History of Grant / Amherst Area
By James Napora
The text below is reprinted with permission from
"Houses of Worship: A Guide to the Religious Architecture of Buffalo, New York," by James Napora. Page 153. Master of Architecture Thesis. Found at Buffalo Central Library NA5235 B8 N37 1995
With the completion of the Belt Line Railroad in 1883, theGrant/Amherst area became easily accessible from other parts of the city. Consequently, a number of industries chose to operate plants in the vicinity. Located near the new transportation line, Kittinger Furniture, Pierce Arrow Automobiles and Pratt and Letchworth Steel all became major sources of employment there.
Poles: Seeking to capitalize upon the need for workers, large numbers ofPolish immigrants, many formerly residing on the city's East Side, began to settle in the area. Being geographically isolated from Black Rock by the railroad tracks west of Military Road, the area developed as a unique ethnic enclave.
Many of the Polish residents had originally worshipped at St. Francis Xavier on East Street but as that parish had been founded by and for the German population, they never did feel welcome there.
The outcome of this resulted in the establishment of Assumption parish in 1888. With the creation of a spiritual center, many more Polish families began to settle in the area. By 1900, over 1.000 Polishmen and women resided here. This number increased to over 5.000 by 1915.
Hungarians: Second to the Poles in number, a Hungarian community developed inthe early years after 1900. The largest of three in the city, at one time they were served by a Hungarian bank and several real estate agents. Unlike the earlier wave of Hungarian immigrants who arrived in the United States to escape the oppression of the Hungarian Revolution in 1848-1849, the majority were laborers who left the country to better themselves economically. It is in this area that three of the five Hungarian houses of worship remain today.
Ukrainians: A third ethnic group, the Ukrainians, had formed a small community in this area. Supporting one Catholic church in the area, by 1920 they numbered almost 3.000 people.