What It Looked Like Wednesday: Three nights of drinking in South Buffalo, 1977

By Steve Cichon

In the year of the big blizzard, the iconic Buffalo News tavern and music critic Dale Anderson counted 17 bars on Seneca Street between Elk Street and the city line.

Buffalo Stories archives/Steve Cichon collection

He visited or at least talked about 10 different gin mills along Seneca Street and Abbott Road, including four within a block of where this photo was snapped at Seneca and Cazenovia streets. Here are a few of the places talked about, with a more current status:

  • Terry & Wilbur’s — 1944 Seneca St. at Mineral Springs. Across Seneca Street from Rite-Aid in the large building on the corner.
  • JP McMurphy’s — 2126 Seneca St. Formerly Maloney’s — an old railroad man bar. Recently D-Bird’s and Brandy’s Pub.
  • Early Times — 2134 Seneca St. Now the Blackthorn Pub.
  • Falcon Eddie’s — formerly Jack & Ester’s Schuper House—2143 Seneca St. Now the site of Dollar General. (I also have to mention that my great-grandparents lived upstairs.)
  • The Sky Room — on the top floor of the old Shea’s Seneca building. You’d drive into it if you drove straight through the Cazenovia Street intersection.
  • Fibber Magee’s — 2340 Seneca St. Recently Mr. Sports Bar, near Duerstein.
  • Klavoon’s — 81 Abbott Road, currently Griffin’s Irish Bar
  • Stankey’s Café — 107 Abbott Road, now Jordan’s Ale House
  • Smitty’s — 474 Abbott Road, now Doc Sullivan’s. Smitty’s was famous for the unique tangy wing recipe created by Carol O’Neill at the bar. You can still order Smitty-style wings at Doc’s and many other South Buffalo taverns.

Now armed with a better sense of where these places were, here’s Dale’s original tale of three nights of drinking in South Buffalo 39 years ago.

Torn-down Tuesday: 1890s Buffalo in the footprint of Marine Midland Tower

By Steve Cichon

For many of us, imagining what Buffalo looked like before the urban renewal efforts of the 1950s, ’60s, and ’70s can be tough.

Buffalo News archives

Perhaps one of the most difficult ideas to grasp is that the area we now call “Canalside” and the area we think of as “downtown” were really a single continuous area without any sort of distinct border.

The massive Skyway/I-190 complex of elevated roadways and interchanges make far more of a statement than the previous few elevated railbeds in the same footprint did.

The several block imprint of the Marine Midland Tower also acts as a psychological “You Are Now Leaving Downtown” sign for anyone trying to walk from the business district to the inner harbor.

This 1890s photo was taken in the 100 block of Main Street. These buildings once stood in the massive area now filled with One Seneca Tower, which was known as Marine Midland Tower when it opened as Buffalo’s tallest building in 1970, and later known as HSBC Tower, when Marine Midland Bank was sold.

Some of the businesses visible in this photo include one still in operation.

Scheeler & Sons, at 145 Main St., became Buffalo Wire Works in 1903. The plant is now on Clinton Street in Buffalo.

Buffalo Stories archives

Two doors down at 139 Main is Russell & Watson. Founder William Russell came to Buffalo in 1830 at the age of 3 on a canal boat with his parents, settling on the outskirts of the city at what is now Huron and Franklin, a block south of Chippewa Street. One of his favorite memories of youth was hunting squirrels with his father around what is now Delaware and Huron.  He started selling ship and hotel supplies at this location in 1859. He died at 92 in 1919.

The saloon at 131 Main St. was a pretty rough and tumble place in the 1890s.

Following a brawl inside the gin mill in 1896, 16 men were arrested. First Precinct police needed two wagon trips to haul in all the offenders.  The men spent the night in lockup before being fined $5 apiece at sunrise court.