Symphony Circle - Table of Contents

Symphony Circle
Buffalo, NY

HISTORY Beneath Illustrations

Postcard: see larger size

2003 photo: view south

2012 photo:  view north

2012 photo - detail

2012 photo - detail

Symphony Circle was the finish line for races on Richmond Avenue before it was paved.

Richmond Avenue "Trotting"
A popular occurrence on the street was "Trotting." Displaced from Delaware Avenue as it developed into a residential and commercial district, Buffalo's society people would race their best thoroughbred horses along the street.
Source: "A History of the City of Buffalo," published by the The Buffalo Evening News, 1908

Symphony Circle was originally named The Circle by Buffalo Park System designers Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux in 1868.

They redesigned The Circle in 1874 to serve as a vital link of green space between The Front Park and Porter Avenue. From the Circle, the west Buffalo parkway design continued down Richmond Avenue to Bidwell Parkway, then to Lincoln Parkway, and finally terminated at Delaware Park.

The Circle was graded in 1874, and much of it was developed over the former Black Rock Cemetery (especially the northwest quadrant). The remains of Buffalonians buried there were re-interred in Forest Lawn Cemetery, but some of the pauper graves still remain.

The Circle's finishing touch came in 1879 when an ornate 5 light gas standard (photo above) was erected in the center of a circular flower bed island approximately 25-30 feet in diameter. In the 1890s the Circle became a finish line for spirited winter cutter (sleigh) races running down Richmond Avenue south from West Ferry Street. The island and light standard were removed in 1938 in deference to the automobile.

From the earliest days of the Circle this site was home to a greenhouse and some dwellings of modest size until the early 1890s. At that time, Truman Avery purchased all the grounds bordering this quadrant (3.5 acres) and built a palatial mansion.

In 1938, when the City of Buffalo was searching for a site for the new music hall to be erected as a memorial to retailer Edward L. Kleinhans' smother and wife, heirs to the estate of Mrs. Truman Avery offered the mansion to the City for a nominal sum.

The Circle was renamed Symphony Circle in 1958 because of its association with Kleinhans Music Hall and the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra.


For a more detailed history, see Chris Brown,  Olmsted's Corridor of Light, Buffalo NY 

Color photos and their arrangement 2012 Chuck LaChiusa
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