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Doohickie

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Helen died in 1946 and Nicholas died in 1964 so the house was probably sold. I don't think it remained in the family.
 

ExRocketSci

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18
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1
A few years ago while we were remodeling the 2nd floor of my house, which had previously been where my grandmother lived, under the dining room "linoleum rug" we found a layer of well-preserved newspapers from 1947 underneath. Included were pages from the Buffalo Evening News and the Polish language Dziennik Dla Wszystkich (Everybody's Daily). The dates lined up with when my grandfather died (he died young) and I recall hearing that his funeral had been held in the house (as was done among many in those days). So, I suspect that my grandmother brought the linoleum rug in for the funeral.

I was able to take some pictures of several of the pages before my brother took the papers. Here's one of the Polish pages, with an ad for A&P.

1947 Polish News
by bpawlik, on Flickr

The Polish papers were as large and extensive as the News was at the time. When people talk about "assimilation" of people coming into the US not being how they did it in the past, here is an example of a Polish language paper in a community that existed over 60 years, and had basically limited integration in 40 years prior.

Also, here is part of the entertainment section from the Buffalo News, which has some familiar theater names.

1947 Theater Listings
by bpawlik, on Flickr

Which reminds me, I knew a guy that used to tell people he was a "straight man at the Palace."
 

Doohickie

Cyburbian
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Well that escalated quickly.... the post by my cousin that had the pics of my great grandfather and his house spawned a family geneaology group on Facebook. That pretty much took up my whole weekend.

I have some information that I don't think my geneaologically inclined family members have. This should cause a stir. :)
 

Doohickie

Cyburbian
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Oh, by the way, here's the home my great grandmother's family lived in before they moved to Buffalo and built the house mentioned in the previous posts.

 

Dan

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@Dan Did you have any experience with the Italian West Side back in the day? Or was West of Main just a different world?
Depends how far back we're talking about. The 1970s were my pre-teen years. I didn't get to the West Side that much as a kid, but here's what I remember:

* West Village / south of Allentown: Meh. Lots of deferred maintenance, because of on-again-off-again plans for the (never built) West Side Arterial connecting the Kensington Expressway / NY-33 with the Niagara Thruway / I-190.

* Allentown: gritty bohemian neighborhood, rough around the edges, LOTS of antique stores. The neighborhood had a very high concentration of group homes, halfway houses, and the like. Nascent community of increasingly out-of-the-closet gay men.

* Elmwood Village: apartment buildings ranging from divey to upscale, "old Buffalo" families that were generally middle to upper middle class, a smattering of old money, very Protestant compared to Buffalo as a whole, with a small but wealthy "old Buffalo" German Jewish community. Lots of private schools. Elmwood Avenue wasn't really hip; at the time, it was probably on a par with Hertel Avenue, and Main Street in University Heights.

* Delaware District: old money. Like, families whose names grace bulldings on the UB and Buff State campus old money. Closer to downtown, the strip of foo-foo carriage trade shops along Delaware Avenue was still active.

Buffalo NY Courier Express 1975 a 04666_1.jpg


Buffalo NY Courier Express 1975 a 04667_1.jpg


Buffalo NY Courier Express 1975 a 04668_1.jpg


Buffalo NY Courier Express 1975 a 07208_1.jpg


The carriage trade stores were all gone by the late 1990s.

It was about this time displacement of the West Side Italian community by Puerto Ricans started to become more visible. Many West Side Italians went to the Hertel Avenue/North Park area of North Buffalo (displacing the Eastern Europeaan Jewish community that arrived from the East Side 20-40 years earlier), Kenmore/Tonawanda, and if they were fairly well off, to Amherst.

* Lower West Side: a mix of lower income and working class Puertorriquenos and Italians.

* Middle West Side, west of Richmond: mix of working to middle class Italian-Americans, with some islands of affluence near the Peace Bridge and D;Youville College. Grant Street was "Little Italy". Connecticut Street was the spiritual heart of the Italian-American community.. LOTS of Italian restaurants, "social clubs", and an Italian-American hospital (Columbus Hospital), among other institutions.

* Upper West Side: historically Buffalo's Canadian neighborhood (!), but looking kinds of rough. Mixed European ethnic, working- to lower-middle class families in somewhat large houses.

Dutch Elm Disease destroyed Buffalo's tree canopy. Dutch Elm Disease hit areas west of Richmond harder, likely because there was more of a monoculture of street trees. Streets east of Richmond tended to have more intact canopies.

The Italian Heritage Festival used to be on Connecticut Street. I remember my parents taking me to the festival a couple of times as a kid. When the event moved to Hertel Avenue, it displaced the Hertel Happenings festival.

