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The City of Buffalo’s Heart Bleeds, Just As It Did 120 Years Ago

After writing about a dangerous intersection a few days ago (corner of Parkside and Depew), a nearby resident wrote to me with further details about an accident that I had alluded to in the post. Since that time, we have all heard about yesterday’s tragic accident at Ring Road in Delaware Park. At this time, when a city is in mourning, it’s more important than ever that we start to fix the urban planning mistakes that have ripped our community apart since the days of Robert Moses.

It was on Thursday that Steve Cichon (Buffalo Stories) sent me the historic details on how the dangerous Parkside and Depew interaction came to pass (in the form of a newspaper clipping from the Buffalo Courier). As I was formulating my thoughts on what a tragic story it was, Saturday’s horrific accident came to pass. Obviously, the timing of this post is purely coincidental, but I couldn’t get the commonalities out of my mind. By commonalities, I mean that when there are inherent dangers at hand, and it is our duty to address the obvious concerns, whether it’s a dangerous intersection or a high speed roadway through a park system.

There is no excuse to not downgrade the Scajaquada Expressway into a slow moving boulevard, just as there is no reason to not fix the dangerous intersection at Parkside and Depew.

Of course the intersection that we see today was an attempt to remove an at grade locomotive and carriage crossing, but the modern day result is not appropriate for the fast traveling automobile. In order to get a clearer understanding of the history of the intersection, author Steve Cichon writes, “I wrote about it in my book The Complete History of Parkside. It happened in 1894… on a stormy day, a buggy carrying two little girls and their aunt was buttoned up tight– no windows. They were relying on the horse to get them home. The horse took the buggy into the path of a locomotive… both little girls were killed. Their father… banker and politician John Scatcherd, became known as the Father of Grade Crossings… he worked to make grade crossings illegal in cities in NYS.

Anyway, that was what happened 120 years ago. I live only a few blocks from there, and my heart is in my stomach most times going through there. There is more and more pedestrian and cycle traffic… but drivers seem to pay less attention.”

In these types of tragic situations, there is a call for sweeping change. 120 years ago one man set out to address those changes, resulting in an intersection that, for that time, was considered safe due to the types of vehicles on the road. In 2015, it is the community that must rise up to ensure that these types of accidents become a thing of the past, and the only way that is going to happen is if our elected officials and the Department of Transportation (DOT) finally face the facts, that our city is not a thoroughfare for cars, it’s a place where people live.

The city of Buffalo’s heart bleeds for the family that has suffered from such a monumental loss yesterday, just as it must have 120 years ago.




Written by queenseyes


Newell Nussbaumer is 'queenseyes' - Eyes of the Queen City and Founder of Buffalo Rising. Co-founder Elmwood Avenue Festival of the Arts. Co-founder Powder Keg Festival that built the world's largest ice maze (Guinness Book of World Records). Instigator behind Emerald Beach at the Erie Basin Marina. Co-created Flurrious! winter festival. Co-creator of Rusty Chain Beer. Instigator behind Saturday Artisan Market (SAM) at Canalside, Buffalo Porchfest, and Paint vs. Paint. Founder of The Peddler retro and vintage market on Elmwood. Instigator behind Liberty Hound @ Canalside. Throws The Witches Ball at Statler City, the Hertel Alley Street Art Festival, and The Flutterby Festival.

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