The History of Buffalo: A Chronology
Buffalo, New York
All-American Football Conference has its first season. It will merge with
the NFL after the 1949 season.
During the war Buffalo had become the center of the aircraft industry, the Seattle of its day, with millions of dollars in federal contracts. and thousands of its workers involved in the production of planes, engines, and their component parts. Buffalo prospered as long as the war continued and the government bought its planes. The end of the war signaled disaster.
In 1943 there were over 40,000 people working at Curtiss-Wright. By September 1945 the number had been reduced to 5,500 and the ripple was felt throughout the whole economy. By Christmas, 1946 there were over 80,000 people, close to fifteen percent of the area work force, without work.
Then, in early 1946, Curtiss-Wright announced that it was closing down almost all of its Buffalo operations. They were moving to Columbus, Ohio. They claimed they had nothing against Buffalo itself. It was simply a matter of space; they didn't need so much of it any more.
Bell Aircraft develops several rocket-powered planes, beginning with the X-1, first aircraft to break the sound barrier when Chuck Yeager flies at 760 mph on October 14.
Film about Buffalo-born Chauncey Olcott, "My Wild Irish Rose," released.
WBEN-TV, Channel 4, The Buffalo Evening News Television Station, begins broadcasting
Source: Vic Baker, "The First Television in Western New York..." in Spring 1998 "Western New York Heritage"
|City of Buffalo-owned Frank Lloyd Wright-designed Larkin
Soap Co. Administration Building on Seneca Street is demolished.
Buses replace the last of the Buffalo trolleys. The last trolley run is about July 1950. The old trolley maintenance barn at 459 Forest Ave. is sold to the Teck Collision Company and subsequently will be acquired by the Buffalo Historical Society in 1990 for use in storing its collections.
Buffalo's population peaks at 580,132
Willis Haviland Carrier, the man known as "The Father of the Air Conditioning Industry," dies.
Buffalo ranks sixth among cities in steel production. Bethlehem's Lackawanna plant is one of the largest mills in the nation, having an annual steel ingot capacity of 3,600,000 tons.
Beginning in 1952, a small yet significant number of Buffalo's industries begin to leave:
Most people, unable to face the reality of the dramatic upheavals that are occurring within the community, fail to grasp the significance of these events. Commentators remain boosterish in the face of discomfiting facts.
|1953||Commerce is in even more trouble than industry. The city had long ago lost
its historic function as a port of transshipment, and by mid-century most of the
processing industries that has at one time provided a diversified and stable
economic base has all but disappeared, with lumber, tanning, and soap
Even the beer industry is in trouble. While Buffalonians are drinking more beer than ever, they are drinking less local brew. National companies - Schlitz, Budweiser, and Miller - in a concerted effort to destroy home-based breweries in cities through- out the country, are invading local markets and successfully undercutting local breweries (Annheuser-Busch, for example, opened a local distributorship in Buffalo in 1953). The local industry staggers under this intense pressure from the large national companies. They simply could not compete. Not only do they lack the cash to mount more than regional sales campaigns, but their plant facilities are old and obsolete.
As much as anything, it is their failure to modernize that has done them in. (Buffalo's last brewery, the Iroquois, will close in 1972.) - Source: Mark Goldman, "High Hopes: The Rise and Decline of Buffalo, New York." Pub. by State U. of New York Press, Albany, 1983, p.270
It is announced that the Scajaquada Creek Expressway, a four-lane highway, will be built through Delaware park.
|1955||October 19, Skyway opened to traffic. Length: 5800 feet. Height: 100 feet. 2005 Traffic volume: 41,500 daily average. Cost to build: $12 million. Total maintenance 1953-2005: $128 million.|
|1957||The Allentown Art Festival is founded in 1957 by a group of business owners,
residents, working artists and craftspersons
In 1957, the 125tb anniversary of the City of Buffalo, a time capsule is buried on the grounds of the Buffalo Historical Society to be opened in 2032, the 200 anniversary of the City of Buffalo. The capsule contains items reflecting on life in the city in the year 1957.
Believing Sen. Joseph McCarthy's estimates that there are 130 members of the Communist party in Buffalo (he later revises his figures to 39), the House UnAmerican Activities Committee decides to add Buffalo to their list of cities to visit. Their informers have provided them with additional information, and finally in October 1957 the HUAC came to Buffalo.
