This is the continuation of the “Off Broadway” article that was posted this past December. These are the memories of Alex Ramsey, who grew up on the city’s East Side. It is interesting to note that he has been living in Texas since 1977, but that his fondest memories are from his youth. Alex was born in 1956.
“The cohesiveness of the neighborhood itself made it a truly special time and place to grow up in.”
Our immediate neighborhood on Broadway back then was quite unique in that virtually every immediate need was available pretty much within walking distance. Not counting a little ways further down Broadway, Sattler’s (everybody from Buffalo knows 998 Broadway!), The Broadway Market, Neisner’s, Kobacker’s, United Surplus & Western Auto stores, Al Cohen’s Bakery, Burczynski Bakery @ The Market, and Stanislaus Street (etc., etc.) between Memorial Drive and Bailey Avenue.
Including the side streets, there were around 35-40 taverns, literally. We also had Bells, IGA, P&D Market, a shoemaker, a bridal gown store, a TV and repairs store, Giza and Kaminski Delis, 2 or 3 beauty parlors (as they were called then, for women), at least 4 barbershops, Chmielewski Bakery, a dry cleaning store, 3 gas stations (that actually employed mechanics in those days), a fire station, Bflo PD Precinct #11 on Bailey, 3 liquor stores, Wagner folding box factory, 2 laundromats, a small grocery store on B’Way & Liddell Streets, 5-6 phone booths, 2 milk machines, a vending machine distributor, Wolf Furniture store, and Cisco’s coffee shop.
There was another coffee shop off Bailey Ave., and Mars coffee shop on Bailey, Mule Town Lumber Yard, auto/home insurance agencies, a travel agent office, P.S.#44, St. Joachim’s and St. John Cantius Catholic Churches and schools. Lincoln movie theater on Titus and B’Way. A funeral parlor, Liberty Florist, Modern Auto (auto and bicycle store), Mazurek’s Hardware Store, Johnny & Jimmy (from TV’s Dialing for Dollars) owned a music store (instruments and lessons), a Dr.’s office and dentist’s office, camera shop and coin store, lamp shop, Paner’s Market (before Bells came in), Maleki’s slaughter house and meat distributor (before Bells came in), 2 drugstores, a dance studio…
All of these, and perhaps a few I’ve forgotten… all strewn along Broadway. The Central Terminal was a fully functioning RR station. All of this and more, just between Memorial Dr. and Bailey Ave! Most of the merchants lived in their buildings, and had additional flats for tenants such as my family (at Club Romway). We lived upstairs in the back – Rommel Street side. Pete and Steffi Niechewski lived upstairs, in front, and owned and operated the bar. All were hardworking merchants, providing goods and services, housing for tenants – all tax-paying citizens in our little neighborhood. Things are a lot different these days. I resided there in a very special time and era. I was a lucky kid. But who knows… I hear that there’s an uptick in that part of town?
In fact, a little birdie told me that queenseyes is planning on paying a visit to a newly opened café on Broadway today…, so we shall see what that’s all about later. A lot of the old buildings are gone, but that doesn’t mean that there can’t be appropriate infill. Once you start connecting the dots, the businesses might return. Hopefully reenergizing the Central Terminal and The Broadway Market will contribute to the rebirth of the neighborhood. Malls have fallen out of favor, which could open doors for some small businesses to return, although Amazon is another story entirely. It will be interesting to see what unfolds in years to come. But it will start with the opening of a small pub (Eugene V. Debs Hall), a then a café (stay tuned), a refurbished building, and so forth. There is a spark. Now Buffalo needs to fan the flame.
Lead image: Me, sitting on Santa’s lap at Sattler’s department store (998 Broadway) in 1960