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Old Posted Aug 3, 2022, 8:25 PM
benp's Avatar
benp benp is offline
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Buffalo NY - Grant Street - Not Your Typical City Photo Tour

Buffalo often refers to itself as "the City of No Illusions," and Grant Street lays itself all out for those who visit the street, and the neighborhoods it goes through.

No Disney. No glamour shots. No downtown glass, rectangles, or boxes. "Grit" may be one of the polite terms for this part of the city, but its certainly got character. And it can even be a fun and exciting place to be.

Just one street.

Grant Street is located on the West Side of Buffalo, beginning approximately 2 miles (3.5 km) northwest of downtown, and extends north for about 2 miles, ending at the intersection of Military Road and Austin Street in the Black Rock neighborhood.


Grant Street
by bpawlik, on Flickr

The street and the surrounding neighborhoods date primarily from the period between 1880 and 1920, and beginning in the 1920s it has hosted consecutive waves of new immigrants into the city, starting with Sicilians (West Side), Polish, Ukrainians, and Hungarians (Black Rock) in the 20s, Puerto Ricans in the 80s, and today includes Dominicans, Africans, Burmese, and South Asians among others. For the last 10 years it has also been the first destination for refugees arriving in Buffalo, with many community services available.

Grant Street has been a rough and tumble mix of commercial and residential for decades, often described as sketchy, and is a very eclectic mix of new and redeveloped properties sometimes beside others that are neglected and decaying. In recent years neighborhoods along various sections of Grant have also been undergoing significant upgrading and gentrification, some of it spilling over to Grant, but at the same time new immigrants continue to arrive.

Grant Street begins at Hampshire Street, just south of the intersection of Grant and West Ferry Street.

Starting off politely in the lower numbered addresses of Grant, the West Side Bazaar is a collective of small retail and restaurant businesses primarily by and to serve the most recent immigrants to the community, and will be opening a larger location on nearby Niagara Street next year.

IMG_4459
by bpawlik, on Flickr

Grant and West Ferry Streets is the center of a local retail district, primarily along West Ferry and includes hardware, furniture, clothing, restaurants, etc along with specialty shops. Shown are only those businesses on or visible from Grant Street.

IMG_4465
by bpawlik, on Flickr


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by bpawlik, on Flickr


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by bpawlik, on Flickr


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by bpawlik, on Flickr


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by bpawlik, on Flickr

Neighborhoods to the east and west of Grant in this area area are in the process of gentrifying, but the next section of Grant, which was mainly vacant a few years ago, is filling with businesses catering to the most recent immigrant communities, many opening in the last year or two. The apartments along Grant itself are generally lower income residences, while homes on adjacent streets have doubled or tripled in value in the last few years. There is also ongoing improvements and renovations to many of the properties, although obviously many have yet to be touched.

IMG_4454
by bpawlik, on Flickr


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by bpawlik, on Flickr


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by bpawlik, on Flickr


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by bpawlik, on Flickr


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by bpawlik, on Flickr


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by bpawlik, on Flickr


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by bpawlik, on Flickr


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by bpawlik, on Flickr

Rainbow stores always seem to be the worst about taking care of their properties.

IMG_4478
by bpawlik, on Flickr


IMG_4479
by bpawlik, on Flickr

Preparing for their grand opening in a former rental store.

IMG_4480
by bpawlik, on Flickr


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by bpawlik, on Flickr


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by bpawlik, on Flickr


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by bpawlik, on Flickr


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by bpawlik, on Flickr

A sure sign of gentrification in progress.

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by bpawlik, on Flickr


IMG_4440
by bpawlik, on Flickr

Somali restaurant.

IMG_4439
by bpawlik, on Flickr

One of the small chain supermarkets also on Grant.

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by bpawlik, on Flickr


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by bpawlik, on Flickr


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by bpawlik, on Flickr


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by bpawlik, on Flickr


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by bpawlik, on Flickr


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by bpawlik, on Flickr


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by bpawlik, on Flickr

This section of Grant is adjacent to slightly wealthier neighborhoods, and is between the rapidly gentrifying Niagara Street area and the Elmwood Village neighborhood. It is getting some "spillover" businesses priced out of the higher rents on Elmwood Avenue.


