Old and new blend seamlessly on this beautiful boulevard in Buffalo, N.Y.Once known as Millionaires’ Mile, Delaware Avenue in Buffalo, N.Y., pays homage to a time when the industrial town boasted more seven-figure bank accounts per capita than any other city in the U.S. The grand thoroughfare, also known as the Avenue of the Presidents in honor of the three U.S. heads of state who left their mark here, bridges historic mansions with contemporary boutiques and restaurants, providing something for everyone.
SEE: You don’t need to be an architecture buff to revel in the imposing mansions lining Delaware Avenue. Late-19th-century residences of dozens of famous names — and several designed by blue-chip architecture firm McKim, Mead and White — commingle with luxurious apartment buildings constructed in the 1920s, a time when Buffalo considered itself the new frontier of American business and industrial progress. Though the main house is gone, channel the spirit of ?Samuel Langhorne Clemens (better known as Mark Twain), who lived at No. 472 Delaware when he edited the Buffalo Morning Express in 1869.
DO: Get your dose of American history with a visit to the former Ansley Wilcox House, now known as the ?Theodore Roosevelt Inaugural National Historic Site, where Teddy took the oath of office in 1901 after the assassination of William McKinley (who died at the John Milburn home down the street after he was shot at the Pan-American Exposition). Then walk to Delaware Park, which hosted the expo 111 years ago and now is home to the Buffalo Zoo as well as to annual Shakespeare in the Park productions. The country’s 13th president, Millard Fillmore, who co-founded the University at Buffalo and the Buffalo Historical Society, also has ties to Delaware Avenue, having lived — and died — in a home in Niagara Square. He is buried at Delaware Avenue’s Forest Lawn Cemetery , along with other noteworthy Buffalonians.
SLEEP: The most renowned luxury hotel in town, The Mansion on Delaware Avenue is housed in one of the street’s finest homes. Commissioned in 1869 by grain-elevator owner Charles F. Sternberg, the structure found its second life during the 1901 Pan-Am Expo as a 100-room hotel and finished the 20th century as a restaurant. Today, it boasts 18-foot ceilings, round-the-clock butler service and a four-diamond AAA rating.
EAT: Head south toward Lake Erie for grub in Buffalo’s central business district. One block east of Delaware Avenue, the Pearl Street Grill & Brewery , a chic sports bar with traditional pub food and inventive brews, gets high marks from Buffalo natives. If you prefer the drink of the gods, stroll over to Bacchus Wine Bar and Restaurant, located just east of Delaware Avenue in the city’s theater district, for its extensive list of varietals and modern American fare. The Bacchus bouillabaisse — a spicy tomato- and fennel-broth stew with shrimp, scallops, mussels and chorizo — hits the spot.
DRINK: Despite the industrialist ghosts of centuries past, Buffalo is largely a college town these days (so there are plenty of options for wetting your whistle). Blue Monk, a block west of Delaware, is a gastropub with a dizzying selection of Belgian brews. If you’re in town for Sunday brunch, be sure to hit the do-it-yourself Bloody Mary bar. Oenophiles will enjoy Just Vino, a wine bar with staffers who can speak knowledgeably of reds and whites, whether they’re from upstate New York or the Old World.
If You Go...
641 Delaware Ave.
300 Parkside Ave.
Forest Lawn Cemetery
1411 Delaware Ave.
The Mansion on Delaware Avenue
414 Delaware Ave.
76 Pearl St.
Bacchus Wine Bar and Restaurant
54 W. Chippewa St.
727 Elmwood Ave.
846 Main St.