Lafayette High School had an excellent reputation into the 1980s. Grover Cleveland was a step below Lafayette, but not seen as "troubled"

Corner stores were everywhere on the West Side, most were owned by Italian-Americans (who often lived upstairs), and they didn't have the bad reputation of today's grafitti-signed "delis". My dad sold cigars to a lot of the cigar shops, drug and corner stores, and social clubs on the west-of-Richmond West Side. He said the social clubs always paid on time.

EDIT: The following is from the April 11, 1981 Courier-Express.

west_side_1.jpg


west_side_2.jpg
 

Dan

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Which reminds me, I knew a guy that used to tell people he was a "straight man at the Palace."
Meanwhile, at AM&As ...

Buffalo NY Courier Express 1952 - 2193.jpg


(Yeah, I know the word had a different meaning then. Still makes me laugh when I read it in today's context.)

The Polish papers were as large and extensive as the News was at the time.

I've seen the Polish papers online, and can totally believe what I've heard about being able to survive in the Buffalo of the 1940s without knowing a word of English. Everybody's Daily was a full-blown daily paper. It had large display ads from prominent local merchants and national brands that were mostly in Polish, too.

Also, here is part of the entertainment section from the Buffalo News, which has some familiar theater names.
And His Orchestra.
 

ExRocketSci

Member
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18
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1
And the Buffalo Evening News sports pages.

How many people knew that the Buffalo Bills were around back then, playing AAFC (and future NFL teams) like The Cleveland Browns, San Francisco 49ers, and Baltimore Colts? Not as big then as today, only made Page 3 of the sports section.


Sports Page 1947
by bpawlik, on Flickr

Gotta love the name, Hunchy Hoernschemeyer, "the side wheeling back who put the dodge in the artless Brooklyn Dodgers..."
 

Dan

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Just found this random bit of potential alternative history. Merchants Mutual Stadium in Orchard Park? It could have been. Buffalo Courier-Express, September 19 1972.

buffalo rich stadium different name.jpg
 

Dan

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Found this article about the Polish Everybody's Daily on the Am-Pol Eagle Web site.

The newspaper that would become the Dziennik dla Wszystkich or the Polish Everybody's Daily began as the Polish weekly Nowy Wiek. First published on Oct. 4, 1906, by the Polish bookstore owner Jozef Slisz, ...

... As Buffalo’s Polish community expanded so too did the paper and Ruszkiewicz’s wealth. Every day the Dziennik reached the tens of thousands of Poles living in Buffalo’s East Side and Black Rock giving them local, regional, national, and international news all in the Polish language.

In parts of Buffalo and much of Sloan, these subscribers lived in homes and communities Ruszkiewicz developed. The Dziennik roared through the 1920s and even the onset of the Great Depression didn’t slow it down.

In early 1930, architect Joseph E. Fronczak was hired to design a new headquarters at 928 Broadway for the paper. His blueprints called for a three-story, art-deco style building with room for up to four stores flanking a center entrance for the upstairs offices. When the building was completed in 1932, the paper moved in upstairs, while the Iroquois Gas Corporation and the Buffalo Niagara Electric Corporation took over the downstairs.

... With the end of the Second World War, a new man was put in charge of the business end of the Dziennik, Matthew Pelczynski.

Matthew Pelczynski with editor Alexander Janta would oversee the newspaper through the post war boom, the bust of 1953, and a 1954 labor strike by the Office Employees Union that shut the paper down for two days. From 1954 on, the paper began to slide.

One of the first big issues was a decline in the number of people who could read Polish. To deal with this, the paper began to mix articles written in English. The next big hit came as the first inklings of what would become the Recession of 1958 began to show its head in 1956 and the debts began to build. Owner Franklin B. Rogger wasn’t prepared to handle these problems and sold his stock to a consortium headed by Matthew Pelczynski in February of 1957.

For three months, the group tried to catch up but it was too much, the outstanding debt grew to $381,480. As bankruptcies proceedings began, the paper began running front page articles asking for community help, and help came. There were offers by the employees to buy out the company, a coalition of Polish businessmen who had put up $100,000 to take over the paper while another company, 928 Publishing Co. also made an offer.

But while Matt was trying to save the paper, the House Committee on Un-American Activities began charging the Dziennik with the distribution of communist propaganda and this attention made it nearly impossible to save the Everybody's Daily. On Sept. 18, 1957, the Dziennik dla Wszystkich went under the gavel. The printing press, folding machines, cutters, office equipment, and 50 tons of type were sold to the highest bidder.
 

Doohickie

Cyburbian
Messages
3,683
Points
46
I come from generations of ballers... check these guy out! Left to RIght: My great grandfather, my grandfather and my great uncle.
158313244_10225291204015105_2355048095761913805_o.jpg


The only one who lived long enough for me to meet was Great Uncle VInce.
 
