Buffalo Zoo Entrance Court

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Buffalo, NY
United States
Buffalo Zoo Entrance Court

Located 3.5 miles from downtown Buffalo at the intersection of Parkside Avenue and Amherst Street, the Buffalo Zoo Entrance Court is a rare surviving work of John Brent, an employee of the Buffalo Parks Department and one of fewer than a hundred licensed African American architects in the early twentieth century. Originally conceived as a deer park in the northeast corner of Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux’s Delaware Park, the zoo (the third oldest in the United States) was formally established in 1875 and grew rapidly in the following decades. Initially backed by funding from the Works Progress Administration,  Brent designed and implemented more than sixteen facilities and exhibits at the zoo from 1935 to 1957, transforming it into an elaborate zoological garden under the influence of the City Beautiful movement. While most of Brent’s work at the zoo has been demolished or altered, the original design of the one-acre entrance court remains intact. The court was laid out in neoclassical fashion with two cobblestone-curbed driveways leading to a formal traffic circle and two entrance gates, each framed by a stone-faced and wrought-iron fence. Constructed of cast concrete, cast stone, limestone, sandstone, and wrought iron, the entrance court fencing shows both classical rustication and Art Deco features. The Buffalo Zoo Entrance Court remains in active use and was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2013.