Neighborhood Guide

Allentown

 

Allentown is one of Buffalo’s most historic neighborhoods, best known today for its vibrant nightlife and trendy restaurants. Centered on Allen Street and Elmwood Avenue, the borders of this bohemian playground run from downtown Buffalo to the South, North Street to the North, Plymouth Avenue to the West, and Main Street on the East (specifically the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus). [Allentown 4]

Named after Lewis F Allen, a financial officer and farmer, this area of the city was once entirely made up of a massive cattle field. Today, that large green space has consolidated into Days Park, surrounded by a mix of cottage-style and victorian homes, historic stone and brick buildings, and some of the city’s most attractive bars, restaurants, and a colorful mix of shops. [Allentown 6]

From newer more hip spots like Cantina Loco and Allen Burger Venture, to classic dive bars the Old Pink and Frizzy’s, the nightlife in Allentown attracts patrons from all walks of life. If you’re looking to stay out until the early hours of the morning with the cool kids, the party doesn’t stop until 4 A.M. (official closing time for bars in the City of Buffalo). [Allentown 5]

Alternative scenes dominate this neighborhood, and it is mostly occupied by artists and young singles. Allentown has the most to do in Buffalo within a very compact space, making it one of the most walkable neighborhoods in the city. [Allentown 2]

Recognized on the National Register of Historic Places in 1980, with expansion in 2012, notable architectural treasures include such places as Karpeles Manuscript Library at North Hall, Trinity Episcopal Church, and the Wilcox Mansion. The Wilcox Mansion was the site of Theodore Roosevelt’s presidential inauguration in 1901 following the assassination of William McKinley. [Allentown 3]

Black Rock

 

Black Rock is named after the unique black limestone formation removed from the Niagara River during the construction of the historic Erie Canal. This neighborhood developed due mostly to business centering on the Erie Canal and the railroad. Appropriately, the main industry of this area was shipbuilding. [Black Rock 6]

Black Rock was best known as being a stopping point on the Underground Railroad, due to its proximity to Canada less than half a mile across the Niagara River. Fleeing slaves took the Black Rock Ferry across the river, or used paddle boats when slave catchers were in the area. Broderick Park stands today at the site of the former docks. [Black Rock 7]

Today, Black Rock is still home to many early 20th century brick and masonry buildings and houses. It is a relatively quiet neighborhood with enormous amounts of unsuspecting history. One example of this is found at the area immediately surrounding the intersection of East and Amherst streets, where exists there is the highest concentration of pre-1850 houses in all of Western New York. The International Railway Bridge, which was built in the 1870s, was one of the first international crossways between the United States and Canada. [Black Rock 4]

Arguably the most famous historic building in Black Rock is the Pierce-Arrow Building, located on Elmwood Avenue. Pierce-Arrow Motor Car Company built their headquarters and factory at this location in 1907. It existed there until 1938 when the company was declared insolvent after the luxury car business took a dive during the Great Depression. Today it is being used as private studio space, but that could change soon. The building was recently listed for sale for nearly $5 million. [Black Rock 8]

In terms of activities, Black Rock is sprinkled with a mixture of older, traditional restaurants and more modern, stylish places. Casey’s Tavern and Nick’s Place are local favorites, as is Sportsmens Tavern, a bar/restaurant and concert venue that packs the house with musical acts of all types. Lucy’s Ethiopian and Sun Restaurant are two of the city’s most popular authentic ethnic food spots that bring diners in from all over. The Viking Lobster Company, Nye Park Tavern, Hot Mama’s Canteen, and the Foundry Suites are just a few examples of the more fashionable side of Black Rock. The Foundry Suites, originally constructed as a railroad sign manufacturing plant in the early 1900’s, it  is now an event venue, hotel, and bar offering a great space for weddings and parties all year round. They are especially well known for their New Year’s celebration that packs the building with Buffalonians dancing in the New Year. [Black Rock 2]

Central Park

 

Home to some of the largest and most expensive houses in Buffalo, Central Park is a  family-oriented neighborhood located on the western side of Main Street, bordered on Hertel to the North and Amherst Street to the South. The median home value in this area is $258,000, making it one of the pricier neighborhoods of Buffalo. But residents of this tiny community know exactly what they are paying for. Wide lawns, an estate-like setting, and a park atmosphere are just some of the quality of life perks guaranteed by home ownership in this pocket of the city. [Central Park 2]

