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Sheridan Drive

Sheridan Drive

There are actually two roads named Sheridan in Buffalo.  The first is Sheridan Drive, a road that most Western New Yorkers are probably familiar with.  Sheridan Drive runs from the Niagara River and River Road east into the Town of Tonawanda, the Town of Amherst and into the Town of Clarence, where it ends at an intersection with Main Street.  The western end of Sheridan Drive is assigned NY Route 325 from Niagara Street to Grand Island Boulevard.  East of Grand Island Boulevard, Sheridan Drive is designated as NY Route 324.

Sheridan Terrace

Sheridan Terrace

The second Sheridan is Sheridan Terrace.  Much of Sheridan Terrace no longer exists due to construction of the I-190 and the Peace Bridge entrance ramps. Sheridan Terrace had been a Frederick Law Olmsted designed road that led from “The Bank” (a circle located at Massachusetts Street, Sixth Street – now Busti Ave – and Niagara Street) across the front of Fort Porter into Front Park. The portion of Sheridan Terrace that remains functions as the exit ramp from the I-190 to Busti Avenue.

Unfinished monument in Sheridan Drive, 1925 (still looks the same today)

Unfinished monument in Sheridan Drive, 1925 (still looks the same today)

Sheridan Drive and Sheridan Terrace are named after General Philip Henry Sheridan.  Tonawanda historians claim that Sheridan Drive was named after Sheridan Road in Chicago and not General Sheridan; however, the road in Chicago was also named after General Sheridan.  In 1925, when Sheridan Drive was opened, a monument was built on Sheridan Drive near Delaware Avenue.  The monument had intended to have a statue of General Sheridan, but taxpayers felt that too much money had been spent on what they felt was an “unnecessarily fancy highway through rural lands”.  A completed statue of General Sheridan stands on the steps of the Capitol Building in Albany.

Sheridan Monument in Albany, New York

Sheridan Monument in Albany, New York

Philip Henry Sheridan was born in march 1831.  He claimed to be born in Albany, New York.  His parents were immigrants from Ireland.  Some skeptics claimed Mr. Sheridan may have been born on the ship coming from Ireland, and that he said he was born in Albany in order to claim natural-born citizenship to be eligible for presidency.  As a boy, he worked at general stores.  In 1848, one of his customers, Congressman Thomas Ritchey, appointed him for the US Military Academy.  He graduated in 1853.

Mr. Sheridan became a United States Army officer and Union General during the Civil War.  He defeated confederate forces in the Shenandoah Valley, one of the first uses of scorched earth tactics during the war.  The troops were instructed to do damage to the railroads and crops, to leave the valley a barren wasteland to prevent the confederacy from using it as a productive crop land.

Sheridan's Ride at Cedar Creek, from the Library of Congress

Sheridan’s Ride at Cedar Creek, from the Library of Congress

In 1865, his Calvary was instrumental in forcing the surrender of General Robert E. Lee at Appomattox, which occurred in April of 1865.  General Sheridan and his troops helped to block Lee’s escape.  “Sheridan’s Ride” became the subject of songs and poems, talking of Sheridan’s valiant efforts.  Ulysses S. Grant said of Sheridan, “I believe General Sheridan has no superior as a general, either living or dead, and perhaps not an equal.”

Sheridan's Camp at Yellowstone

Sheridan’s Camp at Yellowstone

Sheridan was an advocate for the protection of the Yellowstone area.  He fought against a plan to develop 4,000 acres in the park, lobbing congress to protect the park.  Sheridan’s efforts expanded the park, established military control of the park, and reduced the development to only 10 acres.  Mount Sheridan was named in his honor.

General Sheridan died in August 1888 and is buried in Arlington National Cemetery, on a hillside facing Washington DC.  His wife, who was 20 years younger than him, never remarried and was said to have stated that “I would rather be the widow of Phil Sheridan than the wife of any other living man”.

Sheridan's Grave

Sheridan’s Grave

 Learn about other streets in the Street Index.

 Sources:

  1. Martin, Susan. “Road Test – Sheridan Drive?  Porter Ave?  Who are all these streets and highways named after anyway?”  Buffalo News, July 7, 2002, p. E-1
  2. Percy, John.  “Named After Chicago Street”.  Letter to Editor.  Buffalo News, July 15, 2002.
  3. Morrison, Jed.  “Sheridan’s Ride”.  New York Times, October 14, 2014.
  4. Grossman, Ron. “Why It’s Called Sheridan Road – Or How The General Saved Chicago”. Chicago Tribune, December 11, 2014.

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