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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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