Buffalo/Elmwood Village

Sourced from Wikivoyage. Text is available under the CC-by-SA 3.0 license.

Do you remember when Madonna's album Ray of Light came out? It was a touchstone moment in late-'90s pop culture, yet another megahit for the Material Girl that begat a raft of monster hit songs and enjoyed a long reign on the upper reaches of the charts. But around that time, those who were paying close attention were beginning to come to certain realizations. While Madonna was a true groundbreaker in her prime, by 1998 she'd been a superstar for an eternity in pop-music terms. What's more, the world had meanwhile been introduced to a whole new crop of pop stars who were barely out of diapers when "Burnin' Up" and "Lucky Star" were all over MTV, and who were now pushing the formula she'd pioneered in a thousand different directions. On one level it was a vindication, but on another, it begged the questions: where does Madonna go from here? How does she stay fresh and relevant among the competition? Surely it's not just diminishing returns from here on?
That, in essence, is the story of the Elmwood Village: currently living out the Ray of Light phase of its history. Perpetually invigorated by the youthful presence of the students from Buffalo State College at its north end, and with a touch of upscale elegance furnished by the beautiful parks and parkways designed in its environs by the renowned Frederick Law Olmsted, the Elmwood Village has been Buffalo's "cool" neighborhood since before it had any real competition for that title. And make no mistake: the roster of bars, restaurants, and funky boutiques along its main drag of Elmwood Avenue remains a force to be reckoned with. But it's also a neighborhood in the throes of change. Not only is it now forced to share the spotlight with up-and-coming districts like the upscale Hertel Avenue, the lively Allentown, and a resurgent downtown, but the Elmwood Village has become something of a victim of its own success: a wave (some dare call it a bubble) of speculation among developers and other real-estate types has coincided with the so-called "retail apocalypse" and led to Buffalo's first high-end blight, a phenomenon whereby vacant storefronts crop up in supposedly tony areas for lack of any small business owners who can afford the stratospheric rents. These are problems that are going to need answers in the coming years, but don't count the Elmwood Village out just yet: much like Madonna, this longstanding superstar among Buffalo neighborhoods has a large and loyal fan base ever keen to see it through to the next phase of its existence. Even if it has to reinvent itself along the way, Elmwood is not going anywhere.


Get in and around









Stay safe


Go next