Author: Jim Mendola

Jim Mendola

Jim Mendola a native Buffalo West sider graduated from the late great Holy Angels and Bishop Fallon. Combat medic from 66-68 then graduated from Canisius with history honors and a minor as a summer fire lookout in Idaho. An MLS from UBs library school then 37 years as the Medical Librarian at the Buffalo VA Medical Center. Retired in 2010 and currently volunteer archivist and historian for the Buffalo Olmsted Parks Conservancy.

Frederick Law Olmsted designed our Buffalo Olmsted Park System to be a refuge from the stress of city life — a source of contemplation, mental calming and refreshing activities. But at times in the past, the parks had to be more than a natural resource for a thriving community; they needed to offer some hope in times of trouble. The year 1873 was such a time. The financial panic of that year was caused by over-speculation in railroad expansion and defaults on poorly secured bank loans. Banks failed and a cascade of business closings followed. The effects of the panic…

Read More

This column is about the Parrott naval rifles that once stood guard at Buffalo’s parks, circles and squares. I thought it would be easier — who knew cannons could be so complicated? Parrott rifles are so named because of the rifling of the cannon barrel. The spiral cuts in the interior of the barrel added spin to the projectiles, which made them more accurate than smooth bore cannons. The projectile itself was the pointed shape of modern artillery shells, spelling the eventual end of cannonballs as ammunition. So these can accurately be called either rifles or cannons. The rifles and…

Read More

When you drive over the Lincoln Parkway bridge past Hoyt Lake onto the Scajaquada roadway, you may notice those granite finials for a couple of seconds as you pass. They are successors to the oak and cast iron railings of the past. This bridge is the third to span that spot over our park lake. The first bridge was designed by Calvert Vaux, partner and mentor to Frederick Law Olmsted. It was completed in the spring of 1872 just as “the Park” (later named Delaware Park) was being sculpted into final form. It was 55 feet wide with a 35-foot…

Read More