Torn-Down Tuesday: Howard Johnson’s on Delaware at North

By Steve Cichon
steve@buffalostories.com
@stevebuffalo

The subject of the photo is clearly the women marching in a World War II era Memorial Day parade, but happily captured along with the ladies paying homage to our nation’s war dead is Buffalo’s original Howard Johnson’s Restaurant.

With wartime sugar rationing in effect, in was written, At Howard Johnson's the waitress will bring one lump; two if you insist, and carefully oversees dishing out the bulk sugar for iced tea or coffee. (Buffalo News archives)

With wartime sugar rationing in effect, it was written, “At Howard Johnson’s the waitress will bring one lump; two if you insist, and carefully oversees dishing out the bulk sugar for iced tea or coffee.” (Buffalo News archives)

Generations of Americans remember the homestyle dinners and 28-flavor ice cream selection at the more than 1,000 Howard Johnson’s orange-roofed locations around the country.

Buffalo’s most popular HoJo’s was this one at Delaware and North starting around 1941. The restaurant was a part of the sometimes-strange development of Delaware Avenue. Working class families piled out of wood-paneled, American-made station wagons right across the street from the home of News Publisher and Buffalo aristocrat Edward Butler.

The restaurant was remodeled in 1960, and remained a familiar landmark for the next three decades.

Buffalo Stories archives

Buffalo Stories archives

Walgreens purchased what was Buffalo’s last Howard Johnson’s location and built a drug store at the site on Delaware and North in 1994.

What it looked like Wednesday: National Gypsum Headquarters, 1942

By Steve Cichon
steve@buffalostories.com
@stevebuffalo

Pointed to as one of Buffalo’s finest examples of Art Moderne architecture, the National Gypsum Headquarters building was built on Delaware Avenue between Chippewa and Tupper starting in 1941.

Buffalo News archives

Buffalo News archives

National Gypsum moved its corporate headquarters from Buffalo to Dallas in 1976, and the building was sold in 1978. The original metal windows were removed during the years the building served as Conrail’s Buffalo office, 1978-88.

What It Looked Like Wednesday: A&P, Delaware at Great Arrow, 1948

By Steve Cichon
steve@buffalostories.com
@stevebuffalo

Buffalo News archives

Now known as Marshalls Plaza, the strip mall has also been known as Great Arrow Plaza and, when it first opened in 1948, the Delaware Park Shopping Center. The apartment buildings in the background are still recognizable.

The big tenants when this photo was snapped were the A&P market and the Western Savings Bank branch — which was opened after state law changed allowing savings banks to open two branch locations. Episcopal Bishop Lauriston Scaife was joined by about 6,000 onlookers when the bank location opened.

Buffalo Stories archives

The plaza was built on the northeast corner of the 1901 Pan-American Exposition — on the site of the 12,000-seat stadium.

Torn-Down Tuesday: Delaware Avenue, north of City Hall

By Steve Cichon
steve@buffalostories.com
@stevebuffalo

Shot in 1962, probably out a window in the Statler Hotel, this view of Delaware Avenue has evolved slowly but changed drastically through the last 54 years, essentially creating a new gateway to Buffalo’s City Hall and Niagara Square.

Buffalo News archives

The building we see the front and center still stands with some changes. It was built as the Federal Reserve Bank in 1955, and it remained so until it became the headquarters for New Era Cap in 2006. The most substantial change came in the years immediately after the photo was taken, when the block of 19th-century mansions was cleared for the building of what would become the Thaddeus Dulski Federal Building, now known as the Avant.

 

The most remembered and revered building on that block was, in 1962, the Normandy Restaurant — one of Buffalo’s more swank dining spots.

It was built by Dr. Walter Cary in 1851. Cary was one of Buffalo’s cultural elite, and for more than a century, his home was considered one of Buffalo’s finest. It was also the boyhood home of Dr. Cary’s son George, one of Buffalo’s leading architects at the turn of the century. He designed what is now the Buffalo History Museum for the Pan-Am Exposition, the Pierce-Arrow building on Elmwood and the gates and offices of Forest Lawn Cemetery, among others.

These few blocks saw many of Buffalo’s elite diners during this era.

The Normandy is front and center, but across the street and out of view was Foster’s Supper Club. At the very bottom of the photo is the Chateau Restaurant, which lives on in the ghost sign still visible on the side of the only 19th-century home that still stands on that part of Delaware Avenue.

The Chateau offered a “Choice of 25 entrees,” and it painted the offer on the building’s brick façade. The words “Choice of 25” are clearly legible today. Later, as the Roundtable Restaurant, the building at 153 Delaware Ave. served as the venue from which shipping magnate and restaurant co-owner George Steinbrenner announced that he was purchasing the New York Yankees.

