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SlaveToTheGrind

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"Buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo."

Buffalo.JPG

An explanation?
 
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The Terminator

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Buffalo Hip-Hop has been ON FIRE in the past 5 years!

FREE SLY GREEN, RIP MACHINE GUNN BLACK, BLACK $OPRANO FAMILY ON TOP 716 716 716 716 716 716 716
 

michaelskis

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20,602
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I have been to Buffalo the same number of times they won the Stanley Cup plus the number of times they won the Super Bowl.

I am a massive fan of their Wings.
 

luckless pedestrian

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I am always shocked how few subdivisions in Rochester, Buffalo and Syracuse suburbs were required to put in street trees - older neighborhoods have them but the ones from the 50's onward did not - I am sure there are exceptions but overall I think it's a trend
 

The Terminator

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Sobieski Street! In the heart of the former "Polonia". Shout outs to the Happy Swallow and Dick's Eastside Inn. This part of Buffalo reminds me allot of Detroit.

One thing I love about Buffalo is that it feels like an NYS version of Detroit. I feel like Western NY has more in common with SE Michigan than Downstate, the Great Lakes effect. From the accents, "pop" instead of "soda", Hockey and Football being more popular than Baseball, the Polish connection, both cities had riots in 1967 and plowed highways through their industrial neighborhoods in the 50s. Both cities had controversial Jerkoff mayors in the 80s (Coleman Young in Detroit, and Jimmy Griffin in Buffalo who was in many ways, like a White version of Young). Buffalo's street grid system of radials and diagonal avenues eminating from Niagara Square evokes Cadillac Square. Both cities have underutilized public transit (although Buffalo's metrorail is allot longer and more useful than the People Mover).

Although changes and gentrification are happening in Buffalo, I feel like its happening allot faster in Detroit, with more investment and influx of out of state artsy and young professional types. The area around Eastern Market is like Bushwick now, all of the ghost skyscrapers in Downtown Detroit have been reoccupied. Gentrification in Buffalo is most definitely happening, but allot more limited to certain areas of the West Side along Grant St and the former Bethlehem Steel valley thats been rebranded as "Larkinville". I don't see it being taken over by NYC Expats anytime soon, although anything is possible and many Buffalonians do fear that. KEEP BUFFALO A SECRET ;)

I aspire to live in Black Rock off of Amherst, west of Military Road. Thats a neighborhood that's rough around the edges but not East Side level dangerous, livable homes can be bought in the 65k range, property taxes arent too insane and you can bike to Wegmans in 10 minutes. Id love to have a Telescope home, with an adjoining vacant lot where I can store junk Volvo's. One can dream.....
 

mendelman

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This part of Buffalo reminds me allot of Detroit.

One thing I love about Buffalo is that it feels like an NYS version of Detroit.
Mainly due to almost exactly the same migration/immigration patterns and periods in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

Polonia does feel like parts of Detroit, because both cities had large waves of polish immigration and large ethnically solid enclaves - Buffalo had Polonia, Detroit had Poletown (much of the neighborhood was replaced by the GM Cadillac plant in the mid 1980s) and the separate, but surrounded, City of Hamtramck. My FIL and MIL grewup in these two places.
 
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The Terminator

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This is true. Buffalo is really a midwest city.
I consider it a hybrid between Northeastern/Midwestern, although culturally more midwest than not.

Another observation is that while Buffalo and Detroit faced similar declines, I think Buffalo has fared a little better. There are allot more "intact" neighborhoods in Buffalo comprared to similar parts of Detroit, meaning less scarred by arson and abandonment. Example: I would consider Buffalo's Schiller Park to be similarly "hood" as lets say Gratiot and 7 Mile in Detroit, but Schiller Park has retained most of its housing stock, less urban prairie. Both neighborhoods were relatively Polish until the early 1990s, but the Detroit effect engulfed a large majority of the city, whereas in Buffalo the worst of the abandonment and urban prairie is mainly on the East Side, from Main St west to the Cheektowaga line, from Delevan south to the 190. Which albeit is a huge portion of the city, but Buffalo is a much smaller city than Detroit, with different parameters of decline.

Another observation, is that in Buffalo, there are still many intact white working class neighborhoods; Lovejoy, Kaisertown, Black Rock, Old First Ward, most of South Buffalo come to mind. In Detroit, white flight was perhaps the severest of any major city in the nation. With the remaining white (polish) working class enclaves like Poletown, Southwest, the Far East Side, Warrendale and Rosedale Park having changed demographically by the year 2000. Although both cities have brutal legacies of racism and segregation, Buffalo seems slightly more "harmonious". Not to say that institutional racism isn't still a huuuuge problem in Buffalo. Ask any East Side resident their thoughts on Cheektowaga cops, and you will sadly hear endless "driving while black" stories.

Another interesting fact, is that Buffalo could very well have had its first Black Mayor with Arthur O. Eve in 1977, the Erie County Democrats were all ready to line up behind Eve, until Jimmy Griffin stepped into the race, and ran a race baiting campaign, which became a race baiting mayoralty that lasted for 16 years! I really loathe Jimmy Griffin and Buffalo's white power structure during that time.

It wasn't until current mayor Byron Brown was elected in 2006 (33 years after Coleman Young in Detroit, 38 years after Carl Stokes in Cleveland) that African-Americans finally had chief executive representation in City Hall. Sadly now, 15 years later, Brown has turned out to be a typical machine Obamacrat, and many folks on the East Side have become increasingly disillusioned with his developer friendly administration and percieved subservience to the Buffalo Police Unions after the Martin Gugino incident and protests last summer. Im rooting hard for India Walton in the primary, although I know she has an uphill battle.
 
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ExRocketSci

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Sobieski Street! In the heart of the former "Polonia". Shout outs to the Happy Swallow and Dick's Eastside Inn. This part of Buffalo reminds me allot of Detroit.

One thing I love about Buffalo is that it feels like an NYS version of Detroit. I feel like Western NY has more in common with SE Michigan than Downstate, the Great Lakes effect. From the accents, "pop" instead of "soda", Hockey and Football being more popular than Baseball, the Polish connection, both cities had riots in 1967 and plowed highways through their industrial neighborhoods in the 50s. Both cities had controversial Jerkoff mayors in the 80s (Coleman Young in Detroit, and Jimmy Griffin in Buffalo who was in many ways, like a White version of Young). Buffalo's street grid system of radials and diagonal avenues eminating from Niagara Square evokes Cadillac Square. Both cities have underutilized public transit (although Buffalo's metrorail is allot longer and more useful than the People Mover).

