Through my research, I have learned that street names often change over time. Street name changes often come for a variety of reasons. Some of Buffalo’s street names changed as early as 1825 after Joseph Ellicott left town. Other streets change as neighborhoods change. For example, Lovejoy Street was named after a family of early Buffalo settlers during the War of 1812. The neighborhood centered around Broadway and Fillmore was settled mostly by German and Polish immigrants. When Central Terminal opened in 1929, it cut Lovejoy Street in two pieces. The piece located in the polish neighborhood was named Paderewski Drive, after a Polish pianist and activist for Polish national freedom.
Over time, the neighborhood by the Central Terminal has changed again. During the 40s and 50s, many of the German and Polish families moved away from the East Side of Buffalo towards suburbs, such as Cheektowaga. Some of this move was financial – due to new Federal Programs making it easier for people to chase the “American Dream” of a house in the suburbs with a white picket fence. Other reasons for leaving was the growing African-American presence in the city, which is referred to as “white flight”. Perhaps now that the neighborhood has changed, we should think about changing the name of Paderewski Drive again?
Road Less Traveled Productions will be putting on the play Clybourne Park from November 8th – December 1st. Clybourne Park is a commentary on the history of a house in an evolving neighborhood. The play deals with segregation, white flight and cultural insecurities.
As part of promotion for the play, Road Less Traveled is encouraging Buffalonians to share their stories on neighborhoods they’ve lived in. What was your neighborhood like? Why did you move away? Why did you stay? You can visit the website and add your story to the map to help tell the story of Buffalo’s neighborhoods. Click here to go to the website. Many viewers of my blog have shared their wonderful stories with me; please share them on the website and let other people read about what life was like for you and your family in Buffalo.
The play is being performed at 710 Main Theatre (the old Studio Arena), from November 8th to December 1st. You can buy tickets here. Showtimes are Thursday, Friday and Saturday evenings and Sunday afternoons. I encourage you to support Road Less Traveled’s tenth anniversary season and go see the play! I also encourage you all to go to the Clybourne Park Buffalo website to share your stories, and talk with your friends and neighbors to share your stories. Our stories are what make up our City. While I focus mostly on this blog about telling the stories of people who may be long gone, those of us still here have stories to tell and our stories are important too!
We’ll be back to the regular streets posts with the next post!