IMG_4424
by bpawlik, on Flickr


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by bpawlik, on Flickr


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by bpawlik, on Flickr


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by bpawlik, on Flickr


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by bpawlik, on Flickr


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by bpawlik, on Flickr


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by bpawlik, on Flickr

Lafayette Avenue at Grant Street.

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by bpawlik, on Flickr


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by bpawlik, on Flickr


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by bpawlik, on Flickr


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by bpawlik, on Flickr


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by bpawlik, on Flickr


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by bpawlik, on Flickr


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by bpawlik, on Flickr

The last remaining Italian market on Grant Street.

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by bpawlik, on Flickr


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by bpawlik, on Flickr


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by bpawlik, on Flickr


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by bpawlik, on Flickr


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by bpawlik, on Flickr


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by bpawlik, on Flickr


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by bpawlik, on Flickr


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by bpawlik, on Flickr


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by bpawlik, on Flickr


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by bpawlik, on Flickr


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by bpawlik, on Flickr

Another survivor from the past.

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by bpawlik, on Flickr


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by bpawlik, on Flickr


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by bpawlik, on Flickr


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by bpawlik, on Flickr


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by bpawlik, on Flickr

Some new construction, with additional planned on some vacant lots further down.

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by bpawlik, on Flickr


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by bpawlik, on Flickr


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by bpawlik, on Flickr


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by bpawlik, on Flickr


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by bpawlik, on Flickr


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by bpawlik, on Flickr


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by bpawlik, on Flickr


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by bpawlik, on Flickr


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by bpawlik, on Flickr

The neighborhood west of Grant in this area has some of the poorest housing on the West Side, and is home to many of the newest immigrants who crowd into the homes and fill the streets with small children.


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by bpawlik, on Flickr


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by bpawlik, on Flickr

Crossing Forest Avenue.
[url=https://flic.kr/p/2nC8Vkz]


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by bpawlik, on Flickr


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by bpawlik, on Flickr


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by bpawlik, on Flickr


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by bpawlik, on Flickr

No swimming this year at Rees Street Pool due to shortage of life guards.

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by bpawlik, on Flickr

Multilingual trash cans.

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by bpawlik, on Flickr


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by bpawlik, on Flickr


Not Home
by bpawlik, on Flickr


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by bpawlik, on Flickr


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by bpawlik, on Flickr


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by bpawlik, on Flickr

New student housing near Buffalo State College.

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by bpawlik, on Flickr


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by bpawlik, on Flickr

For decades Grant Street was ignored by Buffalo State College, mainly used for utility vehicles and later parking. In the last decade efforts have been made to make it more welcoming, with the addition of sports fields, dorms, apartments, and an alumni center. The school also purchased land across the street from the campus, and is developing plans for use. In decades past the west side of Grant by the school was heavily industrial, including steel mills, paint factories, and other dirty industry which closed or moved from the area in the 70s and 80s, but has remained mainly vacant.


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by bpawlik, on Flickr


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by bpawlik, on Flickr


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by bpawlik, on Flickr


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by bpawlik, on Flickr


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by bpawlik, on Flickr

Approaching the Scajaquada Creek Bridge. The creek separates the West Side from the Black Rock neighborhood of Buffalo, and was also the site of War of 1812 battles, and a naval shipyard of that era. Beginning in the 1830s it was also the site of some of the earliest metal foundries in the area, which attracted Eastern European immigrants to Black Rock in the 1800s and early 1900s.

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by bpawlik, on Flickr


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by bpawlik, on Flickr

Church of the Assumption, which served the Polish community, as seen from the bridge.

IMG_4297
by bpawlik, on Flickr

Grant-Amherst intersection, and Polish Cadets Hall.

IMG_4298
by bpawlik, on Flickr

Grant-Amherst intersection, looking east down Amherst Street. This area of Amherst Street is about a 1 mile long business strip, extending on both sides of Grant, and includes the only Wegmans located in the city limits, along with various restaurants and music venues.

IMG_4289
by bpawlik, on Flickr

Grant-Amherst.

IMG_4290
by bpawlik, on Flickr

Grant-Amherst was also at one time the site of the Black Rock Public Market. It is now a plaza and includes a large supermarket. Adjacent streets are still lined with small shops, restaurants, and taverns.

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by bpawlik, on Flickr


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by bpawlik, on Flickr

The final section of Grant as it heads north toward Military Road.

