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From 1880 to Today: The Cold Spring Hotel, rest stop for weary travelers

Main & Michigan, 1880.

Chronicles continues a weekly look back at an illustrated map of Buffalo from 1880 and examines how the features on that map have — or haven't — changed over 138 years. Click here to explore the map.

Have you ever had the kind of commute where you feel like you need a break halfway between Williamsville and downtown Buffalo?

While bumper-to-bumper traffic can make modern commuters weary, 150 years ago, before the Main-Williamsville Road was paved, the slow and dusty plodding trek from Buffalo — which then ended at North Street — to points north and east was a bit more of challenging.

Garret Marshall’s Cold Spring Hotel was built well outside Buffalo city limits at the corner of Main and Michigan. It was a stop on the stagecoaches heading between Buffalo and places “out the main road” such as Williamsville, Clarence and Batavia. For folks on their way into Buffalo, it was a final “freshening up” stop before getting into the city.

It was marketed as a “summer resort” for city residents, surrounded by gardens and time away from the grit and noise of daily life at the dawn of the industrial age.

In 1854, the City of Buffalo expanded its limits beyond North Street to about the current borders. Main Street was “Macadamized,” an early form of paving using small crushed stones. As a mode of mass transportation, the stage coach was giving way to street cars and trolley lines.

From the Buffalo Commercial, 1873

In 1870, the Cold Spring Hotel was “refitted and improved in the best manner” and “ready to receive guests at all times.”

“All the luxuries of the season, oysters, clams, &c are constantly on hand and served in any style desired,” said an ad in the Courier, which also went on to talk about the fine selection at the bar.

“He has also put up to of the best billiards tables in the city, in a large, pleasant room where ‘Knights of the cue’ can while away the time in a most agreeable manner.”

By the 1880s, those trolley lines were taking more guests further out of downtown and even past Main and Michigan. In 1890, the Cold Spring Hotel was torn down, and a trolley and street car barn was built in its place.

It’s the same spot where the NFTA stores and maintains buses to this day.

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