Although changes and gentrification are happening in Buffalo, I feel like its happening allot faster in Detroit, with more investment and influx of out of state artsy and young professional types. The area around Eastern Market is like Bushwick now, all of the ghost skyscrapers in Downtown Detroit have been reoccupied. Gentrification in Buffalo is most definitely happening, but allot more limited to certain areas of the West Side along Grant St and the former Bethlehem Steel valley thats been rebranded as "Larkinville". I don't see it being taken over by NYC Expats anytime soon, although anything is possible and many Buffalonians do fear that. KEEP BUFFALO A SECRET ;)

I aspire to live in Black Rock off of Amherst, west of Military Road. Thats a neighborhood that's rough around the edges but not East Side level dangerous, livable homes can be bought in the 65k range, property taxes arent too insane and you can bike to Wegmans in 10 minutes. Id love to have a Telescope home, with an adjoining vacant lot where I can store junk Volvo's. One can dream.....
Sobieski Street is now the heart of Muslim Buffalo! The former Holy Mother of the Rosary Cathedral on Sobieski is now the Masjid Zakaria mosque, crescents adorning the two 160-foot steeples. The Darul Uloom Al-Madania school and seminary is also located on Sobieski.
Hardly a week goes by without a new Muslim or South Asian-oriented business opening up in the city, particularly in or near the old Polonia neighborhood. An article in the business news today highlighted a man who was attracted to Buffalo when visiting the Falls, and moved here from Dearborn in 2018, opening a Halal grocery store in a former pharmacy across from the Broadway Market, and has attracted enough business to open a second location in a recently-vacant Riverside supermarket. NYC ex-pats from Queens, Brooklyn, and the Bronx - particularly Bangladeshi, are relocating to the East Side and other parts of the city, reportedly by the thousands, since 2010, enough people to support what I believe is now the city's largest weekly newspaper, the Buffalo Bangla..

Also, sorry to say, but the days of a 65k livable home in Black Rock are probably not coming back. Median sales price in the neighborhood is now 124k, and few below 100k don't need extensive rehab or rework. Lots of new businesses and apartments coming online soon in parts of the old Pierce-Arrow Motorcar HQ, and more factory conversions in-work on nearby Chandler and Grote.
 
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Dan

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I am always shocked how few subdivisions in Rochester, Buffalo and Syracuse suburbs were required to put in street trees - older neighborhoods have them but the ones from the 50's onward did not - I am sure there are exceptions but overall I think it's a trend

Street trees go in tree lawns. To have a tree lawn, you need a sidewalk to define it. No sidewalks = no tree lawns = no street trees.

Once you see the following, you can't un-see it.

Subdivision streets in suburban Buffalo tend to have both curbs (or gutter pans) and sidewalks. There's some exceptions. Cheektowaga didn't require curbs until the 1950s. Amherst is mostly a sidewalk town, except for Audubon New Community, some oddball subdivisions in 14051/14221, and for some reason, patio home clusters. Most of the second ring suburbs don't require sidewalks, except Lancaster (otherwise, a poster child for nearly nonexistent planning), Hamburg, Grand Island, and the villages. A few early speculative subdivisions from the 1890s-1920s also don't have sidewalks.

Subdivision streets in suburban Rochester tend to have curbs or gutter pans, but not sidewalks. Like Buffalo, there's some exceptions; mainly older streetcar suburban areas like parts of Brighton.

Subdivision streets in suburban Syracuse tend not to have either curbs or sidewalks.

Also something else you'll never unsee. Houses in Buffalo and its suburbs tend to have concrete sidewalks. In Batavia and the rest of the state to the east (except Ithaca), houses tend to have asphalt driveways. (In Ithaca, the modal driveway surface is gravel, but the paved driveways that are out there are usually asphalt.)

tl;dr: suburban Buffalo's built environment looks and feels more Midwestern, thanks to streets with curbs and sidewalks. The suburbs of Syracuse feel more Northeastern, because streets lack curbs and sidewalks. Rochester is somewhere in the middle.

I'm such a dork.
 

mendelman

Unfrozen Caveman Planner
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I'm such a dork.
It's all good. You're just working on the data points for the future science of Predictive Human Behavior and/or working to develop the Unified Theory of Modern Human Settlement.

I, too, am a dork. :D
 

luckless pedestrian

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@Dan thank you for that - my cousin moved from a lovely tree lined side walked Irondequoit to Penfield and yeah, it was a shiny new house but gutters and no sidewalks and no street trees so it hasn't aged well.
 

Dan

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Sobieski Street is now the heart of Muslim Buffalo! The former Holy Mother of the Rosary Cathedral on Sobieski is now the Masjid Zakaria mosque, crescents adorning the two 160-foot steeples. The Darul Uloom Al-Madania school and seminary is also located on Sobieski.

For what it's worth, here's how I described the factors that led to Buffalo's Polonia / Broadway-Fillmore neighborhood becoming an urban prairie.

1870-1900: The original housing stock of worker's cottages was built, with working class home buyers and residents in mind. This means cheap -- a single space heater to keep the place warm, no spearation of public and private space, often a short crawl space that makes the house volnerable to freezing pipes and frost heaving, and sometimes curtains serving as internal doors. Some houses had privies in the backyard. Buffalo’s worker’s cottages were never meant to survive as long as they did.

As families begin to outgrow their cottages, many homeowners make additions off the back. And additions behind the first additions additions. And additions behind the additions behind the additions. The result -- the telescoping house, some having up to five segments.

polish_section.jpg


1920-1940: With rising incomes comes a rising standard for entry level housing in the United States. The worker's cottages are reaching middle age, and incurable functional obsolescence is creeping in -- shotgun layouts, bedrooms and bathrooms directly off of living / dining / kitchen areas, passthrough bedrooms, and the infamous space heater, to name a few deal breakers for many homebuyers. The narrow lots of Polonia have no alley access, so there's no place for a garage or any kind of off-street parking.

denski.jpg


With the Great Depression and WWII limiting budgets and building materials, many of those cheaply built cottages suffered from 15-plus years of deferred maintenance.

heaterski.jpg


As Buffalo’s middle class grew, the starter home of the Flapper era became a smaller bungalow, which were being built by the thousands in Kensington, Schiller Park, Riverside, and South Buffalo. Those little bungalows had a LOT more creature comforts, and far better build quality, than any East Side worker's cottage. Many residents of other old East Side neighborhoods ditched their cottages, and moved to the newly developing neighborhoods by the city line. Some builders targeted the Polish-American market with new worker's cottages just over the city line in Cheektowaga and Sloan. Still, for the most part, Polonia's Poles stayed put.

another houseski der.jpg


1930-1950: Polonia was redlined by HOLC in the 1930s. Not because of race, but because of the poor quality of its housing stock, and a "general downward trend" of low income groups. For a few decades, redlining made the interest rate of mortgages and home improvement loans in the Polonia area higher than elsewhere in the city.

polonia_redline.png


1940-1960: Polonia used to have a reputation as being extremely insular. It was a self-contained neighborhood, where a resident could get by without knowing a word of English. Up to the 1940s, Buffalo’s Polish-American community was solidly working class.

poles.jpg


After WWII, Buffalo's Polish-American community slowly entered the middle class, as salaries increased for factory jobs, and the children of immigrants began to assimilate into the larger society around them.

At the same time, Buffalo became mostly built out, the region was experiencing a housing shortage, and there was no place to build except past the city line. Developers responded by building thousands of starter and lower-middle end homes in Cheektowaga, Depew, and Sloan. Low prices, along with low interest VA mortgages, made these new houses irresistible for young households. For a second generation Polish-American family, given the choice of a 60-year old Bork cottage with a shotgun layout and no off-street parking, or a new brick ranch house off of George Urban Boulevard, both of which they could easily afford, their decision seems obvious.