Toward the top of the photo, we see a corner that has undergone massive changes in the last 15 years.

The Hotel Richford, previously known as the Hotel Ford, was torn down in 2000 to make way for the Hampton Inn & Suites on the corner of Delaware and Chippewa. Just past Chippewa is the Delaware Court Building, which was torn down in 2014 to make way for the 12-story headquarters of Delaware North.

The northwest corner of Delaware and Chippewa was once the southeast corner of Dr. Ebenezer Johnson’s large estate. He was Buffalo’s first mayor in 1832, and his home, at the time, was on the rural outskirts of the city.  A home built by Philander Hodge on that corner in 1835, which later served as the home of the Buffalo Club, was torn down to make way for the Delaware Court Building in 1913.

 

What It Looked Like Wednesday: Delaware at Sanders, 1959

By Steve Cichon
steve@buffalostories.com
@stevebuffalo

These days, from the corner of Delaware and Sanders, you can see what is arguably Buffalo’s most suburban-looking few blocks of modern development. To the left is Target, Office Max, Moe’s and Applebee’s. To the right is Starbucks and Walgreens.

Buffalo News archives

In the late 1950s, the same view included, among other differences, the overpass and tracks of the DL&W Railroad. It was the removal of those tracks — along with Benderson Development’s purchase of the nearby 13-acre Atlas Steel plant, the 8-acre Bucholtz Aviation heliport, and several smaller, Delaware Avenue-facing businesses (including Sher-Del Foods, a self-service car wash, Mr. Oil Change, Kenmore Builder’s Supply and two parcels belonging to Tunmore Oldsmobile) — that allowed for the development of the area to its current level.

The building that was the home of Henry’s Food Market has been replaced by the building that was the home of a Goodwill retail store until they moved to 2625 Delaware Ave. in October. Henry’s sign is from Henel’s Dairy, which was a few blocks up Delaware in Kenmore near the corner of Delaware and Westgate, just past St. Paul’s Catholic church.

The large, high sign for Blue Coal Corp. can be seen beyond the no-longer-in-place viaduct. It stood approximately where Jim’s Steak-Out now stands.

The building for Delaware Camera Mart is new, but the business is a long-standing one — it’s the only local business captured in this photo that’s still at it.

Something else that would look similar both today and in 1959: a car dealership on the opposite corner of Sanders. In 1959, it was Tunmore Oldsmobile. Today, it’s a Basil used car lot.

What It Looked Like Wednesday: Delaware and Mang, 1915

By Steve Cichon
steve@buffalostories.com
@stevebuffalo

A pencil-written caption on the back of the photo reads “Delaware Ave, Kenmore, 1915.”

Buffalo News archives

The only other clues from the photo itself are the building with the mansard roof to the right, and the building in the foreground with the sign “State Bank.”

The State Bank of Kenmore was located at 2852 Delaware Avenue at the corner of Mang Avenue. From that corner, the building with the mansard roof — still standing — is much easier to find.

Looking off in the distance, one sees a streetcar and Model-Ts on a muddy Delaware Avenue. Certainly a different and more rural feel than the heart of the Village of Kenmore today.

Torn-Down Tuesday: Making way for the Manny’s Supper Club parking lot

By Steve Cichon
steve@buffalostories.com
@stevebuffalo

Norman Besso and his wife Rosemary opened Manny’s Supper Club on Delaware near Virginia in 1961.

Buffalo News archives

Following a fire in the former Shadow Restaurant in 1974, Besso had the structure on the corner — boarded up and covered with political signs — torn down in 1977 to make way for a parking lot.

Known for excellent cuts of steak, mussels ala Norman, and black bean soup for 32 years, Manny’s closed in 1993. It was three years later that artist Frank Cravotta painted the now landmark lion mural on the side of the building where Shadow once stood.

Buffalo in the ’90s: An era ending in Delaware Avenue shopping

By Steve Cichon
steve@buffalostories.com
@stevebuffalo

For generations, Buffalo’s best dressed women shopped on Delaware Avenue. That era was ending with the closing of Par Avion.

The last women’s shop in the area, Mabel Danahy, announced a move to Amherst in 1996. Pitt Petri was the last heritage retailer along Delaware Avenue when it closed in 2011:

April 21, 1994: Era fading on Delaware Avenue: Par Avion’s closing leaves just one women’s shop

“Alison F. Kimberly, owner and manager of Par Avion, which has operated at the corner of Delaware and Tupper since 1967, said she’ll close up shop at the end of May because “times have changed.”

“”Women are working during the day, not shopping,” Ms. Kimberly said.

“And when they do shop, their time is extremely limited, according to the veteran proprietor.

“They call up a catalog at 3 a.m. or they go to a mall where they can make one stop and save time,” she said. “The whole face of retailing has changed since we opened in the ’60s.””