Literature Program

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Co-sponsored/co-presented by:
Prometheus Books and Talking Leaves

Mark Goldman

Reading from his new book City on the Edge

Presented at:

About the Book:

City on the Edge is a narrative about the life and times of a city over a 105-year period. An overview of the history of Buffalo from the Pan-American Exposition of 1901 to the tree-ravaging ice storm of October 12, 2006, it is a broad, sweeping historical narrative that leaves little out. In 15 chronologically arranged chapters that deal with the arts, city planning, urban renewal, the changing economy, and racial and ethnic change—as well as a scathing critique of the deal to bring casino gambling to Buffalo—City on the Edge, written in a scintillating and accessible style, is clearly a must-read for anybody who cares about the critical events that have shaped this city over the past hundred plus years.

Played out against the background of these larger historical themes, City on the Edge, in novelistic and highly textured prose, tells the stories of the daily lives of the people who lived and worked in Buffalo over the course of the century:

Sal Rizzo and his marionette theatre in the old Italian neighborhood known as "The Hooks"; Seymour Knox and his efforts to make the Albright Art Gallery one of the world's great centers of modernism; Walter Behrendt's plan to remake the city's waterfront in the image of the Bauhaus; Leslie Fiedler's University of Buffalo; Charles Abbott and the creation of the UB Poetry Collection; Sherman Walker's African-American East Side; Mabel Dodge and her loveless Victorian home; Charlotte Spaulding and her circle of female photographers; Lukas Foss and the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra; Eliel & Eero Saarinen and the building of Kleinhans Music Hall; Frank Lloyd Wright and the demolition of the Larkin Building; Frankie Perez and the birth of the Puerto Rican Lower West Side; Rosa Gibson and the re-birth of hope at the Wohlers Avenue Community Garden; Mayor Anthony Masiello and his failed efforts to renew a city that he loved; and Judge John T. Curtin and his hopes for a new kind of community rooted in racial and ethnic diversity.

The list is long, the characters are real; their stage is large and the stories—of a people and of a city—make City on the Edge haunting and compelling.

About the Author:

Mark Goldman's long time community efforts and activism have had a significant impact on the revitalization that downtown Buffalo, New York enjoys today. An author, a scholar, and entrepreneur, it was Goldman's plan to create a "center of the arts" in Downtown Buffalo that led to the creation in 1990 of The Calumet Arts Cafe on the long neglected Chippewa Street. The Calumet Complex became home to the Irish Classical Theatre Company as well as a favorite caf≥ and venue for various musical talent. But most importantly, Mark's visionary efforts led a whole new generation of Buffalonians to a new and creative way of thinking about downtown Buffalo.

Most recently, his 2003 conversion of a long-empty Buffalo hardware store, into one of Buffalo's hottest cafés, Allen Street Hardware, re-enforced Goldman's passionate commitment to "urban renewal" through "architectural rehabbing." Known to the cognoscenti as "Hardware," Goldman's newest café has once again evoked a similar stimulating impact on a teetering street; this time in the historic Allentown District. Soon to celebrate its third anniversary, "Hardware" has become "the place" to be for the best in food, drink, and world music.

Goldman helps to enlighten the next generation as a lecturer and member of the Adjunct Faculty of Buffalo State College. In City On The Edge, he continues his passionate work as an author, a scholar and a first rate historian. For more information see

About the Photographer:

Greg Halpern was born and raised in Buffalo, New York. He holds a BA in History and Literature from Harvard and a MFA from Cal Arts. In 2003, he published his first book of photographs, Harvard Works Because We Do. He is working on a second book of photographs, many of which are taken in and around Buffalo, a city beloved to him, and a place that continues to be his primary source of inspiration. He is currently a Visiting Assistant Professor of Photography at Cornell University. His work can be seen at