If someone was to ask you what stood on the grounds of Wegmans in Black Rock before the supermarket was built*, what would you say? There are relatively few people who actually know enough about the history of the Black Rock neighborhood to answer that question. That’s why NeighborWorks Community Partners and the Grant Amherst Business Association have joined together to introduce a series of 7 laser etched, double-sided photographic monuments that feature historic images of the neighborhood. The wayfinding monuments, purchased thanks to a $20,000 grant that Senator Ryan helped to secure through the Buffalo Main Streets Initiative, were successfully submitted to the City of Buffalo Arts Commission for approval.
Senator Sean Ryan said, “Buffalo’s revival has been a product of the intense pride Buffalonians have in our city and its history. Projects like this one, which makes improvements to the community while embracing the spirit of one of our historic neighborhoods, help continue that resurgence.”
Part of the “placemaking” experience is to teach people about the history of a neighborhood – the people, buildings, etc. The Grant Amherst neighborhood is chock full of history that needs to be recounted to those who might not be aware of the district’s storied past.
The images used for the project are thanks to a 20-year archival project embarked upon by the Grant Amherst Business Association. Altogether, approximately 2000 historic photographs were amassed during that time, which ultimately resulted in the publication of a 352-page hard-bound volume titled “A Pictorial History of Black Rock**.”
The $20,000 Buffalo Main Streets Initiative grant included funding for five new stainless steel garbage receptacle enclosures. After all, it’s one thing to pay tribute to the history of a neighborhood. It’s another thing to ensure that it is kept clean.
The towers (images and branding panels), along with the garbage receptacle enclosures, were fabricated by Bear Metal Works and laser etched by Peter Staskiewicz of Laser Engraved Designs.
The Buffalo Main Streets Initiative is funded through the Better Buffalo Fund, which has dedicated $40 million to support projects that enhance the development of vibrant mixed-use neighborhoods, encourage density and growth along transportation corridors, and revitalize commercial corridors in the City of Buffalo. It is administered by New York State Homes and Community Renewal in conjunction with Empire State Development.
*Markel Electric Corp. (circa 1960) was located west of Elmwood Avenue at 601 Amherst Street, the present site of Wegmans.
**The book is available at various locations including the Black Rock Historical Society, Korona Jewelers, Assumption Church Rectory, Joe’s Service Station, Niemiec Lumber and the Buffalo & Erie County History Museum.