Bruce M. Shanks (1908-1958), Buffalo Evening News
editorial cartoonist, wins the 1958 Pulitzer Prize for his cartoon "The Thinker,"
published on August 10, 1957,depicting the dilemma of union membership when confronted
by racketeering leaders in some labor unions.
The modem invented.
The laser invented
The internal pacemaker invented by Buffalonian Wilson Greatbatch.
Bell Aircraft moves to Texas in the 1960s.
St. Lawrence Seaway:
President Eisenhower and Queen Elizabeth ceremoniously open the St. Lawrence Seaway making Buffalo an international port. Disappointment reigns when ocean freighters bypasses Buffalo for western lake ports.
The impact on Buffalo is immediate. Oceangoing vessels carrying goods both to and from the Midwest now bypass Buffalo. After stopping at all the Great Lakes ports - Duluth. Chicago. Detroit. and Cleveland - they will exit Lake Erie, well before they even get to Buffalo, pass through the Welland Canal into Lake Ontario, then continue across that lake and onto the Seaway to Montreal. Buffalo's long-dreaded nightmare has finally come to pass. With no reason for ships bound either for the ocean from the West or from the ocean to the West to ever come to Buffalo, the city sits bypassed at the end of a long dead-end street.
Suddenly a whole range of waterfront industries - boat companies, ship chandlers, ship repairers, and shipbuilders - begin to go.
The grain industry, consisting primarily of grain storage and the manufacture of flour, suffer more than anything. Since the middle of the nineteenth century Buffalo has been the grain storage capital of the world, harboring millions of tons of Midwestern grain in its internationally renowned grain elevators. But now, as increasing amounts of grain are shipped to Montreal via the Seaway, Buffalo's significance as a port of storage is sharply and quickly eroded.
Flour milling also faces hard times, and mills and elevators are closing throughout the 1960s.
Growth of the Suburbs: Whites in Buffalo, like those in cities all over the country,are taking advantage of generous federal subsidies and moving into the suburbs.
Between 1950 and 1960 over eighty thousand white Buffalonians - close to twenty percent of the 1950 population - move out of the city.
At the same time the city's black population is mushrooming; from 36,645 in 1950 to over 70,000 ten years later.
Annual report - Buffalo and Fort Erie Public Bridge Authority
|1962||A modern architectural addition to the
Albright Art Gallery is donated by Seymour Knox. The name is changed to Albright-Knox
in recognition of his donation of numerous art works to the art gallery and a donation
of $1,000,000 toward the expansion of the building. The balance of the $1,700,000
addition is raised by a fund drive.
The American Shipbuilding Company closes down, the last vestige of an industry which has been in Buffalo since 1812.
|1965||Schools Court case: A class action suit is begun by a group of parents seeking
to correct racial imbalance in the Buffalo Public Schools. Buffalo is adjudged as
having the 4tb most segregated school system in the North. Student reading scores
are abysmal and African-American students lagged by 2 to 5 years behind white peers.
Federal Judge John Curtin says that his decision to integrate is influenced by arguments made in 1842 by the National Conference of Colored Men organized by Henry Moxley, an escaped slave who settled in Buffalo and became a prosperous businessman.
The education of black children is improved such that by 1988, the schools will be racially balanced, and the teaching staff will include a minority representation of 27% of elementary school teachers and 16% of high school teachers.
Five flour mills are shut down
Kensington Expressway opens on August 15, 1967.
State University of NY Trustees vote unanimously in favor of Amherst as the site for expansion of SUNY at Buffalo (UB).
The size of the black community had grown from 40,000 in the late 1950s to over 100,000 by Independence Day, 1967. In the meantime, only two hundred units of new housing had been built. The riots were an expression of black rage takes the form of several days of rioting.
|1968||The computer mouse
Governor Nelson Rockefeller breaks ground for SUNY at Buffalo's Amherst campus.
In the summer of 1969 antiwar activities were taken directly into Buffalo's residential West Side, where several students, already found guilty of draft evasion, sought asylum in a Unitarian church on Elmwood Avenue. Finally, after several tense days of efforts by the minister to mediate between the students and the federal agents outside the church, the Feds stormed the church and forcibly arrested the students within, who at that point became known as "The Buffalo Nine."
Protests against the Viet Nam War sweep through the college campuses across
the country, culminating on May 4th when four students at Kent State University
are shot to death by National Guard troops.
By 1970 Buffalo's population has sunk to 462,000 from its 1950 high of 532,000. In 10 years, it will have shrunk to 357, 000.