Building Blocks: Northland Beltline

Idea Box

The placemaking initiatives at the Northland Corridor site are starting to pay off. I did a little exploring in that neck of the woods this past Saturday, and was very surprised at what I found. Aside from coming across an Idea Box at the corner of E. Delavan and Manchester Avenue, I also noticed a few interesting public works of art.

One of those works – by Team Razor Wire (TRW)  in 2017 – was painted on a building at the corner of East Delavan and Longview Avenue. I observed the work as I was standing at the Northland site, viewing the Hervé Tullet: Shape and Color Resident Artist Murals. So I wandered around the block and discovered that the colorful paint job was adhered to at least three sides of the building, which made it visible from numerous directions. There was a time (pre pandemic) when TRW was making a significant impact on buildings throughout the city.

Team Razor Wire

Directly next door to the TRW emblazoned building was the Albright-Knox’s Dance Everyday mural, located at 537 East Delavan Avenue.

All of these (little and big) artistic efforts are starting to add up, in a neighborhood that is directly benefiting from the contributions, not to mention the Northland buildings, which are impressive unto themselves.

Earlier in the year I paid a visit to the workforce training center and AK gallery space and was blown away by what I found…

Since that initial visit, I’ve come across plenty of spinoffs in the surrounding neighborhood, from art projects to the establishment of Buffalo Urban Development Corporation’s (BUDC) Beltline Plaza, located at the corner of Northland Avenue and Winchester Avenue. Essentially this entails the construction of a new park setting, with a concentration on stormwater and biodiversity management. Buffalo Niagara Waterkeeper was a project partner.

Wooden cogs from a Northland warehouse were used to create sculptures made from sand molds created by the cog patterns.  

Not only does it provide a peaceful park for people to enjoy, it’s also demonstrates how we can create park settings that are inclusive of nature. Not fake nature, but real nature.

There’s waymarking, a beautiful rain garden (with native plants for pollinators), trashcans, bike racks, bollards, lighting, stormwater planters and a bioswale, places to sit, tree plantings, and public art (sculptures made from sand molds created by the cog patterns). I would love to see more of these types of micropark settings in other areas along the East Side. This particular park helps to create a sense of place, with its educational, transformative, and peaceful surroundings.

What makes all of these projects so impactful is that they are concentrated along the Northland Corridor, and are all within walking distance. There is a new sense of pride in this neighborhood, which is rippling outwards into the residential neighborhoods. Like Larkinville and Chandlerville, the Northland Corridor – aka Northland Beltline – is a destination-in-the-making that is now considered a “must visit” for anyone who is excited about the reawakening of Buffalo.

When you visit, be sure to grab some food at Manna, inside the Northland Center.

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