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smithSmith Street is a 2 mile long road on the East Side of Buffalo running from the Buffalo River to Broadway. Smith Street is one of the interchanges from the I-190 Thruway, Exit 4.

Henry Kendall Smith was born on the island of Santa Cruz (now Saint Croix) on April 2, 1811. His parents were Jeremiah Smith and Jane Cooper Smith, who were of English origin. At the time of his birth, the island was in possession of the English during the Napoleonic Wars. In 1815, following the peace between Britain and France, the island was once again a Danish territory. Mr. Smith, Henry’s father, was an architect and builder. While the English had occupied the Island, there had been prosperity. When Denmark returned to power, property values depreciated greatly and many plantation owners were ruined. The change in government caused Mr. Smith to lose a great deal of money. However, his social standing allowed him to achieve the rank of major in the Danish provincial army, which allowed him an income as opposed to financial ruin. One day, while passing through a fort, some quicklime was accidentally throw into his face. Following the accident, he was confided to bed for weeks and blinded for life. At the time, the family consisted of Jeremiah and Jane, along with two sons and two daughters. The family struggled to make ends meet. Mrs. Smith, was not discouraged by the family’s misfortune, and helped her children to look towards the future. A long litigation took place revolving around the accident. Eventually, rather than continue the ligation to get his fair share due to him, Henry’s father accepted a settlement of $1,500 from the party responsible for his injuries, in order to be able to educate Henry.

At the age of 8, Henry was sent to Baltimore to study under Reverend Dr. Berry, a minister of the Church of England and a scholar. When Henry left for Baltimore, his father told him that he would now have to take care of himself and that it was his responsibility as to whether he would sink or swim. Henry reported replied that he would swim, and left behind his family forever.

For those who have seen the musical Hamilton, or know Alexander Hamilton’s history, Henry’s story will sound familiar. Alexander Hamilton was also from St. Croix, and was sent to America to receive an education after experiencing poverty early in life.

Henry_Kendall_Smith,_mayor_of_Buffalo

Henry Smith’s Mayoral Portrait

At age 17, he became a clerk at a wholesale dry goods store in New York City. In his free time, he would continue his studies of the classics, believing that there was another occupation out there for him, and that he would not be a clerk forever. One day, his employer told Henry that he was acting like a woman or a “clumsy boor”. So Henry told his employer that he could do the work himself, and left the store. Shortly prior, he had met Daniel Cady of Johnstown, New York. who was engaged in a trial in New York. After listening to Cady’s arguments and the reply by Ogden Hoffman, Henry was inspired and decided he would become a lawyer.

Henry traveled to Johnstown, found Mr. Cady, and asked to enter his office as a law student. At the time, lawyers did not go to law school, but rather learned the trade in a law office. Mr. Cady welcomed Henry into his office. Henry was devoted to his books and continued his studies under Mr. Cady until he was ready for his examination. While he was studying, he earned an income by teaching at a school. Henry was admitted to the bar in May 1832 and continued to practice in Johnstown. In October of that year, the Young Men’s State Democratic Convention met in Utica, and Mr. Smith was one of the delegates from Montgomery County. During the convention, he delivered a speech regarding the nomination of a gubernatorial candidate which gave him the reputation of an accomplished and logical speaker. At the convention, Henry met Honorable Israel T. Hatch, from Buffalo, who invited Henry to come to Buffalo.

Henry moved to Buffalo in spring of 1837, to form a partnership with Mr. Hatch. After working with Mr. Hatch, Henry also worked with George W Clinton, Mr. Williams, Isaac Verplanck and others in Buffalo.

At the breakout of the Patriots War in 1837, Henry was made Captain of one of the five companies of volunteers formed by citizens for the protection of Buffalo. He continued in the militia service for some time, passing through the ranks until he attained the rank of Colonel. When he was made Colonel, he was given a gold watch that had the inscription, “The citizens of Buffalo to Hon. Henry K Smith, the eloquent and efficient advocate of the Erie Canal and the rights of the City.”

In 1838, Mr. Smith was appointed District Attorney for Erie County. He resigned after seven months, because he was being requested so often for other civil business as a lawyer.

