Steve Cichon

Author

As an eighth-generation Buffalonian, Steve Cichon is as thoroughly a proud Buffalonian as you'll find. The former radio news man, historian and author of five books has turned his passion for Buffalo's pop culture history into a career. Aside from running startup Buffalo Stories LLC, Steve's an adjunct professor at Medaille College and a producer at WNED-TV (PBS), and he has recently celebrated 25 years as a bow tie wearer.

Before they were even finished digging the Hamburg Canal, in 1849, the standing, fetid water in the half-dug ditch was blamed in part for a growing cholera crisis in what we now call the First Ward and Canalside areas. Originally conceived to help divert traffic away from the busy Erie Canal, soon the railroads were doing a good enough job of making the Hamburg Cana…

Had you walked into one of the 31 Your Host restaurants that filled the Niagara Frontier with a quick inexpensive meal and a pretty good cup of coffee, this is the menu you would have been handed as you slid into a booth or onto a stool at the counter. Alfred Durrenberger and Ross Wesson started the Your Host empire with a hot dog stand on Delaware Avenue in Kenmore…

Tens of millions of dollars into a decade-long renovation, Frank Lloyd Wright’s Darwin Martin House is among the crown jewels in Buffalo’s resurgence in architectural tourism. Wright called the home his “opus” and considered it one of his great designs, but as it was being built in 1905, not everyone in Buffalo felt that way. Those feelings were reflected in the…

Victor Hugo’s was a mainstay restaurant at Delaware Avenue and Edward Street for a generation, from 1945 to 1977. The family of owner Hugo DiGiulio was involved the management of many of Buffalo’s night spots and hotels, including the attached Victor Hugo Hotel, DiGiulio’s Club 31 on Johnson Park and the Hotel Buffalo – which stood at the corner of Washington an…

This is a 1912 look at the southwest corner of Main and Swan, a block west of Coca-Cola Field and kitty-corner to the Ellicott Square Building. The following year, the buildings were torn down to make way for a new M&T Bank headquarters on the site. That building eventually served as Buffalo’s Federal Reserve Bank branch. The spot has been a parking lo…

“Stay inside. Grab a six-pack.” It’s almost difficult to imagine Western New York and especially a Western New York snowfall without the phrase that Jimmy Griffin joked would wind up on his tombstone. But while Buffalonians have likely been drinking their way through snowstorms for as long as there have been people here, we’ve only been “staying inside and gra…

The “wows” evoked by photos of lost vistas are often maudlin or tinged with nostalgia. This lost vista might instead inspire satisfaction in the progress in Buffalo over the last three decades. Thirty years ago, standing behind the Ellicott Square Building, at Washington and South Division looking south toward Swan Street, the view of the I-190, Buffalo News buildin…

Don Allen touted himself as “the World’s Largest Chevrolet Dealer,” and through the 1950s, he probably was. Headquartered from his showroom at Main & Fillmore (located in the spot where Rite Aid now stands), Allen bought and sold Chevy dealerships all around Western New York and around the country. Aside from the store he bought in Buffalo in 1938, there w…

Forty years removed, it’s still evident if you think about it — despite all the death, destruction and jokes, Buffalonians enjoyed the Blizzard of '77. On the storm’s first anniversary, University at Buffalo researcher Arthur G. Cryns released a report that outlined the results of a detailed survey of 104 random Western New Yorkers. By now this anniversary week…

Just what exactly happened to the animals at the Buffalo Zoo during the Blizzard of ’77 has become one of those great stories that everyone seems to have some faded recollection of having heard before, but nobody knows for sure. So, as you sit around waiting out a heavy snow squall in the warmest corner of the gin mill, everyone throws in details until a story emerges…

In the days and weeks after the Blizzard of ’77 struck Buffalo, full-color images filled Time Magazine and nightly network newscasts, showing Buffalonians continuing to smile and continuing to dig out. https://www.youtube.com/embed/iE1Y_CB4gJA It’s probably our smiles and the sense of resiliency that came through in the news coverage that made Buffalo an acceptab…

This photo shows two well-known figures in 1970s Buffalo getting together to talk about jazz in in the WADV-FM studios. Best known for his time at WKBW Radio, Fred Klestine spent parts of four decades as a disc jockey on Buffalo radio stations WWOL, WBNY, WADV and WBUF. A Lackawanna boy who worked in the Bethlehem plant before turning to radio, his broadcast persona was…

For decades, the northeast corner of Elmwood Avenue and West Utica Street, with its mid-century brick bank building and large parking lot, looks like it would fit in almost any post-war-built suburb in America. But it was quite the city neighborhood centered at Elmwood and Utica for many decades. The area was one of several in the city that held mock elections for n…

When you look at the water when you’re driving along the I-190 between the Peace Bridge and the International Rail Bridge, you’re looking at the Black Rock Canal. In 1899, on this spot, you would have been surrounded by grain storage, milling and malting infrastructure. The photo above shows the foot of Ferry Street looking toward Breckenridge - or in other words, i…

The Standard Wheel Club was one of dozens of small athletic clubs in Buffalo around the turn of the century, sponsoring bicycle races, boxing matches and a baseball team. Members also regularly held sing-alongs and drank plenty of beer in the sample room of member William Gurgschat at 422 Genesee St. As a professional musician, Gurgschat encouraged the musical part o…