Friday, September 25, 2009

Forgot about Boston - Part 2 (Buffalo)

Nick and I arrived in Buffalo around 10pm. We headed towards Buffalo Psychiatric Center to meet up with Jake and possibly explore a smaller building of the campus.

We parked the car on the street and left all of our gear inside. We both carried only our wallets and cell phones. As most of you know Buffalo Psych has been a little hot lately due to certain events that I won't go into because of all the drama it brings up. The security that patrols this campus is called OMH (Office of Mental Health) and unbeknownst to be at this point they are legitimate police officers on their own property. Anyone who has done any hospital explores in NY is familiar with OMH and it seems most are terrified of them.

We started off by walking on a path the goes directly behind the giant kirkbride. It seemed interesting to me that they light up this beautiful building for all to see but barricade any possible entrance into it as soon as it's discovered. I was told of doorways inside the building that are completely cemented shut making it almost impossible to navigate it even if you where to find an entrance. Too gorgeous to demolish but too old to put to use. We come up to our target for the evening and start to make our way around the back of the building. Within 2 seconds of stepping on the grass we're surrounded by OMH police, hands placed on cars, everything emptied from our pockets and being questioned about what the hell we're doing here. We keep our calm and explain that we're just cutting through to meet a friend of ours at the nearby dorms for Buffalo State College. They don't believe us and start trying to play good cop bad cop with us. We're not deviating from our story though and they are getting frustrated. I finally decide to start playing the scared pedestrian in the wrong place at the wrong time.

"Are we in trouble? I didn't know we wheren't supposed to be here! I'm not from here, please just let us leave!"

Finally we get our cellphones and wallets back and are told to leave the grounds immediately or we would be arrested. We make our way off the grounds all the while noticing that we're being followed and carefully watched. We meet up with Jake and explain what just happened. This apparently isn't the norm for this hospital and only because of recent events has it become so hardcore. I suggest we go get a beer and discuss our next course of action, Jake can't drink cause he's not 21 yet (whats with all these young ass explorers) and Nick is pretty much ready to call it a night. Defeated and sober I agree and have Nick drop me off at my couch-surfers house.

If you've never heard of you should check it out. It's a great resource for the budget minded traveler and a great way of meeting people from all over the world, if your comfortable letting complete strangers sleep in your house. The people that are into this scene all appear to be adventure junkies and are looking for the edge, that new thrill. It's seriously an awesome thing and I plan on opening my place in Boston to as many people as possible.

My host in Buffalo is Jeremy and his roommate Tom. Jeremy greets me at the door around 12am and immediately makes me feel at home. He offers me a beer and shows me the couch I will be sleeping on, already made up with sheets, pillows and comforter. We get to talking about our adventures and life stories. Jeremy has traveled all over the world and has spent a considerable amount of time in Hawaii. He runs his own record label and skateboarding company (B. Lo Boards). I explain why I am traveling and he gives me some tips on where I might be able to find some cool stuff around town. The general idea is follow the freight lines and you'll find stuff.

The next day I set out to explore Buffalo on my own. I take Jeremy's advise and follow the tracks throughout Buffalo. I come across building after building that appear to be abandoned, but on closer inspection they are all in use, at least to some extent. I checked out Buffalo Color only to find it under construction and all the roads around it blocked off. This saddens me and seems to confuse a few exploring contacts who had no idea that this was being done. I also walked the tracks to Concrete Supply and find CSX working on the tracks just after the bridge I need to cross to get there, defeated again. Eventually I come across an extremely tall building just off the tracks.

Buffalo Malting Corp, this looks like a good place to enjoy a beer and soak up some rays. I make my way into the building (not hard as all the ground level doors are wide open or missing) and proceed to take shots of anything I find interesting.

I make my way to the roof and decide I'm just gonna chill up here and put out a message to any Buffalo explorers to see if they wanna meet up.

I ended up falling asleep on the roof for a few hours and wake to a pretty fierce sunburn. No matter cause I just love being above everyone on the ground. I check my email and I have a response from Gerry. We make plans to meet at Pearl Street Grill in a few hours. I make my way out of the Malting Corp and head back towards Jeremy's to slap some cool water and aloe on my face. I look like a fucking lobster!

