The History Behind Some Of Buffalo’s Streets
Buffalo is a very historically significant city that had a major impact on New York State, the United States, and the world. From the Niagara River and Niagara Falls to being the terminus of the Erie Canal, Buffalo is a great place.
With Buffalo's rich history, there is also a great history to some of the streets in our city and the people they're named after.
Have you ever wondered how some of the streets in Buffalo got their names? I know I have; I've always been a big history person in general, and a Buffalo history person specifically. Some streets are pretty obvious like Jefferson, McKinley, Washington, etc.; we can all pretty well figure out who those streets were named after. However, what about Hodge Ave. or Knox Ave., those streets might be a little more difficult to know.
Here are a few streets and the history behind their names:
Many think that Lafayette Avenue is named after the French Revolutionary War General Marie-Joseph Paul Yves Roch Gilbert du Motier, Marquis de La Fayette, but it's not. Well, not directly. Lafayette Avenue as we know it is named after the Lafayette Presbyterian Church. That church, which was originally called the First Free Congregational Church, was located in Lafayette Square in downtown Buffalo on the spot where the Rand Building currently sits. When Lafayette Square took on its current name, which is after General Marquis de La Fayette, the church changed its name as well. When the church relocated to its current spot official decided to name the street after the church.
The man who laid out the original street pattern for the village of Buffalo would later have a building and street named after him. Joseph Ellicott was a land surveyor for the Dutch Holland Land Company and traveled to Buffalo in 1801 from their offices in Batavia, New York. At the time Ellicott wanted to name the village New Amsterdam but many of the residents, including Buffalo's first full-time resident Black Joe Hodge, preferred Buffalo Creek. Ellicott bought about 100 acres of Buffalo for himself, at a price of around $0.35/acre, that ran from Main Street down to Jefferson Ave, between Swan and Eagle. He remained in Western New York for most of his life before moving to NYC where he died in 1826.
William Tracey Bailey who was born in 1804, made his way to Western New York in the 1830s and quickly became a wood and stone baron who owned a large farm that was along what became Bailey Ave, between Dingens and Broadway. At the time that area was then considered the outskirts of Buffalo. Much of the wood and stone that was used to build up Buffalo came from Bailey's land. Bailey donated a large section of his land to the City of Buffalo and they decided to name the primary road that was built after him.
Mary B Talbert Boulevard
The street where the former Talbert Mall used to be is named after Mary Morris Burnett Talbert. Mrs. Talbert was an influential Buffalonian in the late 1800s and early 1900s. She hosted the members of the Niagara Movement in her home in 1905. The Niagara Movement is the predecessor organization to the NAACP, of which Talbert was a key member in its early days.
William L. Gaiter Parkway
Originally referred to as Northeast Parkway, it was named after the Buffalo Civil Rights activist William Luther Gaiter who was born in the outskirts of Selma, Alabama in the 1920s. Bill Gaiter relocated to the Buffalo area in the 1950s. Gaiter was a key member of the BUILD Organization, was among the primary people who organized the first Juneteenth celebration in Buffalo in 1976, and was named Buffalo Citizen of the year in 1988.
What are some streets that you know the history about? Tap That App and let us know