1950-1970: Through the 1950s and 1960s, the number of Polish-Americans settling outside of their traditional "old neighborhoods" continued to grow. English was increasingly becoming the first language of the Polish-American community, The city's daily Polish newspapers began to print more articles in English. Second and third generation Americans weren't dependent on stores or services in the "old neighborhood", where employees knew Polish.

The people who stayed behind in Polonia tended to be older; often first generation, with a limited income, or limited English fluency. There were still some younger households who bought or rented in the “old neighborhood”. Still, many intended to leave once they saved up enough money, whether it was to Cheektowaga, Depew, West Seneca, or one of the more multiethnic neighborhoods in the city's bungalow belt.

Although shoppers still crowded Broadway, "Buffalo's second downtown" through the 1950s and 1960s,, newspapers began to report on the challenges Polonia was facing. Aging population, aging housing stock, young people moving to the suburbs.

1980-2000: A convergence of events in the 1980s dealt a knockout blow to a weakened and tired Polonia. Deindustrialization sapped the region, and had a disproportionate impact on working class Polish-Americans. The unemployment rate skyrocketed. Buffalonians of all backgrounds left the area, depressing housing prices and demand in both the city and suburbs. Many of the neighborhood's aging cottages were starting to face major structural problems, and the cost of repairs and updates to bring them up to contemporary standards was often more than their market value. Crime was in the rise, and every week there would be yet another story on Eyewitness News about another little old Polish lady who was raped and beaten in her home.

Housing filtration accelerated through the 1980s, while Buffalo's economy was falling towards its nadir. As real estate prices fell, suburban housing became within reach of those with moderate means. There was no reason to buy a house in the "old neighborhood", except maybe loyalty. Elderly residents in the old neighborhood died off, and their kids struggled to find anyone interested in buying mamusiu's old cottage. Absentee landlords snapped up many of the remaining houses in the neighborhood at fire-sale prices.

The retail environment also changed, Since the 1920s, Buffalonians thought of Broadway, the businest street through Polonia, as the working man's Main Street, or "Buffalo's second downtown". The economies of agglomeration that once attracted large, large, locally owned appliance, furniture, carpeting, and discount full service department stores to Broadway began to break down. As store owners retired, national chains discovered the Buffalo market, retail buildings aged, and disposable income in the surrounding area shrank, the number of empty storefronts eventually reached a critical mass. Broadway fell off the radar screen of all but the most nostalgic consumers. Plans for a proposed shopping mall in the neighborhood fell through. Subsidies from the city couldn't even save the iconic and beloved Sattlers department store at 998 Broadway. The Broadway Market still attracted crowds during the Christmas and Lent seasons, but fell eerily quiet during the rest of the year.

signski.jpg


1990-2000: A growing number of federal, state, and local mortgage and loan programs were available for low income homebuyers and homeowners. At the time, most lower-middle and middle class black households in the Buffalo area aspired to live in the Hamlin Park neighborhood, the bungalow belt of northeast Buffalo, or beyond in the affluent yet diverse Northtowns. Lower income black households on the "other side" of Fillmore Avenue, where housing was in even rougher shape than Polonia, had fewer options. Many filled the void left behind by departing and dying babcias.

The new African-American residents in Polonia were typically poorer than the last generation of elderly and working class Poles that called the place home. The newcomers often don’t have the means to maintain housing that was at the end of its structural life. Absentee landlords didn’t want to sink a lot of money into houses that were falling apart faster than they could fix them. “Paint up clean up” and insulation programs weren’t enough to address larger structural or safety issues.

Wholesale abandonment of Polonia started in the mid-1990s, shortly after African-Americans became the neighborhood's majority. Race wasn't a corollary with emerging urban prairie, though. The St. john Kanty area east of the Belt Line, still predominantly Polish-American, also had growing holes in its urban fabric. Same with the East Side's various "iron islands"; small enclaves of worker's cottages surrounded by heavy industry and railroad mainlines.

The balloon frame construction of the old cottages is far more susceptible to fire damage than later starter bungalows, and outdated electrical systems and central space heaters didn’t help. The resulting fires cemented Buffalo's reputation among Canadians as a city that was constantly ablaze, even though "Buffalo's blaze busters" were most active in those older cottage-filled neighborhoods on the East Side.

2000-2021: Today, what was once the city’s densest neighborhood is now home to its largest urban prairie. Those that remain include a vestigial population of elderly and poor Polish-Americans, an even larger number of poor African-Americans, and nascent Bangladeshi-American and Karen communities. There’s also a few stubborn holdouts that have the means to leave, but stay for some reason or another -- neighborhood loyalty, a sense of duty, a free house that's been in the family for 140 years, whatever. For all practical purposes, though, Polonia is now Broadway-Fillmore, and Cheektowaga is now Polonia.
 

mendelman

Unfrozen Caveman Planner
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Wow, a 140 year history of Buffalo's residential development pattern consolidated into one post!
Another data set.... ;)

Also:

Yep on all accounts of this brief history - as represented by my Dad's and paternal grandparents' extended family history starting in about 1900-present.

An interesting piece of Polonia cultural history - my dad's (and his extended family's) house was across the street from the Holy Mother of the Rosary Cathedral. Since my family was Roman Catholic, they were considered 'low class' by the other families on the same stretch of Sobieski that were 'VIPs' in the Rosary Cathedral.

From the outside, they were all on the low income blue collar bell curve, but, you know, human nature and superiority complexes and defacto caste systems and all that. ;)

Also, my Dad was the first member of his rather large extended family to get Bachelors and Masters degrees. Probably started because my grandfather (who apparently had few redeeming qualities) sent my Dad and Uncle to the local public schools instead of the private Catholic schools, because he "didn't want them to be dumb pollacks."

:roflmao:
 
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Dan

Dear Leader
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An interesting piece of Polonia cultural history - my dad's (and his extended family's) house was across the street from the Holy Mother of the Rosary Cathedral.
An aside: my wife is an honest-to-goodness Southern California Valley Girl. She grew up in the San Fernando Valley -- Tarzana, on the "good side of the Boulevard" -- and hung out at the Sherman Oaks Galleria as a teenager in the 1980s..

Anyhow, about four years ago, on one of our date nights here, I introduced her to "the game of my people". Bingo. She got hooked. A couple of years ago, on our way back from a visit to Buffalo, we stopped to play bingo at the "new" Holy Mother of the Rosary Cathedral in Lancaster. The hall was filled with close to 500 people, with no shortage of babchas and babushkas among the crowd. There was a big Polish eagle hanging over the stage. The Queen of Hearts jackpot was over $10,000, with just a few cards left. A priest told a bunch of dad jokes before the game started. My wife LOVED it.

AIDS Plus Fund Gay Bingo at the Amvets hall in Riverside is, hands down, the best bingo game in Buffalo, in my opinion.
 

