The Secret of New York’s Smallest Town

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Tucked away in the southern portion of Cattaraugus County on the edge of the New York-Pennsylvania border sits the town of Red House. Guess what the town is named after? A red house, right? Nope. It’s named after the creek flowing through it – Red House Creek. The creek is named after a red house.

But did you know the story behind the crimson abode upon which the creek found its name? Originally owned by one of the area’s first settlers, it is a sorry story of family division, betrayed love and mysterious death. In the 1860’s Johnny Frecks went off to fight in the civil war, Continue Reading “The Secret of New York’s Smallest Town”

We Preempt Westward American Expansion for…

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A funny thing happened on the way to researching my book 50 Hidden Gems of Greater Western New York. For years I had been trying to explain to people just what exactly I meant by “Greater Western New York.” From a regional mutual fund’s perspective, it was easy. The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) requires all regional funds to specify the municipalities covered by the fund. In the case where a fund’s region encompasses only a portion of a state, the fund’s prospectus must list all the counties included in its unique definition of the region covered. Like I said, from the SEC’s standpoint, defining Greater Western New York was easy.

Beyond that, though, I had to justify why we chose those particular counties. This was especially important because we market the fund only to New York residents, specifically, Western New York residents. And the folks we consider “Western” New York residents don’t necessarily consider themselves “western.” Or, in the case of those in the Buffalo-Niagara metropolitan area, they don’t consider Continue Reading “We Preempt Westward American Expansion for…”

The Real Birth of Greater Western New York

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“It’s a Sicilian message. It means Luca Brasi sleeps with the fishes.” – Clemenza, The Godfather

Our story starts approximately 400 million years ago. Back then, Western New York wasn’t really western, it was more northern. And by northern I mean north – as opposed to west – of the east coast, which itself might have been more appropriately called the south coast. Oh, and another thing. We weren’t hanging at a cool 42º North latitude. We were closer to the equator. In fact, we were just south of the equator.1 To prevent further directional confusion, I will Continue Reading “The Real Birth of Greater Western New York”

A New Metric for Elected Officials

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Quick, off the top of your head, what is the fourth (soon to be third) largest city in New York State? I’ll give you a hint. It’s not Syracuse.

FortuneCover1951.07_Made_in_Buffalo_300G. Scott Thomas wrote a story (“Buffalo slips to 70th in city population,” Business First, November 22, 2010) that both concisely states the problem and suggests the single most important metric we should hold elected officials accountable for.

But first, the story, and how it defines the problem.

Some, as the Business First article intimates, say Buffalo hit its highpoint in 1900 when it ranked as the 8th largest city in the nation. This figure, however, misleads. The nation had not yet quite filled itself out and some of the western cities were just getting started. These western cities had natural growth advantages and one could argue the 1900 ranking placed Buffalo too high.

The more accurate apex would be July 1951, when Fortune magazine featured “Made Continue Reading “A New Metric for Elected Officials”

Misleading Headline? Baseless Buffalo Bills Bashing? Or Both?

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With friends like these, who needs enemies? It’s bad enough we find our region at the butt end of many late night comics’ monologues, but why does the local 1244775_46838866_glass_half_empty_300media have to gratuitously chime in, too?

Did you see the article “Buffalo Bills struggle to make dent on national TV map” in the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle in Sunday, September 19th? Placed on the cover of the sports section, it featured a map of the continental United States. The country, bathed in red, was speckled with smaller splotches of various other colors. A beautiful graphic, you would think the D&C would have been proud to have included it in the on-line version of the article. Alas, they didn’t and the article suffers.

But this isn’t about vivid art in a hometown newspaper. This is about the reckless Continue Reading “Misleading Headline? Baseless Buffalo Bills Bashing? Or Both?”

Surprise! Buffalo Bills Score in Nielsen’s New NFL Ratings

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When you look for smart business reporting, you look to the Wall Street Journal. Likely to have been Sergeant Friday’s (“just the facts, ma’am”) favorite 100_3118_Bills_vs_Bengals_300newspaper, the WSJ sets aside all numbers and focuses squarely on cold, hard numbers. So, when this truly national paper of record offers a story (“Dallas Cowboys Are NFL’s Most Popular Team,” Wall Street Journal, September 9, 2010) spelling out how all 32 NFL teams rank in terms of popularity, you can be sure of one thing – no one gets extra points for rabid enthusiasm. It’s all about the bottom-line. And, unlike Forbes, this bottom-line is more than just money, it’s eyeballs. For the first time ever, Neilsen – of the famous TV ratings – ranks the NFL teams by incorporating both TV coverage and internet buzz.

