The History of Buffalo: A Chronology
Buffalo, New York
1914-1928

1664
1679
1689

1721

1722
1759
1774
1775
1780
1785
1786
1788
1789
1790
1791
1792
1793
1794
1795
1797
1798
1800
1801
1802
1803
1804
1805
1806
1807
1808
1809
1810
1811
1812
1813
1814
1815
1816
1817
1818
1819
1820
1821
1822
1823
1824
1825
1826
1827
1828
1829
1830
1831
1832
1833
1834
1835
1836
1837
1838
1839
1840
1841
1843
1844
1845
1846
1847
1848
1849
1850
1851
1852
1853
1854
1855
1856
1857
1858
1859
1860
1861
1862
1863
1864
1865
1866
1867
1868
1869
1870
1871
1872
1873
1874
1875
1876
1877
1878
1879
1880
1881
1882
1883
1884
1885
1886
1887
1888
1889
1890
1891
1892
1893
1894
1895
1896
1897
1898
1899
1900
1901
1902
1903
1904
1905
1906
1907
1908
1909
1910
1911
1912
1913
1914
1915
1916
1917
1918
1919
1920
1921
1922
1923
1924
1925
1926
1927
1928

1929
1930
1931
1932
1933
1934
1935
1936
1937
1938
1939
1940
1941
1942
1943
1944
1945
1946
1947
1948
1949
1950
1951
1952
1953
1954
1955
1956
1957
1958
1959
1960
1961
1962
1963
1964
1965
1966 1967
1968
1969
1970
1971
1972
1973
1974
1975
1976
1977
1978
1979
1980
1981
1982
1983
1984
1985
1986
1987
1988
1989
1990
1991
1992
1993
1994
1995
1996
1997
1998
1999
2000
2001
2002
INDEX

1914

Appendix and index to Volume 18 of the Buffalo Historical Society Publications Reprinted by Cornell U.


1914-1918 World War I: Some individuals are able to profit from the war. Prior to 1914 most the coal tar dyes used in America were imported from Germany. Following the Allied blockade of Germany, Americans began to turn to domestic dye makers. None benefited more from this turn of events than the Schoellkopf's National Aniline and Chemical Company, the largest dye plant in the country. National Aniline got even bigger during the war as coal dyes were used increasingly for the manufacture of high explosives and poison gases.


W.W.I and African Americans: For years the traditional source of cheap labor for the steel mills of Lackawanna had been eastern Europe. In 1910 over half of the work force was Slavic. The war ends this, however, and in their place come a rapidly growing number of southern blacks who have begun to trek northward to Chicago, Cleveland, Lackawanna, and the other industrial centers of the Northeast.

There had always been some blacks in Lackawanna. Never a part of the regular labor force, blacks had lived on the fringes of the town, working periodically, primarily as maintenance men and as outdoor laborers in and around the mill. Their only break came during strikes when, if they could survive the bitter and brutal responses of the strikers, they found work, however temporary, inside the plant itself.

This dreadful and divisive situation began to change during the war. Now, for the first time, blacks, as a result of an increasingly serious labor shortage, were entering the labor force. Now, however, they came not as janitors and strikebreakers but rather as bona fide industrial workers.


Buildings erected:
  • 452 Parkside Ave.
  • Clement House/Red Cross Building
  • Assumuption RC Church
  • Concrete Central grain elevator - the largest grain elevator in the world - built.

  • John G. Sattler - a local real-estate tycoon and the same Sattler who owned the late department store - commissions the Sattler Theatre at 516 Broadway, near Jefferson. The architect is Henry L. Spann who will later design the Shea's North Park Theatre, which still (2002) operates on Hertel Avenue.

  • Architect Henry L. Spann also designs the Abbott Theatre which is a 498-seat nickelodeon built by James S. and Florence D. Savage.

  • The Circle Theatre, at 444 Connecticut Street, also opens its doors for business. In early 1962 Fred Keller will lease the theatre and rename it the Circle Arts, but a year or so later he will lose the lease and move to the Varsity Theatre on Bailey and takes the Circle Arts name with him.

1915

Appendix and Index to Volume 19 of the Buffalo Historical Society Publications Reprinted by Cornell U.


