Torn-Down Tuesday: The Danahy Meat Packing Co. in the 1890s

By Steve Cichon
steve@buffalostories.com
@stevebuffalo

As one of America’s livestock trading centers in the late 1880s, Buffalo was also packed with meat packers. The areas around the Buffalo Stockyards and each of Buffalo’s public markets (Washington/Chippewa, Elk, Broadway, and Clinton/Bailey) had more than an average number of meat-packing businesses.

Buffalo News archives

The caption written on the reverse of this photo says that it was taken in the yards of Danahy Packing Co. at Seneca and Smith streets in 1870.

In 1894, Danahy built a two-story stable on Metcalfe at Clinton. The original wooden structure burned and was rebuilt in 1898. Alderman James Franklin was there for the big celebration and grand re-opening, and had the honor of “killing the first porker” at the “pig sticking party.”

The written account of the slaughter was quite graphic. Alderman Franklin discarded his coat, vest, shirt, collar, tie and cuffs, rolled up his pant legs, and slipped into an oilskin apron. He watched as the 300-pound hog was hoisted up by its hind legs. “Then outshot the aldermanic arm, and the keen blade sunk into the pig’s throat.”

“Don’t cheer, boys,” Franklin said to those gathered after wielding the knife, “the poor devil is dying.”

A large contingent of VIPs then retired from the “killing room” to a “well-prepared luncheon.”

“Long tables were covered with celery, radishes, sliced ham and bread, and kegs of cold beer and cases of pop were handy in case anybody should by chance be overtaken by thirst.”

(As an entirely unrelated aside, it’s interesting to note that the people of Buffalo have referred to carbonated beverages as “pop” and not “soda” since at least 1898.)

Both former locations of Danahy Packing are now a vacant lot.

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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.