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tupperTupper Street is an east-west road in downtown Buffalo that runs between Maryland Street and the Elm-Oak arterials.  Tupper Street was one of the first streets added to Buffalo after the original plan for the Village of Buffalo was laid out by Joseph Ellicott.

Samuel Tupper first came to Western New York in 1789 as a young surveyor.  He came from Connecticut and served for many years as a surveyor.  He worked on the Phelps and Gorman lands (between Lake Ontario and the PA State line, in the vicinity of Seneca Lake and the Genesee River), the Holland Purchase and as chief surveyor for the Connecticut Land Company on the “Western Reserve” in Ohio.  Mr. Tupper worked for Moses Cleaveland and laid out the City of Cleveland.  He also gave the city its name, deciding to name the city he was laying out after his boss.

Map of Buffalo Outer Lots - Samuel Tupper purchased lot 17, north of Chippewa Street in 1808

Map of Buffalo Outer Lots – Samuel Tupper purchased lot 17, north of Chippewa Street in 1808

In 1804, when New Amsterdam was laid out by Joseph Ellicott, there were only 14 landowners here in Buffalo.  In 1805, five more land owners were added, and Samuel Tupper was among them.  He came to Buffalo to run a contractor’s store, which were the stores that took care of purchasing and dispatching supplies to American military posts in the West.  He purchased inner lot 7 in 1805, which was at the northeast corner of Seneca Street and Willink Avenue (which became Main Street).  In 1808, he purchased outer lot 17.  He gave his name to the street north of his property on the outer lot and built his house at the corner of Main and Tupper.  Judge Tupper’s house was the 2nd house burned during the War of 1812.  Following the war, Judge Tupper built a large mansion on the site and served on a committee to investigate losses in Buffalo.

In 1808, Buffalo was made the county seat of what was then Niagara County (breaking off from Genesee County).  The first Judge was Augustus Porter, with Samuel Tupper and Erastus Granger working as his associates.  Mr. Tupper was not trained as a judge, but was known to have capabilities and qualities that were required of society at the time.  It was possible at the time to serve on the bench without legal training.  His title was Associate Judge of the Common Pleas.  He served as a judge until his death in December 1817.

Judge Tupper had no children.  An adopted daughter of his became the wife of Manly Colton, the Erie County Clerk.  The Colton family occupied the Tupper house for many years following Judge Tupper’s death.

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

Sources:

  1. “Two Streets Perpetuate Names of Early Jurists”.  Courier Express Nov 2, 1941 sec 6 p 3
  2. Smith, Perry H.  History of the City of Buffalo and Erie County.  D. Mason & Co., publishers.  Syracuse, NY:  1884.

 

 

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Often a group of streets will be named after a theme.  This is often seen when a developer may name a bunch of streets after his family members or friends.  Many people know that Washington, DC has streets named after all 50 states to form the City’s grid (crossed by alphabetic and numbered streets).   The City of Buffalo has streets named after 32 of the 50 states.  Many of these state street names originated in one of Buffalo’s original street grids.

Map of Village of Black Rock, 1816 Source:  New York State Archives

Map of Village of Black Rock, 1816
Source: New York State Archives

Many of the streets named after streets are located in what was the original development of the Village of Black Rock.  The Black Rock streets were originally laid out  two years before Joseph Ellicott came to Buffalo!  New York State purchased a one mile strip of land along the Niagara River known as the New York State Reservation in 1802.  The State laid out the streets of the Village of Black Rock.  For 20 years, Black Rock would serve as Buffalo’s rival.  In 1825, Buffalo won its fight to be the terminus of the Erie Canal, became a booming city, and annexed the Village of Black Rock in 1854.

State named streets in Black Rock include Georgia, Carolina, Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Jersey, York, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Hampshire.  All of the original 13 colonies are represented by these streets, other than Delaware, which was originally located where Hudson Street is today.  When Buffalo and Black Rock merged, duplicate street names were changed to prevent confusion.  These streets all lay parallel to each other in what is now the West Side of the City of Buffalo, but was originally known as the South Village of Black Rock or Upper Black Rock.  When originally laid out, these streets formed a grid with numbered streets.  The streets were laid out by Lemuel Forester, a Surveyor for New York State.  You can read about the numbered streets in Buffalo by clicking here.  These streets form what was known as Upper Black Rock.  Peter Porter was an important person in the early days of Black Rock.

