The central figure is a woman, representing the city of Buffalo, ready to record
further events of the city's history in the record book she is about to open. The
book may be seen as a centennial journal, for City Hall was dedicated on July 4 of
the 1932 centennial of the city of Buffalo. The central figure is an adoption of
a Sibyl of Michelangelo's Sistine Chapel ceiling. The ancient Sibyls were recorders
and foreseeres of events.
The colossal frieze is over eleven feet high and nearly one hundred feet long. Sculptor
Albert T. Stewart has given his own description of the meaning of the figures:
The central figure is representative of the government
of the city crowned as the Queen City of the lakes, entering into her historical
record, the present era. In the background are the electrical rays symbolic of her
unlimited power.... Beneath her feet is the suppressed serpent of vice.
On each side is a horn of
plenty - on the left that of wheat and corn depicting
agricultural prosperity, and on the right, water, indicative of Buffalo's dependence
an the Great lakes and the Erie Canal.
On the left we have Architecture and Poetry, with Age giving council to Youth. On
the right is depicted the family as a social unit, the man carrying the strongbox
representing Thrift, the woman and child depicting Motherhood.
The base of the frieze also has a sawtooth pattern referring
to both the industrial tool and the Native American zig-zag motifs found throughout the building and crowning the tower.
The architect intentionally combined imagery drawn from modern industry with Native
Text source: Historic
American Buildings Survey/Historic American Engineering Record
(27 photos, 16 data pages). Type: Buffalo City Hall.
Hall East and West Friezes