Buffalo’s big comeback

Yahoo! News | Katie Couric

 

Over the years, my job has taken me to some incredible places and allowed me to meet some amazing people. And so far, this year hasn’t been any different. My newest endeavor at Yahoo is a brand-new six-video series, “Cities Rising: Rebuilding America.”

Once some of the most important and thriving cities in the United States, places like Pittsburgh, Detroit and New Orleans fell on hard times. Now, the people who inhabit these cities are working to revive them and bring them, reenergized and transformed, into the 21st century. The country — and the world, for that matter — is going through a massive transformation, and I’ve always been fascinated to see how people and places are adapting to new technology (hopefully better than I was in 1994). I’ve also always been interested in urbanization and the fact that so many young people are flocking to cities (two-thirds of the world’s population will be living in cities by 2050). That’s why I wanted to see how American ingenuity and innovation are taking hold and revitalizing some of the most important cities in our country.

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The first stop was Buffalo, and it was full of #Buffalove! I enjoyed the sights, sounds, smells and inclusiveness of the West Side Bazaar. The indoor collection of shops and food stops, where some of Buffalo’s newest citizens sell their native goods, is part of an effort led by the Westminster Economic Development Initiative (WEDI) to rethink the city’s struggling West Side.

I could feel the excitement of 43North, a tech incubator where innovation is happening at every corner.  Part of New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s Buffalo Billion initiative, 43North gives out $5 million in cash prizes each year, bringing some of the brightest entrepreneurs from around the globe to Buffalo to lay down roots and grow their businesses.

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Canalside has taken the history of Buffalo (and a song I sang in elementary school, “Erie Canal”) and turned it into a modern playground. In its heyday, the Erie Canal harbor was America’s “Gateway to the West,” but the arrival of trains and automobiles in the early 20th century led to the demise of this once-bustling hub of commerce, eventually rendering the area unrecognizable.  The new Canalside is a 23-acre collection of restaurants, shops and activities, including something called ice biking, a Buffalo favorite — trust me, you need to check it out.

I loved seeing a new side of this city, but most of all I loved the people in Buffalo, who were as warm as the temperature was cold the day I visited (26 degrees, in case you were wondering). They asked me how I would feel if my daughters moved to Buffalo, and I told them I would be thrilled — but added that I would make them dress warmly.

Join me on a journey to see all the things that are working in America. Next up, on Jan. 28: a trip to the Big Easy — New Orleans!

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