It is important to note that it is difficult to differentiate between states such as North and South Carolina or Virginia and West Virginia, as the cardinal directions (north, south, east, west) are used in street naming conventions.  Early maps of Black Rock show Jersey, York and Hampshire as New Jersey, New York and New Hampshire, but as time elapsed, the convention to name streets “New” to differentiate between different alignments of a street which changed over time, of which the alignment’s name may be “New _____ Street” or “Old ______ Street”.

Streets in Buffalo Named After States

Streets in Buffalo Named After States  (click to view larger image)

The City also has streets named after the following states:

  • Alabama
  • Arkansas
  • California
  • Colorado
  • North and South Dakota (as Dakota Street)
  • Delaware
  • Florida
  • Illinois
  • Kentucky
  • Louisiana
  • Michigan
  • Minnesota
  • Mississippi
  • Montana
  • Nevada
  • Ohio
  • Oregon
  • Tennessee
  • Texas
  • Vermont
  • Washington
  • Wisconsin
  • Wyoming

There are several streets named after states that used to be located in Buffalo.  These streets names have been removed for various reasons:

Portion of 1900 Sanborn Map depicting locations of Idaho and Arizona Streets.

Idaho Street and Arizona Streets– were located in North Buffalo off Military Road, north of Sayre Street.  The Buffalo Foundry was located here, and industrial facilities eventually absorbed the streets.

1951 Sanborn Map showing the former location of Indiana Street

 

Indiana Street was located near the foot of Main Street.  The street was eliminated when Crossroads Arena (aka Marine Midland, aka HSBC, aka First Niagara Center) was built.  The street is currently buried under First Niagara Center.

1925 Sanborn Map Showing Alaska Alley

1925 Sanborn Map Showing Alaska Alley

Alaska Alley  – was closed on February 24, 1960.  This was a small alley off of Chippewa near Genesee and Washington.   The block where Alaska and Seward Alleys were located is now parking for the Electric Tower building.

Iowa – used to be the part of LaSalle Avenue from Bailey to Eggert (near Minnesota Avenue).  However, they changed the name when they wanted to rename Perry Street to Iowa Street.  They then decided that Perry was too important to change the name of the street.  At this time, they also tried to change the name of Fulton Street to Oklahoma, but also decided that Fulton was too important of a person to change the name of the street.

In 1901, the City wanted to rename Indian Church, Hudson or South Division Street to Missouri.  Residents complained because it sounded like “Misery” to them, and they did not want to live on “Misery Street”.

There is no Maine Street, because it would be confusing because it sounds like Main Street.

I was unable to find evidence of streets in Buffalo named after the following five states:

  • Kansas
  • Nebraska
  • New Mexico
  • Utah
  • Hawaii

Buffalo Ex-Pats living in the Washington, DC area will be happy to know that Columbia Street, in the Cobblestone District near the arena, is named after the District of Columbia.

To answer the “which street named after a state is your favorite?” question – mine is York Street.  My dad moved to Buffalo (from Central New York….and after time spent in the Navy) in 1978 and his first apartment here was on York Street.  My parents lived there when the first got married.  This is where my branch of the Keppel family started in Buffalo.  🙂

To read about other streets, click the Street Index.

Sources:

  1. “Many Changes Made in Names of Streets Here” Courier Express, August 26, 1928
  2. “New Names for Streets” Buffalo Express Oct 7, 1901
  3. “Council Closes Alaska Alley” Buffalo Courier Express, February 24, 1960.

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scatcherdScatcherd Place is a short road off of Peabody Street.  The street has never been more than just a short road leading to a driveway. Historically, this road led into Scatcherd and Son lumberyard, which later became Atlantic Lumber Company and is now owned by Battaglia Demolition.  While the street might not be on many people’s radars, it is legal city-owned right-of-way, and was named after a prominent father-son team who may have been forgotten.

James Newton Scatcherd was born in Wyton, Ontario in 1824.  He grew up on his father’s farm in London, Ontario.  James’ father, John, was a prominent Canadian citizen and a member of the Canadian Parliament for many years.  James’ brothers Thomas and Robert both also served as members of the Canadian House of Commons.

