Poll: What do you call our ‘hood?

I’ve been thinking. (insert “uh oh” or “watch out” or “finally”)

There are a ton of areas in the city of Buffalo that are distinctly identifiable by their name. In some cases, that name may be aligned to a main street or “drag” – in others, to something historic or unique. But in all cases, the name comes with an image. It also creates a destination while identifying you with a particular neighborhood.

The name is everything.

Think of the Elmwood Village, Allentown, Canalside, Chippewa, Cobblestone, Larkinville. Each of these have become destinations, filled with restaurants, bars and other amenities, flush with hustle and bustle. They’re marketable locales. They’ve become pockets of pride for the city and even trendy. Basically just places people want to be.

So what about North Buffalo?

It has all of the above and given the flurry of business activity and recent real estate trends, it has become, not only cool but also, a good investment to reside in 14216. But is thinking of it on the “North Buffalo” scale too broad? Meaning, without having focus on the center of the activity, maybe we’re missing out on what could be something even greater.

The above neighborhood names drive people to a place that usually in turn spurs some economic impact. It’s no secret that the backbone of North Buffalo is Hertel Avenue. The marketer in me would love to see us commit to creating something that reinforces just that. Reinforces a unified brand for the core part of North Buffalo – be it our avenue, village, district, borough or ward. Something we can collectively own, celebrate and promote.

Whether you’ve lived in the area your whole life or are a transplant, you’re likely all abuzz with the buzz so I’m sure this resonates with you. So what do you think? Do we need a once-and-for-all name? A brand? What should it be? Share your thoughts in the below poll!

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Elmwood vs Hertel

Last week, the Buffalo News published an article documenting that teens find the Elmwood Village and Hertel Avenue “hip”. An encouraging write up from a teen’s point of view that gave both neighborhoods some great free press. I’ll take that any day.

Just a few short years ago, Hertel wouldn’t be mentioned in the same sentence as the Elmwood Village – whether it was a teen, adult or senior citizen talking. But clearly, things have changed and we now have a legitimate debate on which area is better.

Truth is, they’re tough to compare as they host a different demographic and present a different image. If I had to brand the two, I would dub Elmwood as the hip part of town, but I’d call Hertel the cool part of town.

Elmwood is fashionable, trendy, artistic and maybe even a bit pretentious.

It’s a mature neighborhood filled with eclectic personalities, densely populated (arguably overcrowded), but without a doubt a vibrant and lively locale. Some of my absolute favorite places in all of Buffalo happen to be in the Elmwood Village. Cecelia’s and Blue Monk top the list; I love Urban Threads for clothes and Bidwell Parkway in the summer is has an unbeatable vibe.

I love Elmwood. I just don’t want to live there, nor do I like it better than Hertel. (This is a blog about Hertel, what did you expect?)

Hertel is the down to earth side of town, with similar offerings minus the hipster counter-culture. People start families and buy furniture and home decor here, but they also enjoy similar amenities in terms of dining, fashion and nightlife.

The Italian influence still remains with places like Johnny’s Meats, Caruso’s Imports and Lombardo’s still going strong. The revitalized North Park Theatre is a gem that few areas anywhere can boast. And Mes Que has become WNYs only true soccer outlet. Something for everyone, but still somehow the appeal is different from Elmwood.

A trend worth pointing out however, is the one that has long established neighborhood shops opening an additional location across town (Spot Coffee, Village Beer Merchant expanded to Hertel, Joe’s Deli added an Elmwood location). This movement confirms both areas are in fact places to be, and we should be thankful the city has two distinct destinations like these. But the rivalry between the two will only intensify as Hertel continues to grow and further develops the loyal following the Village has.

P.S. I have somewhat of a hard time giving the Elmwood Village ownership of Albright Knox, the History Museum or Burchfield Penney. Yes, I know they are physically located on the street Elmwood Avenue. But I view those treasures as a section all their own, separate from the Village. But if they can take credit for them, Hertel is going to take credit for Delaware Park and the Buffalo Zoo. Call it a draw.