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City on the Edge: Buffalo, New York, 1900 - present Paperback – March 30, 2007

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Mark Goldman (Buffalo, NY), a successful entrepreneur who has played a major role in revitalizing the cultural life of downtown Buffalo, is the author of City on the Lake: The Challenge of Change in Buffalo, New York.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 413 pages
  • Publisher: Prometheus Books (March 20, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1591024579
  • ISBN-13: 978-1591024576
  • Product Dimensions: 5.4 x 0.9 x 8.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #259,604 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

60 of 61 people found the following review helpful By Peter Lorenzi on April 5, 2007
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Ten years ago I attended an academic conference in Buffalo. The Buffalo Zoo hosted the main dinner of the conference, and the participants ate a nice meal accompanied by the relatively intense aroma of the denizens of the zoo. It was a little off-putting. The highlight of the evening, the after dinner speech, was a presentation of a plan to revitalize the zoo with a massive investment and relocation to the troubled waterfront area of Buffalo, away from its historic, almost pastoral setting in Delaware Park. The once flourishing seal exhibit had been filled in and now housed a prairie dog exhibit. To rectify problems like this, all they needed was $500 million, preferably from the state of New York. It never happened.

Such large-scale thinking - and the disasters that regularly accompanies same -- abounds in "City on the edge." Having read Diana Dillaway's (2006), more academic "Power failure," and, just recently, Goldman's 1990 prequel, "City on the lake," "City on the edge" provided a dark, rich third part of this sad trilogy. Some of "Edge" draws heavily from "Lake;" read both and you'll see a lot of overlap. And there is good reason: To understand Buffalo's perilous position today, Goldman takes us back over one hundred years to the pivotal events at the turn of the twentieth century in Buffalo - the assassination of President McKinley and the building of the Lackawanna (later Bethlehem) steel plant. From that death and those new industrial roots Buffalo prospered and led the industrial triumphs of the United States in the twentieth century, with steel and autos, war production and cereal, aircraft and chemicals. The city boomed during the war years and suffered much during the Depression.

In Buffalo, the creative culture prospered, especially music and art.
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22 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Midwest Book Review on July 7, 2007
Format: Paperback
At first glance CITY ON THE EDGE would seem to be a title New York collections alone could appreciate - but look again: it's a story of urban dysfunction which holds strong social and urban planning messages for any American city. Chapters survey the history of Buffalo, New York: from its initial promising heyday to its decline, its many social issues, and the role of the arts in community life. Of particular note - and recommended for college-level holdings strong in urban planning - are discussions of how urban politics and city planning affected the development and outcome of Buffalo. People, places and events alike are surveyed.
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Thomas J. Burns VINE VOICE on February 13, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Buffalo lost a great deal more than four Super bowls in the twentieth century. The Queen City of the Great Lakes has lost half of its population, most of its substantive economic base, and the redeeming grace and charm of its foliage and distinctive neighborhoods. All decaying Rustbelt cities can point to similarities, but like hurricanes, wars, and recessions, each city's fall is distinct, each its own perfect storm of poor planning, illusions of grandeur, outside interests, corrupt politics, and citizenry impervious to the need for urban reinvention.

Mark Goldman's chronicle of Buffalo through the twentieth century is indeed a page turner. The fact that we know the outcome makes each step of the journey the harder the bear, because the reader knows that it is the wrong step, and the tendency to cry out "What were you thinking?" pervades this work throughout. In many instances Goldman's analyses of "what they were thinking" are clear and brilliant. He covers a wide range of the city's life and how the mistakes of one quadrant interfaced with those of another to create the mosaic of wreckage that stands today. The author tends to go overboard with the cultural arts, and he virtually ignores the Catholic Church, Erie County, and the Mob, [apologies for the juxtapositions], forces of considerable influence upon the city. But on the whole, he tells a compelling and moving story.

If the City of Buffalo is jinxed, as some believe, the curse may have been incanted between 1895 and 1900, when city fathers welcomed Pennsylvania's Walter Scranton, President of Lackawanna Steel, to set up shop along a massive tract of prime waterfront property.
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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Steven Peterson TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on March 3, 2008
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Mark Goldman's "City on the Edge" is a history of the past and a look at the possible future of Buffalo, New York. As such, this is a book of real interest to me. I spent four years in Buffalo, studying for my Ph. D. at the (then) State University of New York at Buffalo. For the next twenty plus years, I taught at a university in Western New York and often visited friends in Buffalo or just went there for mini vacations. I start off by saying that I thought that Buffalo had many attractions--but obviously faced many challenges. I loved wandering around Delaware Park, driving along the Niagara River, going to the Anchor Bar for chicken wings and jazz. . . . Goldman is also a resident of Buffalo and also a real booster for the city.

This book takes a look at how Buffalo has come to be where it is now. The history really starts at the Pan-American Exposition in 1901. At that time, the future looked good for Buffalo. Manufacturing and shipping were mainstays of the economy; the Exposition promised a great deal of visibility. But, as with later events, the promise had counterpoint in misfortune, such as President McKinley's assassination, the economic failure of the Exposition, and so on.

The book spends time on the growth and glory days of Buffalo. But the current realities are set in motion later on, in the 1960s, 1970s, and thereafter. Key problems facing Buffalo were a set of ethnic political leaders who played by "old politics," the politics of favoritism, of patronage. I don't know how true this is, but a friend of mine once worked for the city at a club for kids. As part of her purview, she was responsible for a swimming pool. The local political "boss" made sure that sons and daughters of party favorites got jobs as lifeguards, some of whom could not swim. True?
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