places where a U.S. President was inaugurated outside Washington D.C. The Pierce-Arrow Museum in downtown Buffalo showcases the once famous luxury cars that were made here and were much loved by presidents, monarchs and celebrities around the world.

If you are a history buff, you may wish to take this self-guided tour and discover the fascinating stories about Buffalo's past at your own pace.
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Buffalo History Tour Map

Guide Name: Buffalo History Tour
Guide Location: USA » Buffalo (See other walking tours in Buffalo)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 4
Tour Duration: 3 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 8.1 Km or 5 Miles
Author: sabrina
Sight(s) Featured in This Guide:
  • Buffalo History Museum
  • Forest Lawn Cemetery
  • Theodore Roosevelt Inaugural National Historic Site
  • Pierce-Arrow Museum
1
Buffalo History Museum

1) Buffalo History Museum

The Buffalo History Museum is the place to go to learn about the history of city. All three floors of the building offer exhibits, including the Rotary Gallery (featuring elaborate model trains), the Pioneer Gallery, the Erie County Room, the State Court, the Community Gallery, Native American Gallery, Neighbors, and ICONS.

On view by appointment in the Museum's Resource Center on Forest Avenue is the gun used by Leon F. Czolgosz to shoot President William McKinley at the Exposition's Temple of Music on September 6, 1901.

In November 2017, the Buffalo History Museum opened the Icons: The Makers and Moments of Buffalo Sports exhibit. The new exhibit explores Buffalo New York's rich sports history and investigates the unique connection between fans and the beloved teams and sports idols of the area. Highlights include Ralph Wilson's hall of fame jacket, the only helmet Scott Norwood ever wore during his career as a Buffalo Bill, and a changing exhibit currently featuring the Buffalo Beauts.

The building that houses the Buffalo History Museum was constructed in 1901 as the New York State pavilion for that year's Pan-American Exposition, and is the sole surviving permanent structure from the exposition. Designed by Buffalo architect George Cary (1859–1945), its south portico is meant to evoke the Parthenon in Athens.

The building was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1987.
Sight description based on wikipedia
2
Forest Lawn Cemetery

2) Forest Lawn Cemetery (must see)

Forest Lawn Cemetery is a historic rural cemetery in Buffalo, New York founded in 1849 by Charles E. Clarke. It covers over 269 acres (1.1 km2) and over 152,000 are buried there, including U.S. President Millard Fillmore, First Lady Abigail Fillmore, singer Rick James, Congresswoman Shirley Chisholm, and inventor Lawrence Dale Bell. Forest Lawn is on the National Register of Historic Places.

Since its inception, Forest Lawn has served as a cemetery, park, arboretum, crematory and outdoor museum. Monuments, mausoleums and sculptures have attracted visitors for over 150 years. The first sculpture of Seneca Indian chief Red Jacket was erected in 1851. Red Jacket is depicted wearing the richly embroidered scarlet coat presented to him by a British officer, while on his breast is displayed the large silver peace medal awarded to him by President George Washington.

Every summer Forest Lawn offers "Sundays in the Cemetery" tours, each with a particular theme. Past examples have included the Pan-American Exposition Trolley Tour, Forest Lawn History Trolley Tour, Forest Lawn History Walk, Civil War Bus Tour and the Forest Lawn Nature Walk.

In 2014, the 3,140-square-foot (292 m2) Margaret L. Wendt Archive and Resource Center opened within the cemetery. It is a digitized history center, of interment records maintained since 1849, that features a number of interpretive displays highlighting the notable citizens buried in the cemetery. The building features climate controlled rooms and the design of the building mimics some of the historic structure that once stood at the same site. The staff includes Sandy Starks (Interpretive Program Director), John Edens and Lydia Ortiz. Construction and funding for the Center was provided by The Margaret L. Wendt Foundation along with support from The John R. Oishei Foundation.