The area bounded by Michigan, Jefferson, Broadway, and William Streets has lost most of its original German population, and is now inhabited primarily by Jewish immigrants from Russia and Poland. For them, as well as for the other immigrant groups who have lived there, the East Side neighborhood is only a temporary home.



Glenn H. Curtiss comes to Buffalo and rents the Thomas Flyer Automobile Manufacturing Plant on Niagara Street. This is where he develops the R-model airplane which will be the forerunner of the famous Curtiss "Jenny." Curtiss soon moves to a plant he builds on Churchill Street. He also rents several other facilities and ultimately builds the plant at 2050 Elmwood Avenue.

At the close of World War 1, Curtiss will build four flying boats capable of trans-ocean flight. These boats will be the first NC series, and the NC-4 well be eventually successful in circling the globe.



Elbert Hubbard dies on Luisitania.



Col. Francis Ward Pumping Station - largest pumping station in the country - completed


Buildings erected:

1916

University of Buffalo: Chancellor Charles Norton persuades Seymour Knox (who had made a fortune with the Woolworths in the dimestore business) to makes lavish gift of a quarter of a million dollars for the establishment for a liberal arts college at the University of Buffalo.


The Curtiss Aeroplane and Motor Company becomes the largest aircraft manufacturer in the world during World War I and goes public in 1916 with Curtiss as president. Curtiss employs 18,000 at its Buffalo facility and 3,000 at its Hammondsport, New York location. They produce 10,000 aircraft during World War I, more than 100 in a single week.

The Curtiss "Jenny," America's most famous World War I airplane, was developed by combining the best features of the Curtiss "J" and "N" models. The JN-3 was modified in 1916 to improve its performance and redesignated the JN-4. With America's entry into World War I on April 6, 1917, the Signal Corps began ordering large quantities of JN-4s, and by the time production was terminated after the Armistice, more than 6,000 had been delivered, the majority of them JN-4D.

The Jenny was generally used for primary flight training, but some were equipped with machine guns and bomb racks for advanced training. After World War I, hundreds were sold on the civilian market.



George Birge, the president of the Pierce-Arrow Company, sells the company to a group of investors from New York City for $16.5 million. Local managers, most of whom had worked with the company since 1901 are immediately dismissed and replaced by a new team from New York.

Sensing that a dramatic increase in production is the only way to compete in the rapidly expanding automobile industry. the new owners replace the traditional Pierce Arrow method of team production with an assembly line. The nature of work changes, too, for as mechanization and the assembly line are introduced. skilled work which comprised nearly three-fourths of all jobs in the automobile industry in 1910,declines drastically in the twenties, as the emphasis shifts to speed and efficiency in production.
1917

1917 - Online Buffalo City Directories - LINKS (BuffaloResearch.com)


Participation of the Buffalo historical society in the Erie canal centenary, celebrated at Rome, N. Y., July 4, 1917 Reprinted by Cornell U.

Glenn Curtiss opens a 31-acre factory at 2050 Elmwood Avenue (in 2002, it houses the M. Wile Clothing Co. and Home Depot building). It is the largest airplane manufacturing plant in the world.


Buildings erected:

1918

Following the end of the World war I (1914-1918), a nationwide influenza epidemic affects Western New York also.



In 1918 the Schoellkopf family of Buffalo consolidates two separate small power companies into the Niagara Falls Power Company, which immediately becomes one of the largest in the country.


Buildings erected:

1919

Buildings erected:

1920

The lower East Side is to Buffalo what it is to New York City: the neighborhood of entry for every one of the city's immigrants. For them, as well as for the other immigrant groups who have lived there, the East Side neighborhood is only a temporary home.

Jewish: During the 1920s many of the Jewish residents of the East Side, some of whom have been there for less than ten years, begin to move to newer and nicer neighborhoods in more northerly sections of Buffalo. See Jewish-American History in Buffalo

African-Americans: In 1920, 4,500 blacks move to Buffalo to fill the labor shortage; in 1930, 13,500 will migrate to buffalo. Virtually all move to the lower East Side, where there had been a small but consistent black community since the late 1820s.

