I love discovering new things about Buffalo. Most of the time, I head out the door in search of my own new discoveries. Other times, I leave it up to others to introduce me to their own personal WNY favorite haunts.
To make things even easier for all of us, public relations guru Brian Hayden has, for over two years, been compiling his own travel guidebook on WNY, which has now been published by Emons Publishing out of Germany.
In a recent email, Brian wrote, “This is not a traditional guidebook, but rather an insider’s guide filled with both off-the-beaten path places and lesser-known stories of well-known locations.”
“Working on this book about my hometown has been one of the most meaningful projects of my life,” Brian told me. “In the two years it took to put this together, I dove deeper and discovered more about our remarkable city and region than I ever thought possible. Both lifelong residents and first-time visitors will learn something new about our city and see it through a fresh lens. There is something in here for everyone, from chapters about lesser-known regional food specialties and off-the-beaten path taverns to stories about where to see ice volcanoes form on Lake Erie, which cemetery in Niagara Falls has an entire row of daredevils buried together, and where you can hike in the collapsed ruins of a power plant, and follow in the footsteps of renowned artists and writers. I’ve had a lifelong passion for storytelling and Western New York, and this book is the culmination of a journey decades in the making.”
The book 111 Places in Buffalo That You Must Not Miss reached #1 in the world for a time late last week under tourist destinations and museum guides: new releases!
Being curious about his new publishing venture, I inquired further, which is when Brian suggested that I pass along four of the 111 Places in Buffalo That You Must Not Miss to Buffalo Rising readers.
Following is the first selection of interest…
The Ararat Stone
The cornerstone of a Jewish colony that never was
Of all the Buffalo History Museum’s thousands of artifacts, perhaps none is as unusual as the 400-pound cornerstone commemorating the Jewish colony on Grand Island that never came to be.
The Ararat Stone rests on the floor inside the museum’s exhibit celebrating Erie County’s bicentennial. The massive slab of marble represents the failed dream of Mordecai Manuel Noah, a newspaper editor from New York City who proposed a “City of Refuge for the Jews” on several thousand acres of Grand Island in 1825. Under Noah’s plan, Jewish US citizens would contribute one piece of gold per year to build and sustain the colony.
He purchased the cornerstone from a marble yard in Cleveland and celebrated its arrival on September 2, 1825 at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in downtown Buffalo and not on Grand Island, as the website mappingararat.com notes, because of a lack of adequate transportation to ship it there. Hear oh Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one, the Hebrew on the stone reads. But Noah’s idea never materialized past the corner-stone, as other Jewish leaders criticized the idea of a colony. The stone remained in a yard behind the church and then found its way to a variety of locations in Buffalo and on Grand Island before ultimately landing at the Buffalo and Erie County Historical Society in 1866. On the far-eastern end of Grand Island, a small roadside plaque near a cemetery commemorates the colony’s planned location along East River Road.
There are plenty of other artifacts to see in this beautiful museum along Delaware Park, the only remaining building from Buffalo’s 1901 Pan-American Exposition. But as one of the museum’s longest held items, the cornerstone stands apart as a poignant reminder of Noah’s ambitious plans for the region, and of the promise of religious freedom that the United States came to symbolize as a young country nearly two centuries ago.
Address: One Museum Court, Buffalo, NY 14216, +1(716) 873-9644 | www.buffalohistory.org | Getting there: Bus 20 to Elmwood Avenue & Nottingham Terrace | Hours: Wed 10am–8pm,Thu–Sat 10am–5pm, Sun noon–5pm | Tip: Discover more Jewish history inside the Benjamin and Dr. Edgar R. Cofeld Judaic Museum within Temple Beth Zion (805 Delaware Avenue, www.tbz.org).
111 Places in Buffalo That You Must Not Miss is currently available at Talking Leaves, Barnes and Noble, and the Buffalo History Museum Gift Shop, as well as Amazon.
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