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Archive for September, 2014

hoytstreetHoyt Street is a street within the Elmwood Village neighborhood of the West Side of Buffalo.  The street runs between Ferry Street and Forest Avenue, parallel to Elmwood Avenue and Grant Street.   Interestingly, there was historically an earlier Hoyt Street.  The original Hoyt Place was located west of the Buffalo State Hospital (now Richardson Complex) and is now known as Bradley Street.  The street was renamed likely around the same time that the Hoyt Street we know today was developed, during the 1880s.  Bradley Street is shown in orange on the map to the left, while Hoyt Street is shown in red.

Erie Canal Survey showing Joseph D. Hoyt's Land

Erie Canal Survey showing Joseph Hoyt’s Land

The historic Hoyt Place was named after Joseph Dibble Hoyt, the original land owner of the property Hoyt Place/Bradley Street was developed on.  Joseph Hoyt was born on December 23, 1785 in Danbury, Connecticut.  He was the child of Moses Hoyt and Amerillas Dribble.   In 1811, he moved to Buffalo, NY.  During the War of 1812, he was taken prisoner of war during the Burning of Buffalo by the British and Native Americans.  He was imprisoned in Montreal.  After the war, he returned to Buffalo and became a prominent and influential citizen.  Mr. Hoyt owned a tannery on Carroll Street, which was originally called Tan Alley because of the tannery located on it.

Mr. Hoyt married Sarah St. John in 1809, they had one child, Harriet Hoyt.  He later married Polly Wright in 1814.  Mr. Hoyt died in 1838 and is buried in Forest Lawn.  I’m not sure that these Hoyts are related to Buffalo’s other Hoyt family, but perhaps someone more familiar with the family’s genealogy would be able to say for sure.

William Ballard Hoyt

William Ballard Hoyt

Hoyt Street is named after William Ballard Hoyt.  William Hoyt was born in East Aurora on April 20th, 1858.  He was the son of Doctor Horace and Josephine Ballard Hoyt.  He attended the Aurora Academy and Buffalo High School.  In 1877, he entered Cornell University to study history and political science.  After graduation, Mr. Hoyt came to Buffalo and entered the firm of Humphrey and Lockwood.  He was admitted to the bar in March 1883, and the firm became Humphrey, Lockwood & Hoyt.  The firm went by several different names as partners changed.  Mr. Hoyt and his firm served many prominent industrial and business concerns in Buffalo, such as New York Central, Vanderbilt properties, Western Union Telegraph Company, Western Transit Company and others.  Along with Mr. Baynes (more about him on a different day), Mr. Hoyt developed several of the streets around the street that bears his name.

In 1886, Mr. Hoyt became Assistant United States Attorney for the Northern District of New York, serving in this position until 1889.  In 1894, he was appointed as counsel to the United States Interstate Commerce Commission for the States of New York and Ohio.

Mr. Hoyt served as Director of the Buffalo Club for six years, Curator of the Buffalo Library for three years,  and was a member of the Board of School Examiners and President of the Cornell Alumni Association.

In 1887, Mr. Hoyt married Esther Lapham Hill.  The Hoyts had five children – John, Josephine, Esther, Albertine and Hilda. Mr. Hoyt died in 1915 and is buried in Forest Lawn Cemetery.

william grave

 

 

Captain Hoyt

Captain Hoyt

Mr. Hoyt’s son Captain John Davidson Hill Hoyt was born in 1898 in Buffalo.  Captain Hoyt served in the Air Corps US Army. In 1936, he served as president of the Buffalo Niagara Association of Realtors.  He was killed in a crash off the coast of the Hawaiian Islands along with nine other crew members in January 1943.  Captain Hoyt has a marker among the Courts of the Missing from WWII in Honolulu and also a marker in Forest Lawn Cemetery.

john grave

Captain Hoyt Grave-marker

 

Bill Hoyt on the NYS Capital steps in the 1970s

Bill Hoyt on the NYS Capital steps in the 1970s

Captain Hoyt’s son William B. Hoyt II was born in 1937 in Buffalo.  He was educated at the Park School of Buffalo and Hamilton College.  He taught history at Park School for 11 years before entering politics.  He served as a member of Buffalo Common Council from 1970 to 1974.    William II ran unsuccessfully for Mayor of Buffalo in 1989, when he was defeated by James D. Griffin.  He served as  New York State Assemblyman for the 144th District from 1974 until 1992.  Mr. Hoyt died of a heart attack on the Assembly floor during a vote.

During his time on the Common Council, Mr. Hoyt proposed a plan to clean up the lake in Delaware Park.  He became a champion for the Lake.  Following his death, the lake was named Hoyt Lake in honor of William B. Hoyt II.

