New signs along downtown Main Street are teaching passers-by more of the street’s history.
Between Mohawk and Edward/Goodell streets, the 10 signs describe the history of downtown Buffalo, including the golden era of the Theatre District, the creation of Fountain Plaza and a trail on what is now Main Street that connected Native American tribes to Lake Erie.
Completion of the 10 signs in Fountain Plaza and the 500 block was announced June 11 – dubbed “Downtown History Day” – by the City of Buffalo, the Buffalo History Museum and Buffalo Place. Businesses such as the Bijou Grille and Matinee offered discounts to anyone celebrating.
The next day, though, most people weren’t stopping to take in the new information.
Nancy Filosofos, who works at Raclettes Restaurant, said she didn’t see anyone take advantage of the celebratory discount. Granted, she said, on the day the signs were unveiled, she began working at 4 p.m. – meaning the lunch crowd might already have left. But she “didn’t see an increase” in business. Many people were probably further uptown at the Allentown Art Festivalthat weekend, she said.
The history signs developed through discussions between the city, the Theatre District Association and Buffalo Place. New York State granted them $1 million for streetscape improvements, which included the signage, in 2006.
The signs are placed back-to-back with downtown billboard maps. Those who stop learn the story behind the ground they stand on.
Temporary white signs are taped to the poles to thank the organizations and volunteers who helped make the three-year signage project a reality. They also guide those who stop to visit the website, buffalohistory.org, for more information on downtown’s history.
On this Sunday afternoon, though, people were more focused on finding Jerk’s Soda Fountain & Ice Cream, or holding hands as they gazed into storefronts.
Docents will lead tours of the signs in July, August and September.