In the 1920s, responding to the needs of the growing population, black-owned enterprises suddenly proliferate. Hotels, nightclubs, funeral parlors, cleaners, drug stores, restaurants, candy stores, saloons, and a Negro baseball team are some of them. Examples:

  • Sherman Walker's Funeral Home
  • Ruth-Patrick Drug Company
  • My Cab Company
  • McAvoy Theater

Self-help groups within the black community also flourish during the twenties. One of the earliest is the Colored Musicians' Union of Buffalo, founded in 1917 by black musicians who have been denied
membership in the white musicians' local. In addition, there are

  • a grocery cooperative
  • several Negro lodges
  • the Negro Businessmen's League
  • the American Colored Workmen's League
  • a chapter of Marcus Garvey's United Negro Improvement Association
  • the Big Brothers' Association (founded by older, established East Side blacks to help ease the settlement problems of the new southern migrants), and
  • the Michigan Avenue YMCA, built in 1926 by a local black architect named John R. Brent.

In the 1920s, while there is no black-owned bank, the community does boast several newspapers: The Buffalo Enterprise, the Buffalo American, the Buffalo Criterion and the Voice. Abandoned by every other ethnic group that had ever lived there, the lower East Side has remained black to this day. - Source: Mark Goldman, "High Hopes: The Rise and Decline of Buffalo, New York." Pub. by State U. of New York Press, Albany, 1983



Throughout the 1920s Buffalo's economy is dynamic and diversified, healthy and strong. The older industries - grain, steel, and lumber - employ more people and produce a larger finished product than ever before.


Associated Buffalo Architects Inc., a collective of local architects, was organized in 1920 with Charles S. Wood as President. Such prominent Buffalo architects as E. B. Green, Duane Lyman, Frederick Backus and Max Beierl were members, assisting in the collaboration on each school building design. The Association contracted with the Board of Education for the design and supervision of school building construction. From 1921 to 1925 the Association constructed public schools no. 3, 11, 31, 45, 64, 65, 66, 68, 70 and Bennett High School.


C. 1920, cement companies that laid out sidewalks switched from identifying brass markers to stamps.



15,000 people worke in twelve automobile factories



The 1920s see the rise of the chemical industry in Buffalo and nearby Niagara Falls. Within a period of a few years a whole new industry is born. Spawning companies whose impersonal names make no reference to either place or person - Carborundum, Niacet, Canadium, Vanadium, and the Alox Chemical Corporation (Hooker, named after the company's founder, is an exception) - the petrochemical industry, located in Niagara Falls, employs over fifteen hundred people by the end of the decade.

They choose Niagara Falls because that is where the electrical power is. Initially developed by Jacob Schoellkopf, the German immigrant who had made his first fortune in the tanning business, the business of producing and selling electrical power at Niagara Falls has become a gigantic enterprise by the 1920s.

Nothing. indeed, is more responsible for the accelerated development of the Buffalo region as an industrial center than the availability of cheap and plentiful electrical power . - Source: Mark Goldman, "High Hopes: The Rise and Decline of Buffalo, New York." Pub. by State U. of New York Press, Albany, 1983, p. 216


Buildings erected:

1921

Gregory Deck opens the first enclosed Deco restaurant at 24 West Eagle at Pearl.


As the Roaring Twenties begin, the Pierce-Arrow line is completely overhauled. The basic line of three chassis, the 38hp, the 48hp, and the huge 66hp, are replaced with a single product. First introduced in 1920 as the Series 32, minor changes in late 1921 transform the car into the Series 33.

The Series 33 remains Pierce-Arrow's flagship model through the mid-twenties, continuing in production through early 1926. It will be replaced in 1927 and 1928 with the Series 36, which will share much of the same chassis, but will have new sheet metal.