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The Terminator

Cyburbian
Messages
1,721
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24

^ This is really well made. Buffalo has really been carrying the rap game in New York past few years, to the point that real heads who pay attention to underground sh!t recognize recognize 716's game. While downstate keeps churning out the same Trap/mumble rap, Buffalo and Rochester are keeping the classic sound alive and relevent. I am firmly convinced that this is because in 2021, Buffalo is both more authentic and more working class than NYC, and the music reflects that.

 

Dan

Dear Leader
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Beerski.

beerski.jpg


I'll just leave this here. From, the Buffalo Jewish Review, November 12 1920.

buffalo power.jpg
 

ExRocketSci

Member
Messages
18
Points
1
This may be old news to some, but I did a sort by "year built" for all of the city of Buffalo improved properties (based on 2019 tax assessment roll) and divided it up by decades. Here is what I came up with:

Before 1830 - 116 properties
1830-39 - 75
1840-49 - 42
1850-59 - 178
1860-69 - 127
1870-79 - 801
1880-89 - 1036
1890-99 - 1531
1900-09 - 9694
1910-19 - 6800
1920-29 - 13014
1930-39 - 2759
1940-49 - 1365
1950-59 - 3235
1960-69 - 656
1970-79 - 175
1980-89 - 715
1990-99 - 1287
2000-09 - 1465
2010-18 - 130

I assume that the rehabs that have been in work the last ten years have replaced many of the new builds but it seems like a crazy low number for the 2010s. 2011 for example only had one property listed.

As of the end of 2020, 61% of properties in Buffalo are at least 100 years old.
 

Dan

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As of the end of 2020, 61% of properties in Buffalo are at least 100 years old.
I believe it.

The urban prairie in Broadway-Fillmore started to emerge between about 1995 and 2000. By that time, the oldest worker's cottages in the area would be about 120 to 130 years old. They weren't built very well to begin with, and the process of housing filtering in the area was nearly complete.

workers_cottage.jpg


A large part of the city's housing was built with lower middle class or working class households in mind. That's lower middle class and working class by the standards of the 1910s, not today.

home_of_its_own.jpg


As housing filtration works its way through the East Side, and much of the West Side west of Richmond, it has me wondering how to address it. Many preservationists would freeze the city in amber, or look down on those who wouldn't think about living in an aging house that is incurably functionally obsolete.

obsolete_housing.jpg


In about 40 years, a typical house in Cheektowaga and Tonawanda will be 100 years old. I was thinking about this a couple of days ago, when I was looking at ads for new houses in old Sunday Couriers from the 1970s -- those houses are going on 50.

class.jpg


From 1974. Now theeyatt's cleeyassy!
 

jsk1983

Cyburbian
Messages
2,507
Points
25
I believe it.

The urban prairie in Broadway-Fillmore started to emerge between about 1995 and 2000. By that time, the oldest worker's cottages in the area would be about 120 to 130 years old. They weren't built very well to begin with, and the process of housing filtering in the area was nearly complete.

View attachment 50986

A large part of the city's housing was built with lower middle class or working class households in mind. That's lower middle class and working class by the standards of the 1910s, not today.

View attachment 50987

As housing filtration works its way through the East Side, and much of the West Side west of Richmond, it has me wondering how to address it. Many preservationists would freeze the city in amber, or look down on those who wouldn't think about living in an aging house that is incurably functionally obsolete.

View attachment 50988

In about 40 years, a typical house in Cheektowaga and Tonawanda will be 100 years old. I was thinking about this a couple of days ago, when I was looking at ads for new houses in old Sunday Couriers from the 1970s -- those houses are going on 50.

View attachment 50985

From 1974. Now theeyatt's cleeyassy!
Looks like original owner until 2014!
 

The Terminator

Cyburbian
Messages
1,721
Points
24
Montreal bagels are allot better than New York bagels.

If Buffalo had its own bagel, it would probably be better than both.
 

ExRocketSci

Member
Messages
18
Points
1
What does "incurably functionally obsolete" really mean, except in the context of current middle to upper-middle class desires? It seems to me that the firmness and functionality of the foundation would be the most determining factor allowing the structure to be maintained, updated, or expanded. I can see few cases where replacement cost would be less than the cost of stabilization and modernization in nearly any frame home that is still standing.

Of course, current market value in much of the city supports neither major update nor replacement. So, stabilization, maintenance, and incremental update is really the only way things can proceed unless or until there is a new influx of people with real money.

I am interested in seeing what the latest Census will show for areas of the East Side based on the influx of South Asians from the NYC Boroughs in the last few years, who have been buying the vast majority of homes for sale in the area. About 1 in 4 home sales in the city have been to people with South Asian surnames since I started noticing it a few years ago, mainly in the 20k to 70k price range. These homes are not being left to run down.
 

Linda_D

Cyburbian
Messages
1,752
Points
21
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.

View attachment 50811

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.