Scatcherd and Son Lumber Yard, 1900.  (Scatcherd Place is the lot between 136 and 142 Peabody Street)

Scatcherd and Son Lumber Yard, 1900. (Scatcherd Place is the lot between 136 and 142 Peabody Street)

James Scatcherd was taught about lumbering from an early age, as it was an important industry in his neighborhood.  Mr. Scatcherd moved to Buffalo in 1852 as an agent of Famer, de Blaquiere & Deeds, lumber manufacturers, dealers and shippers.  James took over the lumber firm in 1857 and became one of the principal lumber dealers in the United States.  In 1879, James’ son, John Scatcherd, joined the firm and the firm was renamed Scatcherd & Son.  The firm’s specialty was expensive hard woods.

James Scatcherd made two important contributions to the welfare of Buffalonians:  First, when he became chairman of the Buffalo Water Commission, he found the water supply was controlled by favoritism and political influence.  Politicians and friends obtained water for a small fee, while other consumers were charged more.  He served for 4 years as chairman of the Water Commission and established equal rates for all consumers, and established efficient management of the water system.  Secondly, Mr. Scatcherd served as president of the Board of Trustees of the Buffalo General Hospital.  At the time, the institution was burdened with large amounts of debt, and was cutting services due to budget constraints.  Within ten years of James’ leadership, the hospital was completely out of debt.

Mr Scatcherd married Annie Belton of Fairfield, Canada.  Mr. Scatcherd was a founder and trustee of the Delaware Avenue M.E. Church (built by Selkirk, now known as Babeville).    James and Annie had one son, John, and a daughter, Mrs. Seward Cary.  James died in 1885 and is buried in Forest Lawn.

John Scatcherd

John Scatcherd

John Scatcherd was also a prominent member of Buffalo society.  He was a leader in the lumber industry and served as president of The National Wholesale Lumber Association and the Buffalo Lumber Exchange.  John had a part in business interests including the Batavia and New York Wood Working Company, the Bank of Buffalo, and the Ellicott Square Corporation, all of which he was President.  He was a director in the Buffalo Railway Company (which became the I.R.C), the Market Bank, the Third National Bank, and the Buffalo Loan, Trust and Safety Deposit Company.

Teddy Roosevelt (on left) in Buffalo in 1901

Teddy Roosevelt (on left) in Buffalo in 1901

From 1900-1901, Mr. Scatcherd spent most of his time working as Chairman of the Executive Committee of the Pan-American exposition.  When President McKinley was shot at the Exposition, Vice President Theodore Roosevelt was summoned to Buffalo.  Due to President McKinley’s seemingly improving health, Mr. Roosevelt left Buffalo.  When the President died, the scramble to get Mr. Roosevelt to Buffalo for the Oath of Office left him without a suitable hat.  John Scatcherd loaned Theodore his hat and Mr. Roosevelt was inaugurated as the 26th President. (You can learn more about Roosevelt’s inauguration by visiting the TR Inaugural Site on Delaware Avenue)

John Scatcherd married Mary Eunice Wood in 1879.  They had two children, a daughter Madeline Steele Scatcherd and a son, James Newton Scatcherd.  John Scatcherd died in 1917 and is buried near his father in Forest Lawn.

Scatcherd Grave

Scatcherd Grave

Be sure to check out the Street Index to learn about other streets.

Sources:

  1. Memorial and Family History of Erie County New York.  The Genealogical Publishing Company:  New York-Buffalo, 1906.
  2. “Scatcherd Street Honors Memory of Civic Leaders, Father and Son”.  Courier Express, April 9, 1939, sec. 5, p.10.

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titusgoodyearkoonsTitus Avenue is a street running between Broadway and Walden in the Emerson Neighborhood of the East Side of Buffalo. The street was named for Judge Robert Titus.  Judge Titus went into a partnership with Charles Goodyear, Frank Goodyear, Edward Koons and Henry Koons to subdivide and develop the land on these streets.  You can read about the Goodyear brothers by clicking here.

