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2011 City Guide: X Factor

(No, we are not talking about a talent show or a comic book.) Often the letter x is used as shorthand for that which is not known, but which can make all the difference in an equation. Some people spend lifetimes trying to figure out what x is; some people are happy to accept it as unknowable.

Many of us have special x-factors that keep us in Western New York. Lots of other cities have great architecture, friendly people, multiple theaters, and beautiful neighborhoods. The reasons that brought us here or keep us here are different for everyone, and they are not always what you’d expect. Here are some of the less common ones:

• Snow. I know more than a few people who say they came here for the snow. Believe it or not, not everyone wants to be hot or even lukewarm all the time. Many of us like some drama in our weather; a good blizzard can offer a plenty of drama—and a damn good time, if you’re well-prepared. Unlike tornadoes, hurricanes, and tsunamis, the dangerous aspects of a blizzard can be avoided.

• It’s easy. Other, larger cities have more—more restaurants, museums, big-name concerts, shopping districts, and major league teams—but too often the effort required to take advantage of these riches is just too much: too much time, money, and energy. We all know people who live in other cities and spend three hours in their cars daily just getting back and forth to work. In Buffalo there is enough to do, and—for most of us—enough time and resources to do it.

• DIY works here. If you’re willing to work hard, the odds are in your favor that your band can succeed, your art can be sold, your neighborhood can reinvent itself, and your idea, whatever it is, can become a reality. Think Western New York Book Arts Center.

What’s your WNY x factor?

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