There. At the bottom center of the aerial below. Far from any streets that could be considered major, minor, or otherwise.
You're probably asking yourself "What the hell were they thinking?" Even being familiar with some of the backstory, I still ask myself this.
In the not-too-distant past, large rock quarries punctured much of Buffalo's East Side. The largest was the 200 acre Bennett Quarry, just east of Main Street towards the northern end of the city. Here's how a large part of it looked in 1925.
In the late 1940s and early 1950s, the city's last remaining quarries stopped mining operations; they were completely surrounded by a dense city that was, for all practical purposes, built out. The quarry sites were reclaimed, mainly by functioning as massive garbage dumps for a few years. Throughout the city, the former quarry sites were developed for public housing, factories, and in the case of Bennett Quarry, a mixed use development called Bennett Village.
Bennett Village brought some flavor of the growing suburbs into the City of Buffalo. It included a mix of suburban-style single family houses, townhouses and two-story apartment buildings. A missing portion of Amherst Street that was severed by the Bennett Quarry was reestablished, turning the road into a much-needed crosstown street. Here's the site in 1951.
With Buffalo being built out, and urban renewal still several years away, there was little room for the same kind of newfangled supermarkets and discount department stores that were drawing the city's shoppers away from downtown and neighborhood centers, and into the suburbs. Northeast Buffalo was considered a vibrant area; east of Bennett Village was Kensington, a desirable lower middle class neighborhood comprised of thousands upon thousands of bungalows. To the south was Highland Park, now called Fillmore-Leroy, an established lower middle class, predominantly German-American community. A few blocks to the west, across Main Street, was the wealthy Central Park neighborhood; beyond was upper middle class Parkside and North Buffalo. Bennett Village was considered prime real estate, and it provided the only location in Northeast Buffalo where new retail development, with plenty of parking for the city's growing number of car-owning households, could be built.
The answer: Central Park Plaza. For reasons unknown, though, Central Park wasn't built on the busy new extension of Amherst Street. Instead, it was tucked away on the side streets extending from the established grid in Fillmore-Leroy. Despite the out-of-the-way location, the plaza prospered as a shopping destination from the time it was built in 1958, through the 1960s, and 1970s. At its peak in the mid-1970s, Central Park Plaza included a large discount department store (Twin Fair), three large supermarkets (Tops, Super Duper, Bells), two five-and-dime stores (SS Kresge and G.C. Murphy), Western Auto, several bank branches, and locations of several local retail chains.
In the 1970s, the Fillmore-Leroy neighborhood experienced rapid change, with an influx of lower income blacks. Through the 1980s, many of the chains with branches in Central Park Plaza folded. The retail spaces left behind were filled with independent businesses, thrift stores, and social service agencies. Most national retailers demanded locations on major streets with high traffic counts, which Central Park Plaza didn't have. The exception: discount shoe and sneaker stores. In the late 1980s and early 1990s, Kensington experienced the same kind of transition that Fillmore-Leroy experienced 20 years earlier. Turnover in Central Park Plaza increased, as did vacancies, until it eventually emptied out.
In April 2010 I visited Central Park Plaza to see what remained.
(I'll eventually upload these to the Cyburbia Gallery.)