Robert Cyrus Titus was born in Eden, New York  in October 1839.  His parents came from Otsego County, New York to the “far west”, as the Holland Purchasewas called in 1817.  At the time, there were no roads through the countryside surrounding the small Village of Buffalo.  Guideposts along the way were blazed trees along the lines most frequently traveled by the occasional settler.  By 1831, they had plowed fields and built a house with a large fireplace and dutch oven.  In this house, Robert Titus grew up, the youngest of six siblings.

judgetitusRobert Titus was educated in a one-room school-house and then attended Oberlin College.  He taught school during the winter term to help finance his own education.  He studied law and set up a practice with Horace Boies in Hamburg, New York.  He opened a practice in Hamburg, New York.  In 1863, Mr. Titus organized a company, which became part of the 98th Regiment of the National Guard of New York State.  The regiment was in service from August 10, 1864 to December 22, 1864.  After he returned home, he was admitted to the bar.  Shortly thereafter  he was appointed Special Deputy Clerk of Erie County and held the office until 1864.  In 1867, he was a candidate for the New York State Assembly, but was defeated.  His first public office was Supervisor of Hamburg from 1868-1871.

In 1873, Mr. Titus moved to Buffalo with his wife Arvilla  to enter into a partnership with Joel Walker.  In 1878, he was elected district attorney.  In 1879, Mr. Titus was made a partner in the firm of Osgoodby, Titus & Moot and practiced with them until 1883, when he formed a partnership with B.S. Farrington.   In 1881   he went to Albany as a State Senator.  During his term in Albany, there was a great opposition to the Erie Canal, however Robert was a strong supporter to keeping the canal open.

In 1885, Mr. Titus was elected Judge of the Superior Court of Buffalo.   He was made Chief Judge in 1891.  When the Court was abolished in 1895, the judges were transferred to the New York Supreme Court.

An Artist's Depiction of President McKinley's Assassination.

An Artist’s Depiction of President McKinley’s Assassination.

Robert Titus was considered to be one of the state’s leading trial lawyers before he ascended to the bench. He was chosen by the state Bar Association to defend  President William McKinley’s assassin in 1901.  The trial of Czolgosz was notorious for how quickly it was completed.  President McKinley died on Saturday, September 14th, Czolgosz was indicted on Monday September 16th.    The jury for the trial was selected in two hours and twelve minutes.  The trial began on September 23rd, as soon as the final juror was named.  By the following afternoon, it was over.  Judge Titus had been in Milwaukee attending a masonic convention when he heard he was assigned to the case.

While the judges were highly respected, neither he nor his partner on the case, Judge Loran Lewis, had worked as a trial lawyer in years.  Judge Titus and Judge Lewis had not wanted to represent the assassin; however, they took the side of justice to ensure that he was given a fair trial.  The public outrage over the murder of the President was demanding a speedy trial and at the time, there was fear that it might not be a fair one.  It was a credit to the both of theirs honor that they ensured that Czolgosz was dignified with a fair trial and not disposed of by “lynch or mob law”.  Czolgosz assisted with the trial’s speed by refusing to cooperating with his legal counsel.  Czolgosz tried to enter a plea of guilty; however, due to the magnitude of the trail, he was not allowed. The jury took only 30 minutes to determine that Czolgosz was guilty and he was sentenced to death on September 26th.   One month later, Czolgosz was electrocuted in Auburn Prison.

Judge Titus' House on Columbus Parkway

Judge Titus lived on Seventh Street.  The portion of 7th Seventh Street on which he lived later became Columbus Parkway.  Mr. Titus died on April 28, 1918 at the age of 79.  He was survived by his son, Lieutenant Allan S. Titus, and daughter, Amy Titus Worthington.  Judge Titus is buried in Hillcrest Cemetery in Hamburg, New York.

Don’t forget to check out the Street Index to find out about other streets!

Sources:

  1. Contemporary American Biography:  Biographical Sketches of Representative Men of the Day.  Volume 1, Part 2.  Atlantic Publishing and Engraving Co:  New York, 1895.
  2. Lord, Walter.  The Good Years:  From 1900 to the First World War.  Kessinger Publishing, LLC, 2007.
  3. Our County and its people:  A descriptive work on Erie County, New York.  Edited by: Truman C. White.  The Boston History Company, 1898
  4. Miller, Scott.  The President and the Assassin.  Random House Publishing Group:  New York, 2011.
  5. “Assassin Czolgosz Refuses to Plead:  His Lawyer Enters a Provisional Plea of Not Guilty”.  New York Times, September 18, 1901.
  6. Obituary of the Honorable Robert C. Titus.  Buffalo Morning Express, Sunday April 28, 1918.