G. Elias & Bro., Inc., an established lumber company, builds airplanes on Seneca Street in Buffalo during the early 1920s. The company is the first to build a cantilever biplane and an aerodynamic twin-engined night bomber. They also pioneer the use of duraluminum in Americana aircraft, and introduce the swinging engine mount and the detachable power plant. Elias will be best known in the industry as a producer of propellers.
Buildings erected:

1922

Steel industry: In October 1922, Bethlehem Steel, the second largest steel company in the United States, acquires Lackawanna Steel for $60 million. The Lackawanna plant, already over twenty years old, has become antiquated. The company had made few improvements, and was quickly falling behind newer plants in other parts of the country. Bethlehem buys it cheap and, banking on a docile and defeated work force, spends over $40 million during the 1920s modernizing the plant. Bethlehem is interested in the growing automobile market. Buffalo, with a significant automobile industry of its own and with easy access to Detroit and other market places, is viewed as a crucial node in the developing geography of the automobile industry.


Republic Steel enlarges its operations, and several medium-sized companies also settle in Western New York.



Buffalo's first radio station, WGR, begins regular programming.



Mary Bumett Talbert receives the Spingarn Medal from the NAACP. This award is the highest honor given to a citizen by the NAACP.


Buildings erected:
1923

Delaware Avenue Association organized.
The Association succeeds in 1924 in having the city widen the avenue from Niagara Square almost up to North Street. The widening of the roadway from forty feet to sixty feet will be accompanied by the laying of new sewer lines, the placement of traffic signals, and the installation at one-hundred-foot intervals of 1500-candlepower electric light standards.

The modernization of the avenue, however, will occasion the destruction of most of the splendid elm trees that had lined the thoroughfare, two rows on each side, since even before Olmsted's day.



Mary Talbert, civil rights leader, dies.


Garrett A. Morgan invents the traffic signal.


The first city bus service begins along Bailey Avenue.



General Motors Company builds a factory in the city.


Buildings erected:
1924

The Delaware Avenue Association (organized in 1923) succeeded in 1924 in having the city widen the avenue from Niagara Square almost up to North Street. The widening of the roadway from forty feet to sixty feet was accompanied by the laying of new sewer lines, the placement of traffic signals, and the installation at one-hundred-foot intervals of 1500-candle-power electric light standards. The modernization of the avenue, however, occasioned the destruction of most of the splendid elm trees that had lined the thoroughfare, two rows on each side, since even before Olmsted's day. The effort by many citizens both on and off the avenue -- including artist Charles Burchfield, who had come to town in 1923 to work in the Birge wallpaper factory -- to stay the massacre of the trees was to no avail. ... It was the first of many preservation battles that were doomed to fail in a city that, like many others, came to pride itself on the destruction of its distinctive charms in the name of jobs and progress.

- Source: "Delaware Avenue," by Francis R. Kowsky, in The Grand Avenue, pub. by Pomegranate Artbooks, 1994, p. 159



Reuben H. Fleet merges two out-of-state aircraft companies and established his Consolidated Aircraft Corporation in the former Curtiss factory on Elmwood Avenue. Among the many airplanes developed is the world famous PB2Y Catalina navy flying boat.


The Johnson Immigration Restriction Act, favored by die-hards throughout the United States, threatens to end completely the whole character of American immigration. The law is a direct assault on the eastern European Catholic and Jewish communities in cities throughout the Northeast. A major source of urban vitality is ending.
  • The number of Poles permitted to immigrate drops from 26,000 to 9,000 a year,
  • Italians from 42,000 to 4,000,
  • Czechs from 14,000 to 2,000,
  • Hungarians from 5,000 to 688, and
  • Greeks from 3,000 to 235.

Read about Buffalo's Joseph Braun's attempt to defeat the defeat the bill in Jewish-American History in Buffalo


Buildings erected:
1925

The path of the Erie Canal passes directly through the heart of the downtown busines district. It is filled in and paved over. On it is built a fixty-six-foot-wide highway with four traffic and two parking lanes.


Buildings erected:

1926

Buildings erected:


The Curtiss-Wright Aeroplane Company, which moved to Buffalo in 1914, by the mid-1920s employs over two thousand people producing over 150 planes a year, into the largest plane manufacturing company in the world. Buffalo has quickly become the center of the nation's airplane industry.

1927

William Evans founds the Buffalo Urban League.


Buildings erected:

1928

After operating at a loss during the 1920s, the Pierce Arrow Company is bought by Studebaker


Buildings erected:

See also:



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