Exploring the Buffalo Grover Cleveland knew

By Steve Cichon

When you look at the 1880 map of Buffalo, you are looking at Grover Cleveland’s Buffalo.

Having already spent two years as sheriff of Erie County, Cleveland was leisurely enjoying a private law practice in Buffalo in 1880. A year later, he’d run for and be elected mayor. Two years later, he ran for and was elected governor. In 1884, he ran for and was elected president of the United States.

Cleveland lived in Buffalo from 1855 to 1881, and watched the city grow from a tiny outpost to one of the nation’s important, fast-growing cities.

He also was very much an urban man of his time, living and working most of his time in Buffalo in apartments downtown. He also was a regular at too many restaurants to list.

He would have been able to look at the map and pick out landmarks he knew.

Weed Block: corner of Main and Swan

In 1873, Grover Cleveland lived in the Weed Block building at the corner of Main and Swan. The following year, his law office also moved into the Weed Block.

For most of the 1870s, the future president lived and worked in the building that would be torn down in 1901.

Gerot’s French Restaurant

Corner of Swan and Washington. One of Grover Cleveland’s favorite restaurants in Buffalo. He ate here the morning before he was elected president in 1884.

Today, the spot is the parking lot next to the Washington Square tavern and across Swan from Coca-Cola Field.

The Erie County Jail

The Erie County Jail was located where the downtown branch of the Buffalo & Erie County Public Library is now located on the east end of Lafayette Square.

When walking on the sidewalk north of the library, you’re walking along the spot where then-Erie County Sheriff Grover Cleveland executed two men in 1872 and 1873.

Seneca and Washington

This was a place Grover Cleveland might rather forget.

History has forgotten the political argument that led up to the fisticuffs, but when Mike Falvey – a politically active furniture maker – called Cleveland a liar as they walked along Washington Street, the future president struck the tradesman with such force that Falvey wound up in the gutter on Seneca Street. The ensuing melee took the two up Washington Street from Seneca to Swan before it was broken up, and the two made amends over cocktails at Gillig’s Tavern.

Both the punch and the makeup cocktails were served on the block of Washington Street now occupied by Coca-Cola Field.

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Steve Cichon

Steve Cichon writes about Buffalo’s pop culture history. His stories of Buffalo's past have appeared more than 1600 times in The Buffalo News. He's a proud Buffalonian helping the world experience the city he loves. Since the earliest days of the internet, Cichon's been creating content celebrating the people, places, and ideas that make Buffalo unique and special. The 25-year veteran of Buffalo radio and television has written five books and curates The Buffalo Stories Archives-- hundreds of thousands of books, images, and audio/visual media which tell the stories of who we are in Western New York.