So, where do you figure the Buffalo Bills – perhaps currently the worst team in the NFL – fall in this survey? It shouldn’t shock you Ralph Wilson’s team doesn’t find itself in the Continue Reading “Surprise! Buffalo Bills Score in Nielsen’s New NFL Ratings”

Has the NFL Provided the Answer to Promoting the Greater Western New York Region?

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I had lunch with a marketing and advertising professional in Buffalo the other day. When I told him about my crazy idea to promote the greater Western New York 3387853924_7f3e7c9a36_cattle_branding_flickr_no_known_copyright_restrictions_300region, he told me it was crazy. I expected that. What he told me next I didn’t expect. Yet, I can see why it happened.

A couple of decades or so ago, some members of the Buffalo-Niagara community decided to join forces to promote their two communities. They initial suggested to do so under the banner “Western New York” since the local media commonly used that term to describe the area of Erie and Niagara counties (and sometimes even Cattaraugus and Chautauqua counties). The grand poobahs of marketing gathered together and rejected the notion. “Everyone knows Continue Reading “Has the NFL Provided the Answer to Promoting the Greater Western New York Region?”

Is Social Media the Key to a Better Government, a Better New York and a Better Western New York?

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I’ve been meaning to write this for a while – maybe years – but I’ve been too afraid. I’ve been too afraid people would see the idea as crazy. I’ve been too afraid people 15141_3708_ethernet_router_stock_xchng_royalty_free_300would fail to believe the problem exists. I’ve been too afraid people would read politics instead of common sense. In a phrase, I’ve been too afraid.

And, I admit, I’m still a little afraid. With today’s culture in the noose of political correctness, it seems any misplaced modifier has the power to send one to ruin. Ruin, I am told, is not a very good place to visit, let alone live in. Perhaps it’s because it rains there every day.

Whatever the case, on the whole, I’d rather be in Philadelphia. Well, maybe not the City of Brotherly Love, for it has become the City of the Blogger Levy. According to the Continue Reading “Is Social Media the Key to a Better Government, a Better New York and a Better Western New York?”

What Popular Fast Food Item was Invented In Western New York?

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Here’s a quick question: What popular fast food was invented right here in Western New York? Think you know the answer? I’ll give you a hint – it’s not chicken wings. OK, smarty-pants, with apologies to Frank and Teresa, “chicken wings” Erie_County_Fair_Historical_Trolley_Head_On_300is a correct answer, but too obvious and not the correct answer. I’ll give you another hint – it was invented at the Erie County Fair in the mid-1880’s. If you know Western New York, then you may think you already know the answer. If you’re not sure, you’ll have to read on.

On Friday afternoon, I had the pleasure of making my annual visit to “America’s Fair” – the Erie County Fair in Hamburg, New York. I can tell you stories about the Fair dating from my youthful days when I helped my grandparents hawk slices from the family’s pizza stand, but I’ll save that for later. Suffice it to say, all I ever needed to know in life I learned while working in my grandfather’s pizza Continue Reading “What Popular Fast Food Item was Invented In Western New York?”

Can You Find the Hidden Gems in the Greater Western New York Region?

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What hidden gems lay undiscovered within the boundaries of the greater Western New York region?

GWNYscreen_300We’re in the process of collecting the best resources on the web, and we’re looking for your suggestions! Got a pointer to a cool blog or an informative forum? Send us a tip using the form on this site: GreaterWesternNewYork.com.

Stay tuned as we unveil this new site celebrating all there is to love about Western New York State. We’ll be covering art, commerce, cuisine, history, sports, real estate, nature … you name it. We’re looking for both links and potential contributors and people who can help realize the vision. I’ll have my business be one of the sponsors, so we won’t have Continue Reading “Can You Find the Hidden Gems in the Greater Western New York Region?”