I took a tour of Buffalo City Hall last week on my lunch break. (Technically I’m working from home right now so I can eat lunch whenever I want, but this tour takes place during the typical lunch hour of 12-1pm.)
And get this: It’s completely free. Tours are given every Monday-Saturday (except government holidays). All you have to do is show up in the lobby of City Hall, located at 65 Niagara Square.
City Hall is a mammoth building:
(Fun fact: City Hall was built from 1929-1931 and officially dedicated in 1932. They waited until 1932 for the dedication because it was the 100th anniversary of when Buffalo became a city.)
On the day I visited, our tour guide was Rich. Rich is a spry older gentleman, very talkative, who wore a peace sign necklace and a gold hoop in one ear. He emphasized several times that he LOVES Buffalo and would never consider living anywhere else. He’s a former schoolteacher and now conducts tours at multiple locations around the city.
Our group consisted of 15 people. I don’t know how many they get on a daily basis, but this was a manageable number. When asked, 11 participants lived in Buffalo or the surrounding suburbs. There were also two people visiting from Chicago and another two from Spain.
While we met in the lobby, Rich immediately took us outside and across the street to Niagara Square where he spent 20 minutes talking about Buffalo’s history before City Hall was built. This is what the square looks like:
Then we walked back across the street and partway around City Hall, where we heard all sorts of history about the building itself. We finally entered the structure again around 12:40pm. (I admit I was a little surprised that more than half the tour took place outside City Hall, but it worked. The weather was beautiful that day.)
Once inside, you can see gorgeous architectural details like this mural above a door…
…and the ceiling in this hallway.
We were able to walk into Mayor Byron Brown’s outer office (the security guard knew we were on a tour and waved us in). The mayor wasn’t around but it was a neat space to see. I didn’t take any photos in this room because there were people working at their desks.
We also saw the Council Chambers:
We reached the observation deck around 1:15pm, so we were about 15 minutes over our prescribed time. I took a few photos of the view before I headed home. Here’s one:
(Note: You don’t have to be on a tour to access the observation deck. You can go up anytime the building is open!)
Once outside, I took one last photo of City Hall and Niagara Square together.
Verdict: Highly recommend this tour as a fun, informative, and FREE activity.