View attachment 50819

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.

View attachment 50816

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.

View attachment 50978

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 small new worker's cottages just over the city line in Cheektowaga and Sloan. Still, for the most part, Polonia's Poles stayed put.

View attachment 50817

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.

View attachment 50810

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.

View attachment 50813

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, and the region was experiencing a housing shortage. The East Side essentially grew beyond the city limits, into Cheektowaga, Depew, and Sloan. Developers met an insatiable demand for housing by building thousands of starter and lower-middle end homes, often in suburban subdivisions that were platted decades earlier. 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 ranch or Cape Cod off of George Urban Boulevard, either of which they could easily afford, their decision seems obvious.

View attachment 50979

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.

View attachment 50815

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.

My Polish grandparents fled Polonia about 1920, shortly after they married, for the newer "suburban" area of Black Rock known to locals as Grant-Amherst (essentially Assumption RC parish, bounded by the Scajacquada Creek on the south, Tonawanda Street underpass of the Belt Line RR on the west, the railroad and factories on Chandler Street, and Elmwood Avenue on the east). The housing stock was newer and sat on larger lots since the area wasn't built up until after the Pan American Exposition.
 

Dan

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A dirt road in Amherst!

Incurable functional obsolescence: pretty much, aspects of the house that are dated or which make the house difficult for day-to-day living can't be fixed without a costly full-gut rehab that might cost more than the house s worth, or more than tearing the place down and starting from scratch. A few thing that come to mind.

  • Central space heater.
  • Passthrough or daisy-chained bedrooms.
  • Location of doors or windows that make complicate furniture arrangement.
  • No bedroom closets.
  • Too many additions.
  • Very low ceilings (7' or lower).
  • Rooms with sloped ceilings that greatly limit where an adult can walk upright.
  • Bedrooms or the main bathroom directly off the kitchen, dining room, or living room.
  • Limited electrical outlets.
  • Poor bedroom-to-bathroom ratio. (Example: old "big Catholic family" houses with huge dining rooms, five or six bedrooms, but only one bathroom.)
  • Kitchen with no work area, or a layout that forces one or more major appliances to be placed outside of the kitchen. (In the area I live, many houses have refrigerators in a back hall, because they don't fit in the kitchen.)
  • Stairs or stairwells that are too narrow or twisted to allow passage of anything but small pieces of furniture or twin beds.
  • Stairs where the tread length is close to or smaller than the height of the riser.
  • Many of the ceiling lights have chain switches, not wall switches.
  • No coat closet near the front or side door.

That doesn't mean the house can't be used for shelter. It just means it'll be a frustrating place to live.

Other aspects of incurable functional obsolescence include the setting -- not demographics, but a nearby permanent nuisance that would harm a resident's ability to "enjoy" living there, or harm their health safety, and well being. For example, 73 / 77 / 79 Stone Street, 25 Vincennes Street, or 23 Dole Street.
 

Dan

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A followup: when I look at online real estate listings in Buffalo, I'm surprised at the low house prices in Lovejoy, especially compared to peer neighborhoods in South Buffalo, Kaisertown, and Riverside. Prices in Lovejoy seem lower than comparable houses in Kensington, too, despite that neighborhood's reputation.

I have my suspicions about what's going on. Lovejoy is a very tight-knit neighborhood with a reputation that betrays Buffalo's "City of Good Neighbors" motto, black households are starting to trickle in, and homeowners are panic selling like they're in 1968 Detroit. That's just my theory, anyhow.

(essentially Assumption RC parish, bounded by the Scajacquada Creek on the south, Tonawanda Street underpass of the Belt Line RR on the west, the railroad and factories on Chandler Street, and Elmwood Avenue on the east).
Gotta' post this.

bingo.jpg
 

Linda_D

Cyburbian
Messages
1,752
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I'm a map geek ... I have never met a map that I didn't love. I found this treasure years ago on the Erie County web site: 1894 Buffalo Atlas.

It shows just how rapidly the COB was built out within about 3 decades, 1890-1920.
 

ExRocketSci

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1
A followup: when I look at online real estate listings in Buffalo, I'm surprised at the low house prices in Lovejoy, especially compared to peer neighborhoods in South Buffalo, Kaisertown, and Riverside. Prices in Lovejoy seem lower than comparable houses in Kensington, too, despite that neighborhood's reputation.

I have my suspicions about what's going on. Lovejoy is a very tight-knit neighborhood with a reputation that betrays Buffalo's "City of Good Neighbors" motto, black households are starting to trickle in, and homeowners are panic selling like they're in 1968 Detroit. That's just my theory, anyhow.


