What it looked like Wednesday: Hertel flooded out at Colvin, 1959

By Steve Cichon

Unless you lived in a time when Hertel and Colvin still looked like this, there are very few clues to orient yourself to this view in 2016.

Buffalo Stories archives

The buildings in the immediate foreground have been replaced by the Sunoco gas station. The first building still standing is the old post office. The current Gabel’s building is also easily identifiable on the next block up at Crestwood Avenue.

Some of the signs can be made out on the businesses, others can’t, but the listing from the 1959 City Directory offers some explanation. The odd side of the street is shown.

1959 City Directory. (Buffalo Stories archives)

The photo was taken as an icy January was hit by a wind storm bringing warmer air and flood waters to much of Western New York.

It was during this same week that the SS Michael Tewksbury slammed into the Michigan Avenue bridge after winds blew it away from its moorings. The 20-year-old lift bridge in the shadow of the General Mills plant was completely destroyed.

Buffalo News archives

The gale and flash floods left millions of dollars of damage, with South Buffalo and Lackawanna hard hit. Six feet of water filled the Republic Steel plant on South Park Avenue, and the shutdown of the two blast furnaces and nine open hearths made costs climb into the millions alone.


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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.