When this photo of Bailey Avenue was taken just north of Kensington Avenue in 1913, though development was on the way, it was still a mostly rural area.
The residential Bailey-Kensington section first jumped on the radar with the cutting up of the Sawyer farm into city blocks in 1892. Plans for street cars and electric streetlights were made as investors were encouraged to buy up blocks of plots at a time.
In 1902, when the intersection was still a long ride out to the country, the City of Buffalo briefly considered the site for a quarantine hospital. Developers who owned neighboring land, however, objected to the building of a “pest house” to house smallpox victims, which was sure to decrease their property values.
Several years later with the smallpox hospital built elsewhere, the Mueller farm, which filled the Bailey-Eggert area, also began subdivision into lots. The Eckert farm at Bailey-Kensington’s northeast corner was developed also.
Growth picked up considerably in the district in 1915 when the International Railway Company invested $120,000 in new streetcar tracks along Kensington and Grider Street.
Kensington-Bailey was still growing in 1926 when the Buffalo Times wrote, “The City government should show more militant recognition of the necessities of the Kensington-Bailey section. That district is destined to a large share in the era which is creating a new greater Buffalo.”
The IRC, International Railway Company, was the forerunner of the NFTA in providing mass transit options in the City of Buffalo and some surrounding areas. Caring for more than 400 miles of track and several hundred individual streetcars left the IRC chronically in debt and left the transit rail infrastructure chronically in a poor state of repair.
In 1928, The Buffalo Courier looked around the city at six different areas where the IRC was updating tracks and surrounding pavement around the city. Here’s what those areas looked like then and now.
A great scene of typical life in Buffalo from 70 years ago shows how entirely different life was in Buffalo such a short time ago. Streetcars, men wearing wide-brimmed hats, billboards in Polish, all in a Buffalo/Cheektowaga city line neighborhood where they’d all be unrecognizable today.
The billboard was for “Polish Everybody’s Daily,” as the Polish daily newspaper “Dziennik dla Wszystkich” was known to English speakers. The heart says “40 years of building the might of Buffalo,” which by any measure was true.
Publisher Frank Ruszkiewicz called his daily “the only paper necessary in the Polish territory.” Not only was it read by 30,000 Polish speakers in Sloan, Black Rock and East Buffalo, it was also the organ by which community was built among Buffalo’s Polish population.
Through the 1950s, the paper was hurt by a dwindling number of people who wanted their daily news in Polish. A two-day strike of mechanical workers in 1954 caused a setback as well. The final writing was on the wall when “Everybody’s Daily” was making front page news in the city’s other newspapers.
A trade official of the Communist government in Poland who defected to the West said today that Communists in Poland are using the Polish language newspaper in Buffalo, Everybody’s Daily, as a propaganda outlet in the U. S. – Buffalo Evening News, May 16, 1957
The publisher and the editor of paper vehemently denied the charges, but it was the final blow. The last edition of the paper was printed in August 1957, a few weeks short of the paper’s 50th anniversary.
To alleviate any question of how a Polish language billboard would have been received at the corner, a 1946 want ad for Eddie’s Bakery, shown left in the top photo, calls for a sales girl: Polish preferred.
The building at the left on the 1948 photo, still standing at 1096 Walden, was a bakery for decades. Eventually known as the Walden Bakery, at the time of the photo, it was Eddie’s Bakery, owned by Eddie Olejniczak. For almost 30 years it was the EF Kuntz Bakery – but at one time, it was more than just bread and pastries.
At the height of prohibition in 1926, Ernest and Gustav Kuntz were arrested on charges of manufacturing and possessing “high powered beer,” following a federal raid that turned up 60 bottles of beer, 80 gallons of cider and two quarts of whiskey inside the bakery.
The streetcar is on the last run of the number 6 Sycamore run. The blind, sharp angle was a traffic hazard, especially since it was an end-of-the-line turnaround for the Walden line. To use the “Y” turnaround and start heading back inbound, streetcar motormen had to blindly reverse into traffic.
In 1932, the Town of Cheektowaga petitioned the International Railway Company to reroute the line so that a loop turnaround could be built in a nearby field. At the height of a big snowstorm in December 1942, the snow-packed switches on the Y turnaround caused the street car to derail.
The end of the line for this end-of-the-line streetcar stop came in September 1948, when the Sycamore/Walden line was converted to buses. The last of Buffalo’s IRC streetcars were retired on July 1, 1950.