In 1844, he accepted the office of Recorder of the City of Buffalo, an office he held for four years. Subsequently, in 1846, he was appointed postmaster of Buffalo and held the office for two and a half years. In 1850, he was elected Mayor of Buffalo. He was nominated for state assembly, state senate and congress. In 1840 he was a delegate to the national convention which re-nominated Martin Van Buren for president (Van Buren lost that election to William Henry Harrison).

Mr. Smith married Miss Vorhees in spring of 1834. She was the daughter of a wealthy merchant of Johnstown. Unfortunately, she passed away shortly after their marriage. In 1838, he married Miss Sally Ann Thompson, the daughter of Shelton Thompson of Buffalo. After 18 months, she too passed away, leaving behind a son, Sheldon Thompson Smith. Henry suffered greatly after the death of both of his wives. To deal with his grief, he focused on the care and education of his son, on his professional duties and politics.

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Mr. Smith had considerable musical talents. He taught himself to play the violin. He would often be found singing with his family and would sing the Star Spangled Banner, God Save the King, and other patriot songs on festive occasions such as the Fourth of July or St. Patrick’s Day. He was a member of St. Paul’s Episcopal, during the time of Rev. Shelton, for whom Shelton Square was named.

Mr. Smith died on September 23, 1854, at age 43. He is buried in Forest Lawn.

During the 1950s and 1960s, there was a Proposed East Side Expressway that went through several iterations. The Expressway was originally planned to start at the Kensington Expressway at an interchange at Best Street, run along the south side of Humboldt Park, now MLK Park, and to continue along Walden Avenue. They then decided to shift the expressway south of Walden in order to preserve the Walden Business Corridor. The Expressway was going to run 2.6 miles and end at Walden Avenue near the City Line. The Expressway was included in New York State Highway Law 1957. In 1958, they decided that it would be better if they were also able to connect the Thruway I-190 to the Expressway with an additional route. This highway was thought to be beneficial to the planned opening of the Thruway Industrial Park and to help bring people into the struggling Broadway-Fillmore shopping district. At the time, Broadway-Fillmore was the 2nd most dense area, second only to Downtown in both size and value.

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One of the plans for the East Side Expressway and Smith Street Spur

The Proposed Smith Street spur would start at the East Side Expressway with an interchange at Miller Avenue, and continue southwest along Memorial Drive to Fillmore Avenue, then would follow Fillmore to Smith to the Smith Street interchange of the I-190. Reports at the time said that this spur of highway was “essential to the lifeblood of the East Side”. More than 300 houses were planned to be demolished as part of this Smith Street Spur proposal. The plan was debated for many years, with various alignments discussed and fought over. Elmer Youngmann, the District Engineer for the New York State Department of Public Works (for whom the Youngmann Expressway – I 290- was named) was against putting the spur down Memorial Avenue due to the high costs of the road due to the private properties along the route. Neither the East Side Expressway in this alignment nor the Smith Street Spur were ever built.

Want to learn about other streets? Check out the Street Index!

Sources:

1. Proctor, L.B. “Sketches of the Buffalo Bar: Henry K. Smith”. Published in Buffalo Courier & Republic, 1869.

2. Viele, Henry K. “Sketch of the Life of Hon. Henry K. Smith”. Published in Buffalo Courier & Republic, May 25, 1867.

3. Rizzo, Michael. Through the Mayor’s Eyes. Lulu Enterprises, Inc. 2005.

4. The Proposed East Side Expressway and Proposed New Arterial Route. Buffalo: 1961.

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chandlerstreetChandler Street runs between Military Road and what used to be NY Central Railroad tracks.  Historically, this area was home to factories and industrial buildings.  The street’s access to the rails made it a prime place for these types of businesses.  The buildings along the street were home to the Jewett Refrigerator Company, the Double Truss Cornice Brake Company, the Acme Steel and Malleable Iron Works, Barcalo Manufacturing, Buffalo Weaving & Belting Company, Linde Air Products, Loblaw Groceteria, and others.

