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33-A Historic Corridor of Commerce and Finance (1995)
Narrative by - David M. Rote
The original village of Buffalo grew up around the Central Wharf on the Buffalo River (then called Buffalo Creek) and the heart of the village's commercial district encompassed the present lower Main Street and the area known as The Terrace (approximately where the Memorial Auditorium stands today). As new residents arrived and new businesses opened up, the village expanded northward to the area known as Ellicott Square, the anchor around which the growing commercial and financial district was to ultimately attach itself. This massive building, erected in 1895-96 and occupying one city block, was designed by Charles Atwood for the D.H. Burnham Company and was the largest office building in the world when completed. The Central Court with its glass canopy, colorful mosaic floor and wrought iron railings remains a spectacular showcase to this very day.
South of Ellicott Square, known as the Harvey Block where Bernstone's Cigar Emporium and New Trend Restaurant stand today, was the old Third National Bank and its neighbor Keith's Theatre, long gone. The Stanton Building (also called the Dennis Building) still stands, with its restored cast iron facade reminding us of Buffalo's dominant role in iron production at the turn of the century. Beyond the Stanton Building was the New Academy Theatre, a fixture on Main Street for over 100 years, which gave way to the present Roblin Building.
The red and white brick Main-Seneca Building was formerly the headquarters of Marine Bank founded in Buffalo in 1850. Straddling Main Street rises the 40 story, 530 foot tower of the present Marine headquarters, which stands adjacent to the site once occupied by The Buffalo News.
Returning northward, at the corner of Seneca and Main Streets, stood the grey granite Bank of Buffalo with its unique glass dome and its neighbor the Chamber of Commerce Building, which occupied the site of the original Wells, Fargo office in Buffalo. Both of these memorable landmarks are no longer present.
The Barnes, Bancroft and Company building, dating from 1875, was the early home of the William Hengerer Company and where we now find the Merchant's Mutual Insurance Company, a restaurant and a number of offices which include law, real estate and accounting firms.
The imposing Townsend block, which once stood at the southwest corner of Main and Swan Streets, served as the gathering place of the Fenians, who attempted an ill-fated invasion of Canada in June of 1866. Later this was the site of the Federal Reserve Bank, whose fluted columns may now be seen on the University at Buffalo's Amherst Campus alongside Lake LaSalle at Baird Point.
On the northwest corner is seen the Fidelity Trust Building, on the site of the Weed Block, which was the headquarters of M&T Bank for many years. Its neighbor is the White Building, opposite the Ellicott Square entrance, which was home to the original J.N. Adam department store. Directly next door was the famous Hughes Coffee Shop which is remembered by many as a step back into Buffalo's living history.
© 2001-2011 City of Buffalo
Photos by Angel Art LTP, compliments of the Greater Buffalo Convention and Visitors Bureau. Additional photos by Adrian Roselli, compliments of Algonquin Studios