This Saturday June 7th I’ll be giving a walking tour of the Hamlin Park Historic District as a part of the Congress for New Urbanism Next Generation events, which is free and open to the public. The tour goes from 3pm to 5pm and begins at the Hotel Lafayette downtown. From there we will jump on the Metro Rail at 3:12pm and get off at the Humboldt station at the corner of Main and Humboldt Parkway around 3:25pm. If you can't make it downtown, feel free to hang around the station at the arrival time to join up.
Here’s the official description from the CNU NextGen page: The Hamlin Park Historic District: What’s Next? Hamlin Park is the East Side’s only historic district, an African American middle class enclave built around Frederick Law Olmsted’s Humboldt Parkway, the Elm tree-framed boulevard destroyed in the 1960s by the sunken pit of the Kensington Expressway. Learn what residents are doing today to reclaim their neighborhood against an onslaught of forces, including the highway scar, population flight, and the bulldozers on its periphery. Meet people who have purchased abandoned homes for a dollar and rehabbed them under a unique program offered by the City. And help answer the question, what’s next for the Kensington Expressway?
The first stop on the tour will be the Robert T. Coles home and studio on Humboldt Parkway. An urban activist and architect in the era of urban renewal, Robert fought heavily against the destruction of the parkway. He designed his own home and studio before the expressway was rammed through the neighborhood and has lived there with his wife since its completion in 1961. The Coles’ home is the only built work designed specifically in reaction to Buffalo’s greatest self-inflicted tragedy.
We’ll depart from the Coles' home and make our way to Hamlin Park’s oldest structure, the Old Stone Farmhouse at 60 Hedley Place (c.1840-1860). Stephanie Barber-Geter, the president of the community association will greet us at the farmhouse and discuss the ongoing efforts to ensure the beauty and stability of the neighborhood. She will also talk about her involvement with a project that seeks to remedy some of the damage the expressway caused and long path of rehabilitation for the farmhouse.
Finally we’ll make our way down to several homestead homes where people, including myself have purchased homes from the City of Buffalo for just a dollar. While it may sound like a bargain, these places require full rehabilitation, but with some vision, sweat equity, and proper spending they are being reborn rather than sent to the landfill.