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exchangeExchange Street has been an important street in Buffalo since the early days of settlement.  Exchange Street runs approximately 1.75 miles from Main Street in Downtown to Selkirk Street, near the Larkin District of the East Side of Buffalo.  Exchange Street was one of the first streets in Buffalo, originally a pathway that was traveled by Red Jacket and other members of the Seneca Nation as they came into Buffalo from the Buffalo Creek reservation. Joseph Ellicott incorporated the path when he laid out the original street plan for Buffalo.  The street was originally named Crow Street.  Exchange Street was particularly important during the railroad era of Buffalo’s history.

Map Showing the Inner Lots of Buffalo. Source

Map Showing the Inner Lots of Buffalo.  Source

John Crow arrived in Buffalo around 1801 or 1802, coming from Whitestone in Oneida County, New York.   Mr. Crow occupied a house on Inner Lot No. 1, the southwest corner of Washington and Crow Streets.  The log house had been built by Mr. Johnston, an Indian agent and interpreter who served for the British government and remained here until the Holland Land Company arrived.  Mr. Johnston had received land from the Native Americans in exchange for providing them with boards and planks from the timber on his land.  Legally, Mr. Johnston’s  land hold was not binding.  In negotiations with the Holland Land Company, Mr. Johnston gave up a portion of his land in exchange for keeping a portion along Buffalo Creek where he had his lumber mill separate from the Buffalo Creek Reservation.  Mr. Crow built an addition to the house with a tavern.

When Erastus Granger arrived in Buffalo to serve as postmaster, he set up shop in Mr. Crow’s tavern.  The tavern was also the first place of lodging for Samuel Pratt when he arrived in Buffalo.   You can visit a replica of the Crow Tavern and Mr. Granger’s post office in the Pioneer Gallery at the Buffalo History Museum.  At the time, Exchange Street only ran from Main to Washington, as no streets at the time had been laid out beyond those early streets.   In 1806, Buffalo had 16 houses (8 on Main Street, 3 on the Terrace, 3 on Seneca Street, and 2 on Cayuga-now Pearl Street), two stores – a contractor’s store and a drug store, two taverns, and two blacksmiths.  Mr. Crow stayed in Buffalo until 1806, when he moved to Hamburg and later Pennsylvania. Mr. Crow died in Waterford, PA in 1830.

In 1809, Crow’s Tavern became Landon’s, which burned down in 1813 during the Burning of Buffalo. It was rebuilt by Mr. Landon after the war, and was operated by him until 1824.  In 1825, Phineas Baron took over and renamed it the Mansion House.  Mansion House was in business until 1929!

Source: Picture Book of Earlier Buffalo

Source: Picture Book of Earlier Buffalo

The street was named Crow until many “gentleman” of the city felt that Crow was a vulgar name, since crows were considered to be vulgar, dirty birds, so the street was changed to Exchange Street in 1836.  By 1839, there were several unsuccessful petitions to try to change the name back to Crow.

ex-post

Exchange Street Terminal – NY Central

Many train stations were located along the Exchange Street corridor as early as the 1850s.  The New York Central Exchange Street Terminal was built in 1870, with expansions in 1885, 1900, 1901, 1906 and 1907.  The station was the starting point from where most people entering the City of Buffalo.  For 58 years, the station was the arrival point of most people coming to Buffalo.  Exchange Street was the first thing most people saw when they arrived.

In 1929, New York Central transferred its base of operations to the Curtiss Street Terminal (what we refer to today as Central Terminal) in the Broadway-Fillmore neighborhood of Buffalo.   They all closed their doors after the new terminal was built.  The Exchange Street station was still used by some commuters but they did not provide the neighborhood with enough spending to support businesses, as they rushed from their train to their office for work. The majority of the station was boarded up and only the western entrance was open.  The station restaurant and newsstand closed, and only one door was opened for coming and going.  Only two ticket windows remained open.  The offices over the station closed because most of the personnel went to Curtiss Street.

