Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Travel/Photo Blog: Week Four – New England at Buffalo

Travel/Photo Blog: Week Four – New England at Buffalo
By Andy Lopusnak,
Sept. 28-30, 2012

Four weeks into the regular season and this week is the first AFC home city. This is my first trip back to Buffalo since Week Five of 2010 when the New York Jets beat the Buffalo Bills 38-14.

When in Buffalo, there’s really one thing that must be seen – Niagara Falls. I’ve been to Niagara Falls four other times (2006, 2007, 2009 and 2010). In each of those trips, I shot the Falls from the American and Canadian sides from the street level. Finally, I decided to photograph the Falls from the Maid of the Mist boat as well as the Cave of the Winds. I got soaked at both. I opted to talk my point-and-shoot cameras instead of my DSLR because of the torrential downpour from the Falls.
·         Three waterfalls makeup Niagara Falls: Horseshow Falls, American Falls and Bridal Veil Falls.
·         More than six million cubic feet of water falls over the crest line every minute in high flow. 
·         Niagara State Park is the oldest state park in the U.S. established in 1885.
·         Four of the five Great Lakes drain into the Niagara River before emptying into the fifth Great Lake (Ontario).

There’s no cave involved in this tour. After the cave was found in 1834 behind the Bridal Falls, tours into the cave began in 1841 and stopped in 1920 after a major rock fall. Today, tours are in front of the Bridal Falls. I’m so glad I didn’t bring my 7D, though it’s weather sealed, because I was drenched. There was a guy out there with a Canon 5D Mark III and I hope he got some good shots, because it was constant downpour. They even have a place called the Hurricane Deck. I couldn’t see more than five feet in front of me when I went up there.  
The Maid of the Mist tour boat has been around since 1846. Back then it was a ferry service from one side of the Niagara River to the other. There are four active Maid of the Mist boats. I rode on the bow of Maid of the Mist VI, which was built in 1990. The view is spectacular of the American and Bridal Falls. I couldn’t see much of the massive Horseshoe Falls because the mist was essentially a monsoon.

It's definitely worth it if you're in the greater Buffalo/Niagara area to do both the Cave and the Winds and the boat tour. There other tours from the Canadian side such as Journey behind the Falls (at the edge of Horseshoe Falls) and White Water Walk, which is a little north of the Falls in the Niagara Whirlpool.
In 1900, Buffalo was the eighth largest city in American thanks to the largest grain-milling centers, which made the Nickel City a major railroad hub. During this time, skyscrapers were just on the horizon and Buffalo’s boom led to the building of some of the period’s great art deco and neoclassical architectural structures, including the largest collection of Frank Lloyd Wright structures outside of Chicago. However, with Great Lakes shipping re-routed by the opening of the St. Lawrence Seaway in 1959 and lots of heavy industry relocated to China, Buffalo declined to pre-1900 population by 1990 and is now the 47th largest metro area in the U.S. Today, there are numerous abandoned industrial buildings and much of the city immediately outside of the downtown area is rundown. The only remnants of this boom from some 120 years ago are the vast number of great architectural pieces that survive today.