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ellicottEllicott Street is one of the main north-south thoroughfares in Downtown Buffalo.  As most people know, the street was named for Joseph Ellicott, the surveyor of the Holland Land Company who laid out the City of Buffalo.  Since Ellicott was such a prominent man, instead of making this post too long, I have decided to break it up into three posts.  Part 1 today is about Joseph’s early life.   Part 2 details Joseph’s work with the Holland Land Company.  Part 3 discusses Ellicott’s legacy.

Joseph Ellicott’s father, Joseph Ellicott, Sr. was founder of Ellicott’s Mills, Maryland in 1772 when he and his brothers set up a milling business there.  The elder Joseph Ellicott was instrumental in the farming of the area, by convincing the farmers to plant wheat instead of tobacco.  The farms flourished because he introduced fertilizer (using ground plaster of paris) to the area to help the depleted soil be revitalized.   After the Revolutionary War, they were growing enough wheat to build a mills and the town grew up around the mills.  Joseph Ellicott the elder had nine children.  Two of his sons, Andrew and Joseph Junior became surveyors.

Andrew Ellicott was born in 1754.   In 1784, Andrew was appointed to be a member of the survey group working to extend the survey of the Mason-Dixon line.   He also surveyed the “Ellicott Line” in 1786.  This is the line running north-south that forms the western boundary of Pennsylvania.  During his work, he met Benjamin Franklin.  Based on Franklin’s recommendations, Andrew was appointed by George Washington to survey the lands between Lake Erie and Pennsylvania to determine the border between Western New York and U.S. Territory.  He also made the first topographical study of the Niagara River.

Andrew Ellicott's Plan for Washington, D.C., 1792

Andrew Ellicott’s Plan for Washington, D.C., 1792

In 1791, Thomas Jefferson (then Secretary of State) selected Andrew to survey the boundaries of the Territory of Columbia, which became the District of Columbia (Washington, DC) in 1801.  During this time, he surveyed the future city of Washington, working with Pierre L’Enfant.   When L’Enfant disagreed with some of the commissioners, L’Enfant stepped down and Andrew took over the planning and revised the plans.  Andrew Ellicott’s plans, printed in 1792 were the first Washington city plans to receive wide circulation.

The Erie Triangle, Surveyed by Andrew Ellicott

The Erie Triangle, Surveyed by Andrew Ellicott

In 1794, Andrew plotted the road from Reading, PA to Presque Isle on Lake Erie.  He then laid out the City of Erie, PA and supervised the construction of Fort Erie.

In 1796, George Washington again commissioned Andrew for the commission to survey the border between the Spanish Territories in Florida and the United States.  He traveled via the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers.   He worked for four years on this survey and presented his final report to the government in 1800.  However, political administrations had changed and the Adams administration refused to pay Andrew for the work done on the survey.  He sold many of his possessions to support his family during this time.  When President Thomas Jefferson offered him the post of Surveyor General, Andrew turned it down due to his negative experience with the Adams administration.

Andrew’s brother, Joseph was born in 1760 in Bucks County, PA.   During Andrew’s survey of Washington, D.C., Joseph was Andrew’s chief assistant.  Following the survey of Washington, Joseph went to Georgia to survey the boundary line between Georgia and Carolina.  Following that survey, he returned to Pennsylvania, where he met up the Holland Land Company.

For more on Joseph’s days with the Holland Land Company, click here to read Part Two….

Sources:

  1. “Joseph Ellicott”  Memorial and Family History of Erie County New York. Volume 1, Biographical and Genealogical
  2. Beers, F.W.  “Our County and It’s People:  A descriptive Work on Genesee County, New York.”  J.W. Vose & Co Publishers, Syracuse NY 1890.
  3. “Our Street Names:  They Tell Much of Buffalo’s History”.  Buffalo Express, November 14, 1897.

