Torn-Down Tuesday: Seneca at Washington, 1890

By Steve Cichon
steve@buffalostories.com
@stevebuffalo

Just a block away from Main Street, Washington Street has been the backbone of Buffalo’s backbone for parts of three centuries.

Buffalo News archives

This photo offers a real flavor for what Buffalo was like leading up to the Pan-American Exposition. Tightly packed buildings and tightly packed sidewalks with plenty of people rushing around one of America’s great modern metropolitan spaces.

The photo also shows a bit of presidential history. Eighteen years before this photo was snapped, Grover Cleveland — who was between his two nonconsecutive terms as president — got into a fist fight with a political rival who called him a liar.

The fight between Cleveland and Mike Falvey, it was said, started in the gutter at Washington and Seneca — the intersection pictured — and wound up at Gillig’s Wine Merchants for a makeup session of drinking. Gillig’s was right next door to St. John’s Episcopal Church, which can be seen in the distance to the right.

Today, the corner looks a bit different, to say the least.

First, Seneca Street now ends at Washington. There’s the complication of a ballpark having been built there. Gillig’s – where President Cleveland made peace after his pugilist exploits — stood about where the Mayor Griffin statue now stands at Washington near Swan.

The original Glenny Building — visible to the left — burned down in 1905, but was then rebuilt. That building has recently been the site of $6.9 million in renovations  with plans for 36 downtown apartments to open there soon.

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Steve Cichon

Steve Cichon is a proud Buffalonian helping the world experience the city he loves. writing about the people, places, and ideas that make Buffalo unique and special. The storyteller and historian has written six books, worn bow ties since the 80s, and is the News Director at WECK Radio. A 25 year Buffalo media veteran, Steve's contributed more than 1400 Buffalo History stories to The Buffalo News, worked at WIVB-TV, Empire Sports Network, and spent ten years as a newsman and News Director at WBEN Radio. He's also put his communication skills to work as an adjunct professor, a producer of PBS documentaries, and even run for Erie County Clerk. Steve's Buffalo roots run deep: all eight of his great-grandparents called Buffalo home, with his first ancestors arriving here in 1827.