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Hi!  I just wanted to say that I have been overwhelmed the last few weeks with the feedback I’ve been receiving from people regarding my blog.  I guess the blog was posted on various facebook pages and I’ve had amazing readership numbers the last two weeks!   I really love doing the research and telling some of Buffalo’s stories.  Thank you all from the bottom of my heart.  I started this blog mainly as a way for me to tell some of my favorite stories.  My friends often get bored with me talking their ears off about my favorite Buffalonians, so I decided to start writing.  The feedback has been amazing, and has inspired me in so many ways.  One of the things I love about our city is that we all really seem to care about it.  So thanks to everyone who has shared my blog, retweeted my tweets about it, and told their friends about it.  I really do appreciate it!

In case you haven’t yet noticed, at the top of the page, I have added a few pages.  There’s a page called “What Is This All About” which discusses the basic premise behind the blog, an  “About Me” for you all to learn a little bit more about myself,  and finally a Street Index so that you could more easily search for entries on specific streets.  Remember, you can request any streets at any time!  If you’ve requested streets, I’ve added them to my queue and will be getting to them shortly.

Additionally, I added a link  for the RSS feed in case you’d like to subscribe that way, and there is also a place where you can subscribe by email.

I will start updating more regularly again very soon.  I’m moving into the Hotel Lafayette on May 1st.  I’m very excited to be living into such a historically important building, and to be a part of the resurgence of Downtown Buffalo.  Once I’m settled in, I figure that I will be able to do much more research, as I will be right next door to the library.

In the meantime, please let me know if there’s any streets you’re particularly interested in.  And here’s a little tidbit of information:  Today (April 20, 2012) is Buffalo’s 180th Birthday!   The City was incorporated in 1832, and the legislation passed the Assembly and the Senate in April of that year.  If you’re interested, you can read the first charter here.   Make sure you take a second this weekend to wish our fair city the happiest of birthdays.

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Wilkeson Way is a small street…ok, technically, it’s basically just the entry way into a parking lot down by the Erie Basin Marina.  It’s named after the man who was extremely important to the building of Buffalo in the early 1800s, so I’m including it.  Originally. Wilkeson Street was a little further north of the current Wilkeson Way, behind City Hall, in an area which changed due to urban renewal in the 1960s.

While the street is short, the man it was named for happens to be my absolute favorite Buffalonian, Samuel Wilkeson. (more…)

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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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Irving Place is a short street running for about 1/4th of a mile in Allentown between North Street and Allen Street.

The road was originally called Bowery Street, named after the trees that once bowered overhead.  The residents became uncomfortable with the name Bowery.  At this time, Manhattan’s Bowery section was becoming an area of brothels, low-brow theaters and slums.   The residents of Bowery Street in Buffalo didn’t want to be associated with such things.   So, in 1874, Bowery Street became Irving Place – named for author Washington Irving.   Residents of the street voted to choose the name of the street, so perhaps they were fans of Ichabod Crane and the Headless Horseman?  Interestingly, during the revitalization of The Bowery in Manhattan, there was a movement to change the name of the street there as well.  The name stuck in Manhattan, but went away in Buffalo.

Fun fact about Irving Place:  F. Scott Fitzgerald, author of The Great Gatsby, lived at 29 Irving Place as a boy.  His father was an employee at Proctor & Gamble.

Sources:

“Business Changes Along the Bowery:  Attractive Retail Shops have Taken the Place of Old Time Saloons”,  New York Times, December 21, 1921.

Allentown Association.  http://www.allentown.org/Streets/Irving/

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Finally, a new entry!  Thanks for holding tight while I dealt with my unexpected move and got all my stuff in order.

Today, instead of talking about a specific street I want to talk about my new apartment.  Interestingly enough, the history of one street will actually come into play as well.  I lived on Franklin Street prior to this move.  This move brought me further downtown, so far downtown that I actually live within the boundaries of the Joseph Ellicott 1804 Plan of Buffalo.  Being the history buff, I am, I couldn’t resist doing some historical research of the plot of land I now call home.

Delaware Ave Row Houses...possibly what my block looked like in 1890

I’m amazed at how much history exists in my little plot of land that’s not even a quarter of an acre.  My building was built in 1932.  It’s currently a restaurant with four apartments above it.  Historically, in the 1890s, there were row houses on the property, and likely houses before that.

