A snowstorm and a couple of jackknifed tractor-trailers had Sheridan Drive backed up from just after Harlem Road all the way to Niagara Falls Boulevard in this early 1960s photo.
The “C. Hettinger for Rambler” car dealership is in the foreground on the right – today, it’s about where Northtown Kia and Northtown Mazda are located. Charles Hettinger opened for business in the spot in 1960.
Next door, Herb and Burt Wallens opened Sheridan Lanes and its “broad expanse of 48 precision Brunswick Lanes” in February 1957. It was billed as “one of America’s finest bowling establishments, for your bowling pleasure” upon opening.
Beyond is Kinney Shoes and the final legible sign off in the distance, which belongs to the La Hacienda Sheridan Restaurant.
When New York State’s first McDonald’s opened on Niagara Falls Boulevard just north of Maple Road in 1959, that part of Maple Road wasn’t even built yet. It was mostly open farm land.
New York State’s first McDonald’s, as seen in the lower left corner, was built in 1959. This photo was taken in 1962, and shows the progress of building the Boulevard Mall. A photo from the same vantage point today would show Wegmans, Walmart, and the site for the forthcoming Whole Foods as well as the mall… and McDonald’s. (Buffalo News archives)
That part of Amherst and Tonawanda quickly developed around the McDonald’s Drive-In, with the completion of the Boulevard Mall — Western New York’s first covered shopping mall — in 1962, the area has been in a constant state of development ever since.
McDonald’s was a hit the moment Jerry Brownrout opened the franchise in 1959.
1962 ad. Buffalo Stories archives
Over the first few months in business, the self-service drive-in was frying up 70,000 hamburgers, 30,000 bags of fries, and blending 20,000 shakes a month, and McDonald’s was well on its way to becoming a local and international phenomenon. The location was selling more 15 cent hamburgers than any other in the country.
Over the first five years, 250 tons of hamburger was cooked in that Niagara Falls Boulevard location — enough for five million hamburgers. By 1964, there were nine McDonald’s locations in the Buffalo area.
Back when living along the Tonawanda/Amherst border was like living in a real-life version of “American Graffiti,” Henry’s Hamburgers at Sheridan and Niagara Falls Boulevard was one of the many places a cruise down the strip could have landed.
Buffalo News archives
By the time the photo was snapped about a year into the operation of Henry’s in 1960, the Western New York version of guys like Ron Howard and Richard Dreyfuss and gals like Mackenzie Phillips and Cindy Williams had already eaten 720,000 hamburgers and 33 tons of French fries. The numbers were easy to hit when hamburgers were 15 cents each — or a bag of ten for a buck.
Within a year, there were three Henry’s locations — this one, another on McKinley Parkway in South Buffalo across the street from Park Edge (later Bells) Supermarket, and another across Union Road from Airport Plaza — right about where the Kensington Expressway eventually cut through.
Through the ’60s and ’70s, at least a dozen different Henry’s locations came and went around Western New York — most notably, the two (one at Main and Dewey and one on Jefferson) owned by Bills great and Channel 2 sportscaster Ernie Warlick.
The Main and Dewey location is the only one that survives as a restaurant. It’s now Tony’s Ranch House.
As far as the Sheridan Drive location, the area has obviously lost the rural feel of this photo. The gas station selling 26¢ gas at its two pumps was soon replaced by a Firestone shop. The Henry’s lot has been filled in with a small strip plaza and a former Denny’s restaurant.
Fifty-five years ago this week, The News’ special back-to-school section featured articles on the latest in education inside and outside of the classroom, and, of course, plenty of back-to-school ads.
Children around Western New York were getting ready to start in new schools that are still in use today.
The new Cheektowaga High School opened on a still mostly rural Union Road in 1960. (Buffalo Stories archives)
Maple Road was also more rural than it is today in 1960. When St. Gregory The Great opened that fall, the parish’s current largest neighbor– Milliard Fillmore Suburban Hospital– was not yet built. (Buffalo Stories archives)
Opened as Orchard Park Junior High School in 1960, the building was enlarged in 1976 and it has been the home of Orchard Park High School ever since. (Buffalo Stories archives)