Originally named for its proximity to Delaware Park, this neighborhood was dreamed up by the founder of the Buffalo Cement Company, Lewis Jackson Bennett. He imagined a neighborhood with a superior quality of life to other parts of the city, so he regulated house prices on all streets. He also strictly enforced building codes, and provided at no cost foundation stones for corner properties in order to secure the largest and most beautiful homes would be located on the corners of the streets. This ensured these stately houses could be admired from all directions. [Central Park 3]

In adherence to his commitment to a family and friends first neighborhood, most of the streets (Depew, Woodbridge, Morris, etc) were named after personal family and friends. Today, Bennett High School stands on the Main Street border of Central Park, commemorating his vision for the community. [Central Park 4]

Downtown

 

Downtown Buffalo is a treasure trove of architectural charm, dating back to a romantic era of Buffalo history when it served as one of the main business ports of the east coast, the “Gateway to the West.” Downtown contains some of the most visually and historically pleasing buildings for hundreds of miles. From City Hall to the Ellicott Square Building, Statler City to the Electric Tower, such structures date as far back as the late nineteenth century. The downtown area is an umbrella of different cultural niches, with a Theatre District attracting national acts of all kinds to Shea’s Performing Arts Center, a hub of nightclubs and restaurants on Chippewa Street, and a slew of professional sporting events, musical performances, and businesses throughout the neighborhood. [Downtown 3]

The newly developed waterfront attractions at Canalside are bringing life back to an area of town neglected after the invention of automobiles and expansion of the railroad system nearly deserted use of the Erie Canal. One new addition to Canalside is Harborcenter, a massive complex which includes two hockey rinks with spectator seating and concessions, the Academy of Hockey, a Marriott Hotel, the sports bar and restaurant focused on regional food specialties (716), Tim Hortons, retail stores, and most recently Pizza Plant, a restaurant established in Williamsville that expanded into the city based on new demand. [Downtown 7]

More excitingly, several run-down old buildings are being restored to former glory for multi-use hotel, residential, and commercial spaces. A prime example of this is the Hotel Lafayette, a French-Renaissance style building built in 1904, which was recently renovated to be a boutique hotel and luxury apartment building with restaurants and bars on the first floor, as well as several grand rooms available for private events. The Curtiss Hotel, currently under construction at the corner of Franklin and W. Huron Streets, will be a five star boutique hotel and restaurant, and will feature the area’s first urban Roman Bath experience.

New and highly regarded restaurants and bars are frequently opening in downtown Buffalo, making it an attractive destination for not only those who live in the neighborhood, but for people visiting from the suburbs and out of town visitors as well. Oshun opened in an Art Deco style building built in 1947 that was fully restored to showcase the terrazzo floors and ornate frescos on the walls. Toutant, Marble & Rye, Deep South Taco, and Big Ditch Brewing Company are all within a short radius of each other and all opened within the last year and a half. Century Grill, voted best happy hour in Buffalo, Pearl Street Grill, and Washington Square Bar & Grill are some more examples of restaurants and bars in beautiful old buildings. [Downtown 5]

In addition to residences and dining, downtown Buffalo also features a wide array of business and medical offices, a minor league baseball team (Buffalo Bisons) at Coca-Cola Field, and the newly renamed KeyBank Center, home to the Buffalo Sabres (NHL) and future (we hope) Hall of Famer Jack Eichel, the Buffalo Bandits (NLL), and hosts dozens of big-name concerts throughout the year. By the end of 2016, FNC will have hosted Rihanna, Justin Bieber, Beyonce, Drake, Coldplay, the Dixie Chicks, and more. There are talks of moving the Buffalo Bills (NFL) stadium, which is currently located in the Buffalo suburb of Orchard Park, to a location downtown, but nothing is certain at this time. [Downtown 4]

Elmwood Village

 

Colloquially know as the Elmwood Village, this unique neighborhood is centered around Elmwood Avenue, a bustling commercial strip that houses a wide variety of restaurants, bars, local shops, and residential buildings. The streets surrounding Elmwood Avenue weave in and out of lush green parkways, and are lined with a mix of timeless victorian houses, brick multi-use buildings, and modern glass structures. [Elmwood Village 4]

