The Gargoyles of Buffalo, NY
My recent article on the architecture of Buffalo inspired me to do some research and publish a photo blog post on a topic I've long been interested in: Gargoyles. By definition, a gargoyle is summarized as a grotesquely carved human or animal face or figure projecting from the gutter of a building, typically acting as a spout to carry water clear of a wall. The main purpose of the gargoyle is to prevent rainwater from running down masonry walls and eroding the mortar between. Early architects usually incorporated numerous gargoyles on a single building to evenly divide the flow of rainwater in case of a storm. Although the designs of these figures varied based on the architect's design, one common feature of most gargoyles was a through cut in the back and ran through the figure, having the rainwater exiting through it's open mouth.
The history of the gargoyle dates all the way back to ancient Egyptian architecture, which commonly used lion heads as their common water spout. The Greeks, Romans and many other civilizations following also implemented gargoyles into their architectural styles. The gargoyle gained tremendous popularity among architects during the medieval ages, especially with the gothic-styled Catholic Churches. One of the most famous examples can be found on the Notre Dame de Paris. In addition to serving as spouts for water, the gaping mouths of these gargoyles evoked the fearsome destructiveness of these legendary beasts, reminding the population of the need for the church's protection from these evil creatures. During this time grotesques became quite popular as well, which were also grotesque figures however not acting as water spouts.
Buffalo has a significant amount of gothic architecture, however I was surprised to only find a handful of these structures to have gargoyles incorporated into them. Below are a few examples of gargoyles I was able to find in Buffalo, with descriptions of where the buildings are, starting with 800 Ferry (lead image, plus next three images).
I'm going to leave you with my original inspiration for this post: My trip to Europe in 2015. My wife and I visited Budapest, Vienna, Prague and Munich for a total of two weeks. As we took in all the architecture and history these wonderful places have to offer, the DOZENS of gargoyles atop St. Vitus Cathedral at Prague Castle really stuck with me. Here's a few of my favorite from my visit to Prague, enjoy!
PS: If anyone wants to start a gargoyle fan club, just let me know :)