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History

There was a time when just about every one of Buffalo’s 462 election districts had its own voting booth. In the weeks leading up to any election, city trucks would start hauling the green sheds around the city and dropping them off at the hundreds of predetermined intersections, often on the street, and causing a traffic hazard. The green painted wooden booths were a…

History

The phrase was well-known around Buffalo from radio, newspapers and billboards: “Stains run from 101.” “101” was a bottled bleach sold by the Gardiner Manufacturing Co. starting in 1920, first from a small plant in Niagara Falls, where J.A. Gardiner bottled the stuff himself. After opening a larger factory on South Park Avenue in 1922, Gardiner opened the 35,000-a-day p…

History

Last week’s Torn-Down Tuesday looked at SUNY Buffalo State art professor D.K. Winebrenner’s uppity takedown of fast food architecture. This week, we look back at the time Winebrenner — who was also the Courier-Express art critic — talked about “visual pollution” hurting Buffalo’s image and postulated that the city’s too many billboards and signs were creating psycho…

History

The building that was home to the McDougall-Butler Paint Co. at Main and Hertel fell to the wrecker’s ball over the last few weeks, but the real landmark associated with the spot had already been gone for a few decades. Anyone familiar with the Bennett High School area through the '50s, '60s, and '70s, will remember the big rotating paint can that spun on the lawn j…

History

The ramshackle, weather-beaten cottages and the people who lived in them were legendary in their own time. Over the course of about 40 years, a group of several hundred families, mostly Irish and headed by mostly fishermen and sailors, settled on a strip of land that was created when the City of Buffalo built a seawall in 1865 to protect the city and the harbor from ero…

History

The old Leydecker bridge, with room for only one-way traffic, was 70 years old in 1935 when it was replaced with a modern truss bridge. The sign above the weather-beaten wood structure said, “Ten dollar fine for crossing this bridge faster than a walk.” That’s a reference to the speed of your horse, which was the primary mode of transport at the time the bridge was b…

History

Before Memorial Auditorium was built in along Buffalo’s waterfront in 1940, the city looked at several different sites for a new convention center and auditorium. At the time, the Broadway Auditorium was the largest and most-used event space in the city. Still standing as “the Broadway Barns” and the home of the city’s snow removal and other heavy equipment, the old…

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

Especially since Exit 52A of the New York State Thruway was built at William Street in the early 1990s, the intersection at William Street and Union Road has grown — both in the numbers of commuters and in the numbers of lanes, with both streets now six lanes across. By 2018 standards, it’s a typical busy Western New York suburban intersection, even down to two diff…

History

The City of Tonawanda has been home to several breweries since farmers began growing hops along the Niagara Frontier around 1810. The Tonawandas' most famous beer factory was at 533 Niagara St. at the corner of Hinds Street. First opened by George Zent in 1867, the place was also known as Busch Brewing Co. – unrelated to the current discount-priced national brand. Th…

History

Think of a joyful weekend ride down a beautiful little country road. Now think of a weekend ride down Transit Road. Driving it today, you might be overwhelmed by the feeling of modern American sprawl, but the road itself was etched into the landscape more than 200 years ago. Work began in 1799, cutting through the wilderness to create a route from Lake Ontario to …

History

Hills was still going strong in Buffalo 20 years ago. This is Hills Plaza, Delaware Avenue near Hertel Avenue in 1998. Just the mention of the name Hills conjures up smells of popcorn and roller dogs, washed down with an Icee, of course. Through the '80s and '90s, this was the time of year when Hills was usually the cheapest place to buy back-to-school supplies. Fro…

History

Jimmy Griffin’s dream-turned-reality for a downtown ballpark helped spur the rebirth of a Buffalo neighborhood and nearly brought a major league baseball team to Buffalo. It was doing what might have seemed impossible for Buffalo on the face of it. A new, $56 million baseball stadium right in the middle of city that, over the previous decade, had become the butt of …

History

Not only is Our Lady of Mount Carmel Roman Catholic Church gone, but so are the two streets where it was located and the entire surrounding neighborhood. Consecrated at Fly and LeCouteulx streets in 1906, it was built for the most Italian immigrant families of the Canal District, also known as “The Hooks.” It was reputed to be not only the toughest neighborhood in the c…

History

“Built to serve 50,000 families” and “equipped in the finest and most modern manner,” the Black Rock Market came to be after years of lobbying by the Grant-Amherst Political Association. Mayor Francis X. Schwab spoke at a rally after the city brought the property in 1925. "It has been a hard fight since the conception of the Black Rock market, but an eleventh hou…