Sunday, November 16, 2008


Warning!: extreme dorking out ahead! Please secure your life jacket before continuing.
L: Circa 1900, R: 2006
An article in the New York Times today brought the city of Buffalo, NY to my attention. I knew it was there, of course, I'd just never had any reason to learn more. Boy, was I missing out. Turns out, after the completion of the Eerie Canal started to bring people in, it became a positive mecca for great Gilded Age architects: Henry Hobson Richardson, Frederick Law Olmsted (of Central Park fame), Louis Sullivan, and Daniel Burnham (of Chicago's Columbian Exposition in 1893). I'd really love to prattle on about all out them, but this is a blog, not an architectural history class, so I'll stick to one: Louis Sullivan, and his Guaranty building.In 1894, a Buffalo businessman commissioned Sullivan's firm in the construction of a new office building. After he died suddenly, the Guaranty Construction Company of Chicago purchased it, followed by the Prudential Insurance Company. Both "Guaranty" and "Prudential" are on the building, so you'll hear it referred to by both names.The exterior is covered in gorgeous terra cotta depicting art nouveauish foliage and geometric patterns.
Look at that scrollwork! Love!
Let's take a look at the interior!So it turns out that I get as freakishly excited about old iron elevators as I do doors. Who knew? Aren't they fantastic?
If you're interested in learning more about the Guaranty building, other buildings, or historic Buffalo architecture on the whole, check out Buffalo Architecture and History (h/t to historic preservationist/jewelry designer/fellow dec arts student Amy Poff). I pulled most of my images from them.

For more on Gilded Age architects, I highly recommend reading Devil in the White City by Erik Larson, about the Chicago World's Fair, the men who put it together, and a rather nefarious individual who took advantage of it. It's nonfiction that reads like fiction. Trust me, I hate nonfiction.

There. Done. It is now safe to remove your jackets. I don't do too many of these because I worry about boring people, so if you enjoyed this little discovery as much as I did, let me know!

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