This neighborhood also features a Frank Lloyd Wright home, the William R. Heath House, on Bird Avenue, which is nearby the renowned Albright-Knox Art Gallery and part of Delaware Park. The main focus of this portion of the park is Hoyt Lake, which is overlooked by the Marcy Casino. The building is now being used as a private event space, but a new restaurant and beer garden, “The Terrace,” will be built in the next few months that will open the second floor up to the public for any occasion. [Elmwood Village 3]

With a tight-knit community feel, Elmwood Village prides itself in being local - from its unique stores to the weekly Farmers Market that sets up shop in Bidwell Parkway every week during the summer. Weekly outdoor concerts, the annual Elmwood Arts Festival, and local parties such as Buffalo Porchfest bring members of the neighborhood together throughout the year. [Elmwood Village 5]

Bordered by Delaware Park to the North, Delaware Avenue to the East, Richmond Avenue to the West, and North Street to the South, this area is centrally located in the Buffalo area. Its prime location, attractive community, and wide array of businesses make the Elmwood Village a popular place to live and work, which has been causing the housing market to become very competitive and home values to rise dramatically. To aid in the demand for housing, a mixed-use building is currently under construction at 905 Elmwood Avenue, which will feature retail and restaurant space on the first floor, and 21 high-end apartments upstairs. A beautiful old church on the corner of Lafayette and Elmwood was renovated recently to house luxury loft apartments, the Lafayette Lofts, and another former church was converted to condominiums a few blocks south. [Elmwood Village 2]

Additionally, there are several new exciting developments coming to this neighborhood within the next year or so. The most highly anticipated project, Thin Man Brewery, brought by the founders of Blue Monk, Coles, and Allentown Burger Venture, will be taking over the site of a former bar and the restaurant next door on the 400-500 block of Elmwood. The Richardson Olmsted Complex, a former asylum for the insane, long an urban exploration hotspot,  was built in the late 1800s and is an iconic Buffalo structure. The site will be transformed into the Hotel Henry Urban Resort and Conference Center, and the Buffalo Architecture Center, and hopes to be completed in 2016.

First Ward

 

The First Ward was originally occupied by Irish immigrants seeking work in the coal, lumber, and grain industries in this area that borders the historic Erie Canal. Houses in the neighborhood are typically small workers’ cottages, the majority of which were built in the nineteenth century. [First Ward 6]

Traditionally a blue-collar community, the First Ward is now host to an eclectic mix of new (and old) restaurants and bars, with a special focus on the newly appreciated grain silos on the Buffalo River. The grain silos and elevators were built in the mid-1800s, and were used to efficiently load and unload massive amounts of grain until 1959, when the St. Lawrence Seaway opened and essentially cut off Buffalo from the shipping chain entirely. General Mills is still putting some of the silos to use producing cereal, which often causes parts of the city to smell like Cheerios. This is a point of pride for Buffalo, and it is not uncommon to see t-shirts around town mentioning the pleasant aroma emitted from these plants. Other silos have been left vacant. Now, they contribute to the city’s newfound resurgence and make it a popular destination for a variety of activities including music shows, rowing, food truck festivals, art installations, and historic tours. Buffalo Riverworks - a massive mixed use complex, contains various sports rinks and venues, bar and food offerings, and concert capabilities. Opened in 2015 right on the banks of the river, the facility even offers access from the water via kayak or canoe. Currently, the on-site rink offers hockey leagues, curling, and roller derby, but Riverworks is primed for more. The complex plans to extend into the grain silos in the near future. [First Ward 1]

Right up the road, a classic First Ward bar, Gene McCarthy’s, brews and serves its own beer alongside hearty pub food. Another Buffalo favorite, Swannie House, has been standing at the foot of Ohio Street for around 120 years, making it the second oldest bar in the city, after Ulrich’s Tavern. A more recent addition to the neighborhood is The Fairmont, formerly the Fairmont Creamery Company, an eight story building dating back to 1920 that is under construction to become several floors of luxury loft-style apartments. On the first floor of The Fairmont is The Mahony, a restaurant that opened in March 2016 but has already received rave reviews from local buffalo foodies in the know.