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The iconic Linde tower at the Former Linde Complex on Chandler Street source: buffaloah.com

In the last few years, Chandler Street has become a hip new place.  Signature Development’s Rocco Termini has created a new district with redevelopments along both Chandler and Grote Street.  Some are calling this area “Chandlerville” the way that the Larkin District has developed into Larkinville. Several buildings along the street have now been redeveloped and are home to new businesses.  The former Linde complex is now home to Utilant, Barrel & Brine, Blackbid Cider, an accounting business and a call center.  The former Loblaw/Barcalo space is home to Thin Man Brewery and Tappo Pizza.  The land here was originally owned by Henry Chandler and the street was named for him.

Henry Chandler was born in Springfield Massachusetts in 1830.  He was a descendant of William Chandler, one of the earliest settlers in Andover, who arrived in America from England in 1637.  As a boy, Henry moved to Seneca County, New York with his family after his father lost his fortune during the Panic of 1837.  At age 15, Henry got a job teaching in the village school.  Henry was said to have had keen artistic sense from a young age.  While teaching, he supplemented his income by painting signs and decorating wagons and sleighs.

In 1850, Henry came to Buffalo and got a job as a typesetter at the Commercial-Advertiser.  While working there, he figured out a process for engraving that made it available to the general public, by using a wax process that allowed it to be done at a much lower cost.  The first job using the process was in 1853, which was a cover of a writing book published by Phinney & Co, who owned a bookshop on Main Street near Seneca Street.  The second job was a set of calendar frames.  Henry was having such great success, he asked his brother Frank to join him in his business venture in 1856.  The brothers worked together for most of their lives.  Their first year in business together, the brothers printed maps of the Great Western Railway of Canada and the Illinois Central Railroad.  In 1858-1859, Henry developed a process for photographing on wax which allows for engraving without needing to redraw.

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Example of a map done by Jewett & Chandler.

In 1859, Elam Jewett, owner of the Commercial Advertiser used Henry’s process to win the bid for engraving from the US Patent Office.  In 1862, Henry joined Mr. Jewett’s firm, which eventually became Jewett & Chandler.  They established an engraving house at 178 Washington Street.  In 1874, Matthews & Northrup joined the business.  The business was known by several names, including “J.N. Matthews Co” and “Matthews-Northrup Works”.  For many years, all illustrations of the US patent office used Chandler’s process.  The process was also used extensively for map engraving and the company was world renowned.  Many maps and atlases across the Country were completed using the Chandler process, including those used by General Pershing to guide the troops into Mexico and by President Wilson in his talks in Versailles.

Henry Chandler married Frances Long.  They had two sons, Henry Long and Frank Darwin, and a daughter who died as infants.  One son, Albert Hotchkiss Chandler, survived to adulthood.  Mr. Chandler owned property throughout the city, including where Chandler Street is located, property on Delaware Avenue and his home on Niagara Square.  The Chandlers lived at 89 Niagara Street.  At the time, Niagara Square was a residential neighborhood.  The Chandlers neighbors included the Bancrofts of Bancroft, Barnes & Co( which became the William Hengerer Company), and the parents of Dr. James King, a prominent doctor.

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Henry Chandler House, 89 Niagara Street. Source: John H Conlin, WNY Heritage, Winter 2004.

The house at 89 Niagara Street had been built around 1852 by Philo Balcom.  Mr. Balcom was a trustee of the Baptist church that was located next to the house, and owned a brick business.  The house was a 2.5 story brick Italianate house with a four story tower built in the Second Empire style.  The house was sold in 1855 to Fidelia and Alden Barker, a land and insurance agent.  The Barker’s sold the house to Henry Chandler on August 29, 1864.  While the Chandlers owned the house, the tower was likely built.  Henry had a reversal of fortune in the 1870s, which forced him to leave the property at 89 Niagara Street and move to York Street.  The house was then sold at auction by Erie County Savings Bank.  Henry Chandler’s nieces remarked that what they remembered most about their uncle’s house on Niagara was that they had a first floor bathroom, which was an unusual feature during the 1870s.

