Waterfront - Table of Contents

59 Ohio Street at the corner of Chicago Street, Buffalo, NY

In 1870, Patrick Kane opened a bar on this wedge-shaped plot and, in 1874, built the structure above to be a bar and boardinghouse. Kane was part of the "saloon boss system," by which access to waterfront jobs was controlled by bar owners.

Kane allotted jobs to men who rented his rooms, ate his food, and drank his alcohol. During the heyday of Buffalo's shipping and milling industry, places like the Harbor Inn prospered, attracting single men into their 'system.'

Only one operating bar remains in Buffalo that was part of the "saloon boss system." It is the Swannie House, at 170 Ohio Street.
- Western New Heritage (online Jan. 2020)

For more about the "saloon boss system," see
"William 'Fingy' Conners, Bishop James Quigley, and the Great Strike of 1899"
An excerpt from Against the Grain, pp. 101-111
by Timothy Bohen

Watercolor study by V. Roger Lall

Watercolor by V. Roger Lalli, with history by David Mott Rote

Except where noted, photos taken in August 2019

The 2003 demolition of the Harbor Inn took place after the owner obtained a demolition permit from City Hall on a late Friday afternoon - the so-called "Fiday Night Special."  By the next morning, the building was demolished.  Another example of a Friday Night Special was the demolition of the Fitch Creche.  Later, Preservationists were able to pressure the city to disallow the practice.

Source: Library of Congress

2019 photo   ...   The cars are parked at 59 Ohio Street - the site of the demolished Harbor Inn    ...   Across the street on Chicago St., much of the former Holmes Machinery Co. has been demolished and replaced.

2019 photo   ...  Across the street:  The car is parked at 59 Ohio Street - the site of the demolished Harbor Inn at the corner of Ohio and Chicago Streets   ...   Note the sign under the tree at the left - as illustrated below:

Details below, starting in the upper left:

Caption: Harbor Inn 1960s, with E. & B. Holmes in the background

Top text: As Buffalo's industries grew, taverns like the Harbor Inn provided gathering places for the many hard-working immigrant laborers and became the heart and soul of the old First Ward.

Page by Chuck LaChiusa in 2020
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