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by bpawlik, on Flickr


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by bpawlik, on Flickr


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by bpawlik, on Flickr


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by bpawlik, on Flickr

Former public grade school converted to apartments and YWCA.

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by bpawlik, on Flickr


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by bpawlik, on Flickr


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by bpawlik, on Flickr

St. Elizabeth's served the Hungarian community of Black Rock.

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by bpawlik, on Flickr


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by bpawlik, on Flickr


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by bpawlik, on Flickr

I spoke with the owner of this store, who also owns the store across the street. He said he had been there 17 years, but that his business dropped off in the last 5 years and he is struggling. I suspect that the demographics of the neighborhood made the biggest difference, as 2 miles further up Grant there are dozens of new African businesses opening, and nearby there are Asian and Arab grocers moving in. He did say that the "large stores" are taking away his business. Neighborhoods change...

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by bpawlik, on Flickr


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by bpawlik, on Flickr


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by bpawlik, on Flickr

The 111-year-old Showplace, originally called the Unity Theater. Now used for concerts and events. My parents actually met there in the early 1940s, and one of my aunts was a popcorn girl who met her husband there around the same time.

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by bpawlik, on Flickr


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by bpawlik, on Flickr

The intersection of Grant-Military-Austin streets, where Grant Street ends. Military Road had its origin prior to the War of 1812, constructed as a road connecting Black Rock with Fort Niagara to expedite troop movements, and is now designated NY Route 265.


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by bpawlik, on Flickr


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by bpawlik, on Flickr


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by bpawlik, on Flickr


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by bpawlik, on Flickr


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by bpawlik, on Flickr

The immediate streets near the intersection reflect the industrial and working class of the late 19th and 20th century in its architecture, and current working class residents.

Former Police Precinct 13, where McKinley assassin Leon Czolgosz was held in 1901 after shooting the President at the Pan American Exposition.

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by bpawlik, on Flickr


IMG_4254
by bpawlik, on Flickr

Ukranian roots are still visible in the community.

IMG_4240
by bpawlik, on Flickr

Remaining industrial is still in use, as this image shows, but nearby similar streets are undergoing conversion and transformation to residential, commercial, and office/startup uses. This street will probably follow in just a few years.

IMG_4242
by bpawlik, on Flickr

Grant Street hit bottom about 10 years ago, and has been picking itself up in fits and starts ever since. For whatever reason, many landlords are reluctant to do anything to improve their properties, even with the availability of local grant money, and willing buyers. As I said earlier, there are 2 significant push-pulls on the neighborhood right now, which is the continued influx of poor refugees, and the ongoing gentrification happening from both the east and west of Grant, that will continue to bolster changes on the street. Niagara Street, a few blocks away, seems to be getting a larger piece of the gentrification crowd right now as it was more of a clean slate than Grant, but Grant will continue to be the core of the West Side.

Last edited by benp; Aug 14, 2022 at 4:02 AM.
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  #2  
Old Posted Aug 4, 2022, 12:55 AM
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craigs craigs is offline
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Thanks for posting this fascinating and informative photo thread! Buffalo is truly an underrated city.
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  #3  
Old Posted Aug 4, 2022, 1:53 AM
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Interesting tour!
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  #4  
Old Posted Aug 4, 2022, 3:33 AM
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xzmattzx xzmattzx is offline
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Great pictures and tour!

My grandfather grew up on Ontario Street in Riverside, and every once in a while, as I was growing up and would spend summers up there, we would take Military Road to avoid the I-190 tolls. It was an opportunity to do other things, like reminisce or drop off donations at some outreach center.

One time, driving on Military Road to Grant Street, he pointed out the neighborhood as he grew up in it in the 1920s. He pointed out the Hungarian church, which from my memory is St. Elizabeth's as you stated. Hungarians were called "Hunkies" back then. I kind of had a hard time figuring out which church it was, since it was maybe 15 years ago when he pointed that out, but that sure looks like it.

I have seen the transformation of Niagara Street, as you mentioned, since I have been going to Resurgence Brewing Company for several years now. Their location near the Peace Bridge was pretty convenient, and moving just to Chicago Street is kind-of tough on me. (As a side note, I heard about Resurgence from a little beer show down here on a Philadelphia TV station. For the 2019 Eagles season, since Eagles fans travel maybe better than any fanbase in the NFL, they did a show on the best breweries in all of the Eagles' road game locations. Resurgence was their pick for Buffalo. I agree with that, but have also heard good things about Froth Brewing Company too, and want to stop by there some time.) The redoing/repaving of Niagara Street certainly signaled the rebirth.