With the building of City Hall, the US Courthouse, the State Office Building, the Buffalo Athletic Club and the Statler Hotel in the 1920s-1930s, Niagara Square shifted from residential towards being a civic center.  At some point, the house at 89 Niagara Street became a restaurant.  The restaurant had different names over the years.  It was known as Valentine’s for many years.  In the early 1990s, it was known as Grille 91, a restaurant that was described as “comfortable” and offered “well-prepared classic food”. In 1998, the restaurant became Carlos O’Ryan’s, which served casual Mexican and Southwestern food. The house was sold by the Valentines to “157 West Mohawk Realty Corp” in 2000 for $50,000.  At the time, there was a proposal for a new Courthouse to be built on the site.  The house was the last remaining house on Niagara Square and was demolished in 2007 to build the new courthouse.

The only house that still remains from this area of Downtown as a residential neighborhood is The Old House Downtown, (formerly known as Big Blue due to it having been painted blue) at 153 Delaware.   You can learn more about that house by checking them on facebook as The Old House Downtown or stop by on Tuesdays when they serve donuts on the lawn as the City of Buffalo Office of Coffee and Donuts.

chandler graveHenry Chandler owned sorrel horses which he rode along Delaware Avenue. Mr. Chandler also donated money to First Baptist Church, Buffalo Historical Society, the Young Men’s Association (which became the Buffalo Public Library).  He was also a member of the Buffalo Museum of Science, the Beaver Island Club and the Buffalo Field Club.  He was an accomplished poet, and his poetry was published in several magazines.  He died December 21, 1896.  He is buried in Forest Lawn.

Mr. Chandler’s son, Albert, worked as an electrician in the US Navy during the Spanish-American war.  At age 26, he enrolled to study civil engineering at Cornell University.  He was the city engineer of the City of New York.  In that role, he worked on the first section of the New York City city-owned and operated subway.  The lines are now part of the modern subway’s A, B, C, D, E, F, G and M service.  Additionally, N, Q, and R trains run partly on the tracks from the original lines.  He was also responsible for many of the grade crossing improvements in the Greater NYC area and drew all preliminary plans for bridge and tunnel approaches to Manhattan.  Albert died in 1932, leaving behind two young children, Henry (Harry) and Emily.  Albert is buried in Brooklyn’s Green-Wood Cemetery.

Albert’s family lived in the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood in Brooklyn. After his father’s death, when Harry was 13, Harry received a scholarship to Adelphi Academy and another to attend Lehigh University. After graduation in 1941, Harry got a job working for Proctor and Gamble Defense Corporation, in Mississippi.  After the attack on Pearl Harbor that year, Harry immediately went to the local air base and enlisted in the Air Force.  On March 15, 1945, Harry was flying a mission north of Berlin.  His plane was hit by a shell, taking out the controls.  His co-pilot was nonresponsive, and Harry was ejected from the plane as it spiraled.  Harry landed in a field and was captured by German police.  Harry spent two months as a prisoner of war.  It was only later that Harry learned that his mission had been important to history, the factory they had been assigned to destroy had been working to create an atomic weapon for Nazi Germany.    Harry returned to his job at P&G, retiring in 1981.  Harry is still alive today.  His sister Emily passed away in 2018 at age 103!

So the next time you’re hanging out on Chandler Street, think of the Chandler family and all they accomplished.

Want to learn about other streets?  Check out the street index.

Sources:

  • Smith, Katherine.  Chandler Street Perpetuates Name of Engraver-Inventor.  Buffalo Courier-Express, December 10, 1939, p W5.
  • Sukiennik, Greg.  A crucial mission; story of survival.  Manchester Journal.  November 12, 2017.  https://www.berkshireeagle.com/stories/a-crucial-mission-story-of-survival,524408? (online August 2019)
  • Public Notice – Superior Court of Buffalo.  Buffalo Courier.  January 25, 1878.
  • Buffalo News Real Estate Transactions.
  • Buffalo News Restaurant Listings.
  • The Magazine of Poetry:  A Monthly Review. Moulton, Charles Wells, publisher. January 1894.
  • The American Stationer.  Vol. XL – No.1.  New York, July 2, 1896.

 

 

 

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