How to Take a Walk—in Buffalo, and Beyond (3rd in the series)

We continue the series on Walking Buffalo, from the intrepid couple who went for a walk every day – no matter the weather – during the first 30 months of Covid. They believe (without being systematic) that they walked down every street in Buffalo and many in other cities and towns and took about 20,000 photos, some of which are shared in this series. While not itineraries, we hope to encourage others to “walk the path,” to see, observe, and appreciate Buffalo—and beyond. William Graebner and Dianne Bennett are also film critics here for 5 Cent Cine.

Today’s photo essay: Remembering 9/11

It has been over two decades since the horrifying September 11, 2001, when the twin towers of the World Trade Center collapsed in fire and smoke, killing thousands and ushering in modern America. One can imagine that the walls of Buffalo, like those of any other city, were soon covered with depictions of the towers, as well as signs of the patriotism that was an inevitable consequence of this moment in history.

Small remnants of the memorials on 9/11 Street. In all of our hiking, we’ve only encountered 4 such efforts, all on Buffalo’s East Side. You are not without interest. Here’s what we found.

One of the memorials is under a bridge over the Kensington Expressway (between Peach and Grape) that connects the Fruit Belt to the nearby East Side neighborhood of Willert Park. Approaching the bridge from Peach Street, the 9/11 iconography appears on the structure’s support column.

Approaching the bridge over 33, from Peach Street

One side of the pillar features the Twin Towers set on top of an American flag with the word “NEVER” above them. On the left, the words FRUIT BELT, and on the right, “WEED-N-SEED,” a reference to a 1997 city program to reduce inner-city gun violence. “Yo! “Buffalo” has the ring of boosterism, but it’s the brand name of a U.S. Department of Labor Youth Opportunity Program of Buffalo employee development program that began in 2000.

On the other side of the column, a lone figure – apparently black – with an abbreviated American flag on his back and a headband inscribed “New York” looks away and gazes at the spiers, shown here in simple outline. These two photos were taken in December 2020.

Less than a mile south and east, across the Expressway, is a second memorial painted on either side of a handball court in Johnson Park (between Sherman Street to the east and Johnson Street to the west and south of Genesee). is. On the north side of the courtyard, the twin towers are again set against the American flag, with the words NEVER FORGET above and below. This drawing was damaged by graffiti and tagging but still exists.

Johnson Park, east side

So does the painting on the other side. Here are the words “Yo! Buffalo” and “Weed & Seed” suggest that this drawing may have been made by the same group as one of those on Peach Street/Kensington Bridge. The flag is Puerto Rican. These photos were taken in March 2021.

This one escaped our attention until we looked closely at the larger photo, and for another purpose. IAF refers to the International Firefighters Association. MOCHA refers to an Engine 23 organization, Members of Color Helping All.

Sidewall of Colston’s Auto Repair, East Ferry and Winchester Avenue

We saved the most complex and sophisticated rendering for last. It’s not far, at 582 Sycamore, once home to S&G Mini Mart, with its “Full Line of Groceries” (the letters refer to the cross streets, Sycamore and Grey). During the 2022 East Side Garden Walk, a local resident across the street estimated the store had been closed for a decade.

The 9/11 painting is still remarkably intact and rich in detail. Although 9/11 replaces the stars on the flag, the twin towers are less prominent here, appearing above the words “BE IT KNOWN (NY?) WE WILL NEVER FORGET.” The background features a buffalo with NY lettering on the side and the Statue of Liberty on the right. The muscular, slim-waisted figure who appears to be black is not a clearly identifiable superhero. Comic icons with a star on their chest include Captain America and Falcon (a black superhero), although their costumes differ from those in the painting. Below what appears to be a single, long-stemmed rose.

It is likely that the four memorials were erected immediately after 9/11. That they remain largely intact is a testament to the enduring power of that day’s tragic events.

See also:

How to Walk – in Buffalo and Beyond (2nd in the series)

How to Walk – in Buffalo and Beyond

©Wilhelm Graebner

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