How to Take a Ride: In Buffalo and Beyond (Second in series)

We continue the series on walking Buffalo, from the intrepid couple who walked every day, whatever the weather, in the first 30 months of Covid. They think (without being systematic) that they walked all the streets of Buffalo, and many other cities and towns, taking some 20,000 photos, some of which are shared in this series. While not itineraries, we hope to encourage others to “walk the road,” to see, observe, and appreciate Buffalo, and beyond. William Graebner and Dianne Bennett are also film critics for 5 Cent Cinema, here.

See also Part I of the series.


Today’s photo essay: Search! Roofs and Roofers

We had been walking for months before we became interested in ceilings, yes, ceilings. We got help from the internet and from Dianne’s cousin, an experienced roofing contractor.

There are perhaps a dozen roof types, including the standard “gabled” (pointed) roof, which is everywhere. Two other types are quite common in Buffalo. One is the mansard roof, which has two slopes, instead of one, coming from the top: the higher slope is moderately angled, the lower slope is steeper. The gambrel is sometimes known as the “barn” roof, because it is commonly used for barns; you will see it often in rural areas, but also in the city. The urban gambrel suggests a nostalgia for a simpler rural America.

Here are two houses with a sloping roof, on Masten Avenue:

And a huge, unusual dormer window, somewhere in Colvin on the north side.

And that’s Dianne, with a mask on her arm, looking at the nonfunctional gambrel motif on the side of a large house on Linview Terrace, north of Delaware Park.

So you think you have the gambrel down? The problem is that what we call “fake” gambrels are more common than real gambrels. The “false” gambrel has a traditional gabled roof line, in front of a splinter of a gambrel, apparently, just for looks. The designer just couldn’t resist a reference to the barn.

A “false” Gambrel roof, at the east end. There are several fake Gambrels on Crescent Avenue between Parkside and Colvin.

Another popular roof style is the clipped gable, also known as jerkinhead. It’s a good bet that most people who live in a house with this roof don’t know they’re living under an asshole. A good performer in high winds, the jerkinhead looks as if one had taken the standard gable roof and cut off the end, leaving a sloping triangle.

We found an idiot at Raymondo’s Pizzeria, on East Delavan and Ivanhoe.

Outside Grider, south of 33rd, a row of idiots. They often come in bunches.

Not far from Amherst Quarry, probably on East Amherst St., is a house with at least (there are sides you can’t see in the photo) 3 doublet roofs.

This house has at least 3 assholes.

The mansard roof dates from the 16th century.the century, but is named after a 17theFrench architect of the 19th century with the surname of mansarda. Rarely seen in homes, unfortunately quite common for businesses. He is not our favorite. Walking through Lockport in February in the snow, we came across an extreme mansard roof: the building as a mansard roof, the medium is the message. With a couple of dormers thrown.

Finally, there is a ceiling “configuration” that deserves mention. It is especially common in the Broadway/Fillmore area, just west of the Central Terminal. The “telescope” house takes its name from the serial extensions to the main house, ostensibly to accommodate a growing family, each one smaller than the last, creating a descending roofline, front to back.

A green telescope house, with 3 sections, the Central Terminal in the background:

A 3-section “telescopic” house, west of the Central Terminal]

And a 4-section telescope, in the same neighborhood. There may be a “5” somewhere!

Solar panels are becoming more common, even in neighborhoods like the Fruit Belt, where homes are often modest.

Solar panels in the Fruit Belt

Buffalo’s housing stock is old and the city’s roofs are vulnerable to deterioration. We have noticed that the first buildings to suffer from abandonment are the garages. This one, with plants growing out of a big hole, probably can’t be saved:

The roof of a damaged garage, seen from the driveway on south Beverly Road, in Hamlin Park

As you look up at the rooftops, you’re bound to see roofers in action. For us they approach mythical figures, working at dangerous heights, carrying heavy loads of asphalt shingles up 2-story stairs (climbed with one hand), demonstrating bravery every day.

Whether you buy that or not, roofers are worth watching.

One day in September 2020, while walking down East End Avenue (one side of which is in Buffalo, the other in Cheektowaga), we came across some major roofing work being done on a 2-story building (with flats). tall) at the intersection with Genesee Street. Most of the roofers, including a young woman (who told us her name was “Queenie”), were resting at street level. When she saw me photographing the building, she ran up the tall staircase in her sneakers, eager to get her picture taken, and then posed exuberantly for a photo.

A young female roofer, posing for a photo, East End and Genesee

Then there was the young man roofing a 2-story building in Fillmore, near Smith Street, wearing patriotic shorts and showing lots of skin, as he held onto the roof with his toes.

It’s hard to imagine what it must be like to repair the steeple of the Westminster Presbyterian Church in Delaware.

Roofers can look choreographed. In this case, I was reminded of the brave soldiers who raised the flag on Iwo Jima.

And this confident, dashing roofer, working in Riverside with a stapler in his hand, could be Rambo or a Wild West gunslinger.


©William Graebner

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