Other popular more recent additions to the area include Ballyhoo and Lockhouse Distillery & Bar. The Seneca Buffalo Creek Casino attracts patrons down to the First Ward for gambling and performances, and houses several bars and restaurants as well. Also located in the First Ward is the Buffalo Scholastic Rowing Association, whose crews operate out of a boathouse on the Buffalo River. Adjacent to the First Ward is the Cobblestone District, a small, distinct section of the city with cobblestone lined streets and old brick buildings. Helium Comedy Club, Lagerhaus 95, and Buffalo Iron Works are all located in this very small historic district, as does the Edward M. Cotter, the world’s oldest working fireboat. The Cotter stands ready to fight fires along the canal’s of Buffalo although it doesn’t get much use nowadays. During the winter months, this ship stays busy serving as the icebreaker on Buffalo’s waterways. [First Ward 4] [First Ward 5]

Lower West Side

 

The Lower West Side, located between the West Side and Downtown Buffalo, with Allentown bordering its east side, is arguably the most up-and-coming neighborhood in the city. Similar to the revival of homes a little farther north, commercial and residential properties are being renovated and are contributing to the revitalization of the area. For the last several decades, this has been a primarily Hispanic neighborhood, but now the demographic is rapidly changing. Today the area is populated with mostly young people, “hipsters,” students of the nearby D’Youville College, and families who have lived there throughout its lull and now upswing. It is within walking and biking distance to the hip nightlife of Allentown, Elmwood Village, and Downtown, with significantly less expensive rental rates. [LWS 3]

A glowing sign of new development is the trendy Tipico Coffee who opened its doors in 2015, attracting coffee lovers and business owners from all over the city to the once relatively deserted area. Another business with local pride expanding into the neighborhood is Community Beer Works. They have recently outgrown their facilities on Lafayette Avenue in the West Side, and are expanding to a new building on 7th Street in the Lower West Side to keep up with demand for its popular brews. [LWS 4]

The famous and beautiful Kleinhans Music Hall is located at Symphony Circle, at the crossroads of Allentown and the Lower West Side. At the foot of Porter Avenue is LaSalle Park, where sports fields, a concert pavilion, and an off-leash dog area overlook the canal as it flows into Lake Erie. [LWS 2]

North Buffalo

 

Centered around Hertel Avenue, North Buffalo is heavily influenced from Italian and Middle Eastern businesses and families. This area is plentiful in duplex style two-family homes, usually with decent sized yards. Recently, the neighborhood has seen many new additions and developments. [North Buffalo 3]

On Hertel Avenue, you will find a bustling commercial strip with restaurants new and old, vintage furniture and clothing shops, bakeries, cafes, and more. Lloyd’s Tacos, Buffalo’s most popular food truck, opened a permanent location, Lloyd Taco Factory, on Hertel in December 2015. The Sterling, a craft beer haven with German influence, opened in 2015 as well, to join some classic Hertel spots like Gramma Mora’s Mexican restaurant, Kosta’s for Greek food, and the Wellington Pub and Bob & John’s. [North Buffalo 5]

The Lexington Co-Operative Market, which currently operates a highly successful location in the Elmwood Village, is opening a second location on Hertel Avenue later in 2016. This addition to the strip, double the size of its Elmwood store (itself an expansion effort undergone in 2007 from it’s original Lexington Avenue location), is expected to dramatically increase traffic to the area, so many small businesses are opening storefronts and building apartments in the neighborhood. Another exciting project a little further north is the remodeling of an old elementary school, Saint Rose of Lima, which is being converted to loft style apartments.

What many consider to be the “Crown Jewel” of Hertel, the North Park Theatre has been painstakingly restored to it’s former glory by the current owner. Originally opened in 1920, the theater continually operated at it’s current location until it underwent eight months of work in 2014. It reopened to much fanfare with a mix of more modern amenities such as a digital projector and new seating, with most of the old prominent features and charm intact. It has six massive Art Nouveau murals inside painted by Raphael Beck, five of which are layered into the ceiling of the dome in the main atrium. The original marquee outside has been restored, and magical stained glass windows above the marquee were revealed after decades of being hidden. [North Buffalo 4]

Parkside

 

This section of the city was designed by Frederick Law Olmsted to mimic the border of Delaware Park, also designed by Olmsted. Delaware Park is one of Olmsted’s first three parks in Buffalo (along with Front Park and Martin Luther King Jr. Park), and sprawls over 350 acres. The park features a golf course, a few playgrounds, several soccer and baseball fields, basketball courts, the Buffalo Zoo, and on the other side of the Scajaquada Expressway, or “198” (Buffalo news gives a great run-down of the history of this controversial expressway here), Hoyt Lake. [Parkside 6]