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Buffalo Skyway around 1956
(from WNY Heritage Website)

The Buffalo Skyway was originally known as “High Level Bridge”, a description of the function of getting the road over the Buffalo River.  The bridge opened in 1955 and was a marvel of modern engineering.  The bridge is fraught with controversy today, as many people see the skyway as a barrier to development of the waterfront.

The bridge eliminated the waits for railroad and lift bridges that plagued commutes between downtown Buffalo and South Buffalo/Lackawanna.    Plans for a bridge had been discussed amongst the Planning Commission as early as 1922.  Some early traffic planners had fought for a tunnel instead.  The tunnel idea was scrapped because the City would have been responsible for operation and maintenance costs for lighting, ventilating and other maintenance, which the City could not afford.  New York State is responsible for maintenance of the Bridge.

Some planners insisted that construction of either the bridge or a tunnel would be too expensive and not worthwhile.  The Skyway was built despite the fierce opposition and bitter criticism.  It was heralded as a triumph of development and engineering.

The highest piece of the bridge sits 120 feet above the River.  And the viaduct is 5,803 feet in length.  The Steel used to create the skyway was from the Bethlehem Steel plant, just down the road.  The girders were brought to the River via barge.   The Father Baker Bridge, further down the river, was built in similar fashion to cross the Union Slip Canal and opened in November the following year  The two plate girder spans measure 348 feet and at the time were the second longest on any structure in the United States (not sure if they still are).  The bridge was built by the Bates and Rogers Construction Corporation.  Approximately 10,000 cubic yards of concrete was used.  It is supported by 15 massive steel “bents”.  More than 10,000 gallons of paint were used to protect it from the weather.  The bridge incorporated 11,516 tons of structural steel that was fabricated by Bethlehem Steel.

The Street was named The Buffalo Skyway after a contest was held to name the bridge.  Mrs. Wallace E. Easter, of Lackawanna, submitted the name “Skyway”.  Mrs. Easter received a golden key to the City and $100 for her prize.  If you had to name the road, what would you have named it?

Officials on the Skyway
October 4, 1955
From The Buffalo News

The Bridge cost $12,000,000 (1955 dollars) and Opened on Oct 19, 1955.  The Ribbon Cutting Ceremony was held on October 19th and consisted of Mayor Pankow accompanying an inspection party of city and state officials on a tour by car and a ribbon cutting at the north abutment near Delaware and Church Street.  A reception was held following the ceremony at the Hotel Lafayette, which included an address by State Public Works Superintendent John W. Johnson.

The Skyway brought the start to some major transportation investment projects in Buffalo.  The following projects were announced as being funded during the reception (costs in 1955 dollars):

  • Union Slip Canal Bridge (aka the Father Baker Bridge…it has since been demolished) – $13,000,000
  • Kensington Expressway – $6,3,00,000 (for Section 1)
  • Broadway Viaduct Elimination (aka the Z-viaduct of the New York Central) – $2,4,00,000
  • Scajaquada Creek Expressway – $10,000,000.

These investments brought the City of Buffalo into a new time period.  A time where the car was king.   The state officials at the reception called the opening of the Skyway “so magnificent as to be unforgettable”.

Today, many people consider the Skyway to be a barrier to development of our waterfront.   Many public meetings regarding the waterfront, canalside, and other projects result in cries to remove the Skyway.  However, from a traffic perspective, it’s one of the best ways to move traffic.  It’s a key transportation artery in the City of Buffalo, carrying an average of 38,800 vehicles each day (according to 2011 data from GBNRTC).  The New York State Department of Transportation see the Skyway as “a safe, efficient sturdy roadway with another 40,50 years of life in it”.

Yesterday, a new article was published in Next American City which quotes the Congress for the New Urbanism stance that the Skyway as one of the top 12 roads that need to be removed.

Many argue that the accidents on the Skyway is a reason for its removal.  However, the rate of accidents on the Skyway is 0.61 accidents per mile, far below the statewide average for urban, divided four-lane highways, which is 1.52.

Some see the Skyway, with its smooth curves as graceful, while at the same time monumental and graceful.   The ride along the Skyway is unlike any other drive in Buffalo – these people see the climb, the descent, and the view as phenomenal.

