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From 1880 to Today: Spaulding Exchange was Buffalo's center of action

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.

Main and the Terrace was the center of action in Buffalo for decades, in front of the Spaulding Exchange.

Rebuilt after a fire in 1852, the building’s neighbor was Buffalo’s Liberty Pole, the landmark around which civic events were held for generations.

The building became Buffalo’s early financial center when built in 1845 by Elbridge Spaulding – an entrepreneur, Buffalo mayor, congressman and adviser to President Abraham Lincoln. It was home to many official offices of the Erie Canal and several railroads through the years.

It also was the home of Buffalo’s Federal Court, and in 1850, it was in a courtroom there that President Millard Fillmore’s Fugitive Slave Act was first tested.

Daniel Davis, a man who escaped slavery in Kentucky, was discovered to be aboard the steamer Buckeye State in Buffalo Harbor by a “slavecatcher.” Davis was beaten and brought into court where he was held for two weeks, before being released to freedom in Canada.

A clipping from the New York Daily Tribune in 1850.

The history-rich building was torn down in 1939 to make way for a building much beloved by many current Buffalonians.

Memorial Auditorium was built on the spot and opened in 1940.

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