History Can Be a Wonderful Thing

I live in an area that is just barely outside the city limits of Buffalo, New York. For all intents & purposes, I’m a resident of the city, even if technically I’m not. I work in the heart of downtown Buffalo, I commute via bus on a daily basis and I’m always out and about venturing around the city.

My daily bus commute to work downtown involves an approximately four-mile stretch of Broadway Street, including going through a community that was once a very Polish area back in the day. Now, it’s filled with many vacant buildings, the infamous Broadway Market and a couple of businesses here and there that still manage to exist.

Yesterday, I came across a website that lists a number of historic buildings in the city of Buffalo. It includes a list of buildings that are considered “at risk,” some that have been lost and others that have been saved. It’s a pretty interesting website. You can view the listings by zip code which allows you to kind of piece things together and look at specific portions of the city, if that’s what you’re trying to do.

A number of listings I found were interesting. Some noted that the building used to be a bank many, many years ago; others noted famous stores, meeting places, etc.

But there was one listing that really caught my eye.

It was a listing for the Broadway Barn/Garage/Auditorium. (View the listing here.) This is a building that I pass every day on my commute to work; it’s currently used as a garage for the Department of Public Works (I’ve seen mounds of winter salt in the building before). But I never knew – despite wondering – what the building used to be, back in its glory days.

Come to find that this building actually used to be many things, including an armory and was used for a short amount of time as a hockey arena! As an avid hockey fan, this obviously caught my attention, so I read up on a New York Times article about the building and it was quite interesting.

The building was built in 1858 as an armory, with renovations and conversions putting the current structure at around 1887-1898. In 1931 and 1932, it was home to the Buffalo Majors of the American Hockey Association, and now it’s considered one of the world’s oldest surviving buildings to have hosted hockey.

That just completely blew my mind! The fact that a building I pass on a daily basis – and have been driving by for years – has so much history, AND so much history relating to a sport that I enjoy so much.

It really makes you think about the other buildings in the area… what were they? What did this street look like back in the 1850s, or the 1900s, or even 1932? How different it must look today as compared to what it was back in those days. The amount of history in this area, or any area, is just astounding and I definitely recommend anyone reading this blog to do a little research on YOUR street, your city and community and perhaps you’ll discover something as neat as what I found!

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