Gotta' post this.
I dunno if I agree - yet. Just comparing East Lovejoy (the old Italian area East of Bailey) to Kaisertown current listings, overall prices seem comparable. Neither has taken off in price as much as other neighborhoods, but many of the recent sales were at 10-20% above listing price for the better properties, so it may be catching up. My last walks around those neighborhoods (last summer) didn't show much of a change in the mix (or non-mix) of residents who lived there. I drive through occasionally, including the other day, and seemed about the same.

While prices seem "low" compared to some areas of Buffalo, just 6 years ago my North Buffalo double was appraised at only 129k, and now some Lovejoy properties are listed for over 150k. Unthinkable just a couple years ago...

Also, depending what year that picture was taken, that white haired lady by the post on the right could be my mother. My kids and I spent many evenings at Assumption Bingo with her. My father's family lived upstairs from a shop on Amherst Street, which my grandfather owned and doubled as a speakeasy until he lost it during the Depression.
 
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ExRocketSci

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A dirt road in Amherst!

Incurable functional obsolescence: pretty much, aspects of the house that are dated or which make the house difficult for day-to-day living can't be fixed without a costly full-gut rehab that might cost more than the house s worth, or more than tearing the place down and starting from scratch. A few thing that come to mind.

  • Central space heater.
  • Passthrough or daisy-chained bedrooms.
  • Location of doors or windows that make complicate furniture arrangement.
  • No bedroom closets.
  • Too many additions.
  • Very low ceilings (7' or lower).
  • Rooms with sloped ceilings that greatly limit where an adult can walk upright.
  • Bedrooms or the main bathroom directly off the kitchen, dining room, or living room.
  • Limited electrical outlets.
  • Poor bedroom-to-bathroom ratio. (Example: old "big Catholic family" houses with huge dining rooms, five or six bedrooms, but only one bathroom.)
  • Kitchen with no work area, or a layout that forces one or more major appliances to be placed outside of the kitchen. (In the area I live, many houses have refrigerators in a back hall, because they don't fit in the kitchen.)
  • Stairs or stairwells that are too narrow or twisted to allow passage of anything but small pieces of furniture or twin beds.
  • Stairs where the tread length is close to or smaller than the height of the riser.
  • Many of the ceiling lights have chain switches, not wall switches.
  • No coat closet near the front or side door.

That doesn't mean the house can't be used for shelter. It just means it'll be a frustrating place to live.

Other aspects of incurable functional obsolescence include the setting -- not demographics, but a nearby permanent nuisance that would harm a resident's ability to "enjoy" living there, or harm their health safety, and well being. For example, 73 / 77 / 79 Stone Street, 25 Vincennes Street, or 23 Dole Street.

The term "obsolete" to me means something is no longer useful (per the dictionary definition), something to be abandoned or replaced. Thrown away for something newer and better.

But as long as people still live in these houses, they are not "obsolete." They may be dated in design, quirky in layout, in need of maintenance, less desirably located, or generally "not up to current standards."

Every home, on the day it is built, is no longer "current" as there will always be new designs and gadgets that didn't exist or weren't popular at the time of construction, newer standards, newer materials, changes in popular tastes, etc. Let alone wear and tear, and effects of age. That doesn't make them "obsolete."

In may be costly to update many of these old homes, but if a home is habitable, I cannot imagine a situation where it wouldn't be more costly to tear it down and replace it than to just keep it and modernize it.
 
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Dan

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This is one of the most "only in Buffalo" things I've seen.

statues_der.jpg
 

Dan

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I'm a map geek ... I have never met a map that I didn't love. I found this treasure years ago on the Erie County web site: 1894 Buffalo Atlas.

It shows just how rapidly the COB was built out within about 3 decades, 1890-1920.
One thing to remember: speculative subdivision was rampant in Buffalo from about the 1870s to the time the Great Depression hit. Maps of the era often showed a street network that went far beyond the built-up areas of the city. I'm fascinated by Gilded Age maps showing streets that were never built, or which sat empty for decades before any development took place.

The maps help at dispelling one favorite myth of Buffalo's urbanatti, though: excepting Kenmore, suburbs didn't exist until after WWII. Just past the city line, it was all farms and forests until 1945, after which everybody fled the city. NOPE. Urban sprawl past the city limits got its start much earlier.
 

Dan

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Traffic reports this morning say traffic is crawling on the 33, 90, 190, and 290, but there's no sign of any accidents or construction.

buffalo_420.jpg
 

jsk1983

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One thing to remember: speculative subdivision was rampant in Buffalo from about the 1870s to the time the Great Depression hit. Maps of the era often showed a street n etwork that went far beyond the built-up areas of the city. I'm fascinated by Gilded Age maps showing streets that were never built, or which sat empty for decades before any development took place.

