Off Broadway: Part 4: Buffalo Rising

This is a sequel to the “Off Broadway” article that was published last December. These are the memories of Alex Ramsey, who grew up on the East Side of the city. Interestingly, he has lived in Texas since 1977, but his fondest memories are from his youth. Alexander was born in 1956.

“The cohesion of the neighborhood itself made it a really special time and place to grow up.”

Our immediate neighborhood on Broadway at the time was quite unique in that virtually every immediate need was available within roughly walking distance. Not to mention a little further down Broadway, Sattler’s (everyone from Buffalo knows 998 Broadway!), The Broadway Market, Neisner’s, Kobacker’s, United Surplus & Western Auto stores, Al Cohen’s Bakery, Burczynski Bakery @ The Market and Stanislaus Street (etc., etc.) between Memorial Drive and Bailey Avenue.

Including the side streets, there were about 35-40 taverns, literally. We also had Bells, IGA, P&D Market, a cobbler, a wedding dress shop, a TV and repair shop, Giza and Kaminski Delis, 2 or 3 beauty salons (as they were called then, for women) , at least 4 hair salons, Chmielewski Bakery, a dry cleaning shop, 3 gas stations (which actually employed mechanics at the time), a fire station, Bflo PD Precinct #11 on Bailey, 3 stores liquor stores, a Wagner collapsible box factory, 2 laundromats, a small grocery store on B’Way & Liddell Streets, 5-6 phone booths, 2 milk machines, a vending machine, a Wolf furniture store and the Cisco coffee.

There was another cafe on Bailey Ave. and a Mars cafe on Bailey, Mule Town Lumber Yard, auto/home insurance agencies, travel agent office, PS#44, St. Joachim and St. John Cantius Catholic Churches and Schools. Lincoln Cinema on Titus and B’Way. A funeral home, Liberty Florist, Modern Auto (car and bike store), Mazurek’s Hardware Store, Johnny & Jimmy (from TV’s Dialing for Dollars) had a music store (instruments and lessons), a doctor’s office and a dentist’s office, camera store and coin store, lamp store, Paner’s Market (before Bells arrived), Maleki slaughterhouse and meat distributor (before Bells arrived), 2 pharmacies, a dance studio…

All of that, and maybe a few that I forgot… all strewn along Broadway. The central terminal was a fully functional RR station. All this and more, right between Memorial Dr. and Bailey Ave! Most merchants lived in their buildings and had additional apartments for tenants like my family (at Club Romway). We lived upstairs at the back – Rommel street side. Pete and Steffi Niechewski lived upstairs across the street and owned and operated the bar. All were hard-working merchants, providing goods and services, housing for tenants – all tax-paying citizens of our little neighborhood. Things are very different these days. I lived there at a very special time. I was a lucky kid. But who knows… I heard there was a rise in this part of town?

In fact, a little birdie told me that queenseyes were planning on visiting a newly opened cafe on Broadway today… so we’ll see what it’s all about later. Many old buildings are gone, but that doesn’t mean there can’t be proper infill. Once you start connecting the dots, businesses might come back. Hopefully, the revitalization of Central Terminal and the Broadway Marketplace will help revitalize the neighborhood. Malls have fallen out of favor, which could open the door for some small businesses to return, although Amazon is a whole different story. It will be interesting to see what unfolds in the years to come. But he will start by opening a small pub (Eugene V. Debs Hall), then a cafe (stay tuned), a renovated building, etc. There is a spark. Now Buffalo must fan the flame.

“Off Broadway” Part III

“Off Broadway” Part II

“Off Broadway” Part I

Main image: Me, sitting on Santa’s lap at Sattler’s department store (998 Broadway) in 1960

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