Many people know the story of how Buffalo’s Market Arcade, formerly called “the Palace Arcade,” reopened in 1995 following a $10 million redevelopment project that restored the architectural gem to its original glory.
But that Palace Arcade – built in 1892 at 617 Main St., near East Chippewa Street – was actually Buffalo’s second Palace Arcade. The first one, at Lafayette Square (Main and Clinton streets), was built in 1855 and destroyed by a fire in December 1893, according to the website Buffalo Architecture and History. The old arcade, the largest office building in the city at the time, housed a music hall, a theater and a jeweler, among other businesses, according to the site.
A photo of the original arcade, dubbed the “Old Palace Arcade,” appears in the history book “Buffalo – Old and New,” published in 1901, nearly a decade after the building burned down.
In fact, by the time of the book’s publication, a new structure had been built in the old arcade’s place – the Brisbane Building, which remains today and hosts the Buffalo Niagara Visitor Center, among other tenants.
The Brisbane Building was originally called the Mooney & Brisbane Building, and it reclaimed the mantle as the largest mercantile and office building in the city.
Meanwhile, what Buffalonians now know as the Market Arcade was built a few blocks north by architects E.B. Green and W.S. Wicks, according to Buffalo Place. The architects modeled the building after an arcade in London.
“It serves as a collection of indoor shops and office space and is the best-surviving example of such a retail complex within the city,” Buffalo Place says on its website. “The Market Arcade re-opened in 1995 after a $10 million renovation featuring terra cotta, Corinthian columns and elaborate ornamentation.”
The arcade is “generally regarded as the forerunner of the contemporary suburban mall,” according to Buffalo Architecture and History.