Jeremy was heading downtown to some minor league baseball game so I decide to walk with him as Pearl Street is right there. On the way I see a building right near the stadium that has an easy to access fire escape, I make a mental note of this for later. Finally I arrive at Pearl Street and wait for Gerry to show up. A few minutes later he arrives and we get to talking over a burger and me a beer (are you getting the theme here? I'm an alcoholic!). I suggest we go explore something quickly tonight and we also make plans to meet up tomorrow afternoon to do some cool local shit he knows about.

Gerry didn't believe that Buffalo Color was being worked on so we drive by there to confirm what I had seen. He's confused at the sight of work being done around the largest of the abandoned buildings, but it doesn't look too serious. I begin to tell him about the Malting Corp and he admits he's seen it but never gone in. I suggest we go do that as the view of the city is great from up there and it's night time now.

We basically bee-line for the tallest roof and spend about half an hour taking pictures.

After leaving here we head downtown to meet up with Jake to climb some rooftops (apparently this is a new concept to you people from buffalo). Jake shows up with his crew, we harass the only girl in the group for wearing ugg boots (when the hell will women learn?), scout a few rooftops and find that City Hall is covered in scaffolding. At the sight of a major landmark building being climbable my jaw drops and I start screaming like an excited 14 year old girl. Knowing that the rest of the group may not be up for something so epic, I decide to save this for the next night. and we head to the fire escape I had seen earlier. Without hesitation I turn the corner, pull the fire escape ladder and start running up it to the surprise of everyone there. All made it to the top of the fire escape but only Jake was man enough to climb the final ladder to the rooftop. To her credit though the girl in the group tried the the ladder at the top but she felt too short to make it to the roof itself. She ended up hanging around at the top of the fire escape until Jake and I came down.

The next morning I'm woken by Jeremy asking me if I was with a girl that fell through a chimney last night. I have no idea what he's talking about so look online for the article he had read in the local paper. Sure enough there's a story of a girl that climbed a street level ladder to the top of a chimney and fell down into it breaking both of her ankles (link). I guess she was able to pull herself out but the fire department still showed up and she was arrested. I don't know who this girl was thankfully but my first thought was to thank her for ruining a perfectly good rooftop for the locals.

Gerry shows up around 11am and we decide to see if we can get into one of Buffalo's best sites. It's a work day so the businesses around this site are in full swing and there's people driving all around the building. As quickly as possible we duck under the fence and make our way around the back of the building. We soon find a wide open door and make our way to the basement moving up through the floors.

We leave here and decide to go check out an old grain silo.

me = emo?


Gerry and me

It's getting late and we're loosing light so I have Gerry drop me off at Jeremy's.

Earlier in the day I had put a post online about climbing city hall and only Shawn W responded. I got in contact and we made plans to meet up at city hall around 11pm. I decide that I'm going to walk downtown and kill some time at a bar. Oddly enough almost every bar I find is closed, and it's not even 10pm yet? Admittedly it was a work day but if you go to any city in the US your guaranteed to have a few townie alcoholics, where the hell do they go to drink in Buffalo? Anyway, I waste time walking around the city instead and eventually meet up with Shawn. Jake was supposed to come as well but he's not answering his phone or txt messages (I later learned he fell asleep and is still kicking himself in the ass for it).

I had fully scouted this site earlier and knew my plan of attack. Shawn, not missing a beat, follows right behind and we quickly ascend the scaffolding to the highest point possible. Unfortunately the scaffolding only went to one of the lower roofs, but it's still high enough to get a great view of the city,

and the very top of city hall.

Being the narcissist that I am I need to take a few portraits and a group shot.

We make out way back down and Shawn gives me a ride back to Jeremy's house. It's hard to sleep after a rush like that. The next day I pack my stuff up, Jeremy gives me a brief tour of some of Buffalo's prettier sections and drops me off at the train station so I can make my way to NYC.

Buffalo is a great city and so close to Toronto you feel you can reach out and touch it. The point of my trip is to see the parts of cities that most people don't so I didn't get to see Niagara falls or any of the other touristy crap. There's so much to explore out there that it warrants a return visit (this time with a passport so I can make it into Toronto) and maybe next time I'll take the time to see the tourist traps.

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