The maps help at dispelling one favorite myth of Buffalo's urbanatti, though: excepting Kenmore, suburbs didn't exist until after WWII. Just past the city line, it was all farms and forests until 1945, after which everybody fled the city. NOPE. Urban sprawl past the city limits got its start much earlier.
Suburbanization was fairly scattered though wasn't it? I'm guessing a lot of areas got started before the depression hit but only have a handful of pre-war houses. I want to say the area around Country Parkway between Maple and Sheridan is an older area, though its a real mix of vintages... Not sure if that area was meant as second homes out in the "country" or for year round living.

 

Dan

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From this thread. I thought it would be appropriate to repost it here.

Buffalo, New York also doesn't meet my "speck on the map today" ground rules, but since its founding people were expecting greatness based on its location -- natural harbor at the end of the Great Lakes; equidistant from the natural resources of the Midwest and Appalachia, and the huge markets of the Northeast; and at the mother of all fall lines. Still, during the time the Erie Canal cities were emerging, Rochester was the big kid on the block for a couple of decades. Even after the Erie Canal opened, other Great Lakes cities like Detroit, Milwaukee, and Cleveland would quickly eclipse Buffalo in size and influence. (I didn't say Chicago, because its future was pretty much assured from the start.)

In all the research I've been doing for the Unbuilt Buffalo thread, I have my own theory about why Buffalo never achieved the kind of greatness that so many expected. On the macro scale --

1) It's in the same state as the nation's alpha city. People saw it as more of a distant satellite city to NYC than a freestanding, independent entity. Historically, there have been few locally based large corporations -- with few exceptions, it was outside interests that set up factories and built railroads, not locals. There's also a long history of out-of-town corporations taking over successful homegrown enterprises that reach a certain critical mass. This lead to declining stewardship and interest in Buffalo's overall well-being.

2) Until the Erie Canal came, it was a distant frontier outpost. After the Canal arrived, it became a destination only for a few. For most, it was a way station on the way to somewhere else. In the northern United States, the easiest travel route through the Appalachian Mountains passed through Buffalo -- until the early national highway system and Pennsylvania Railroad were developed. After those other routes were punched through the Appalachians, Buffalo's location became out of the way. Which brings us to ...

3) It's geographically isolated. Locals will claim Buffalo has "the best location in the nation" -- there's some huge percentage of the population of the North American Anglosphere (and Francosphere) within a 500 mile (800 km) radius ofthe city. Draw a circle with a 100 mile (160 km) radius from Niagara Square -- a potential local sphere of influence -- and there's not much. Rochester, Erie, a foreign country, a lot of water, a series of finger-shaped lakes that couldn't easily be bridged, and tens of thousands of square miles of sparsely populated hills and mountains to the south, with few natural resources except natural gas, lumber, and a little bit of oil.

4) The advantages of its fall line -- the Niagara Escarpment -- were easily exported outside the region. Manufacturers didn't need to be next to a mill race, but instead could take advantage of hydropower generated at Niagara Falls. You could place the blame on Nikola Tesla and others who promoted alternating current, which could be transmitted over great distances. What did Buffalo get out of this? A short-lived stint as the "electric city", and hundreds of miles of ultra-high voltage transmission lines to further mar the landscape and divide neighborhoods. Despite nearby hydroelectric power, and its externalities (high tension power lines are everywhere in the region), electricity rates in the region aren't cheap.

One of Buffalo's little-known unbuilt projects was a plan by the New York Central Railroad in the late 1910s to split their famous four-track Water Level Route mainline at Batavia, rebuild the old "Peanut Line" from there to Tonawanda, and route limited trains to Detroit and Chicago through Southern Ontario via Grand Island, on two massive new bridges over the Niagara River. The NYCRR bought the right-of-way, designed the bridges, and started preliminary improvements on the right-of-way before cancelling the project several years later. Still, the NYCRR was willing to spend millions to shave a couple of hours off NYC-to-Chicago trains, while greatly reducing passenger service to Buffalo in the process.

In the end, the economic forces that shaped Buffalo came largely from outside, rather than from within. Buffalo had far less control over its own destiny, compared to its peers. Buffalo's location was perfect for exploitation by outside interests, but not so much for fostering homegrown enterprises. The combinaton of a "perfect" location with geographic isolation ultimately led to a dysfunctional island economy. The region's exploitation by outsiders also created numerous micro-scale impacts (rampant land speculation, railroad mainlines and yards dicing the city into tens of disconnected "iron islands", cutting off residents from the waterfront, dependence on heavy industry that doesn't scale down, massive pollution) that, in my opinion, will continue to stunt growth in the region for a couple more centuries.
 

The Terminator

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I freaking love Buffalo. I agree about the NYC "satellite city" theory to an extent. I am always surprised yet not surprised as to how many of my fellow Downstaters have no idea that Buffalo has its own distinct culture and identity, and that west of Exit 41 on the Thruway, people have Midwestern accents.

Most underrated city in the Northeast, and its barely northeastern.
 