The Terminator

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The influx of Bangladeshi-American's to Buffalo are the good type of NYC expats! I am pro-working class and pro-immigration on principle. When the artists and young professionals start moving in, than we will have a problem. Hopefully they will stay west of Main.

@Dan : I saw your similar post on r/Buffalo and must say I am impressed! You really should write a book! Have you any thoughts on any of the remaining Polish bars in the area, like Dicks Eastside Inn, G&T Inn or the Happy Swallow? I want to visit them all! Speaking of gentrification, have you been lately to the stretch of Grant Street north of Delevan that is becoming the new "it" neighborhood? When I was there last winter, It struck me as reminiscent of Bushwick circa 2001, still rough and majority working class, but clearly in the beginning stages of a transition. It seems like there is a natural overflow of young professionals coming from the neighborhoods closer to Elmwood. The same effect seems to be happening in Black Rock, East of Military Road near Wegmans. One of my friends pointed out an abandoned commercial building on Chandler St that was, in their words, slated to become a "Hipster pool club", although Covid seems to have delayed the developers plans. https://www.buffalorising.com/2019/12/chandler-pool-club-aims-for-memorial-day-opening/

Do any Buffalonians or Ex-Buffalonians here see NYC level gentrification ever occurring in Buffalo? Or will the geography/economy of the city mitigate the amount of reinvestment that could happen for the foreseeable future?



^As late as the 1960s, polish language campaign polka's were a viable form of winning votes!
 

ExRocketSci

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The Chandler pool club is pretty much done now, just waiting for the weather to warm up.
Buffalo Rising: Visit to Chandler Street Pool Club

I don't think one can compare a city like Buffalo with NYC when it comes to gentrification, as this city has a lot of filling-in to complete before wholesale neighborhood displacements occur. There is also not a lot of turnover occurring, and a lot of competition for homes is driving up prices 24% year over year in the city.

The closest I currently see to actual gentrification is the huge turnaround of much of the West Side, where the 20k homes of 5 or 10 years ago are now being sold as-is for 150k as fixer-uppers, and finished homes are now going for over 400k on some streets. The poorer sections are now being hemmed in on 3 sides by overflow from the Elmwood Village, Allentown, and now a rapidly transitioning Niagara Street strip. In the poorer areas, there is a still large presence of poor quality crowded immigrant housing, along with ongoing improvement and infill by organizations catering to these communities, so there will be limits as far as gentrification can continue. But when traveling down many of the side streets in the area, even near or on the "wrong" side of Grants Street, it is amazing (to me) seeing the number of homes that have been improved or are undergoing renovations.

My neighborhood in North Buffalo has very few homes being sold, and most are sold within a couple of days after hitting the market. My in-laws family just relocated here from Texas (thanks to work from home due to COVID) and they had to bid about 20% over list against multiple other buyers to get a decent 2-family house. Over 300k on the North Side, where 5 years ago it wouldn't have sold for more than 150. Maybe expensive for Buffalo, but cheap enough to attract them from out of state (never having lived here before, they decided to follow us here). They looked at the West Side, but felt essentially priced-out of decent size and quality homes compared to North Buffalo.

I also noticed that in the last few years there have been fewer vacant flats in the neighborhood, very apparent when seeing the parking situation. My own house has had both floors occupied for almost 2 years now, which had last been fully occupied in the 1990s. As far as I can tell, only one of my neighbors is keeping a flat vacant, although they did have it occupied for awhile with family following the hurricane in Puerto Rico.

So, I wouldn't call it gentrification where I live, so much as filling in what was missing, and more or less right-sizing the community.
 

Doohickie

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Developers responded by building thousands of starter and lower-middle end homes in Cheektowaga, Depew, and Sloan. Low prices, along with low interest VA mortgages, made these new houses irresistible for young households. For a second generation Polish-American family, given the choice of a 60-year old Bork cottage with a shotgun layout and no off-street parking, or a new brick ranch house off of George Urban Boulevard, both of which they could easily afford, their decision seems obvious.
Sounds very, very familiar. My (second generation Polish-American) parents were married in 1956 and at first lived above my paternal granparents' tavern on Broadway (it was called Kay-Ton grill; their names were Catherine and Anthony, or Kay and Tony). The bar was actually just on the Sloan side of the border. Shortly after they bought one of those little ranches on South Colby Street in the extreme southwest corner of Cheektowaga, a stone's throw from both Sloan and Buffalo. After selling the tavern, my grandparents bought a home in the U-Crest neighborhood in the heart of Cheektowaga, a pretty nice (at the time) brick bungalow, a block off of George Urban Blvd. My parents eventually moved in with them and bought them out and they lived there as an extended family. (Note: sidewalks, no curbs. When I lived there we had a street tree.) True to form, they raised the roof in the back and added two bedrooms and a half bath in the attic in the 1960s, then remodeled the basement with faux walnut paneling and faux red paving brick flooring tiles in the 1970s.
 

Doohickie

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Sobieski Street is now the heart of Muslim Buffalo!
There's actually a very understated mosque at the end of our block here in Fort Worth. They're pretty quiet, keep to themselves. There's another mosque less than a mile south of us. I've never seen anything out of either of them to make me associate them with the unrest in the Middle East. And the Kabob restaurant some local Muslims run has the best gyros. <3
 

Doohickie

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Sobieski Street is now the heart of Muslim Buffalo!
My great-great-grandparents lived a block over from Sobieski, at 470 Sweet Ave., when they moved from Pittsburgh to Buffalo prior to the 1910 census. They both died before my dad was born. They were parents to my great-grandmother, and also raised my great-grandfather, who was an orphan. They grew up together and then got married. Their oldest of their 10 children was my paternal grandfather (the guy who owned the bar in my previous post).
 

Doohickie

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The newcomers often don’t have the means to maintain housing that was at the end of its structural life. Absentee landlords didn’t want to sink a lot of money into houses that were falling apart faster than they could fix them. “Paint up clean up” and insulation programs weren’t enough to address larger structural or safety issues.
The 470 Sweet Avenue link shows exactly that. On that block there are 11 houses still standing, and 29 vacant lots. According to Historic Aerials, every lot had a house at one time. As recently as 1995 the were mostly still there, but by 2002 most of them were torn down.
 

The Terminator

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The Chandler pool club is pretty much done now, just waiting for the weather to warm up.
Buffalo Rising: Visit to Chandler Street Pool Club

I don't think one can compare a city like Buffalo with NYC when it comes to gentrification, as this city has a lot of filling-in to complete before wholesale neighborhood displacements occur. There is also not a lot of turnover occurring, and a lot of competition for homes is driving up prices 24% year over year in the city.

The closest I currently see to actual gentrification is the huge turnaround of much of the West Side, where the 20k homes of 5 or 10 years ago are now being sold as-is for 150k as fixer-uppers, and finished homes are now going for over 400k on some streets. The poorer sections are now being hemmed in on 3 sides by overflow from the Elmwood Village, Allentown, and now a rapidly transitioning Niagara Street strip. In the poorer areas, there is a still large presence of poor quality crowded immigrant housing, along with ongoing improvement and infill by organizations catering to these communities, so there will be limits as far as gentrification can continue. But when traveling down many of the side streets in the area, even near or on the "wrong" side of Grants Street, it is amazing (to me) seeing the number of homes that have been improved or are undergoing renovations.