Hoyt Lake in Delaware Park

Hoyt Lake in Delaware Park

sam

Sam Hoyt

William II’s son, William B. Hoyt III, known by most Buffalonians these days as Sam Hoyt, was born in January 1962. Sam Hoyt attended local schools, graduating from Park School of Buffalo and attending Buffalo State College for political science.  Sam served as the WNY regional director for U.S. Senator Daniel Moynihan and director for the Buffalo Bisons.  In 1992, he took over the 114th District of the New York State Assembly, filling his late father’s seat.  He served in the Assembly for nearly 20 years prior to resigning in 2011 after being appointed as Regional President of the Empire State Development Corporation.  He also serves as Chair of the Buffalo and Fort Erie Peace Bridge Authority.

In 2004, Sam proposed that a group be created regarding the restoration of the historic H.H. Richardson Complex for use as for a cultural and educational activities, proposing that $100 million be put towards the restoration.  The progress on the Richardson Complex has been moving along, and the Hotel, Conference Center and Architecture Center are expected to open in 2016.  (Author’s aside:  I was interning for Sam during this time, and the Richardson building became my favorite building in Buffalo, as I fell completely in love with it when I first stood up on its steps during a press conference to announce the funding from the State.  Of Sam’s many accomplishments, I consider this to be my favorite, so I’m including it here.)

Think of the various generations of the Hoyt family the next time you go for a walk down Hoyt Street or take a walk around Hoyt Lake.  Maybe in a few years, I’ll have to update this entry to write about Sam’s sons!

Check out the Street Index to learn about other streets.

 

Sources:

  1. A History of the City of Buffalo:  Its Men and Institutions.  Published by the Buffalo Evening News:  Buffalo, 1908.
  2. Our County and its People:  A Descriptive Work On Erie County, New York.  Edited by Truman C. White.  Boston History Company:  1898.
  3. Buffalo Past and Present:  A Manual of Buffalo and the Niagara Frontier.  Reinecke & Zesch:  1994.
  4. Downs, Winfield Scott.  Municipality of Buffalo, NY:  A History.  1923.
  5. Memorial and Family History of Erie County, New York.  Genealogical Publishing Company.  1906.
  6. A Genealogical History of the Hoyt, Haight, and Hight Families: http://trees.ancestry.com/tree/36692239/person/20396668475/storyx/bb957757-2690-46ba-b30f-952be9ecd35e?src=search)
  7. http://www.bnar.org/about_us/past_presidents/index.html
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northNorth Street runs through the Allentown neighborhood of Buffalo, between Symphony Circle and Jefferson Avenue.  A small portion of East North Street exists east of Jefferson, divided by the Kensington Expressway.

North Street was originally known as Guide Board Road.  In front of the Episcopal Church of the Ascension at the corner of Linwood and North is a sign that states “Guide Board Road directing pioneers from the east to the Black Rock Ferry”.  The Guide Board Road was established shortly after Buffalo was settled. Pioneers cut through the woods so that early residents could get from Main Street to the Black Rock Ferry.  The road was used by many covered wagons of pioneers and ox carts of the early farmers.

Guide Board Road sign, on North Street near Franklin Street

Guide Board Road sign, on North Street near Franklin Street

During the War of 1812, when Buffalo was burned Dec 29, 1913, Guide Board Road was bathed in blood.  While retreating, American soldiers from Buffalo and Black Rock used Guide Board Road to get to Main Street to escape to Williamsville or Batavia.  Many of them were overtaken by the Native American allies of the British troops, scalped, tomahawked and robbed of their clothes.  Their bodies were left by the roadside.

northstreet cemeteryThe street was the northern boundary of the City of Buffalo when it was incorporated in 1832, hence the name North Street.  The City founders felt that the North Street boundary would give the City plenty of room to expand.  The road was also known as Lover’s Lane and Cemetery Road.  As cemeteries were being moved to outside the boundary of the City, North Street was bordered by six cemeteries at one time!

The Erie County Almshouse (and associated cemetery) was located near the location of D’Youville College today.   The area around North Street was first settled by residents of Buffalo looking to build houses in the Country.   Additionally, immigrants settling in the Buffalo area bought the land along the road west of Delaware for orchards and truck farms.  This section became known as Shingletown.  Buffalo continued growing and quickly grew to be larger than the Village of Black Rock.  Just 21 years after the City was incorporated, the New York State legislature gave permission to extend its boundaries and absorb Black Rock.

