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While the cloth bag once held a pattern, the green stripes are now faded almost beyond view. A few days ago, Michael Burns untied one knotted end, then shook out the contents on a table. They included some buttons, a needle and thread, a broken timepiece, an old razor. Not quite a century ago, the U.S. War Department mailed the bag to Margaret Burns, wife of a shoemaker…

History

Vernors Ginger Ale is an iconic Detroit staple, but for at least a century, Buffalo has been one of the biggest secondary markets of the unique pop brand. Not everyone is a fan of the sweet, peppery, spicy, “deliciously different” Vernors – but if you are, it’s one of those tastes that makes this place home. For decades, Buffalo got its fix of Motor City pop via …

History

The year that the map we’ve been plotting out was published was also the year The Buffalo Evening News was founded by Edward H. Butler with headquarters at 200 Main St. A few successful years later, a much-lauded News headquarters building was built a few doors down at 216-218 Main St. The spot is at the northern tip of the One Seneca Tower footprint, just south of …

History

When Blind Eddie's was photographed in 1969, the newsstand was noted as the largest outdoor newsstand in the city at that point. It was also pointed out that like shoe shine stands and railroad stations, the once ubiquitous and flourishing newsstand was being wiped off the city landscape. The newsstand is gone, as are all the businesses represented by partially obscu…

History

The busy parking lot in the Sheridan Drive plaza that Paula’s Donuts has called home for the last six years is often so packed that parking spills over to Gettysburg Avenue. People come from all over to the Town of Tonawanda for what has become Western New York’s definitive legendary doughnut. But don’t tell that to the people who’ve been buying doughnuts in what was…

History

For the six decades tolls were collected at the southeast line, no one ever liked paying them at Ogden Street to head downtown on the Niagara Thruway from the mainline Thruway. When the Niagara Extension of the thruway opened in 1957, the toll was 10 cents to drive through downtown Buffalo. In 1975, it climbed from 15 cents to 20 cents. It was a quarter for most of the …

History

Dennis Louth was in combat near Pleiku, South Vietnam, for 48 consecutive days in 1967, but one day stands out. That was the day the gunner had to fly a Huey helicopter back to its base under fire after the pilot was killed and the co-pilot was mortally wounded. Louth was an Army helicopter mechanic and a door gunner. His job was to sit in the open door of the helico…

History

Forty-five years later, it’s hard to imagine Mighty Taco as anything other than a Buffalo institution, but in 1973, three Army buddies opened what was Buffalo’s first taco stand inside a tiny store front on Hertel Avenue, right in the heart of North Buffalo’s Little Italy. "We'd have old North Buffalo Italian ladies come in and ask what they were,” co-founder Andy Gerov…

History

When it was sold to be developed into homes by a Toronto builder in 1912, “the far famed” Buffalo Driving Park was called “The Mother Track of the Old Grand Circuit.” Pop Horter and George Hosley, two of Buffalo’s most prominent horse men, built the mile-long track on Ferry between Michigan and Jefferson in the early 1860s, right behind the Cold Spring Hotel. Aft…

History

The IRC, International Railway Company, was the forerunner of the NFTA in providing mass transit options in the City of Buffalo and some surrounding areas. Caring for more than 400 miles of track and several hundred individual streetcars left the IRC chronically in debt and left the transit rail infrastructure chronically in a poor state of repair. In 1928, The Buffalo …

History

Very soon, nearly 12 decades of tradition at The Buffalo Zoo will come to an end when Buffalo Zoo’s two Asian elephants, Jothi and Surapa, move to the Audubon Zoo in New Orleans. When they’re gone, it will mark the first time since 1900 the zoo has been without an elephant, or at least plans to find an elephant to bring here. Buffalo philanthropist Frank Goodyear pai…

History

We all know that a paddy wagon is a truck that police use to transport a whole bunch of perps at once, either from a crime scene “down to headquarters,” or from jail to court or from court to prison. The term came into wide usage in the 1930s, and references either the fact that a lot of the big city police officers of that era were Irish (thence “Paddy”), or it’s an al…

History

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 mak…

History

In 1932, Buffalo was celebrating its centennial amid the Great Depression. The new art deco City Hall opened as a shining example of a modern Buffalo and the E.B. Green-designed Walter Mahoney Office Building was completed, rounding out Niagara Square. A few miles down Niagara Street, preparations were being made to build a new park out of a former industrial site – wha…