My neighborhood in North Buffalo has very few homes being sold, and most are sold within a couple of days after hitting the market. My in-laws family just relocated here from Texas (thanks to work from home due to COVID) and they had to bid about 20% over list against multiple other buyers to get a decent 2-family house. Over 300k on the North Side, where 5 years ago it wouldn't have sold for more than 150. Maybe expensive for Buffalo, but cheap enough to attract them from out of state (never having lived here before, they decided to follow us here). They looked at the West Side, but felt essentially priced-out of decent size and quality homes compared to North Buffalo.

I also noticed that in the last few years there have been fewer vacant flats in the neighborhood, very apparent when seeing the parking situation. My own house has had both floors occupied for almost 2 years now, which had last been fully occupied in the 1990s. As far as I can tell, only one of my neighbors is keeping a flat vacant, although they did have it occupied for awhile with family following the hurricane in Puerto Rico.

So, I wouldn't call it gentrification where I live, so much as filling in what was missing, and more or less right-sizing the community.
The Pool @ Chandler Pool Club seems a wee bit too small to me, like the size of something a Mansion Dweller in Williamsville could have in their backyard. Seeing the area called "Chandlerville" gives me douche chills....eek! If I were Mayor of Buffalo, I would eminent domane that entire area and dedicate it to community use. Perhaps stewarded by a reinvigorated public parks department l, as I support abolishing the Olmstead Commission and bringing that system back into full public ownership, which is a whole other subject!

What are you're thoughts on Black Rock west of Military Road (Austin St vicinity) in terms of safety and livability? It seems like the revitalization of Black Rock has yet to expand that far West. I find it a highly desirable for what I seek in a neighborhood: accessible enough via NFTA Buses but with parking, racially diverse and undiscovered, rough around the edges but not East Side level, and close to, but not in, the West Side cool zone. Is random violent street crime and break ins a problem there? Black Rock has allot more polish cottages than the rest of North Buffalo and I find that quaint. Do people still pejoratively refer to these areas as "Crack Rock and Reeferside"? Ive heard it described before as "the other Lovejoy". I really like the area along Hertel east of Delaware too for its Italian heritage (Im descended from Neapolitains who arrived at Ellis Island) but it seems a little "too nice" for my dreams, which is to own a telescope home and adjoining vacant lot where I can store junk Volvos and host BBQs.

I agree with your thoughts on right sizing these neighborhoods, although I wish the "right sizers" would be similarly working class to the generations that came before them. I would welcome more Puerto Ricans, Bangladeshis, Central Americans, Eastern Europeans, Southeast Asians etc. (I.e. Working and Middle class people of all colors and creeds) over more affluent WeWork types who would patronize the Chandler pool club :p But this is also a highly idealistic vision informed by personal bias and I understand my idea of a Just City is a pipedream comprared to how things work in the real world. I think Buffalo could really be a testing ground for innovations in affordable housing, if there was the will do do so, with Community Land Trusts dotting the East and West Side's (again, pipedream I know). It seems like there are allot of "mom and pop" developers getting in on the action in the West Side for the time being, which is good but will inevitably lead to future speculation, but for the time being I too dont see Buffalo becoming the next Bushwick or Midtown Detroit for the reasons you stated above, Its like comparing apples to pomegranates. Talking to Buffalo punks though, allot of them seem to be afraid of waves of downstaters "discovering" the city in light of many of the recent changes. And while no, I dont want the city to remain vacant, impoverished and abandoned, it is the Catch-22 of revitalization that we see in cities across the continent.
 

ExRocketSci

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The Pool @ Chandler Pool Club seems a wee bit too small to me, like the size of something a Mansion Dweller in Williamsville could have in their backyard. Seeing the area called "Chandlerville" gives me douche chills....eek! If I were Mayor of Buffalo, I would eminent domane that entire area and dedicate it to community use. Perhaps stewarded by a reinvigorated public parks department l, as I support abolishing the Olmstead Commission and bringing that system back into full public ownership, which is a whole other subject!

What are you're thoughts on Black Rock west of Military Road (Austin St vicinity) in terms of safety and livability? It seems like the revitalization of Black Rock has yet to expand that far West. I find it a highly desirable for what I seek in a neighborhood: accessible enough via NFTA Buses but with parking, racially diverse and undiscovered, rough around the edges but not East Side level, and close to, but not in, the West Side cool zone. Is random violent street crime and break ins a problem there? Black Rock has allot more polish cottages than the rest of North Buffalo and I find that quaint. Do people still pejoratively refer to these areas as "Crack Rock and Reeferside"? Ive heard it described before as "the other Lovejoy". I really like the area along Hertel east of Delaware too for its Italian heritage (Im descended from Neapolitains who arrived at Ellis Island) but it seems a little "too nice" for my dreams, which is to own a telescope home and adjoining vacant lot where I can store junk Volvos and host BBQs.

I agree with your thoughts on right sizing these neighborhoods, although I wish the "right sizers" would be similarly working class to the generations that came before them. I would welcome more Puerto Ricans, Bangladeshis, Central Americans, Eastern Europeans, Southeast Asians etc. (I.e. Working and Middle class people of all colors and creeds) over more affluent WeWork types who would patronize the Chandler pool club :p But this is also a highly idealistic vision informed by personal bias and I understand my idea of a Just City is a pipedream comprared to how things work in the real world. I think Buffalo could really be a testing ground for innovations in affordable housing, if there was the will do do so, with Community Land Trusts dotting the East and West Side's (again, pipedream I know). It seems like there are allot of "mom and pop" developers getting in on the action in the West Side for the time being, which is good but will inevitably lead to future speculation, but for the time being I too dont see Buffalo becoming the next Bushwick or Midtown Detroit for the reasons you stated above, Its like comparing apples to pomegranates. Talking to Buffalo punks though, allot of them seem to be afraid of waves of downstaters "discovering" the city in light of many of the recent changes. And while no, I dont want the city to remain vacant, impoverished and abandoned, it is the Catch-22 of revitalization that we see in cities across the continent.
My grandparents all settled in Black Rock when they immigrated in the early 1900s, where my parents grew up and worked their whole lives. Although they moved to North Buffalo (where I grew up and now live) when they got married, we all kept our neighborhood ties to Black Rock and Riverside, shopped on Tonawanda and Amherst Streets, belonged to Polish Cadets, etc. All of the cousins loved my grandmother's house on East Street (where she raised 11 children) and we always talk about buying it back one day if it goes up for sale.