So which side of the Skyway Debate do you fall on?

[To learn about other streets, check out the street index. ]

Sources:

  1. “Buffalo Skyway to Open” Oct 19 with a ribbon-cutting, Buffalo News 10-4-1955
  2. “Final River Span Lifted Into Place” , Courier Express 5-5-1955
  3. “Skyway Name Approved by Mayor” Buffalo News 10-6-1955
  4. “Traffic Streaming Over Skyway Heralds New Era For City”,  Buffalo News 10-19-1955
  5. “Skyway Called First Of Big Projects”,  Courier Express 10-20-1955
  6. “Skyway Celebrates 50th Year” Buffalo News, 10-21- 2005

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Nash Street is a short street a close walk from the Central Business District, between Broadway and William Street near Michigan Avenue.  The street is less than a quarter-mile long, but is a part of the rich history of Buffalo.  Nash Street was known as Potter Street until the 1950s.

The Street is named after Jesse Edward Nash, Sr.  Dr. Nash was one of the City of Buffalo’s most prominent African-American citizens for the first half of the 20th Century.

J. Edward  Nash was born in Occoquan Virginia in 1868.  He worked as a farm hand, a blacksmith, a mason and a boatman.    He was a student at Virginia Union College in Richmond with Reverend Adam Clayton Powell, Senior, the pastor of Harlem’s Abyssinian Baptist Church.   Rev. Powell’s son was the first African-American elected to congress.  Reverend Nash became a minister at age 18.  At age 24, he came to Buffalo in 1892 to serve as pastor of Michigan Avenue Baptist Church.  He was pastor from 1892 until he retired in 1953.   Dr. Nash married Frances Jackson in 1925 and moved to 36 Potter Street in 1925.  Dr. and Mrs. Nash had one son, Jesse Junior, who became a professor at Canisius College.

Dr. Jesse Edward Nash, Senior

The City of Buffalo has had a strong history of African-Americans living in freedom.  When the City was incorporated in 1832, the city directory listed the names of 68 colored heads of families.  The majority of the African-Americans in Buffalo lived in the 4th Ward of Buffalo at the time – east of Main Street between North Street and South Division Street.  Michigan Avenue was the heart of the African-American neighborhood.  The Michigan Avenue Baptist Church was founded in 1836.  The current church was built in 1845, prior to this, they worshiped in a meeting room on Niagara Street near Pearl Street.

During the early 1900s, Buffalo’s African-American community was growing quickly, due to the City’s industrial economy.  When Dr. Nash came to Buffalo, there were only three established African-American churches.  By 1952, there were more than 30 churches.  Because of his education, Dr. Nash was well respected and he became one of the main representatives and spokesperson for the City’s African-American Community.

Reverend Nash helped to found the Buffalo Urban League.  This functioned as an agency to welcome African-Americans to Buffalo when they arrived from the south, by helping them find housing and jobs.  The Buffalo Urban League is still in operations today.

Reverend Nash was unique in his role in Buffalo.  He was widely respected by the city’s white leadership, so he had access to the Mayor and elected officials.  This was uncommon in many other cities during this time.   He worked to put together community meetings of black Buffalonians to intercede on behalf of other black citizens who were being wronged because of their race.

Dr. Nash was well-known, not just in Buffalo, but throughout New York State and the entire country.  He hosted Booker T. Washington in 1910 in Buffalo.  In addition to Mr. Washington, many nationally known African-American leaders were guests of Dr. Nash’s, including WEB DuBois.  Dr. Nash’s neighbor was Mary Talbert, another significant African-American in Buffalo during this time period, but we’ll get to her later (there’s a street named after her as well).

In 1912, Virginia Union University awarded Nash an honorary doctorate.  Dr. Nash served as treasurer of the Western New York Baptist Association, secretary of the Baptist-Disciples Ministers Fellowship.  He was chaplain at Meyer Memorial Hospital (the predecessor to ECMC).

During the 1950s. Buffalo was undergoing a series of urban renewal projects.  Many of these projects impacted African-American neighborhoods disproportionately.   Dr. Nash advocated for fair housing and worked to stop the loss of affordable housing which was occurring under the name of “slum clearance”.