Central Terminal Under Construction

Curtiss Street Terminal (Central Terminal) Under Construction

Before the station closed, the Exchange Street corridor was one of the most important thoroughfares.  The street was busy with manufacturing, railroad terminals, hotels, and stores.  The Courier-Express said of the street’s heyday, “Exchange Street took off its hat to none of its rivals.”  There were shops for souvenirs and postcards, neighborhood restaurants and lunch counters, and cafes.  Trains arrived at all times of the day and night, so there was a constant flurry of mail trucks, express trucks, delivery vehicles, and people.  One hundred trains a day stopped at the old station.  A story goes that while Grover Cleveland was President, he was on a train heading to a funeral and a friend was staying at the European Hotel at the northwest corner of Washington and Exchange.  President Cleveland asked the train to stop so he could visit with his friend.  The hotel was then renamed the Washington Hotel in order to capitalize on its presidential connection.  The Exchange Street depot was the starting point of the Buffalo Belt Line railroad in 1883, which circled the city and allowed development of the City of Buffalo outside of the downtown core.

Once the NY Central train station closed, Exchange Street was left “looking something like Goldsmith’s deserted village.”  The popular Mansion House hotel, with its roots stretching back to Crow’s original tavern, closed after the train station left.  Between Michigan Avenue and Main Street, there had been a dozen barber shops which all closed.

eriedepot.jpg

Erie Railroad Depot

In addition to the NY Central station, there was also the Erie Station at Michigan and Exchange Street, and the Lehigh Valley Station was nearby on Washington Street.  In 1935, the NY Central Exchange Street Depot was torn down.  Also that year, the Erie Railroad Station was abandoned, when they moved their facilities into the DL&W Terminal on the Waterfront.   This was considered by some to be the end of Exchange Street as a bustling corridor.

The Lehigh Valley station and the right-of-way was purchased in 1954 by New York State to build the Niagara Section of the New York State Thruway.  In 1955, the Buffalo News purchased some of the surplus lands from the State to build their current building (1 News Plaza). The Thruway was built through this section of Downtown Buffalo and opened in 1960.  The six-mile-long Downtown Buffalo part of the Niagara Section was the last portion to be completed of the 559 miles of the New York State Thruway System.

The Exchange Street Terminal continues to serve trains today.  A new, significantly smaller Exchange Street station was built on Exchange Street in 1952.  This station served 21 trains a day and the station used two platforms that were connected via a walkway.  Passenger railroad traffic continued to decline and the station closed in 1962 when service to Niagara Falls was suspended.  Buffalo Central Terminal closed on October 28, 1979 and Amtrak service switched that morning back to Exchange Street where a new station was being built, which opened in 1980.  The Amtrak station currently serves eight trains a day at Exchange Street.

For more than 150 years, railroads were a huge part of the life of the Exchange Street corridor.  There is current talk (2016) about building a new train station in Buffalo.  The One Seneca Tower, with its one million square feet of vacant commercial space, sits ready for redevelopment at the end of Exchange Street at Main Street.  At the other end of Exchange Street, recent developments in the Larkin District are rejuvenating that area.  What’s next for Exchange Street?  It’s yet to be seen.  What would you like to see there?

To learn about other streets, check out the Street Index!

Sources:

  1. “Rebirth Awaited”. Buffalo Courier Express.  August 6, 1935
  2. Ketchum, William.  An Authentic and Comprehensive History of Buffalo, Vol. II.Rockwell, Baker & Hill, Printers, Buffalo NY, 1865.
  3. “Old Railroad Station Once City’s Busiest Spot”.  Buffalo Times, October 25, 1931.
  4. New York State Thruway Authority Records
  5. “As Silence Reigns in Old Exchange Street” Frank L. Blake.  Buffalo Times, Sept 1, 1929
  6. “Terrace Program Revives Memories of Exchange Street’s Famous Days” Buffalo News. Feb 25, 1950.  Streets Scrapbook Vol 1 pg 43
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tifftstTifft Street forms an important east-west path in South Buffalo, running from McKinley Parkway to Fuhrmann Boulevard/Route 5.  It is one of the few streets in South Buffalo that reaches the waterfront.   The road is named after the man who first owned the land in the vicinity of the street, G.W. Tifft.