I've always loved that area around East Street between Amherst and Austin, and there are some gems among the homes there, although many have no basements and are similar to the old workers cottages on the East Side. Some of the homes are among the oldest in the city, a couple as early as the 1830s. I hear less about crappy tenants and landlords than I did in recent years, and for some reason Dearborn seemed to attract a lot of low-lifes. But, when riding around the neighborhood last summer on my bike things seemed to be in particularly good order overall on the residential streets. I also "discovered" a couple of what I believe are the narrowest residential blocks in Buffalo, which for some reason I never noticed before in previous decades. Hoffman Place is narrow, but busy and well maintained. Last year a multi-family home on the street sold for 200k, so you may not find cheap in the neighborhood much anymore, and probably not a lot big enough to store you Volvos. Some people have really begun investing in the area, with some wonderful Victorians on Dearborn, plus there has been some street front renovations along Niagara that are helping improve the look of the area. Hertel-Niagara can use a lot of help, but back in the day it was a buzzing corner with McVans Nightclub, Brennans Mens wear, and even the Showboat Restaurant, an old paddlewheel boat docked at the foot of Hertel.

FYI I have several neighborhood albums posted on Flickr, including Black Rock. Dan's neighborhood images from previous decades inspired me to create my own "updates" of the neighborhoods.
 

The Terminator

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My grandparents all settled in Black Rock when they immigrated in the early 1900s, where my parents grew up and worked their whole lives. Although they moved to North Buffalo (where I grew up and now live) when they got married, we all kept our neighborhood ties to Black Rock and Riverside, shopped on Tonawanda and Amherst Streets, belonged to Polish Cadets, etc. All of the cousins loved my grandmother's house on East Street (where she raised 11 children) and we always talk about buying it back one day if it goes up for sale.

I've always loved that area around East Street between Amherst and Austin, and there are some gems among the homes there, although many have no basements and are similar to the old workers cottages on the East Side. Some of the homes are among the oldest in the city, a couple as early as the 1830s. I hear less about crappy tenants and landlords than I did in recent years, and for some reason Dearborn seemed to attract a lot of low-lifes. But, when riding around the neighborhood last summer on my bike things seemed to be in particularly good order overall on the residential streets. I also "discovered" a couple of what I believe are the narrowest residential blocks in Buffalo, which for some reason I never noticed before in previous decades. Hoffman Place is narrow, but busy and well maintained. Last year a multi-family home on the street sold for 200k, so you may not find cheap in the neighborhood much anymore, and probably not a lot big enough to store you Volvos. Some people have really begun investing in the area, with some wonderful Victorians on Dearborn, plus there has been some street front renovations along Niagara that are helping improve the look of the area. Hertel-Niagara can use a lot of help, but back in the day it was a buzzing corner with McVans Nightclub, Brennans Mens wear, and even the Showboat Restaurant, an old paddlewheel boat docked at the foot of Hertel.

FYI I have several neighborhood albums posted on Flickr, including Black Rock. Dan's neighborhood images from previous decades inspired me to create my own "updates" of the neighborhoods.
You are HANDS DOWN the best new member on Cyburbia. Please stick around! Absolutely Iove your flickr, especially this picture that features a 1986-89 Volvo 244:


I'd be very interested in poking more around the West Side, particularly looking for any traces of the areas Italian-American heritage, although I get the impression that none of those blocks have had any plurality of Italians since the early 90s, as that population migrated to North Buffalo and Kenmore. It seems like the closest thing to a Little Italy in Buffalo City Limits these days is along Hertel east of Delaware, although not to the same degree as you will find in NYC neighborhoods like Morris Park in the Bronx or on Staten Island where you will find people with little Italia flags on their cars and older folks who's mother tongue is Italian and speak English with accents.

Have you lived consistently in Buffalo your whole life? If so:

Do you have any recollection of the 1967 East Side (Jefferson Ave) Riots?

What was your experience of the 1977 Blizzard?

Do you have any thoughts on the controversial tenure of Mayor Jimmy "Six Pack" Griffin?

Was was Allentown like before 1995? Was it "ghetto" or perhaps rougher, or has there been an artistic vibe there since the 60s?
 

ExRocketSci

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You are HANDS DOWN the best new member on Cyburbia. Please stick around! Absolutely Iove your flickr, especially this picture that features a 1986-89 Volvo 244:


I'd be very interested in poking more around the West Side, particularly looking for any traces of the areas Italian-American heritage, although I get the impression that none of those blocks have had any plurality of Italians since the early 90s, as that population migrated to North Buffalo and Kenmore. It seems like the closest thing to a Little Italy in Buffalo City Limits these days is along Hertel east of Delaware, although not to the same degree as you will find in NYC neighborhoods like Morris Park in the Bronx or on Staten Island where you will find people with little Italia flags on their cars and older folks who's mother tongue is Italian and speak English with accents.

Have you lived consistently in Buffalo your whole life? If so:

Do you have any recollection of the 1967 East Side (Jefferson Ave) Riots?

What was your experience of the 1977 Blizzard?

Do you have any thoughts on the controversial tenure of Mayor Jimmy "Six Pack" Griffin?

Was was Allentown like before 1995? Was it "ghetto" or perhaps rougher, or has there been an artistic vibe there since the 60s?
Thanks, and that's a lot of questions...

I actually was here under a different name 10+ years ago, and by now I actually forgot my old ID and screen name, although I still read the site periodically. I am not an urban planner, but I had liked to see what others have been saying about development and planning trends. I had followed Dan online for years since he first posted his Dan's Upper Flat website, and looked back at this site after I saw some of his postings on reddit.

Anyway, I was born, raised, and educated in Buffalo. But, I left in the early 80s for Texas to find work in the oil patch, but unfortunately just in time for the start of the Oil Bust. One thing led to another, and circumstances with jobs and the economy kept me in Texas, married and had a family, until a couple of years ago when we were finally able to move back. I spent a lot of time in Buffalo even when I lived in Texas, as much of my family (including parents) were here. A few years ago, after my mother passed, my wife and I took ownership of her house (payed off my brothers and sisters shares). We realized that we could actually afford an early retirement living in Buffalo, so we have been upgrading our double, and finally moved back full-time a couple of years ago. One of my brothers also moved back from out of state and also lives here now - but I have the upper flat!

I did get to spend a bunch of time on the West Side as a kid as my older sister married a Sicilian guy (arrived here as a teenager) and lived right off Grant Street, near Guercios. Later, I also worked on Bird Island for a couple of summers, so I always grabbed some lunch over at Grant and Ferry. All of my Italian friends in North Buffalo had family and connections on the West Side, one friend's "uncle" had a store on Grant for awhile, and we would hang out there sometimes. Grant Street had a different vibe than the rest of the city, more people out and hanging out on street corners. West Side had a different accent and different culture, always easy to pick out a West Sider by the way they looked and talked. Had gang culture longer than other parts of the city. Hard to describe, my thoughts go to that Godfather scene when Sonny chases his brother in law and beats him up with a garbage can, for whatever reason. I went to the last couple of Italian Festivals held on Connecticut Street, and I recall that nearly every person there wore black leather. Not exaggerating. It was just a different kind of place.

