BUFFALO, N.Y. — Each week, we introduce you to a City Shaper — someone who is having a positive impact on Buffalo.
This week, we’re highlighting the work of a Western New York native who wants people to discover what Buffalo has to offer.
"I've always loved the city. Loved beautiful old buildings. I remember back in second grade, our teacher at Forrest Elementary, Mrs. Syracuse, she really strove to bring the kids into the city," Brad Hahn said. "We actually did have a walking tour of downtown, and so I think that was part of what sort of sparked my interest in, you know, these old historic buildings."
We met up with Brad Hahn at First Presbyterian Church in Buffalo, which is home to many organizations including Explore Buffalo. Brad is Explore Buffalo's executive director. It's a non-profit tour organization that got its start about four years ago when a group of 30 people decided there needed to be more opportunities to learn about the city's architecture and history.
"We offer now about 80 different tours, and we have about 200 volunteers who lead the tours," says Hahn.
While the group got started with walking tours, now it does bike, bus, and kayak tours, too.
"What's your favorite tour to give?" asked 2 On Your Side’s Kelly Dudzik.
"My favorite tour to give is our Silo City grain elevator tour. We take people up to the top of the grain elevators, we work with Rick Smith who owns the property, and offer people this really unique opportunity. You don't get a tour like this anywhere else in the world. You really get to see how Buffalo was built was on the backs of the laborers and these buildings. This is what propelled Buffalo to be one of the largest and wealthiest cities in the country," Hahn said.
While Hahn has given tours to people from Europe, South America, and Australia, most of the people who take them are Western New Yorkers who want to learn more about what's in their own backyard.
"What's going through your mind when you're watching somebody who's either from here or not from here discover something new? What's that like for you?" asked Dudzik.
"For me, you know, you can really see it in people's eyes and, especially on the school trips," says Hahn. "We walk the kids through a building like the Gold Dome Bank and I like to just sort of let the kids look, and you can see it in their eyes as they look up at the ceiling and they're just in awe of this beautiful building."
"Do you see yourself in those kids?" asked Dudzik.
"Yeah, I definitely do, and that's why it's so important for me leading Explore Buffalo to really push that education program," Hahn said.
Explore Buffalo does tours year-round and is always looking for volunteers.
If you know a Buffalo City Shaper, nominate them by sending us an email.