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Steve Cichon

Steve Cichon writes about Buffalo’s pop culture history. The 25-year veteran of Buffalo radio and television has written five books and curates The Buffalo Stories Archives-- hundreds of thousands of books, images, and audio/visual media which tell the stories of who we are in Western New York.


History

The maze of shopping plazas, restaurants and gas stations surrounding the 290's Exit 2, for Colvin Boulevard, seems pretty typical these days. Many remember the slightly less typical Fun N Games amusement park and the “Whale-of-a-car-wash” that inspired thousands of cries of “Please, Dad!” for families driving between the Youngmann Expressway and Young Street in the 197…

History

If your dad or grandpa worked in the plant or at any other postwar middle-class job in Buffalo in the ’50s or ’60s, chances are pretty good that at some point, your mom or your grandma got new dinnerware in weekly installments from the grocery store. The “Dutch Blue” kitchenware pattern, later known as “Blue Tulip” by collectors, was distributed around the country o…

History

A nearly forgotten great industry of Buffalo and Western New York’s past was borne of a natural resource we have less use for these days. The harvesting of natural ice was a dangerous endeavor, usually starting in January and hitting full stride in February. In the days before electric refrigeration and the ability to freeze water to make artificial ice, the cutting, mo…

Columns

My fading memories of waiting for snow storms as a kid growing up in South Buffalo and then Orchard Park in the '80s seem pretty straightforward and unforgiving. It would start with watching the 6 o’clock weather with Barry Lillis, Don Paul or Commander Tom Jolls — my dad was a committed channel changer. A faint gleam of excitement would seep into my heart with the ment…

History

There wasn’t much going on at the northwest corner of Delaware Avenue and Bird (later Hertel) Street in 1882 when the Union Cemetery was created out of about 70 acres there. The massive sewer project that moved Cornelius Creek underground hadn’t been completed yet, and the creek still flowed along the street. Elmwood Avenue didn’t yet reach that far north. The area was …

History

Today the spot is a parking lot in the Larkin District. But in 1954, the $750,000 general alarm fire at the 10-story warehouse of the Bison Waste and Wiper Co. became the largest fire in Buffalo’s history. At one point, nearly 200 firefighters were battling the blaze, which raged out of control for seven hours, covering the city with “a choking pall of black smoke.”…

History

Sue Miller Young’s 1965 definitive history of the Town of Amherst says that the town was indirectly named for British North American Commander-in-Chief Lord Jeffery Amherst. Indirectly, because when the town was incorporated in 1818, she surmises the early town fathers were likely thinking of Amherst, Mass., – which was named after the British soldier and politician. …

History

It was a television commercial that ran thousands of times on the local TV stations we watched in Western New York, both Buffalo stations and channels that would come in via cable and antenna from Hamilton and Toronto. https://youtu.be/b6LKOFZHoog After grainy old film shows a nearly bald Bobby Hull skating in a Chicago Blackhawks uniform in the opening of the commer…

History

When talk of an official flag for the City of Buffalo came up in 1896, it was quickly scuttled by city fathers. “The Aldermen are coming round to the belief that the Stars and Stripes ought to be good enough for this city at any and all times,” reported the Courier. Buffalo’s first official flag, created in 1913, was a New York State flag with the city seal placed in…

History

When first built in the mid-1920s, the Riverside Theater on Tonawanda Street was billed as “Buffalo’s most beautiful neighborhood theater.” By 1962, Schine Enterprises, which owned the Riverside and a handful of other small movie houses, had an idea they thought could start an entertainment revolution – indoor skiing. When Ski-Dek opened in January, 1962, it was thought…

History

On a spot that is now a parking lot on Franklin Street, half a block south of Tupper Street, stood the Russell Bufalino Garage in the mid-1920s. That’s where Bufalino first learned the skills that the Joe Pesci character in “The Irishman” was able to use to help the Robert De Niro character get his truck and their lifelong friendship started. Long before Bufalino be…

History

Buffalo’s earliest parking ramps were built by hotels. In 1924, the Statler Hotel built the Statler Garage, north and across the street from the hotel at Delaware Avenue and Mohawk Street. Ads touted the fact that there was “nothing else like it in Buffalo.” The five-story structure held 500 cars for the convenience of hotel guests as well as patrons of nearby store…

History

After having spent 125 years “reaching great heights,” the Lower Main Street area was deemed a “dormant area” by the Buffalo Chamber of Commerce in 1929. [The Buffalo You Should Know: Before there was Canalside … ] Just as this week’s plan for the North Aud site were designed to part of the larger redevelopment of the whole area, the city's 1929 plans for the same ex…

History

By the time Judge Barbara Howe ordered the newsstand at Hertel and Delaware torn down in 1999, the newsstand business was a holdover from another era. “With his oversized cap, news apron and half-chewed cigar, Battaglia was a good-natured curmudgeon who was out daily in all kinds of weather to sell newspapers and magazines,” read The News obituary of Dominic Battagl…

History

Between NFL playoffs and college bowl games, chances are over the next few days and weeks, you’re bound to see a football coach or two have a big bucket of Gatorade or water dumped on his head as a part of a game-winning celebration. If your first instinct is that this traditional celebration looks more like something you’d do in anger more than triumph, you really aren…