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Buffalo, New York

Join Weekend Edition Sunday on a visit with the people, places and unique history of Buffalo, New York. This special show includes reports by host Liane Hansen and a team of reporters from NPR News.

 Map of the Pan-American Exposition
Map of the Pan-American Exposition

In the summer of 1901, more than 8 million people attended the Pan-American Exposition in Buffalo, New York. The event showcased technological developments of the era, but electricity was the centerpiece. The construction of a hydroelectric dam at nearby Niagara Falls made Buffalo the world's first fully-electrified city. In May 1901, Vice President Theodore Roosevelt spoke at the Expo on the emergence of the Western Hemisphere as a player on the world stage. In September, the promise of the event was dampened when President William McKinley lost his life to an assassin's bullet in Buffalo.

Liane with Mark Goldman, author of City on the Lake: The Challenge of Change in Baffolo, New York, who serves as our tour guide
Liane with Mark Goldman, author of City on the Lake: The Challenge of Change in Buffolo, New York, who serves as our tour guide

 
Ani DiFranco at the Buffalo Botanical Garden
Ani DiFranco at the Buffalo Botanical Garden

Some Buffalonians said the city was forever cursed by McKinley's death.

To track the extent of change in Buffalo since the Pan-American Exposition, Liane and the Weekend Edition Sunday crew visited Buffalo this past spring and summer. Their guide is Mark Goldman, a local Buffalo historian and entrepreneur. From a vantage point across the Niagara River, Goldman says you can see the history of Buffalo unfold before you -- its development from a Native American settlement, to a post-industrial city.

Mark takes Liane across the Rainbow Bridge into Buffalo, along Main Street, where she speaks with singer-songwriter Ani DiFranco. DiFranco is a Buffalo native whose label, Righteous Babe Records, is based in the city. listen


Goldman next takes Liane to the Broadway Market. The market is set in a formerly Polish-Catholic neighborhood, that is now largely African-American. Liane is introduced to one of the market's unique offerings, the Charlie Chaplin Chocolate Bar. listen


 Bishop William Henderson, pastor of Michigan Avenue Baptist Church, with Motherland Connextions Sation Master Kevin Cotrell and Liane
Bishop William Henderson, pastor of Michigan Avenue Baptist Church, with Motherland Connextions Station Master Kevin Cottrell and Liane

Liane continues her tour of Buffalo. We visit the Michigan Avenue Baptist Church, a stop on the Underground Railroad, which is the focus of a local restoration effort. Liane also talks with Senior Federal District Judge John Curtin, who has overseen some of the most important local issues of the last 35 years, including the environmental crisis at Love Canal, and the desegregation of the public school system.

Liane visits with Buffalo mayor Anthony M. Masiello at The Place
Liane visits with Buffalo mayor Anthony M. Masiello at "The Place"


Liane next goes to Buffalo's Grover Cleveland High School. An index of Buffalo's diversity, the school has students from 52 countries, speaking 34 languages. Many of Buffalo's new foreign arrivals have received help from Catholic Charities, which has run a resettlement program in the city since 1945. Finally, Liane joins Buffalo Mayor Anthony Masiello at The Place, a popular local watering hole. listen


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