The Buffalo Zoo, originally founded in 1875 -making it the third oldest zoo in the United States, is home to a wide range of animals, including a baby polar bear and new baby lion. Over the last ten years, millions of dollars have been poured into the renovation of the zoo’s aging exhibits, making it a more visitor-friendly and interactive place for the whole family. Any weekend when people are outside, you can count on countless Buffalo families to fill the zoo looking for an educational way to spend the day. [Parkside 4]

When they are finished checking out the animals, across the street is the Parkside Meadow Restaurant or P. Moran’s to refuel with everything from salads to meat pies. P. Moran’s is a former cafe turned British-style pub and restaurant, and on the adjacent corner is the Parkside Meadow, which reopened from its 1970s glory to new owners in 2015. When that’s over, the beloved Fairy Cakes to satisfy the sweet tooth is just a few doors down. This from-scratch bakery serves coffee and tea, and of course their famous cupcakes. In addition to families, Parkside is home to students of the nearby private university Canisius College. [Parkside 3]

The majority of homes in this area are over 100 years old, and many have preserved the original hardwood flooring and molding throughout, and feature exquisite stained glass windows. Parkside is best known for being home to Frank Lloyd Wright’s Darwin D Martin House Complex. It is currently in the process of being restored, but is open to the public for tours and events. Wright’s designs attract tourists from all over the world. [Parkside 2]

West Side

 

A traditionally Italian immigrant neighborhood, the West Side is currently home to a large population of native Buffalonians, refugees and immigrants from all over the world - especially Southeast Asia, the Middle East, and Africa. Grant Street, one of the main commercial strips on the West Side, has been seeing exponential growth recently. [West Side 1]

Notable attractions include a richly diverse array of ethnic food restaurants and shopping areas, including the popular West Side Bazaar, which features food stands, small shops with authentic cuisine (Asian, Ethiopian, Jamaican, etc), arts, crafts, and clothing. Another neighborhood hotspot on Grant Street is the popular Sweet_ness 7 Cafe, which stands in a historic Victorian building restored as a mixed-use building that also houses several apartments an art gallery, and a pop-up shop with ever changing vendors. [West Side 4]

With the growing Elmwood Village bordering on its east side, property values in the West Side are rising rapidly, and crime rates are dropping. One particular former Elmwood Village store, Sunday skateboard shop, recently relocated to Grant Street due to commercial development, rising rents, and lack of space on Elmwood Avenue. In the last few years, companies such as LK Development have been buying run down and often abandoned homes and renovating them for tenants and homeowners, making this area more appealing and family-friendly than ever before. The West Side is also very student friendly, as the ever expanding SUNY Buffalo State is located on its northernmost border at Forest Avenue. [West Side 6]

The newest part of the West Side to see a revitalization is a small area referred to as “Five Points.” In the last two years, several restaurants and shops have opened up in a small radius. Horsefeathers Winter Market, home to Martin Cooks Restaurant, Bootleg Bucha kombucha brewery, and other stores and apartments upstairs, is on Connecticut Street near The Black Sheep Restaurant. Paradise Wine, Five Points Bakery, and Urban Roots all call this section of the West Side home and are all steps away from each other. [West Side 10]

The other main strip of the West Side, Niagara Street, is another hotspot for developers are new businesses. Resurgence Brewing Company opened on Niagara Street in 2014, right down the street from Rich Products world headquarters, a multinational food product corporation that specializes in producing and delivering its foods to retailers and foodservice providers in over 100 countries.

Further down along the canal is the West Side Rowing Club - home to rowing teams of local high schools and colleges throughout the city since 1912. Each year, WSRC hosts several regattas that feature teams from all across the United States and Canada. Next door to WSRC is the Fontana Boathouse, which was originally designed in 1905 by Frank Lloyd Wright for the University of Wisconsin, but was built in 2007 at its current location. [West Side 9]

Contact Info

257 Carolina St

Buffalo, NY

Phone: (716) 436-2746

Fax: (716)-436-2054

E-mail: contact@buffalobeacon.com

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