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Visiting Buffalo, New York: A Downtown Overlooked by A. C. Bossom's Neoclassical Liberty Building, Dating From 1925
Neoclassical monumentality (with a hint of Art Deco?)
Dating from 1925, this skyscraper in Buffalo, New York was designed by British peer Lord Bossom (Baron Bossom of Maidstone) who, as Alfred C. Bossom (later, Sir Alfred Bossom)(1881-1965), qualified as an architect and worked extensively on commissions in the United States (1).
Known as the Liberty Building (2), owned by Liberty National Bank, the structure is complemented by 2 (originally 3) statues of Liberty (3). These stand at roof level. The building, which has 23 storeys, rises to 89.9 / 295 feet at roof level and to 105.1 metres / 345 feet to the top of its spires.
The structure is executed in Neoclassical style. Features of this style include pillars at the higher storey level. A steel structure was faced with applied brick masonry.
Although the building is described as Neoclassical, its layered, pyramid-like spires perhaps hint at an element of Art Deco influence. The era from which the building dates — the 1920s (sometimes even referred to as the Roaring 20s) — was indeed in some ways a transitional one, although the observer can sense that Architect Bossom had a sense of design style that was firmly rooted in the past.
In 1961 and 1999 there were — respectively — an extensive addition and a program of refurbishment including business facilitating technological features.
The building is sometimes included in heritage tours of the Buffalo, the Downtown area of which is especially well endowed with significant sites of architectural merit (4). (Such is the profusion, in fact, of monumental structures of significance that visitors might soon be reminded of Manhattan, by way of comparison; while this is a very subjective area, some visitors might discern a sense of sedate confidence that would also be attributed by certain observers to the architecture of New York City.)
The Liberty Building is situated at 420 Main Street, Buffalo, New York 14202.
July 19, 2019
(1) Other works by Architect Bossom include: First National Bank Building, Richmond, Va.; the Magnolia Building, Dallas, Tx.; restoration work on Fort Ticonderoga; and many others. He also served as Member of the British Parliament for Maidstone from 1931 until 1959. He also wrote significant works on the history of architecture. Anecdotally, he is also known for having officiated at the wedding of Margaret Roberts and Denis Thatcher in 1953, by giving away the bride; Mrs Thatcher, as she became, later served as British Prime Minister from 1979 until 1990.
(2) See also: http://www.mainliberty.com/page/liberty-building-general-info/63.html ; https://skyscraperpage.com/cities/?buildingID=16847 ; https://www.emporis.com/buildings/126216/liberty-building-buffalo-ny-usa
(3) The sculptor of the statues of Liberty was Leo Lentelli. These are typically floodlit at night. One of these statues faces east towards nearby Lake Erie. See also: https://www.visitbuffaloniagara.com/businesses/liberty-building/
(4) See, for example: https://www.frommers.com/destinations/buffalo-ny/walking-tours
Some sourcing: Wikipedia
Also worth seeing
Notable buildings in Buffalo include: the Ellicott Square Building (which was originally the world's largest office building); the Old Post Office; the Electric Tower (originally known as the Niagara Mohawk Building); the Art Deco City Hall; Broderick Park, Black Rock, Buffalo, has poignant memories of the Underground Railroad.
How to get there: United Airlines flies from New York Newark to Buffalo Niagara International Airport, where car rental is available. Buffalo, NY is linked with Albany, NY via the I-290 and I-90. From Canada, accessible via the Peace Bridge, the QEW links Fort Erie, ON with Hamilton and Toronto. You are advised to check with the airline or your travel agent for up to date information. Please refer to appropriate consular sources for any special border crossing arrangements which may apply to citizens of certain nationalities.
MJFenn is an independent travel writer based in Ontario, Canada.
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