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Archive for December, 2011

Dart Street is a 0.5 mile street running between Forest Avenue and the Scajaquada (198) between Grant and Niagara Streets.  The short street is located in an industrial area that used to be used for manufacturing purposes, which is fitting because the street is named after the man who helped Buffalo to become an industrial powerhouse.

Joseph Dart invented the grain elevator.  Mr. Dart was born in Connecticut in 1799,  He came to Buffalo in 1821, when the Village had a population of approximately 1800.  He became a partner in the hat, cap and fur business with Joseph Stocking.  He learned the languages of the Native Americans in order to expand his business.  His store was located on the southeast corner of Main and Swan Streets.  During his downtime at his shop when the fur trade was slow, he toyed around with the idea to move grain from a ship to the land by a machine into an elevator.

Model of the Dart Grain Elevator

In 1841, he completed his blueprints and the first grain elevator was built on the banks of the Buffalo River.   Once his elevator was successful, elevators popped up all along the shores of the Buffalo Harbor and Buffalo River, giving rise to the grain industry which helped build Buffalo as an industrial powerhouse in the early 1900’s.  A historic marker is located on the spot where the elevator was located, close to where the entrance to the Erie Basin Marina is currently.

Mr. Dart refused to patent his invention, choosing instead to let it be a gift to all.  Most modern elevators still use Dart’s technology today.  However, the modern ships are a bit more automated, removing the need for grain scoopers.  The last scooper unloaded a ship in Buffalo in 2003.    You can watch a video of the last scooping in Buffalo here:

Mr Dart was also a prominent Buffalo citizen, involved in the Buffalo Water Works, a founder oft he Buffalo Female Academy (currently Buffalo Seminary), a member of the Buffalo Historical Society and active in the First Presbyterian Church.   The Dart Family, which included Joseph, his wife and seven children,  lived in a Mansion on the northeast corner of Niagara and Georgia Streets.  The Darts owned the first piano in Buffalo.  Joseph Dart died in 1879 at the age of 80.

I took this photo during the demolition of the GLF elevators, about two weeks before the one in the center collapsed this fall.

As a personal aside, the grain elevators are one of my favorite things in Buffalo.  They’re a huge part of our history, and these concrete mega structures are amazing.  I’ve been on several tours inside the elevators, and have a whole new appreciation for them.  A fact that many people don’t realize is that several of the elevators are still in use today, however, because they don’t show a lot of activity, they look vacant to most people.  Many of the vacant ones can be reused.  We currently allow salt and sand to sit on our waterfront, both of which could be stored in an elevator, protected from the elements.  To learn more about Joseph Dart and the grain elevators, I highly recommend the book Elevator Alley by Michael Cook, and the Buffalo Industrial Heritage Committee website.  There’s a wealth of information and lots of pictures of early Buffalo on their site.  Additionally, I recommend the walking tour given led Jerry Malloy, he is highly knowledgeable, and the tour is a must-do for people interested in learning about this important and fascinating part of our history.

Source:  “Dart Street Named in Inventor’s Honor” Courier Express Dec. 11, 1938 sec 5 p2

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Johnson Park consists of two parallel streets that create a court between Delaware and a park that shares its name with the road.  The “park” in Johnson Park is named after the estate of Ebenezer Johnson, the City of Buffalo’s first mayor!

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Granger Place is a short road in the Elmwood Village, running less than 1/4th of a mile, between Elmwood Avenue and Lincoln Parkway between Forest Avenue and Bird Avenue.  The street was originally known as Elmhurst.   The street is named for Erastus Granger, one of Buffalo’s earliest residents and the Village’s first postmaster.

Erastus Granger was a businessman raised in Connecticut.  He was sent by a group of New England businessmen to look after their investments in Virginia and Kentucky.  While in the south, he met and befriended Thomas Jefferson.  He worked on Jefferson’s campaign for President, and when Jefferson took office, he sent Erastus Granger to Buffalo and appointed him postmaster of the Village in 1803.  When Mr. Granger arrived in Buffalo Creek (which is what Buffalo was called at the time), there were only 16 huts, three blacksmith shops, a taverns, a drugstore and a jail.   He sent up his post office in a desk at Crow’s Tavern on Exchange Street.  You can visit Mr. Granger’s desk and see a replica of Crow’s Tavern in the Pioneer Gallery at the Buffalo and Erie County Historical Society!

Mr. Granger built a house near where the Main Street entrance of Forest Lawn cemetary is today.  His farm extended north to West Oakwood and west to Elmwood Avenue.   Granger Place is located on a small portion of his 800-acre estate, which he called Flint Hill, due to the rock in the soil.  His estate included all of the lands now containing Forest Lawn, Delaware Park, Buffalo State College and the Richardson Complex!    He built the Buffalo Harbor lighthouse in 1817, which was replaced in 1830s by the current Buffalo lighthouse.

During the War of 1812, Mr. Granger worked with Red Jacket and other indian leaders to get them to sign a treaty of neutrality.  The Native Americans kept the treaty until the Indians from Canada invaded their territory, at which time they joined the Americans.    Mr. Granger opened his property as a safe haven for refugees of Buffalo after the British burned the Village.

During the Winter of 1812-1813, The Army of the Frontier under General Alexander Smythe set up camp at Flint Hill in anticipation of invading Canada.  Nearly three hundred soldiers died there.  The dead were buried in Granger’s meadow, in the present Delaware Park.    A plaque at Main Street and Humboldt Parkway, and a stone in the Delaware Park meadow memorialize the Flint Hill Encampment and the 300 soldiers buried there.

Erastus Granger’s grave is located on land that he once owned in Forest Lawn cemetary.   Red Jacket delivered the Eulogy at his funeral.

Sources:

“Granger Place Honors Memory of First Buffalo Postmaster” Courier Express Sept 18, 1938, sec 6 p 10

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Lafayette Avenue runs approximately 2 miles from west to east across the center of Buffalo, from Main Street to Niagara Street.  Lafayette Avenue crosses both Gates Circle and Colonial Circle.  The street was originally named Bouck Avenue.   There was a Governor of New York, William Bouck, but don’t quote me on it being named after him.  Before he was Governor, Bouck was involved in the building of the Erie Canal; his job was to bring the money to the workers in the western portion of the state.

Lafayette Square, located at Main Street between Broadway and Clinton, was originally laid out by Joseph Ellicott in 1804.  Lafayette Square was known in those days as Courthouse Square.  The Courthouse was located where the Buffalo and Erie County Public Library is currently located.

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