City Planning Committee Map of the Extension of City Limits

City Planning Committee Map of the Extension of City Limits Over Time

Plans had been discussed many times over the City’s history to extend North Street.  This was discussed as early as 1884 when a resolution was passed to extend North Street from Jefferson to Genesee Streets, but the idea was protested.  Plans were resubmitted in 1887.  Portions of East North Street east of Jefferson were built.

In the 1920s,  a plan was put forth to widen North Street and extended it to connect to the east with Humboldt Parkway.  The Buffalo City Planning Association proposed this link, which would connect the waterfront to the eastern part of the city to create a crosstown connecting parkway within a short distance of the downtown business district.  The new parkway would connect D’Youville College, Holy Angels Academy(which later moved to North Buffalo), the State Normal School (later Grover Cleveland High School), Masten Park High School(now City Honors), the 106th Regiment Armory, the proposed municipal stadium at the corner of Jefferson and Best Street (which became War Memorial Stadium aka the Rockpile, now John Wiley Sports Complex), and the proposed Natural Science Building to be located in Humboldt Park (today the Science Museum).  The proposed parkway would be a double roadway and was intended to provide relief from congestion currently occurring on streets such as High Street.  The planned width of the street would be 105 feet wide with two 27-foot roadways separated by a wooded park strip.  One unique thing about the proposal was that the road was planned to take North Street over Main and Ellicott Streets, as well as to tunnel Franklin, Linwood, Delaware and Elmwood Avenues under North Street.  The road was designed to separate the crosstown traffic from the north and south traffic. This road was never built.

If you could redesign any street in Buffalo, which would you change?

Learn about other streets by checking out the Street Index.

 

 

Sources:

“Urges Action on Widening of North Street”. Buffalo News, July 13, 1923.

“Cross-Town Street Plan is Explained”.  Buffalo Evening News, February 17, 1928.

“War Wealth Park of North Street History”. Courier Express, Feb 9, 1956.

Picture Book of Earlier Buffalo.  Buffalo Historical Society Publications:  1912.

 

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choateChoate Avenue is located in South Buffalo, running between South Park Avenue and Abbott Road.  The street cuts through land once owned by Rufus Choate, a man who helped build South Buffalo.

Rufus Mortimer Choate is a descendant of the Choate Brothers who were among America’s pioneer settlers from England who settled in Massachusetts in 1643.   A more famous Rufus Choate was a senator from Massachusetts.  Mr. Choate was born in Clarence on October 4, 1840.  He attended public schools, the Classical Academy in Clarence and Bryant & Stratton’s Business College.  During the Civil War, he volunteer at the first call for soldiers, enlisting in 1861, but was never called to the front.  After the War, Mr. Choate began working as a clerk in the ticket office at the Buffalo Docks and for the U.S. Customs Office.  He served as a local passenger agent for all four of the ship lines which used the Buffalo Harbor from 1866 until 1888.  In 1888, he resigned to begin working in the real estate business.

In 1866, Mr. Choate married Ellen Strickler.  Millard Fillmore’s brother performed their ceremony.  The Choate family lived at 1365 Abbott Road, their home was known as  Windermere House.  At the time, it took an entire day to travel into the city to do your shopping and then home again.  Several rail crossings were located along the route.  When they arrived at the railroad crossings, the horses would often rear up on their hind legs due to fear.  Mr. Choate worried that his wife and children would be injured if the horse would lose control.  He worked to eliminate those at grade crossings.

Windermere House was one of the first houses in South Buffalo to be lit by natural gas.  It was an English villa style home, and was surrounded by a high brick wall with iron fence and gates.  The home had nine bedrooms, a billiard room and spacious rooms for entertaining.  The grounds consisted of orchards, gardens, lawns and a tennis court.

http://digitalcollections.nypl.org/items/510d47e3-71a7-a3d9-e040-e00a18064a99

Wndermere House  Source:  http://digitalcollections.nypl.org/items/510d47e3-71a7-a3d9-e040-e00a18064a99

 

Windermere House became the first Mercy Hospital.  The Sisters of Mercy who were brought in 1858 by Bishop Timon to assist with schooling at St. Brigid’s.  The Sisters soon realized that a hospital was needed.  The original hospital was a 30-bed facility opened in the house in 1904.  The hospital is still located at the corner of Choate Avenue and Abbott Road and has grown to be one of the largest in Western New York.  The sisters also started Mount Mercy Academy, a high school for girls and Sancta Maria College (now called Trocaire, which means Mercy in Gaelic).

Mr. Choate owned a great deal of  real estate.  He sold off properties, developed houses along and named the streets of Richfield, Bloomfield, Whitfield, and Sheffield, as well as Choate Ave.  He served as secretary of the Woodside Land Company, which developed other real estate in South Buffalo as well.

