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Fitzgerald’s Many Buffalo Addresses Could Make a Whole Day’s Hike

It was during this week in 1920 that This Side of Paradise was published, launching the rise to fame and fortune of F. Scott Fitzgerald, then a 23-year-old former Nardin Academy student and Elmwood-Allentown resident. The first version of the book, which Fitzgerald started writing it in the fall of 1917 while awaiting commission as an army officer, was called The Romantic Egotist. Three years and many revisions later, when he received word his first novel would be published, Fitzgerald quickly ran into the street, stopping traffic to tell everyone his joyous news. Fitzgerald would go on to score a number of other timeless bestsellers over the course of his career, including The Great Gatsby and The Beautiful and the Damned.
If Fitzgerald showed us the world through his writings, it may be said that the world was shown to him, so to speak, during his formative years in Buffalo, around the exciting time of the Pan America Exposition. Scott was a year and a half old when the family arrived here in Buffalo in 1898, his father taking up work with Procter & Gamble. They headed for North Street and moved into the Lenox Apartments at 140 North St., which were built in 1897 as apartments, then converted into a hotel for the exposition in 1900, and now in 2007 returned to apartments! (Everything old is new again).
In April 1899, the Fitzgeralds moved into a flat at Summer and Elmwood, which is no longer standing. Ten months later, Procter & Gamble transferred Scott’s father, so in January 1901, immediately after the Pan-American Exposition had started, the family moved to Syracuse.
They returned to Buffalo in September 1902, this time settling around the corner from the Lenox at 29 Irving Place in Allentown, not far from the Proctor & Gamble offices at 683 Main Street. Scott was now seven years old, a handsome little boy with gray-green eyes and blond hair. He was sent to school at the Holy Angels Convent (now defunct) at the corner of Porter and West avenues.
In September 1905, Scott transferred from Holy Angel’s Convent to Nardin Academy, one of the first private Catholic schools (founded by Miss Ernestine Nardin in 1857). Fitzgerald called the school “Miss Narden’s”.
In October 1905, Scott’s family, led by his socially ambitious mother, moved to 71 Highland Avenue, which at the time was ornately stylized Victorian, but has since seen many face revisions.
The amazing pace with which the family moved yet kept high order of participation in Buffalo society would mark Scott’s entire life, much of it spent as an ex-pat in Paris. The next time you take a long walk, why not try to span the many Buffalo neighborhoods and homes from which F. Scott Fitzgerald learned the eloquences of society. It is said that he was so proper, charming and smart that his father once offered him $5 just to hear him swear.

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