ExRocketSci

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Everyone knows the story of the decline of the steel industry in Buffalo and the Rust Belt, with population in Buffalo dropping through the 1970s and 80s. Yet, starting in 1987, the population of the Buffalo area began a recovery and there was a lot of optimism that region had seen the worst and was on the road to redemption. Even the NY Times took notice - from the NY Times Archives - July 20, 1990

From Rust Belt to Money Belt in Buffalo

There are not many bright spots in the New York economy these days, and one of the few can be found in the unlikeliest of places: Buffalo.

Often victimized in the past by its Frost Belt geography, Buffalo has become the sudden beneficiary of its location across the Niagara River from Canada. Two streams of financial fortune, one from an overheated economy in nearby Toronto and the other from the 1988 free-trade agreement between the United States and Canada, have insulated western New York from the financial troubles afflicting much of the nation.

While New York and many other states are edging perilously close to recession, Buffalo is brimming with the self-confident boosterism of a boom town.
The monthly unemployment rate in the Buffalo area is 4.6 percent. In March it fell below the state average for the first time in 11 years. Job growth in the Buffalo region, which is defined as Erie and Niagara Counties, has outpaced the state average in each of the last four years. At 2.8 percent, it was almost triple the state rate last year.

Economists and business figures disagree about whether the revitalization has been fueled mostly by the trade agreement or by Toronto's economic conditions, but the effect has been the same. Canadian prospectors have looked south and seen western New York as a source of cheap real estate and affordable labor and as a gateway to the huge American market opening to them.

But by the end of 1994 the population recovery had halted, and the area once again began the decline which continued into the 2010s.

The mid-1990s is often thought of as the beginning of the urban renaissance, and a period of economic growth for the country, yet just the opposite was happening in Buffalo. I know the area was damaged by the collapse of the S&L industry, losing 2 major banks, but what other factors kept the area from continuing the turnaround that had begun?
 

Dan

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@ExRocketSci, I have some ideas regarding your last post swirling around in my head. For now, though, you know what today is der?


There ain't no party like a Dyngus Day party, because a Dyngus Day party is the most random excuse there is to drink there is.
 

ExRocketSci

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It's the inverse of Mardi Gras - instead of drinking before the start of Lent, its drinking after the end of Lent. Makes perfect sense to me. More sense than debauchery before abstinence - its a both a religious and a springtime celebration, not just guzzling at last call. Its the start, not the end.

When my parents were kids in Black Rock (1930s and 40s) the boys would go door to door, like on Halloween, and the girls would answer the door and get sprinkled with scented water (because perfume was too expensive). Over time, teenage boys will be boys, and sprinkles eventually became buckets, and that tradition died away. By the 1970s the now-grown kids revived the idea of Dyngus Day in Buffalo by having celebrations in Broadway-Fillmore with the Chopin Singing Society. The only time I have ever seen my father really happy-drunk was when he and his brother got back from a Dyngus Day party, laughing and telling stories and telling us he just came home for a minute and was going back. My mother didn't say anything, but I could tell she really wasn't happy about it. A minute later my Aunt called, and said angrily that my uncle "isn't going anywhere" so that took care of that!
 

Dan

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Reminder to self for a Buffalo mythbusting post. Some of the most commonly repeated myths about Buffalo and its built environment that I've heard include:

  • The Main Street pedestrian mall / Metro Rail killed downtown retail.
  • Plans to build Metro Rail to UB North were blocked by NIMBYs in Amherst who feared "inner city" residents would ride out to their neighborhoods to steal TV sets.
  • Central Terminal was built in Polonia/Broadway-Fillmore because the New York Central Railroad believed downtown would eventually grow out that far.
  • The International Railway Company streetcar system was a beloved, cherished institution. However, General Motors bought the system so they could replace streetcars with their buses.
  • Buffalo has no suburbs before 1950, except for Kenmore and Lackawanna.
  • Every house in Buffalo that was built before WWII was a custom build, lovingly handmade by immigrant master carpenters and craftsmen (from Germany) who worked on great cathedrals of Europe.
  • Every house in suburban Buffalo was mass produced as cheaply as possible, and built with a 25 year lifespan in mind.
  • Buffalo's expressway system was designed and built by Robert Moses.
  • The Kensington Expressway was intentionally routed through black neighborhoods out of sheer malice, to reinforce racial divisiveness, and to encourage white people to move to the suburbs.
  • Mortgage redlining in Buffalo was targeted specifically towards black residents, with the intent purpose of denying them credit to buy homes.
  • Frederick Law Olmsted believed Buffalo was the "best planned city".
  • Buffalo's economic decline was caused by the St. Lawrence Seaway, expressways, the invention of air conditioning, or another singular cause.

I'm going to disprove all of them.
 

