Archive for November, 2011

In the Broadway/Fillmore neighborhood, there are three streets running between Broadway and Genesee Streets:  Guilford Street, Reed Street and Wilson Street.

All three of these streets are named for Guilford Reed Wilson.  Mr. Wilson was a pioneer coal dealer and an early member of the Buffalo Board of Trade.  He was born in Burlington NJ in 1813 and was educated in Philadelphia.  He was associated with lumber interests in Corning in his 20s.  He came to Buffalo at the age of 25 and embarked in the iron and coal business.  He was also director of several local banks and a member of the Board of Trade.  He was also one of the earliest members of the Buffalo Club.

Mr. Wilson acquired extensive real estate and owned and developed the tract of land through which Guilford, Reed and Wilson Streets were cut.  He owned the land along with other prominent Buffalonians – the Rich and Townsend Families.  He was married to Jane Townsend, daughter of Charles Townsend (a judge and prominent Buffalonian himself).  After their marriage, Wilson and his wife lived in Judge Townsend’s mansion at Main and Tupper Streets.  Mr. Wilson remained in Buffalo until his death in 1977.


  1. “Three Streets Honor Pioneer Coal Dealer”Courier Express Dec 25, 1938, sec. 7 p 8.
  2. Memorial and Family History of Erie County.  The Genealogical Publishing Company:  Buffalo, NY 1906.

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This post is at the request of John Fell.  Don’t forget, if you have any requests for specific streets- leave them in the comments or send me an email at buffalostreets (at) gmail (dot) com!

Fell Alley is a small,  two block alley running between Niagara Street and Prospect Avenue, from Carolina to Virginia Street.

Fell Alley was named for Dr. George Edward Fell.  Dr. Fell was the inventor of the Fell motor, a submarine life-preserver, and co-inventor of the electric chair.  The Fell motor is a device used for mechanical respiration and was used until the invention of the pulmotor in 1911.   The first Fell motor was invented in 1887, and used bellows, piping and a breathing valve to resuscitate unconscious patients.  At the time, the restoration of respiration was believed to be impossible, however Dr. Fell made it possible and saved many lives.    The submarine life-preserver not only kept you afloat,  it also provided an air supply to allow easier breathing should you go overboard.

Dr. Fell was a professor of  microscopy in the medical department of Niagara University (which is now the UB Medical School).    George Fell also worked as a surgeon.   While he was opposed to capital punishment, his work on the creation of the electric chair was intended to minimize the pain of the death penalty.

While he attended medical school in the evenings, George Fell also had worked as a City Engineer from 1882-1883.  He worked on the installation of one of the break walls from the harbor along the south shore of Lake Erie to the South Buffalo Lighthouse.  When George Fell completed medical school, his brother Charles took his place in the Engineering Department and completed the break wall.    Charles Fell is responsible for many of the plans for the City’s sewer lines, although many of them were not built until after his death.

George Fell was also considered to be a great humanitarian.   Dr. Fell’s home and office was at 72 Niagara Street.  He had four daughters and a son.  He moved to Chicago in 1917 and died in 1918.


  1. Essig, Mark.  Edison and the Electric Chair: A Story of Light and Death.  Walker and Company:  USA, 2003.
  2. “Fell Alley memorial to Physician – Inventor” Courier Express May 19, 1940 sec 5, p7.
  3. Fell, George.  “A New Method of Saving Life at Sea:  The Fell Submarine Life Preserver”.  Buffalo medical journal, Volume 71.  August 1915
  4. Fell, George.  “The Influence of Electricity on Protoplasm.”  Physician and Surgeon 10.  October 1890,p 441-442.

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