Reprinted with permission as a public service by the Landmark Society of the Niagara Frontier, now the Preservation Buffalo Niagara
Until the late 1870s, the Richmond/Elmwood area retained its rural identity. It remained relatively isolated from the rest of the city as Elmwood Avenue, as we know it today, served as two disjointed streets until the late 1890s. Morgan Street, now South Elmwood, ran from the Terrace to Johnson Park and Elmwood proper began at Virginia Street. Consequently, as the area developed, it did so more as a residential than as a commercial district.
[See Rumsey Park. South Elmwood Avenue now cuts through these long famous grounds.]
Originally known as Rogers Road, Richmond Avenue originally served as a trail to Buffalo from the Shingletown area in the north.
Even as the population edge of the city reached the North Street area, Shingletown remained as nothing more than open fields used for grazing animals or raising vegetables. The most prominent building on the street was a tavern located on a terrace amid a fruit orchard at the corner of Rogers and West Utica Street. Here, travelers heading to Buffalo or the docks or ferry at Black Rock could rest.
Across the street from the tavern stood the Hope Chapel, a struggling mission of Westminster Presbyterian Church.
As the population of the city increased in the 1880s, residential development of the area began to take place. Initially slow in pace, by 1900 the area somewhat resembled its appearance today.
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.
The city renamed the street in 1879 in honor of Jewett M. Richmond. After moving to Buffalo in 1854, Richmond became involved in the salt industry. Active in many of the city's cultural institutions, in 1873 he built the Buffalo and Jamestown Railroad. His home at 844 Delaware originally encompassed the land all the way through to Richmond Avenue.