This Art Deco building was built in 1929 by the New York Central Railroad. Over 200 trains use to go through the BCT every day. Fifty years after it opened, it closed. After a series of owners gutted the interior of pretty much any architectural artifacts of value, a restoration company bought the dilapidated train station for $1 plus the $70K owed in back taxes.
Today, there are numerous events held at the BCT. This past weekend was Oktoberfest, so I couldn’t go inside without a ticket. Since I don’t drink, I didn’t enter the main concourse. I did walk around the building and found an opening in the Mail Building. This neglected part of the BCT is an urban photographers dream. It’s accessible and looks like a post-apocalyptical building.
Sunday morning, I woke up at 5:30 A.M. and drove out to the Frank Lloyd Wright designed Darwin Martin House, considered one of his greatest works. Built in 1905, the Martin House is one of the largest complexes created by Wright. Buffalo has the distinction of being of having more FLW structures than any city outside of Chicago.
In downtown near the crappy Hyatt Regency, which is the worst major hotel I’ve ever stayed, is the Gold Dome Bank and Electric Tower. The tower was built in 1912 and still stands as the seventh largest building in Buffalo. Next to the tower is the Buffalo Savings Bank, otherwise known as the Gold Dome Bank. It was built in 1901 and is a neoclassical Beaux-Arts style. The dome is actually made of 23.75-carat gold leaf.
The oldest structure in Buffalo is the Main Light, a sixty-foot octagonal limestone lighthouse that was built in 1833. It’s in the Erie Basin Marina in downtown.
Buffalo’s City Hall is perhaps the best looking of any city in the states from the outside. It dominates the Buffalo skyline towering at 398 feet from street to tip. The art deco building was built in 1932. There are 1,520 windows and all of them open inward meaning there aren’t any exterior window washers.
On the way to the stadium Sunday, I stopped at the Our Lady of Victory Basilica & National Shrine to grab some exteriors of the immense church. In the small town of Lackawanna, right outside of Buffalo, this behemoth stands 165 feet. The copper dome was the second highest dome in size to the U.S. Capitol dome when completed in 1926 at a cost of $3.2 million (over $41 million in today's currency). I did get to go inside, but shot sparingly since there were a few parishioners and the lights were overly bright so I couldn't get a useable shot of the inside of the dome.
Two months after the OLV opened; Pope Pius XI visited it and elevated it to minor Basilica. It was the second church bestowed a basilica; the first was in Minneapolis just days earlier. Just as a side note, there are 68 total basilicas in the United States, sixth most in the world but the most outside of Europe. In comparison, Rome has 66 alone. The next closest city has just 15 (Buenos Aires). Chicago and New York City have the most in the U.S with three each. Milwaukee and St. Louis are the only other U.S. cities with more than one.
This marked my eleventh trip to Buffalo with CBS. The Bills are now 6-5 in those contests losing their last four home games I’ve covered. Buffalo’s last home win I attended was in 2006 when the Bills toppled Jacksonville 27-24 after Ryan Lindell hit a 42-yard field goal as time expired.

What seemed like a close game midway though the third quarter quickly became a rout as Tom Brady led New England on five straight scoring drives en route to a 52-28 win. The 52 points is tied for the most for an NFL game I’ve covered (238 in total since 1997). That other 52-point explosion was in 2002 when the Carolina Panthers beat the Cincinnati Bengals 52-31.
The Pats had two rushers with over 100 yards on the ground and two receivers with over 100 yards through the air marking just the second time in NFL history that a team did so in the same game (Green Bay was the first in 2008).
Brady extended his streak of 36 straight games with at least one touchdown pass, which is the fourth longest streak in league history. He also posted three passing scores (and one rushing), marking his fifth straight game against Buffalo that he tossed for a least three touchdowns.

For the first time this season, I opted to do just one time lapse since I did one in 2010 (click here to view) and that I wanted to get out immediately following the game since traffic out of the tiny two-lane road from Ralph Wilson Stadium is horrible.

This time lapse was from the broadcast booth using the GoPro Hero 2 and consisted of almost 2,000 individual images over the course of five and a half hours. I set the intervals at every ten seconds. It’s an interesting look into the behind the scenes of an NFL broadcast.
You can view my best shots from Buffalo all-time by clicking here and the best of the best from Niagara Falls by clicking here.

After the game, I drove to the Anchor Bar, which is where "buffalo wings" were created when Teressa Bellissimo deep-fired some wings and smothered them in hot sauce and margarine. Prior to her creation in 1964, wings were used for soups or just thrown away. 
UP NEXT: Double Dip (Towson at James Madison/Cleveland at NY Giants)
Next week is my first double dip of the season. On Saturday, I will be doing stats for the Towson and James Madison college football game for NBC Sports Network and then on Sunday will be covering the Cleveland Browns at the New York Giants. This will be second Giants home game of the year after covering the preseason tilt against Chicago.

Here are my favorite photos from this past weekend…

1 comment:

  1. Amazing pics Andy, Niagara falls is a awesome creation of nature. You remind me my last year Niagara Falls trip. The maid of the mist boat ride was really most adventurous experience for me and the falling view of Horseshoe waterfall from table rock is most magnificent moment for any body.

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