Reprinted with permission as a public service by the Landmark Society of the Niagara Frontier, now the Preservation Buffalo Niagara
Throughout the 1850s, the city's German population began to push further east towards the area of Jefferson Avenue. At that time, virtually all the land in that area remained forested, with streams and ponds located amongst the thick growth of trees and brush. Batavia Road (Broadway) cut a wide swath through the area, but as the conditions did not warrant it, very few people elected to live so far out in the city.
With the heavy influx of immigrants to the city in the 1850s, many of the established houses of worship there were becoming increasingly crowded. In the Fall of 1857, Steven Van Rensselaer Watson, owner of a large portion of the land east of Jefferson escorted Bishop Timon of the Catholic Diocese out to this countryside. The Bishop was very interested in establishing a parish to ease crowding in Saint Mary's church downtown. He also desired to organize a college in conjunction with the church.
Realizing the importance of the house of worship as a social outlet for the Germans of the city, Watson offered a sizable parcel of land to the diocese for the establishment of one. As people were more likely to settle as a group in an area where a house of worship is located, he felt that the success of his ambitions to develop the area as a residential district were:closely tied to the Bishop's decision. In a prime example of the house of worship influencing the desires of a group of people and their desires to reside somewhere, the establishment of Saint Anne's parish in 1858 served as the catalyst for the growth of the neighborhood. With the initial house of worship complete, Germans soon began building homes on the newly planned streets surrounding the building.
As more and more people settled in the area, the population quickly spread to the north and to the east. To the north, Michael Fox a local contractor, worked to fill the ditches and gullies in the area, preparing for the settlement of the neighborhoods now located there. In the 1880s and 1890s he was instrumental in developing the neighborhood along Broadway where Fox Street is now located. The small cottages he built originally were sold to working class immigrants arriving in the city at that time.
© 1995 James Napora
Page by Chuck LaChiusa with the assistance of David Torke
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