Reprinted with permission as a public service by the Landmark Society of the Niagara Frontier, now the Preservation Buffalo Niagara
South Buffalo - South Park/ Abbott Road
Long before homes and farms dotted the landscape of the territory lying between Cazenovia Creek an the shores of Lake Erie, there existed a trail through the countryside there. Constructed by Samuel and Seth Abbott in 1809, the road, today known as Abbott Road, served as their link to the city. Moving here from Vermont in 1807, they settled in what was referred to as Abbott's Corner. It was along this road, and South Park Avenue, the street running parallel to it, that the majority of the area developed.
The first person to settle here, Timothy Hopkins, purchased a large portion of the land in the area, much of which he later sold to other land developers and farmers such as David Bell and George Washington Tifft.
Bell, a Scottish immigrant developed the iron propeller steamer, which played and early role in Great Lakes shipping. Bell Street, in the northwestern corner of the area, originally ran through his farm. At the turn of the century, this area became home to a sizable community of Calabrians from the southern tip if Italy.
Tifft arrived in Western New York in 1826 and purchased a farm in Orleans County. In 1842, he moved to Buffalo and established a partnership with Dean Richmond in the milling Business. Quickly tiring of this, he sold his interest the following year and purchased the Tifft Farm, the area through which Tifft Street runs today. While engaged in numerous other opportunities in Buffalo, including the Tifft House, a Main Street hotel, he operated one of the largest dairy farms in the Buffalo area.
At the southernmost point, on land bordering the current city line, Alexander Aldrich operated a large farm beginning in 1855. Here, he raised celery, black walnuts and flowers. Later, he constructed a greenhouse on South Park and sold flowers to those going to the cemeteries on Limestone Hill. He later sold his farm to the Pixley Land Company for development.
The last farmer of the area, John E. Beale, a Canadian by birth, operated a farm on the east side of Abbott Road. From his home at Abbott and Dundee, his holdings stretched back to Cazenovia Creek. The Kinsey Realty Company later developed his property. Relying on previous experience in the city, the company donated a large tract of land to the Catholic Diocese for the establishment of St. Martin's RC Church. With the parish clearly established, Irish-Catholic families soon began to settle in its vicinity.
Although the development of the area by land companies resulted in the settlement of the South Park/Abbott Road district, three other factors contributed to it.
- First, the conditions in the Old First Ward had changed substantially. As business and industry further encroached upon the neighborhood at the turn of the century, more people opted to leave.
- Second, the development of roads and services by the city served to make the area more accessible.
- However, the most influential development in the area occurred in April, 1899, when the Lackawanna Iron and Steel Company announced that it would construct a mill on prime waterfront land nearby. Although located outside the geographic boundaries of the city, the influx of workers to the mill resulted in a high demand for housing in the vicinity. By 1904, almost 7,000 people had relocated to the new neighborhoods in the South Park area to be closer to their place of employment.
© 1995 James Napora
Page by Chuck LaChiusa with the assistance of David Torke
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