In 2004, Frank Lloyd Wright’s 1928 design for the Blue Sky Mausoleum was realized. The Mausoleum contains 24 crypts, which can be purchased and memorialized by individual owners. The Blue Sky Mausoleum is one of three Frank Lloyd Wright memorial sculptures in the world.
Sight description based on wikipedia
3
Theodore Roosevelt Inaugural National Historic Site

3) Theodore Roosevelt Inaugural National Historic Site (must see)

Theodore Roosevelt Inaugural National Historic Site preserves the Ansley Wilcox House in Buffalo, New York. Here, after the assassination of William McKinley, Theodore Roosevelt took the oath of office as President of the United States on September 14, 1901. A New York historical marker outside the house indicates that it was the site of Theodore Roosevelt's Inauguration.

The first part of the house is a museum displaying many items from the 1901 Pan-American Exposition, including wine glasses, plates, playing cards, and the key to the Temple of Music. The last room is a recreation of the office Roosevelt used during his presidency, and includes an interactive desk which can be used to send e-mails to yourself.

The oldest part of the National Historic Site includes the lone surviving structure from the Buffalo Barracks compound. Due to tensions between the U.S. and Anglo-Canada, a military post was constructed to ensure border security. Built in 1839, the post encompassed all the land from Allen Street to North Street and Delaware Ave to Main Street. The structure that would later be incorporated into the Theodore Roosevelt Inaugural National Historic Site started life in 1840 as the Barracks' officers' quarters.

After the post was disbanded in 1845, the home reverted to a private residence. Subsequent owners continued to modify the structure adding and demolishing out structures and additions. In the late 19th century, Dexter Rumsey gave the property to his son-in-law Ansley Wilcox and his wife Mary Grace Rumsey. The newest inhabitants made extensive renovations to the structure. Plans of these renovations are still on file at the Historic Site.

In 1901, while attending the Pan-American Exposition, President William McKinley was shot twice at close range by anarchist Leon Czolgosz.

Although early doctor's reports on the President's condition were positive, McKinley's condition soon worsened: while Vice President Theodore Roosevelt rushed back to Buffalo, he was informed on arrival that McKinley had died.

It was decided to conduct the inauguration immediately, due to the tragic and politically charged circumstances of President McKinley's death. The most appropriate site was determined to be the Wilcox home. Approximately 50 dignitaries, family members and cabinet officials gathered in the front library for the inauguration, while Federal Judge John R. Hazel administered the oath. No photographic image exists of the ceremony itself, although the room was heavily photographed after the inauguration had concluded.

The Wilcoxes continued to live in the home until their deaths in the 1930s. The home's furniture was sold at a public auction and the property became the Kathryn Lawrence Restaurant. The proprietors removed interior walls, demolished a carriage house, and painted many of the finished wood surfaces before the restaurant ceased operations in 1961.
Sight description based on wikipedia
4
Pierce-Arrow Museum

4) Pierce-Arrow Museum (must see)

The Pierce-Arrow Museum is dedicated to Buffalo's automotive history, celebrating the cars that were once manufactured in this city. Pierce-Arrow automobiles set the standard for luxury automobiles in the early 20th century and its cars are owned by monarchs, rich and famous people worldwide.

There are vintage vehicles that car and nostalgia enthusiasts will enjoy checking out. You will also be able to enjoy a vast collection of memorabilia.

One of the highlights is an exhibit dedicated to the gas station that Frank Lloyd Wright designed in 1927, featuring a full-size model based on Wright's plans. Some of the highlights of this station design include a second-story observation area and two fireplaces for the waiting areas. There is a copper roof on the station, along with impressive detailing.

Most of the cars in the museum's collection date from the 1940s through the 1960s, including a large selection of classic muscle cars. In addition to the vintage cars, the museum also highlights bicycles, electric vehicles, and motorcycles. The collection of vehicles helps tell the story of Buffalo's transportation history.

Walking Tours in Buffalo, New York

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