With all these little hole-in-the-wall immigrant restaurants, which one is your favorite? I want to explore these West Side streets some more, besides the breweries (although outside money to breweries is good for the city as well), but would like to narrow things down a little, given that my time up there is short and valuable.
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Old Posted Aug 4, 2022, 1:28 PM
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benp benp is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by xzmattzx View Post
Great pictures and tour!

My grandfather grew up on Ontario Street in Riverside, and every once in a while, as I was growing up and would spend summers up there, we would take Military Road to avoid the I-190 tolls. It was an opportunity to do other things, like reminisce or drop off donations at some outreach center.

One time, driving on Military Road to Grant Street, he pointed out the neighborhood as he grew up in it in the 1920s. He pointed out the Hungarian church, which from my memory is St. Elizabeth's as you stated. Hungarians were called "Hunkies" back then. I kind of had a hard time figuring out which church it was, since it was maybe 15 years ago when he pointed that out, but that sure looks like it.

I have seen the transformation of Niagara Street, as you mentioned, since I have been going to Resurgence Brewing Company for several years now. Their location near the Peace Bridge was pretty convenient, and moving just to Chicago Street is kind-of tough on me. (As a side note, I heard about Resurgence from a little beer show down here on a Philadelphia TV station. For the 2019 Eagles season, since Eagles fans travel maybe better than any fanbase in the NFL, they did a show on the best breweries in all of the Eagles' road game locations. Resurgence was their pick for Buffalo. I agree with that, but have also heard good things about Froth Brewing Company too, and want to stop by there some time.) The redoing/repaving of Niagara Street certainly signaled the rebirth.

With all these little hole-in-the-wall immigrant restaurants, which one is your favorite? I want to explore these West Side streets some more, besides the breweries (although outside money to breweries is good for the city as well), but would like to narrow things down a little, given that my time up there is short and valuable.
I live in North Buffalo now, but both my parents grew up in Black Rock, and other family in Riverside. I still have a couple of family members living there. An aunt/uncle/cousins of mine even owned a tavern on Ontario street and lived upstairs. We had all our family Christmas parties there until the mid 70s.

I can't be very helpful on small eateries on the West Side/Black Rock. We enjoyed Sun Cuisine (Burmese/Thai) on Niagara, Ranchos (Mexican) also on Niagara, Southern Junction (bbq fusion) on Chandler Street, great breakfasts at Sofia (Military, near Froth). Otherwise, heard good things about West Side Bazaar (multiple food stations), and Lucy West African (Tonawanda Street).

We have eaten an many other places, that were good, but not really the hole-in-the wall places you are referring to. Maybe Moriarty Cafe for lunch/brunch with a significant other (attached to a French butcher shop on Elmwood near Grote).

You may also want to look closer at Chandler, which is a current/former industrial street a couple of blocks from Grant-Military. Besides Southern Junction, there are also a couple of other small food options there, along with regular places like Tappo and Bar A Vin, plus Thin Man brewery and Buffalo Cider Hall. There is also a swim club there open during the day!
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  #6  
Old Posted Aug 4, 2022, 2:52 PM
galleyfox galleyfox is online now
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Reposting from the Great Lakes Cities thread regarding your question.

Quote:
Originally Posted by benp View Post
I just posted a series of photos of Buffalo's Grant Street in the My City Photos tabs. I am curious if other Great Lakes cities have their own version of Grant Street, and how common is the residential/other mix in other cities.
Chicago is on a standardized grid system.

So in general, the pattern is 3 residential streets and a commercial or educational/institutional street repeated.

The middle streets tend to be all residential (SFH and Multifamily), and the commercial streets are a mix.

Where I live South Shore/South Chicago is working-class that is probably moving into solid middle-class in the upcoming years.

South Shore/South Chicago


71st


75th


79th


Commercial



Residential Streets





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  #7  
Old Posted Aug 11, 2022, 7:14 PM
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a city tour like this is exactly why i come visit this section of the forum. thanks for sharing!!!
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