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Sorry for the last of posts this week (and probably next week).   I’m in the process of moving; once I get settled, I’ll get back into my Tuesdays-Saturdays posting routine.

Let’s have an interactive entry.  The Skyway was named such because the City of Buffalo had a contest to name it.  There was a cash prize, as well as the bragging rights to say that  you named the road that one day Infrastructurist would call one of the top seven highways to tear down.

So, if you had the power to rename any street (including the skyway) in Buffalo, what would it be and why?  Would you name a street after yourself?  After Justin Beiber?  Let me know in the comments…I want to hear your ideas!

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Selkirk Street is a street running approximately 1/4th of a mile south of Exchange Street, near the railroad corridor.   The land around Selkirk Street was originally owned by Henry Box.  Box was a lawyer in Buffalo, and when his land was subdivided for development, he decided to name one of the streets after his brother-in-law, John Harley Selkirk, an architect.

Erie County Savings Bank

John Henry Selkirk was born in Connecticut in 1808.   He studied architecture and moved to Buffalo in the early 1830s.  When he arrived, the Village of Buffalo had not been fully restored after the burning by the British during the War of 1812.  Therefore, it was a good time to be an architect.   Many of his buildings were built in the Romanesque Revival style, which is most famously represented in Buffalo by the Richardson Complex near Buffalo State College (designed by Henry Hobson Richardson).

Delaware Asbury Church in the 1950s

Selkirk designed and built the Asbury Delaware Methodist Church (aka Ani DiFranco’s Church) at Delaware and Tupper, the Calvary Presbyterian Church on Delaware and Tracy Street (demolished), old Central Presbyterian Church at Pearl and Genesee (at the time the largest protestant church in town).  In addition to the churches, he designed the Buffalo Gas Works Building (now the facade of the Health Now Building on Church Street), Western Savings Bank and the Erie County Saving Bank.  He also built many homesteads including the Rumsey Homestead at Delaware and Tracy, the Rich home at Main near Dodge, and the Sheldon Thompson mansion at Niagara Street and Porter Avenue.   He also built twin houses on Niagara Street between Huron and Georgia Streets for himself and his son.  At the time, that portion of Niagara Street was one of Buffalo’s better neighborhoods.

John Henry Selkirk died in 1879.  The only remaining buildings designed by him are the Church at Delware & Tupper and the facade of the Gas Works on Chruch Street.

Buffalo Gas Works

Source:  “Named for John Selkirk”.  Courier Express Aug 21, 1939, sec 5 p2.

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Ganson Street is an industrial street running about a mile across Kelly Island from South Michigan Avenue to Ohio Street.  Ganson Street was named for Congressman John Ganson.  Ganson  was in Congress during one of the most critical periods of America’s history – the Civil War.  He supported every war measure proposed by President Lincoln, including Slave emancipation.

Ganson was born in 1819 in LeRoy NY, son of one of WNY’s pioneers.  He graduated from Harvard at the age of 19 and studied law in the office of Sibley and Worden in Canandaigua.   In 1846, he moved to Buffalo.  The Ganson mansion was at 262 Delaware Avenue, at the corner of Delaware and Chippewa.  His home was later the location of the Buffalo Club for 17 years, before they settled into the Watson mansion, its current location.

His first law partnership in Buffalo was with E.G. Spaulding.  Prior to his election to Congress, he served a full term in the state senate.  He was relected to the state senate in 1873, but his term was cut short by his death a year later, at the age of 54.   He is buried at Forest Lawn.

Source:  “Named for Congressmen”.  Courier Express Sept 11, 1938, sec 5 p 2.

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Letchworth is a small street, running about one-tenth of a mile between Grant and Dart Streets, behind Buffalo State College.  Most people know of Letchworth as a park in Genesee County, but did you who it’s name after?

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Bird Avenue runs approximately 1.5 miles between Delaware Avenue and Niagara Street, just south of Forest Avenue.

Buffalo has Eagle Street and Swan Street.  It’s natural to assume that Bird Street was named after the birds that make their home along the Niagara River.  Well, it’s not named after our fine feathered friends, but there were some Birds who made their home along the river…

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