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Steve Cichon

Steve Cichon, communications professional, pop culture historian, and publisher of BuffaloStories.com, tells the stories of Buffalo's past through The News' BN Chronicles. He is a local radio and TV veteran, historian and author of five books.


History

Amherst native Rob Gronkowski teased the world with a promised “big announcement” that many thought could mark his return to the New England Patriots lineup at his familiar tight end spot. Instead, he let down many Patriots fans as he announced his retirement from football. Ninety-nine years ago, another Buffalonian Gronkowski was thrilling fans, but there was no…

History

For generations, Niagara Square has been known as the civic center of Buffalo life, anchored by City Hall. Up until the 1920s, Niagara Square was also a residential address. Millard Fillmore spent most of his post-presidential years living in a sprawling mansion that was torn down to build the Statler Hotel. Judge Samuel Wilkeson, the "Father of Buffalo” who was r…

History

“Buy War Bonds, we knead the dough!” It’s the plea of Freddie’s Doughnuts as World War II raged in Europe and the Pacific and women picked up the slack at home. “War work places an extra burden on the country’s 13,500,000 women now in war industries,” said a 1942 Freddie’s ad. “Their families and children must be fed healthful fightin’ food. “Though they must be a…

History

This 10-passenger Pennsylvania Central Airlines flight circled around downtown Buffalo for this 1937 view. The most familiar buildings in the 82-year-old photo are what was then the Niagara-Hudson Electric Building in the center at the top, and just to the right, the gold-domed Buffalo Savings Bank building. The early photo shows a densely full downtown area, but…

History

“One after another crude cabins were razed, and in turn were replaced by more comfortable houses, so that in 1813 the settlement was large enough to make quite a bonfire for the British and their dusky allies.” That’s Capt. Willard Glazier’s description of the tiny Village of Buffalo, where a final 12-pound cannon at Main and Niagara – about where M&T holds summer c…

History

As the world was trying to figure out the best way to safely and most efficiently move electricity from one place to another, Buffalo’s 1901 Pan-American Exposition created a City of Light like had never before been seen. Both Thomas Edison and Nikola Tesla visited the Pan-Am in Buffalo. Both stayed at the Iroquois, then Buffalo’s most swank downtown hotel, and both…

History

Frank X. Schwab was one of the most colorful mayors in Buffalo’s history, and one of his most interesting projects was – despite the protests of just about everyone – the 1925 establishment of “The Hotel de Gink.” The de Gink stood in Buffalo’s skid row, in what is now a grassy area near the wharf at Canalside. It was a very modest, but fully appointed lodging house for…

History

Of all the interesting and strange place names around Western New York, it might be the one you’d guess was made up – or at least not official. But there’s a part of eastern Lancaster which was officially Looneyville for about 60 years. The hamlet, which boasted both a train stop and a post office, was named after Robert Looney. He was a lumberman who operated sa…

History

This week, Miami Dolphins safety Bobby McCain apologized for what he called “an incident” with a Bills fan following Sunday’s game at New Era Field. The fan claims McCain spit on him. Undersheriff Mark Wipperman, the incident commander for Bills home games, called the claims “gross.” "It’s a serious allegation," Wipperman told The News. Longtime Bills fans will re…

History

“Who owns Buffalo?” was the question that celebrated Buffalo reporter Anne McIlhenney Matthews set out to answer in the Aug. 17, 1965, edition of her column “There Oughtta Be a Law” in the Courier-Express. McIlhenney Matthews was the only woman reporter at the Courier when she joined the paper in 1923. “Anne was a liberated woman from the day she was born,” said one…

History

The official announcement was made on a Saturday afternoon, Oct. 17, 1959 – but Buffalo learned about it in the papers on Sunday the 18th, and throughout the coming days as well. Sports fans were completely abuzz. “A frustrating decade of dust-catching applications, of vague promises and improbable possibilities has come to an end. Buffalo has a football franchise in…

History

It was Western New York’s chance in the limelight – an NBC sitcom about “a morally bankrupt TV talk show host from Buffalo, NY.” The problem, according to an Associated Press story about NBC’s 1983 lineup was that “Buffalo Bill Bettinger … is such a despicable human boil that … audiences hated him and hated his show.” People might not have liked the Dabney Colema…

History

When the 18th Amendment banned booze in 1919, there had been 17 breweries operating in Buffalo. Buffalo’s John L. Schwartz Brewing tried to stay afloat with the introduction of its “non-intoxicating” new drink called Clio, but soon, like most of the rest of Buffalo’s beer makers, its brewery on Bennett Street between Clinton and William simply closed down. When the f…

History

One of the great autumnal traditions of Western New York is to head to West Seneca and grab some real apple cider at the mill where it’s pressed. Mayer Bros. has been making cider in West Seneca since the 1850s, even before the people in that part of the world considered themselves “West Senecans.” Jacob Mayer founded the mill around 1852. When his son, John Mayer…

History

It’s been 25 years this fall since the Walker Center opened on Main Street just east of I-290. Glen Campbell Chevrolet opened on the same spot 70 years ago in 1949. It was billed as Western New York’s most up-to-date dealership with 12,000 feet of space in the showroom, 215 feet of frontage on Main Street and a service garage large enough to work on two cars simultaneou…