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Torn-Down Tuesday: The Danahy Meat Packing Co. in the 1890s

As one of America’s livestock trading centers in the late 1880s (you can read more here), Buffalo was also packed with meat packers. The areas around the Buffalo Stockyards and each of Buffalo’s public markets (Washington/Chippewa, Elk, Broadway, and Clinton/Bailey) had more than an average number of meat-packing businesses.


Buffalo News archives

A seemingly inaccurate caption written long ago on the reverse of this photo says that it was taken in the yards of Danahy Packing Co. at Seneca and Smith streets in 1870.

There is no Danahy Packing Co. in the 1870 City Directory — in fact, the business doesn’t appear until the 1894, when they built a two-story stable on Metcalfe at Clinton. The original wooden structure burned and was rebuilt in 1898. Alderman James Franklin was there for the big celebration and grand re-opening, and had the honor of “killing the first porker” at the “pig sticking party.”

The written account of the slaughter was quite graphic. Alderman Franklin discarded his coat, vest, shirt, collar, tie and cuffs, rolled up his pant legs, and slipped into an oilskin apron. He watched as the 300-pound hog was hoisted up by its hind legs. “Then outshot the aldermanic arm, and the keen blade sunk into the pig’s throat.”

“Don’t cheer, boys,” Franklin said to those gathered after wielding the knife, “the poor devil is dying.”

A large contingent of VIPs then retired from the “killing room” to a “well-prepared luncheon.”

“Long tables were covered with celery, radishes, sliced ham and bread, and kegs of cold beer and cases of pop were handy in case anybody should by chance be overtaken by thirst.”

(As an entirely unrelated aside, it’s interesting to note that the people of Buffalo have referred to carbonated beverages as “pop” and not “soda” since at least 1898.)

Back to that caption -- I couldn’t find any record of Danahy Packing on Seneca or Smith streets, but the Metcalfe at Clinton location is well-documented, sometimes in sickening detail. The location is now a vacant lot.

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