Immersive 716: Exploring the History of Buffalo

Photo of the M&T Bank Gold Dome Building in downtown Buffalo, New York.

UB Libraries is partnering with the Experiential Learning Network to offer students the opportunity to work on a cutting-edge Virtual Reality (VR) project aimed at documenting the landmarks, history and environment of the city of Buffalo through 360° photographs. 

Project description

Buffalo, New York was once one of many Great Lakes cities to make up the heart of the Rust Belt. Prior to World War II, the city was home to large manufacturing endeavors, including US steel, coal, and ship building. After the war, the city’s population began to gradually decline as people opted to move to local suburbs or out of state for other employment opportunities. What remained were countless buildings that tell the rich, cultural history of Buffalo. As time progressed, the area has shown tremendous signs of recovery with countless areas of the city trending in a positive direction with people opting to live in the city once again.

UB Libraries is partnering with the Experiential Learning Network to offer students the opportunity to work on a cutting-edge Virtual Reality (VR) project aimed at documenting the landmarks, history, and environment of the city of Buffalo through 360° photographs. We are actively looking for students to join our team as content creators. If you are interested in history, architecture, sociology, environmental studies, virtual reality, photography, and the arts, please contact us.

Groups of students will collaborate to identify historic landmarks, landscapes, cultural centers, and more within the city of Buffalo to be documented using the Libraries’ 360° cameras. They may also choose from a list of significant places and features identified by project mentors. Students will then edit the footage using the Libraries’ professional editing software and incorporate relevant library resources (e.g. maps, government information, statistics, articles, etc.). Students will be expected to provide metatags for the files prior to being entered in the Western New York Library Resource Council’s ESIE Repository. Students can also earn a micro-credentialed badge in the process.
Students should come with an idea of what project site and/or topic they would like to pursue. Potential project sites include:

Potential project sites include:

  • Darwin D. Martin House (Parkside/North Buffalo) 
  • Buffalo and Erie County Botanical Gardens (South Buffalo) 
  • Theodore Roosevelt Inauguration Site (Downtown Buffalo) 
  • Forest Lawn Cemetery (Parkside/North Buffalo)
  • Elmwood Village/Allentown (West Side/Downtown Buffalo) 
  • Buffalo Central Terminal (East Side of Buffalo) 
  • Fountain Plaza and Main Street (Downtown Buffalo) 
  • Hertel Neighborhoods (Parkside/North Buffalo)
  • The Buffalo Zoo (Parkside/North Buffalo)
  • Larkinville (South Side of Buffalo) 

Project outcome

  • Identify historical districts, areas, or landmarks within the city of Buffalo 
  • Learn to use a 360° camera, video editing software, and tagging conventions 
  • Edit footage using professional, studio-quality software
  • Submit finished footage into an institutional repository
  • Compose a narrative report or reflective essay about the project, or create an interactive webpage or graphic about the specific location using ArcGIS StoryMaps or Canva. This should incorporate related library resources.

Project details

Timing, eligibility and other details
Length of commitment About a semester; 3-5 months
Start time Anytime
Level of collaboration Individual or small group
Benefits Research experience
Who is eligible All undergraduate students 

Core partners

Project mentor

Bryan Sajecki

Undergraduate Education Librarian

University Libraries

520B Lockwood Memorial Library

Phone: (716) 645-1798

Email: bsajecki@buffalo.edu

Start the project

  1. Email the project mentor using the contact information above to express your interest and get approval to work on the project. (Here are helpful tips on how to contact a project mentor.)
  2. After you receive approval from the mentor to start this project, click the button to start the digital badge. (Learn more about ELN's digital badge options.) 

Preparation activities

Once you begin the digital badge series, you will have access to all the necessary activities and instructions. Your mentor has indicated they would like you to also complete the specific preparation activities below. Please reference this when you get to Step 2 of the Preparation Phase. 

  • Before beginning this project, students should download the Insta360 app.
  • Students come with an idea of what project site and/or topic they would like to pursue from the list in the Project Description section above. Students should also conduct initial research on their site/topic of interest.