George Washington Tifft was born in January 1805 in Nassau, Rensselaer County, New York.  One of Tifft’s first land purchases was 5 acres in Orleans County.  He cleared the land to sell  the wood.  He hired men to chop timber, realizing that he could reap a profit on the labor of each man.  He later bought a more land and hired additional men to work for him.

tifftBy the time George was 21, he had saved $1,200.  Mr. Tifft received another $1,000 from his father’s estate, and began a new business venture.  He first traveled to Michigan City, Indiana, where he bought grain to ship to the east.  At the time, all grain was shipped through the lakes.  While in Michigan City, he learned of Buffalo’s shipping and moved to Buffalo in 1842.

Mr. Tifft formed a partnership with Dean Richmond, a member of a prominent Buffalo family.  Mr. Tifft set up the Troy and Michigan Six Day Line, named b/c it did not operate on Sunday.  He purchased more mills to increase his commercial holdings. Mr. Tifft established the International Bank of Buffalo and was the first president of the bank in 1854.  He invested $100,000 in the Buffalo Steam Engine Company and was elected president of the New York, Lake Erie and Western Railroad in 1858.

Tifft House

Tifft House

He then turned his attention to his Buffalo real estate holdings.  In 1863, Mr. Tifft erected 74 houses, a hotel (the Tifft House) and the Tifft Grain Elevator.  The Tifft House hotel opened in 1865 and was demolished in 1902, after serving as a hotel during the Pan American Exposition, and was replaced in 1903 with the William Hengerer Company department store.

Mr. Tifft also purchased a 600-acre tract of land in the southern portion of Buffalo which people referred to as the Tifft Farm.  Mr. Tifft was among the first in Buffalo to experiment with growing “winter wheat”.  He invested his money in the Pennsylvania coal fields and experimented with smelting processes.  His vast land holdings spread across the country – he owned a 5,000-acre farm in Shelby county, Iowa which was stocked and cultivated.  The large Tifft Farm tract in South Buffalo was broken up into residential and industrial areas when Mr. Tifft sold it to Pennsylvania capitalists who leased the land to the Lehigh Valley Railroad Company for 50 years.

The canals at Tifft Farm shown near center of this photograph

The canals at Tifft Farm shown near center of this photograph

The Lehigh Valley Railroad Company constructed 11,400 feet of canal to connect a system of canals on the Tifft Farm property with the City Ship Canal and Buffalo Creek (now Buffalo River).  They also constructed 9,280 feet of dock on the Tifft Farm, each dock had railroad facilities and totaled 20.6 miles of railroad.  Today, Tifft Farms has been renamed “Tifft Nature Preserve” and is managed by the Buffalo Science Musem.  The preserve was created in 1972 from 264 acres of land the City of Buffalo purchased for a landfill site.  Concerned citizens worked with city legislators to plan for preservation of the area.  The landfill incorporated safety measures, which allowed the land to serve a new purpose and the preserve opened in 1976.  The former canals have been allowed to revert to nature and now form Lisa Pond, Beth Pond and Lake Kirsty on the Nature Preserve site.  The “mound” area of the preserve contains landfilled waste materials brought on site from Squaw Island.   During the 1980s, approximately 100 drums of acid sludge from a nearby industrial plant were found dumped into Lake Kirsty.

tifft engines

Mr. Tifft’s later years were spent managing the George W. Tifft Sons and Company, successors to the original Buffalo Steam Engine Works.  He also owned a group of stores at the corner of Washington and Mohawk Streets and had a furniture business there. George Washington Tifft married Lucy Enos in 1827.  They had seven children.  Mr. Tifft was an active supporter of the Republican Party and an admirer of President Lincoln.  Mr. Tifft donated large sums in support of the Civil War, and also towards charities, always considering that he had been blessed to have made his fortunes and eager to help others.