The Terminator

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Reminder to self for a Buffalo mythbusting post. Some of the most commonly repeated myths about Buffalo and its built environment that I've heard include:

  • The Main Street pedestrian mall / Metro Rail killed downtown retail. and its better that way, keep the chain stores out.
  • Plans to build Metro Rail to UB North were blocked by NIMBYs in Amherst who feared "inner city" residents would ride out to their neighborhoods to steal TV sets. Metro is significantly more affordable to ride than MTA and although the fare inspectors at Amherst Station can get annoying, NFTA METRO is nowhere near as over-policed as 5 Borough transit.
  • Central Terminal was built in Polonia/Broadway-Fillmore because the New York Central Railroad believed downtown would eventually grow out that far. Central Terminal is a dope old building and it would be a tragedy if Doug Jemal got it
  • The International Railway Company streetcar system was a beloved, cherished institution. However, General Motors bought the system so they could replace streetcars with their buses. Buses are cheaper to operate and maintain, especially when gas was so cheap before 1973, but GM is a bad company and LRT is wicked awesome, but so are surviving GM products from the before times that lack catalytic converters.
  • Buffalo has no suburbs before 1950, except for Kenmore and Lackawanna. Suburbs are boring but Kenmore > Cheektowaga ;)
  • Every house in Buffalo that was built before WWII was a custom build, lovingly handmade by immigrant master carpenters and craftsmen (from Germany) who worked on great cathedrals of Europe. Real estate spectators want you to believe that so they can sell you Black Rock as "Chandlerville".
  • Every house in suburban Buffalo was mass produced as cheaply as possible, and built with a 25 year lifespan in mind. if that was true, Westside Gunn and Conway the Machine wouldn't have bought nice houses in Amherst.
  • Buffalo's expressway system was designed and built by Robert Moses. the Kensington was a bad idea.
  • The Kensington Expressway was intentionally routed through black neighborhoods out of sheer malice, to reinforce racial divisiveness, and to encourage white people to move to the suburbs. out of lack of concern about Poor People in general maybe, when the Kensington was built, wasnt most of the E Side was still Poor White? Still the Kensington was a bad idea. Attempts at re-Re-branding Broadway-Fillmore as "Polonia" in the present day is sheer malice to reinforce racial divisiveness. Its more productive to point this out to Buffalennials than argue about still useful infrastructure that was built 60 years ago. The Skyway should not come down.
  • Mortgage redlining in Buffalo was targeted specifically towards black residents, with the intent purpose of denying them credit to buy homes. specifically for Poor residents
  • Frederick Law Olmsted believed Buffalo was the "best planned city". It was nice though....
  • Buffalo's economic decline was caused by the St. Lawrence Seaway, expressways, the invention of air conditioning, or another singular cause. Free Sly Green

I'm going to disprove all of them.
Truths about each myth in bold
 

Dan

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If you think Niagara Falls Boulevard is a mess now, here's what it looked like in 1971. It looked more like something from Houston than anything you'd see in WNY.

amherst_1971.jpg


Mr. Steak: defunct steakhouse chain.
Twin Fair: local discount department store chain. Barely lasted into the early 1980s.
K-mart: pretty much extinct.
IDS: local discount department store chain. Only lasted for a short while in the 1960s and 1970s.
Victor's: local furniture store chain. Long gone, but something that brings on weepy fits of Boomer nostalgia because of its East Side roots.
ARCO: Buffalo had AM/PM convenience stores, just like Los Angeles.

The strip also was home to the first McDonald's location in New York state. It's still open.
 

Doohickie

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If you think Niagara Falls Boulevard is a mess now, here's what it looked like in 1971. It looked more like something from Houston than anything you'd see in WNY.
Classic telephoto angle making things look cluttered.
IDS: local discount department store chain. Only lasted for a short while in the 1960s and 1970s.
I forgot all about IDS. There was one near our house on Union Road near George Urban Blvd.

What? No KINGS Department Store?
 

Planit

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^^^That was about the time I was at Niagara Falls with the family. I wasn't impressed then and now I remember why.
 

ExRocketSci

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If you think Niagara Falls Boulevard is a mess now, here's what it looked like in 1971. It looked more like something from Houston than anything you'd see in WNY.

View attachment 51192

Mr. Steak: defunct steakhouse chain.
Twin Fair: local discount department store chain. Barely lasted into the early 1980s.
K-mart: pretty much extinct.
IDS: local discount department store chain. Only lasted for a short while in the 1960s and 1970s.
Victor's: local furniture store chain. Long gone, but something that brings on weepy fits of Boomer nostalgia because of its East Side roots.
ARCO: Buffalo had AM/PM convenience stores, just like Los Angeles.

The strip also was home to the first McDonald's location in New York state. It's still open.
Funny, in the 80s when I first went to Houston I described it to family in Buffalo as "looking like Niagara Falls Boulevard."
 
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