When the Windermere House was taken over by the hospital, the Choate Family moved to 193 Cleveland Avenue  and then 61 Brantford Place in what is now the Elmwood Village.  The houses are still standing.

Mr. and Mrs. Choate had six children.  Sadly, at age 18, their oldest son, Rufus Jr., who went by “Rufie”, disappeared following an argument with his father.  His body was found 4 months later in the hayloft of his father’s barn, after an apparent suicide.

Rufus Choate is said to have done more than any other man toward building up South Buffalo.  He was instrumental in creating Cazenovia Park, as well as South Side and Red Jacket Parkways.  He contributed 12 acres of his own land for the parks system.  He was organizer and president of the South Buffalo Business Men’s Association.  Through the Association, he abolished the old toll gate at Seneca Street and Cazenovia Creek and the 16 hazardous grade railroad crossings of South Buffalo.

choate grave

Mr. Choate died in 1916 and is buried in Forest Lawn Cemetery.

Choate Avenue was requested by a friend.  If you’d like to request a street, email buffalostreets (@) gmail.com and if information is available, it might get moved up in the queue.  Be sure to check out the street index to learn about other streets.

Sources:

  1. “Choate Avenue Honors Donor of Park Areas”.  Courier Express.  September 17, 1939.
  2. Our County and Its People:  A Descriptive Work on Erie County, New York.  Edited by Truman White.  Boston History Company:  1898.
  3. Memorial and Family History of Erie County, New York.  The Genealogical Publishing Company.  Buffalo, New York:  1906.
  4. “Rufus Choate’s Body Found at Last”.  New York Times. May 6, 1895.

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South Park Avenue shown in Blue.  Ohio Street shown in Pink.  Elk Street shown in Teal.  Abbott Road shown in Purple.  Yellow lines show connections that are no longer extant.

South Park Avenue shown in Blue. Ohio Street shown in Pink. Elk Street shown in Teal. Abbott Road shown in Purple. Yellow lines show connections that are no longer extant. (click map to zoom in)

South Park Avenue runs from Downtown Buffalo to the Buffalo-Lackawanna City Line (and beyond down into Hamburg where the road changes to Buffalo Street).  Ever wonder why South Park Avenue has some weird intersections?  It’s because the street was originally a bunch of different streets!  Not all street names are changed to honor famous or influential people.  In 1939, a proposal was presented to change the name of four streets to allow motorists to travel from the Lackawanna city line all the way to Main Street in Downtown Buffalo along one continuous road.

1899 View of Triangle Neighborhood

1899 View of Triangle Neighborhood

The proposal began thanks to efforts of the Tri-Abbott-South Park Businessmen’s Association.  They proposed that portions of Ohio, Elk, Triangle and Abbott Road  be named South Park Avenue.   Yes, there was a Triangle Road in the Triangle Neighborhood!  Triangle Road ran from Abbott Road to what is now Southside Parkway.  Southside Parkway was originally part of South Park Avenue, which ran from Ridge Road to Abbot Road).  Southside Parkway was renamed McKinley Parkway and a portion of South Park Avenue was renamed Southside Parkway.

The intent of the name change for South Park Avenue was to allow those entering the City of Buffalo from the Southtowns to be better able to find the downtown district.  At the time, when you were entering the City from Lackawanna, you would take South Park Avenue to Triangle Street, to Abbott Road, to Elk Street and to Ohio Street before you arrived at Main Street.  You saw five different street names, even though the roads were essentially a continuous thoroughfare.

Buffalo Memorial Auditorium

Buffalo Memorial Auditorium

The proposal to change the name was made around the time of construction of the new convention hall (Buffalo Memorial Auditorium) so it was anticipated that more people would be travelling into Downtown Buffalo for events.  Additionally, many people were expected to stop in Buffalo on their way to the 1939 World’s Fair in New York City.

The proposal was approved by the City Council on May 26, 1939.  At the time, the Council kicked around the idea of renaming the road “South Main Street”; however, they decided upon South Park.  Of the 38 organizations who comprised the South Park Taxpayers Improvement Association, 35 of them voted in favor of calling the “new” road South Park.  Representatives from near the Elk Street business district wanted the route to be called Elk street.

 Learn about the origins of other street names by checking out the street index.

Sources:

  1. “South Park Ave name chosen for proposed continuous thoroughfare.” Courier express April 29, 1939, p 7
  2. “South Park – Triangle – Abbott- Elk- Ohio route -what shall it be called” Courier Express Apr 21, 1939, p 7
  3. “South Park Avenue Lengthening Urged” Courier Express March 3, 1939.  Buffalo Streets Scrapbook Vol 2, 159

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