Large Scale History Mural

Mural at Hyatt Regency Buffalo puts 100 years of city’s history on display

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

The 80-foot collage of old newspaper headlines and photographs is more billboard than mural, but it certainly conveys a story to anyone looking above the doors to the Pearl Street entrance of the Hyatt Regency Buffalo.

At a glance, the billboard is a kaliedoscope of images that were captured on the front pages of The Buffalo News from the late 19th century to the near present. It covers Buffalo and Western New York, from celebrated visits by U.S. presidents from Grover Cleveland to Barack Obama. In bold headlines, it captures the aftermath of a paralyzing blizzard to bold announcements of new public works projects, like the construction of the Peace Bridge, to the chronicling of major public spectacles that include Nik Wallenda’s daring tightrope walk over Niagara Falls.

“There are probably 100 stories on this wall,” said Paul L. Snyder III, CEO of Snyder Corp., which owns the Hyatt Regency Buffalo.

“You need to walk it to see it. It is, essentially, a sampling of the some of the historic events of our community, from the inception of The Buffalo News to 100 years later, virtually to the opening of this hotel.

That is the period that spans from about 1880, when The Buffalo Evening News began publishing a daily newspaper, to the mid-1980s, when the Hyatt Regency first opened its doors.

The concept for the mural was hatched a little over six months ago, following discussions between Snyder and Buffalo News Publisher Warren Colville and their respective teams. Their aim was to tell a story about Buffalo through the historic lens of The Buffalo News.

“We have images of the Peace Bridge being constructed and dedicated. We have images of Pilot Field being constructed. We also have images of most of the (U.S.) presidents during those periods of time, going back to McKinley, who came to this community and spoke at this community,” he said.

“What was important to us was selecting images and stories that are unique to our community, not headlines that could have been in Boston or Los Angeles or Chicago. These are Buffalo stories. So, if there’s a president in it, that president was in Buffalo. That makes it much more interesting because it’s our story. It’s the community’s story,” Snyder added.

The giant collage is composed of images taken directly from The News archives. The images were digitally remastered into a photographic file that could then be printed and installed on a very hi-tech material and then placed onto a media that almost looks like a giant photograph. The result, said Snyder, is a testament to the importance of newspapers, even in a digital age.

“It tells you how important The News is to the history and legacy of the community,” he said.

Without these unique artifacts, “the community doesn’t have the same sense of itself,” Snyder said.