Posts Tagged ‘pulmotor’

This post is at the request of John Fell.  Don’t forget, if you have any requests for specific streets- leave them in the comments or send me an email at buffalostreets (at) gmail (dot) com!

Fell Alley is a small,  two block alley running between Niagara Street and Prospect Avenue, from Carolina to Virginia Street.

Fell Alley was named for Dr. George Edward Fell.  Dr. Fell was the inventor of the Fell motor, a submarine life-preserver, and co-inventor of the electric chair.  The Fell motor is a device used for mechanical respiration and was used until the invention of the pulmotor in 1911.   The first Fell motor was invented in 1887, and used bellows, piping and a breathing valve to resuscitate unconscious patients.  At the time, the restoration of respiration was believed to be impossible, however Dr. Fell made it possible and saved many lives.    The submarine life-preserver not only kept you afloat,  it also provided an air supply to allow easier breathing should you go overboard.

Dr. Fell was a professor of  microscopy in the medical department of Niagara University (which is now the UB Medical School).    George Fell also worked as a surgeon.   While he was opposed to capital punishment, his work on the creation of the electric chair was intended to minimize the pain of the death penalty.

While he attended medical school in the evenings, George Fell also had worked as a City Engineer from 1882-1883.  He worked on the installation of one of the break walls from the harbor along the south shore of Lake Erie to the South Buffalo Lighthouse.  When George Fell completed medical school, his brother Charles took his place in the Engineering Department and completed the break wall.    Charles Fell is responsible for many of the plans for the City’s sewer lines, although many of them were not built until after his death.

George Fell was also considered to be a great humanitarian.   Dr. Fell’s home and office was at 72 Niagara Street.  He had four daughters and a son.  He moved to Chicago in 1917 and died in 1918.


  1. Essig, Mark.  Edison and the Electric Chair: A Story of Light and Death.  Walker and Company:  USA, 2003.
  2. “Fell Alley memorial to Physician – Inventor” Courier Express May 19, 1940 sec 5, p7.
  3. Fell, George.  “A New Method of Saving Life at Sea:  The Fell Submarine Life Preserver”.  Buffalo medical journal, Volume 71.  August 1915
  4. Fell, George.  “The Influence of Electricity on Protoplasm.”  Physician and Surgeon 10.  October 1890,p 441-442.

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