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Then and Now: Midway Missing Tooth

This 1896 image, from the Buffalo Illustrated Courier, shows a few of the row houses, once numbering 13, running north for half of a block on the east side of Delaware starting at Virginia Street.  Seen here are the three buildings at the corner of Virginia when they were brand new.  The corner building is now gone.  It was sent to landfill and has been a parking lot for somewhere around 25 years or more.

Progress!

Maybe the mythical new building, that the demo for progress crowd always talks about, never materialized because the rest of the row was not also demolished.  The missing unlucky 13th building had suffered a small fire back in the late 1980s and obviously needed to be torn down, I guess.  Such was the thinking back then. They did not even have to involve poison bricks or asbestos back then. This backward way of thinking is still powerful but is thankfully waning.

Row houses are rare in Buffalo giving this group a distinctive street presence.  These are known as the Midway, supposedly named for their location midway between Niagara Square and Forest Lawn Cemetery. They are more like a third of the way to Forest Lawn.  The caption in the vintage newspaper refers to them as the Midway Plaisance  and describes the buildings thus:

The “city front” of solid block style of residence of the better class has been slow in appearing in Buffalo, where detached houses with surrounding lawns are the rule.  The solid row of fronts on Delaware, running north from Virginia is therefore something of an innovation.  In the elegance and diversity of their designs, these fronts have much architectural merit, and as a whole are exceedingly attractive.

This is a very prominent block that really needs to be filled in.  Three of the  four corners at this intersection were reduced to parking until recently when the long time parking lot across the street was recently filled with a new building. There really should be no visible parking lots in Allentown, especially on Delaware Avenue.  With the city finally gaining popularity with developers it should not be long before this important corner Midway corner gets filled in too.  Let’s hope that the developer proposes a design with sophistication made with quality materials and is not bullied into constructing a faux historic cartoon building.  That might be worse than the parking lot.

Written by David Steele

David Steele

Architect ( a real one, not just the armchair type), author of "Buffalo, Architecture in the American Forgotten Land" ( www.blurb.com ), lover of great spaces, hater of sprawl and waste,
advocate for a better way of doing things.

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