Bet You Didn’t Know This Famous Downtown Building Is One Of The World’s First Skyscrapers! [BUFFALO: THEN AND NOW]
Buffalo is home to works by some of history’s most prominent architects, and any walk downtown is a living monument to that statement.
I bet you didn’t know one of the first skyscrapers was built in Buffalo. But take a walk down Church Street, and you’ll see the Guaranty Building, a 13-story beauty built in 1896 by Louis Sullivan — the “father” of the skyscraper.
And you’re probably thinking, “13 stories isn’t that tall. How is that a skyscraper?” But in 1896, it was the tallest building in the Queen City and represented Sullivan’s departure into more nature-inspired buildings.
It still was built as a skyscraper, with steel-supported beams, but Sullivan also built the building in a “U” shape in order to get as much natural light into it as possible. He used terra cotta, which is kind of like fired clay, to create intricate designs or flowers, seedpods and branches — to make the building look a tree — on the top of structure.
When it was built, the Guaranty Building was used for storefronts and a lobby on the first floor and offices on the higher floors — a plan that supported Sullivan’s idea that “form follows function.”
The building remained one of Buffalo’s most popular and prestigious until the Great Depression hit and people saw the structure as “old and dirty.” (Which is insane, to me; have you even looked at it?!)
The Guaranty became listed as a National Historic Landmark in 1975 and is now commonly known as the Prudential Building, and the law firm of Hodgson Russ LLP calls the building home.
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