Tifft Monument

Tifft Monument

Mr. Tifft died on June 24, 1882 and is buried in Forest Lawn.  There is also a cenotaph for George at the Tifft Cemetery in Nassau, New York, located on the former Tifft homestead.  One obituary read:  “His name was a tower of strength, and was sought in every movement requiring moral, social or financial support.  He filled a large place in the affairs of the city he has done so much to build up.  His name will long be enshrined in the hearts of a people that had learned to know his worth and appreciate his virtues”.

Check out how other streets got their name in the Street Index.

 Sources:

  1. Buffalo Directory, 1860, pg. 12.
  2. Holder, Robert “The Beginnings of Buffalo Industry.”  Adventures in WNY History Series.  Buffalo and Erie County Historical Society, 1960
  3. Mansfield, John Brandts, editor.  History of the Great Lakes.  Volume 1.  J.H.Beers & Co:  Chicago.  1899.
  4. Magazine of Western History. Western History Co. Mar 1886.

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Doyle Avenue is a street in the Riverside Neighborhood in Buffalo.  The street runs 0.25 miles between Kenmore Avenue and Skillen Street.

Doyle Avenue is named for Major General Peter Cozzens Doyle.  Maj. Doyle was born in Washington County in 1842.  He came to Buffalo with his family via the Erie Canal when he was 4.  He lived in Buffalo until his death.  He attended Public School No. 2 and Old Central High School, but his formal education ended in his teens as was custom in the time, due to the need to earn a living.  He became a telegrapher and became an operator for the Lake Shore Railroad before he was 16.  At 16, he became a bookkeeper for the Buffalo Courier, and worked for the paper from 1858 until the outbreak of the Civil War.  He enlisted and became a lieutenant.  His knowledge of telegraphy was valuable to the army signal corps.  Following the war, he returned to the Courier.  He was associated with the railroads and local wholesale grocers.

Maj. Doyle was elected to his first public office in 1869, when he was elected superintendent of the Buffalo Fire Department.  At the time, firemen were all volunteers, and Superintendent Doyle was a pioneer in advocating the use of horses to draw hose carts and hook and ladder apparatus.  At the time, volunteer firemen and any other men or boys who were nearby would hitch up to the apparatus and run to the scene of action.

In 1870, Doyle became Chief of Police.  During this time, he purchased the right of way for the Buffalo and Jamestown Railroad.  He would drive his buggy along the right of way and buy the land, parcel by parcel.  He became first superintendent of that railroad.

In 1881, Doyle was chairman of the Democratic Committee of Erie County.  That year, they were having a hard time finding a candidate for Mayor, as many democratic candidates had been defeated in previous elections and they found running to be a hopeless cause.   Five people had been asked to run for office, all turning down the offer.  Doyle was instrumental in convincing prominent Buffalo attorney and former Erie County Sheriff Grover Cleveland to run for Mayor.  The rest is political history, as Cleveland rose from Mayor to Governor to President by 1885.

Maj. Doyle was also the Buffalo representative for the Lehigh Valley Railroad and Coal Company, president of the Local Merchants Exchange and a vestryman of Trinity Episcopal Church.

Maj. Doyle married Annie Kelderhouse (her uncle William Mowry operated the first cotton mill in New YorK State).  Annie and Peter built a brick home at Niagara and Georgia Streets.  Later, they built another house on Mariner Street.  Although he owned a great deal of real estate throughout the City, he owned no land near what would eventually became Doyle Avenue.  However, his brother-in-law, John Kelderhouse owned land in that area, which was instrumental in the choice of the name Doyle Avenue.  Maj. Doyle and his wife had three daughters and two sons.  Sadly, the sons died of diphtheria in their teens, only a year before the discovery of the antitoxin.

During the Spanish-American War Maj. Doyle commanded the troops at Peeksill.  At the war’s close in 1901, he was made Major General.  He died later that same year and is buried in Forest Lawn.

To learn about other streets in Buffalo, check out the Street Index.

Source: “Doyle Avenue Honors Soldier- Civic Leader” Courier Express, Jan 1 1939, sec. 5, p.2

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