Dr. Nash retired as pastor in 1953.  To commemorate his retirement, the City renamed the street from Potter Street to Nash Street.  In 1954, Dr. Nash was awarded one of the first Brotherhood Awards from the National Conference of Christians and Jews.  He passed away in 1957 and was survived by his wife and his son Jesse Edward Nash, Junior.  He is buried at Forest Lawn.

Nash House, 36 Nash Street

The Nash House is located at 36 Nash Street.  The Buffalo Preservation Board and Buffalo Common Council designated the NAsh House a local historic landmark in 2001.  The house was originally built as a two-family residence, with an upper and lower unit.  Many of the houses in Buffalo were built like this as a practical form of housing for the urban middle class.   The Nash family lived on the second story of the house and rented out the lower floor.

The house was built around 1900.   Few changes have occurred through the years, and the historic integrity of the structure has been preserved.  The house and its contents, which included most of Dr. Nash’s papers, were acquired by the Michigan Street Preservation Corporation in 2000.  Restoration from 2002-2003 included restoration of the clapboard, windows and front porch.  The Nash family living quarters is fully restored, and the lower levels was rehabilitated for office and research space.

Dr. Nash and his family lived in the house from 1925 until 1987.   He passed away in 1957, but his widow occupied the house until she died in 1987.

The Nash House was restored and opened as the Nash House Museum in May 2007.   The museum provides a glimpse into what life was like in the early 1900s on Buffalo’s East Side.  The museum is open Thursdays and Saturdays from 11:30-4pm.   My interest has been piqued and I intend to check out the museum, hopefully this weekend.

For more information on the Michigan Street Heritage Corridor Commission and some of the amazing African-American history of Buffalo that happened in this neighborhood, please read this report prepared for the Commission by a UB Planning Studio.  

Dellenbaugh Block

This neighborhood has a personal history for me, as my uncle owned the complex of buildings known as the Dellenbaugh Block at the corner of Broadway and Michigan for much of my childhood.  He operated a car wash and pizzeria on the Broadway side of the block.  There was a pharmacy on the Michigan side of the building which always reminded me of the pharmacy in It’s a Wonderful Life.  The pharmacy here in this building was the first 24-hour pharmacy in Buffalo.

The Langston Hughes institute has plans to develop the Dellenbaugh Block.   More on their plans can be found here.

Some of my most vivid childhood memories were spent exploring that building and being fascinated by the neighborhood and the history.  The dark and scary basement of the building always freaked me out, because legend has it that it was a part of the underground railroad.  Portions of the building were built in 1842.  The city lists the building as being built in 1890, but to my childhood imagination, there were civil war era ghosts in that basement.

The Dellenbaugh Block is a designated landmark with the City of Buffalo.  The block is named for Frederick Dellenbaugh, a German immigrant.  Mr. Dellenbaugh was a physician and built his home and office at 173 Broadway circa 1842.  The house is visible from Nash Street, behind the newer storefront.   The storefront was the location of a Deco restaurant in the 1930s.

Broadway Arsenal in 1858

Across Nash Street is the Broadway Barns, a City of Buffalo DPW garage.  This building was originally designed as a New York State Arsenal.  Portions of the original circa 1865 armory still exist and can be seen from the inside of the building.  Once the regiments left the Arsenal, the building was converted to an exposition and event hall.

Broadway Auditorium in 1915

This was used for events prior to the construction of the Buffalo Memorial Auditorium on the Terrace.  There are pictures of elephants walking down Broadway to get to the circus at the old Broadway Auditorium.   After the Memorial Auditorium was built, the Buffalo Streets Department began using it as a garage.  What a change this building has seen in the past 150 years!  What a history in this little pocket of a neighborhood!

 

Check out the Street Index to learn about other streets in Buffalo.

 

Sources:

Cottrell, Kevin.   “J. Edward Nash History”.  accessed at: http://www.motherlandconnextions.com/nash.html

“Dr. J. Edward Nash, Sr.” (Obituary).  Buffalo Courier Express.  27 January 1957

http://www.showcase.com/property/163-173-Broadway-Street/Buffalo/New-York/1435912

http://greaterbuffalo.blogs.com/gbb/2005/12/campaign_landma.html

http://www.nashhousemuseum.org/history.html

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