Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Youngstown in Buffalo

As a blogger, I often stumble upon curious and unexpected facts. Youngstown is a part of the Buffalo (New York) region. I'm not referring to the great steel city on the Mahoning River. I gather Youngstown is a suburb of Buffalo. When I'm searching for stories about the Youngstown in Ohio, every so often the place in New York pops up.

Yesterday's blog post afforded a similar serendipity. Youngstown Pride chimes in with an anecdote about immigrants improving a Buffalo neighborhood. Then, Defend Youngstown offers up PUSH Buffalo as a relevant neighborhood redevelopment model.

The very act of creating the blog post you are reading now yields the following find:

As a snow plow trudged its way over Delaware Park — designed from 1868 to 1874 by Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux, the vision behind Central Park — Mr. Akauola, 53, warmed up in his black Ford Escape. He had walked only two laps — about 3.6 miles — in the park. “Normally, I go three to four rounds, but today it’s hard on your feet,” he explained. “You don’t want to mess up your ankles.”

A native of Tonga, Mr. Akauola, who works in construction, estimated that he is one of a very tiny number of people from the South Pacific living in western New York. (The two climates, of course, could not be more different.)

Mr. Akauola lived in Hawaii, where his two sons and daughter were born, from 1980 to 1985. His wife’s sister, who lived in the Buffalo area, suggested that the family settle here.

“When our first son was born, she gave us the idea,” Mr. Akauola recalled. “Buffalo was an affordable place to put your kids in school.” The three children are grown now. The younger son, who graduated from Rutgers University, lives in New Jersey; the daughter, an alumna of Arizona State University, works for an oil company in Houston.

This unexpected migration to Buffalo could just as easily occur in Youngstown. Missing are the folks who might encourage it. Why not Youngstown?

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