Quick answers to your questions, as I could go on quite a bit about some of them.
  • Riot: I was little in 1967, and I recall being downtown with my mother when all the businesses and stores were being closed early in the afternoon because a riot was occurring nearby, and they were essentially evacuating downtown. I recall huge lines and crowds to board the metro buses, and having to wait for a bus empty enough to let us on. Thats it for me.
  • '77: High school. Not much to say, basically a snowy winter even before the blizzard, and along with the natural gas shortages meant lots of days off school. Snow piled up to 2nd floor porch.
  • Jimmy: He played favorites, took care of his friends, and punished others. He had some type of grudge against the East Side, as I don't think he got along with the former mayor Makowski. My father knew him as a young man and didn't like him - called him a south side punk. When he was mayor, during some type of banquet at Polish Cadets, my father had to physically hold Jimmy back because he wanted to punch some cop who was drunk and had some beef with him.
  • I never recall Allentown as ever being "ghetto" at least since the late 1960s. It was described as Buffalo's "Greenwich Village" even then. It was also a hot bar spot in the 70s (and probably for decades) - Brick Bar was one of my hangouts for awhile - crazy mix of customers. I do remember a couple of women working the corners on Allen late at night, but the neighborhood hasn't changed much. Now, further downtown, Chippewa was straight-up the red light district. As teenager driving down Chippewa was one of the first places you went to check out when you first got your license. In the winter the prostitutes would stand in the windows of the bars waving in customers. They also used to hang out at Johnson Park near Hutch Tech, and work out of the seedy hotels and apartments there. I recall in the late 70s or early 80s seeing pimps dressed up in furs (like you see in old movies) dropping off women on Chippewa. It didn't seem real, but I saw it with my own eyes. I also remember being amused that nearly every car parked on Chippewa had Ontario or Ohio plates.

Maybe I will write a book some day.
 

The Terminator

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Thanks, and that's a lot of questions...

I actually was here under a different name 10+ years ago, and by now I actually forgot my old ID and screen name, although I still read the site periodically. I am not an urban planner, but I had liked to see what others have been saying about development and planning trends. I had followed Dan online for years since he first posted his Dan's Upper Flat website, and looked back at this site after I saw some of his postings on reddit.

Anyway, I was born, raised, and educated in Buffalo. But, I left in the early 80s for Texas to find work in the oil patch, but unfortunately just in time for the start of the Oil Bust. One thing led to another, and circumstances with jobs and the economy kept me in Texas, married and had a family, until a couple of years ago when we were finally able to move back. I spent a lot of time in Buffalo even when I lived in Texas, as much of my family (including parents) were here. A few years ago, after my mother passed, my wife and I took ownership of her house (payed off my brothers and sisters shares). We realized that we could actually afford an early retirement living in Buffalo, so we have been upgrading our double, and finally moved back full-time a couple of years ago. One of my brothers also moved back from out of state and also lives here now - but I have the upper flat!

I did get to spend a bunch of time on the West Side as a kid as my older sister married a Sicilian guy (arrived here as a teenager) and lived right off Grant Street, near Guercios. Later, I also worked on Bird Island for a couple of summers, so I always grabbed some lunch over at Grant and Ferry. All of my Italian friends in North Buffalo had family and connections on the West Side, one friend's "uncle" had a store on Grant for awhile, and we would hang out there sometimes. Grant Street had a different vibe than the rest of the city, more people out and hanging out on street corners. West Side had a different accent and different culture, always easy to pick out a West Sider by the way they looked and talked. Had gang culture longer than other parts of the city. Hard to describe, my thoughts go to that Godfather scene when Sonny chases his brother in law and beats him up with a garbage can, for whatever reason. I went to the last couple of Italian Festivals held on Connecticut Street, and I recall that nearly every person there wore black leather. Not exaggerating. It was just a different kind of place.

Quick answers to your questions, as I could go on quite a bit about some of them.
  • Riot: I was little in 1967, and I recall being downtown with my mother when all the businesses and stores were being closed early in the afternoon because a riot was occurring nearby, and they were essentially evacuating downtown. I recall huge lines and crowds to board the metro buses, and having to wait for a bus empty enough to let us on. Thats it for me.
  • '77: High school. Not much to say, basically a snowy winter even before the blizzard, and along with the natural gas shortages meant lots of days off school. Snow piled up to 2nd floor porch.
  • Jimmy: He played favorites, took care of his friends, and punished others. He had some type of grudge against the East Side, as I don't think he got along with the former mayor Makowski. My father knew him as a young man and didn't like him - called him a south side punk. When he was mayor, during some type of banquet at Polish Cadets, my father had to physically hold Jimmy back because he wanted to punch some cop who was drunk and had some beef with him.
  • I never recall Allentown as ever being "ghetto" at least since the late 1960s. It was described as Buffalo's "Greenwich Village" even then. It was also a hot bar spot in the 70s (and probably for decades) - Brick Bar was one of my hangouts for awhile - crazy mix of customers. I do remember a couple of women working the corners on Allen late at night, but the neighborhood hasn't changed much. Now, further downtown, Chippewa was straight-up the red light district. As teenager driving down Chippewa was one of the first places you went to check out when you first got your license. In the winter the prostitutes would stand in the windows of the bars waving in customers. They also used to hang out at Johnson Park near Hutch Tech, and work out of the seedy hotels and apartments there. I recall in the late 70s or early 80s seeing pimps dressed up in furs (like you see in old movies) dropping off women on Chippewa. It didn't seem real, but I saw it with my own eyes. I also remember being amused that nearly every car parked on Chippewa had Ontario or Ohio plates.

Maybe I will write a book some day.
Reading this brought a smile to my face!

I 100% agree with your father about Jimmy G, he was indeed a South Buffalo punk, and not a Punk as in Punk Rocker! He is probably one of the least Punk Rock people to ever come out of Buffalo. I think his grudge against the East Side extended from both Old Ward political rivalries with Polish establishment (and figures like Stanley Makowski), as much as it came from his straight Racism. He is still revered as a saint in South Buffalo, Im not a big fan of the South Buffalo Irish, I greatly prefer the actual Irish from Ireland who don't like Trump either (har har, see what I did there!).

That is so true, the West Side accent is allot more nasally and a distinctive drawl compared to the South Buffalo accent which is more traditionally midwestern. I think it stems from the West Side developing more of its own "ethnolect" influenced by the speech patterns of Italian and Spanish speaking residents who would come to shape the area's culture, sounds kind of like this:


I can imagine Grant Street in the 1970s being full of straight Zips, Italian-American "cornermen" keeping an eye over the block, kids hanging out and yes teenage gangs, some just simple neighborhood crews, others farm teams for "The Arm" ;) Did W. Side Italian gangs wear distinctive gang sweaters like they did in Chicago? If my ancestors had settled in Buffalo instead of The Bronx, I like to imagine they would have settled either somewhere in the Lower or in the Valley off of Seneca Street. I know exactly what you mean with the Godfather analogy, evokes a similar vibe to the South Bronx stories told to me my grandparents. One thing that I am afraid of, is that changes in development patterns and revitalization will erase the West Side's rich Latino/Puerto Rican heritage much like suburbanization has to its Italian heritage.

