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A century ago, Buffalo’s Hydraulics District, a manufacturing and warehouse area one mile from downtown, was booming. This was thanks in a large part to the Larkin Company, one of the nation’s largest mail order retailers.
But competition with the department store eventually proved too much. Larkin went bust in the 1940s, and it brought the neighborhood down with it. Even the company’s famous administration building was demolished in 1950. The building, a progressive temple for the modern workplace designed by Frank Lloyd Wright (his first ever office building) was converted into surface parking.
But in the last few years, the neighborhood known as “Larkinville” has reemerged as a hub of economic activity. The once devastated neighborhood now posesses a growing collection of public space, mixed-use initiatives and offices. It’s the city’s most unexpected and perhaps most successful urban development initiative in decades.