Was that the Saint Anthony Festival on Connecticut St? I think it was held there until sometime in the 80s, before relocating to Hertel, if im not mistaken. Your description of leather clad guidos sounds very period appropriate, which was the "look" before the Blowout hair, Ed Hardy shirt Jersey Shore style of my cousins took hold. It seems like there is more of a collective nostalgia among Polish Buffalonians for their old Broadway-Fillmore than there is among Buffitalians for the Old West Side. They still come to Broadway-Fillmore for Dyngus Day, whereas I don't know of any such lore among Italian's for their West Side. It would be cool if there still was some type of heritage ties to that area, a festival or a Columbus Day parade or something. I attribute it to the Polish community being simply larger and more rooted in the city and its culture.

Your description of Chippewa is hilarious and seems spot on, Im told "I saw your mother on Chippewa" was a schoolyard insult circa the 1950s!

@Dan Did you have any experience with the Italian West Side back in the day? Or was West of Main just a different world?
 

ExRocketSci

Member
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0
Reading this brought a smile to my face!

I 100% agree with your father about Jimmy G, he was indeed a South Buffalo punk, and not a Punk as in Punk Rocker! He is probably one of the least Punk Rock people to ever come out of Buffalo. I think his grudge against the East Side extended from both Old Ward political rivalries with Polish establishment (and figures like Stanley Makowski), as much as it came from his straight Racism. He is still revered as a saint in South Buffalo, Im not a big fan of the South Buffalo Irish, I greatly prefer the actual Irish from Ireland who don't like Trump either (har har, see what I did there!).

That is so true, the West Side accent is allot more nasally and a distinctive drawl compared to the South Buffalo accent which is more traditionally midwestern. I think it stems from the West Side developing more of its own "ethnolect" influenced by the speech patterns of Italian and Spanish speaking residents who would come to shape the area's culture, sounds kind of like this:


I can imagine Grant Street in the 1970s being full of straight Zips, Italian-American "cornermen" keeping an eye over the block, kids hanging out and yes teenage gangs, some just simple neighborhood crews, others farm teams for "The Arm" ;) Did W. Side Italian gangs wear distinctive gang sweaters like they did in Chicago? If my ancestors had settled in Buffalo instead of The Bronx, I like to imagine they would have settled either somewhere in the Lower or in the Valley off of Seneca Street. I know exactly what you mean with the Godfather analogy, evokes a similar vibe to the South Bronx stories told to me my grandparents. One thing that I am afraid of, is that changes in development patterns and revitalization will erase the West Side's rich Latino/Puerto Rican heritage much like suburbanization has to its Italian heritage.

Was that the Saint Anthony Festival on Connecticut St? I think it was held there until sometime in the 80s, before relocating to Hertel, if im not mistaken. Your description of leather clad guidos sounds very period appropriate, which was the "look" before the Blowout hair, Ed Hardy shirt Jersey Shore style of my cousins took hold. It seems like there is more of a collective nostalgia among Polish Buffalonians for their old Broadway-Fillmore than there is among Buffitalians for the Old West Side. They still come to Broadway-Fillmore for Dyngus Day, whereas I don't know of any such lore among Italian's for their West Side. It would be cool if there still was some type of heritage ties to that area, a festival or a Columbus Day parade or something. I attribute it to the Polish community being simply larger and more rooted in the city and its culture.

Your description of Chippewa is hilarious and seems spot on, Im told "I saw your mother on Chippewa" was a schoolyard insult circa the 1950s!

@Dan Did you have any experience with the Italian West Side back in the day? Or was West of Main just a different world?
My direct knowledge of gangs only covers late 60s thru 70s north side, so I can only speak about that time, although I do remember hearing about the "Black T's" that wore black t-shirts in the early 60s. In the mid 60s the frats (some neighborhood gangs went by fraternity symbols) did wear frat jackets with their frat letters stitched or embroidered on it, but stopped as they were easy targets by the police and not allowed to wear them at school. TKB (tau kappa beta) was big on the north side and Riverside, and I remember KB as a west side frat. One of my older brothers was TKB, which gave me a little cachet among the grade school crowd (he was drafted before getting into any real problems, thankfully). I know that some of the MT Pockets guys that caused trouble on Hertel last year were old frat guys (now real old).

Long ago I asked one of my old Italian employers who grew up on the West Side in the 1950s if he wore gang colors (jacket, etc), he said he didn't but he did wear a pair of red "fighting pants" when it was time to rumble.

Regarding heritage events, the Italian Festival on Hertel actually grew too big for the neighborhood. Last year it was to occur in Niagara Square, close to where the original location the festival was held (St. Anthony's) until cancelled by COVID. The Italian Cultural Center should be opening this year in the old North Park Library on Hertel and Delaware. There are still a few old school Italian places on the West Side like Guercios, and on the north side like Scime's and Johnny's Meats. And some private "social clubs" are around if you know where to look.
 

Doohickie

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Unrelated to any discussion here, my 3rd cousin who recently friended me on Facebook posted this picture.

A picture of the house with my grandfather in it. They actually built that house!

People in the picture:
Michael = my great great grandfather
Maryann = his wife, my great great grandmother
Helen = their daughter, my great grandmother
Nick = Helen's husband, my great grandfather
Tony = their oldest son, my grandfather (who died shortly before I was born)
Stanley, Vince = Tony's brothers, my great uncles. I remember Uncle Vince and his wife Aunt Mae. She kept a candy jar that she got out when we came by for a visit. My father was clearly fond of Uncle Vince.
 

Doohickie

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Oh, and a closeup of Nicholas, ca 1954. He and Helen had 10 kids over 23 years! My dad was almost as old as some of his aunts.
 

The Terminator

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Unrelated to any discussion here, my 3rd cousin who recently friended me on Facebook posted this picture.

A picture of the house with my grandfather in it. They actually built that house!

People in the picture:
Michael = my great great grandfather
Maryann = his wife, my great great grandmother
Helen = their daughter, my great grandmother
Nick = Helen's husband, my great grandfather
Tony = their oldest son, my grandfather (who died shortly before I was born)
Stanley, Vince = Tony's brothers, my great uncles. I remember Uncle Vince and his wife Aunt Mae. She kept a candy jar that she got out when we came by for a visit. My father was clearly fond of Uncle Vince.
WOW! That looks like it must have been taken circa 1902.

It remarkably looks like its still standing:


And it looks like they type of house that would make a FABULOUS Punk House, including vacant lot next door to store junk Volvos, Chevy Citations, K Cars and Ford LTDs ;)
 

Doohickie

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They grew up together and then got married.
I found out that this isn't quite accurate. He was boarding with her parents in Pittsburgh and they got married as a result. I heard he went to live with them and I thought it was when he first came to the U.S. It was when he was 18.
 

Doohickie

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They built the house in 1908. Uncle Vince was born in 1907 and is being carried as an infant, so this is when the house was pretty much brand new.
 

The Terminator

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They built the house in 1908. Uncle Vince was born in 1907 and is being carried as an infant, so this is when the house was pretty much brand new.

Here is the ownership history that I found from Erie County. Is the V. Pawli owner of record from 1971 a relative?
 

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