Buffalo/East Side

If you're a visitor in Buffalo and you ask a local for advice, one of the things you'll almost certainly be told is to stay away from the East Side. "You take your life in your hands when you cross Main Street", so they might say, perhaps punctuating their warning with lurid tales straight out of a pulp magazine about the trouble a friend of a friend ran into there, or half-remembered news headlines about street gangs and drive-by shootings. And for that certain type of person whose curiosity is piqued enough to take a look for themselves, at first they might think the stories are true: with boarded-up storefronts, garbage-strewn vacant lots, and run-down houses all over the place, the East Side's socioeconomic problems are plain to see. What could this place possibly have to offer visitors?

Plenty, actually.

The first thing you need to know is that the East Side's reputation as a crime-infested hellhole is largely hype. The miserable poverty in which many East Siders live doesn't always translate to high crime rates: yes, the most dangerous neighborhoods in Buffalo are found within this district, but it has its share of quiet areas too. And as in any American city, with just a modicum of common sense and advance planning, the crime around here is quite avoidable. The second thing to know is that the East Side is one of the most interesting and historic parts of Buffalo, populated since the dawn of its history by wave after wave of hardworking immigrants who came in search of a better life in the factories, railroads, and stockyards of what was then one of America's top industrial centers. First came the Germans, then the Poles and the Italians, then Russian Jews and an assortment of Eastern Europeans, then the African-Americans who migrated up from the South starting in the early 20th Century and were the East Side's dominant group by the '60s and '70s. Many vestiges of that rich tapestry of the past still soldier on, like the old Polish district along Broadway, and the vicinity of Michigan Avenue where many of the pivotal events in the history of Buffalo's black community came to pass.

But that's just the beginning of the story. The East Side also has the Buffalo Museum of Science that's been dazzling visitors in the midst of the Olmsted-designed greenery of Martin Luther King, Jr. Park since 1929; architecture buffs will be bowled over by the palatial majesty of the huge old churches that pepper the streetscape; jazz lovers will be — well — jazzed by the neighborhood's summer festival calendar. And the East Side isn't finished as an immigrant haven either: today thriving communities of Arabs, Africans, and South and East Asians call the district home.

Yeah, the locals will think you're nuts, but the joke's on them. The rich variety of experiences that this part of town has to offer is unfamiliar even to most people who've lived in Buffalo all their lives. In fact, if you do your homework, the time you spend on the East Side might even be the highlight of your visit — especially if you're looking for an experience that is truly unique, miles away from the same old cliché Buffalo tourist attractions that the guidebooks all rave about. Either way, the East Side is an undiscovered treasure that's worth discovering.

Understand

In the East Side, the reality is a bit more complex than the unfair caricature locals smear it with. While it certainly has its problems, the East Side is actually a diverse mishmash of communities, thriving independently while intermingling with each other in a vibrant tapestry. The different neighborhoods each have their own character and history.

The East Side isn't all blight: these suburban-style houses along William Street in the Near East Side were built in the 1990s, some of the first fruits of the city government's successful efforts to promote homeownership in troubled Buffalo neighborhoods. These heavily subsidized homes are marketed to first-time and minority homebuyers — the perfect way to help at-risk communities learn valuable life skills, establish credit, and ultimately bootstrap themselves into the middle class, while at the same time transforming formerly derelict areas into full-fledged residential neighborhoods whose inhabitants have a stake in the community's success.

African-Americans predominate, making up 73% of the district's population as of the 2010 census. There are indeed some poor and blighted areas that live up to the East Side's unfortunate reputation, such as   Delavan-Grider,   Genesee-Moselle,   Delavan-Bailey (you'll notice a trend of neighborhoods named after their primary intersection) and, increasingly,   Fillmore-Leroy and   Schiller Park. But closer in to Main Street and downtown, you'll also find a number of nicer areas — the new "infill" houses of the   Near East Side, populated with upwardly mobile middle-class black families, are (for better and worse) a taste of suburbia a stone's throw from downtown; the   Ellicott District boasts more of the same plus a charming middle-class Puerto Rican enclave between Swan and Seneca Streets, and the tree-lined streets of historic   Hamlin Park are home to friendly families with kids as well as a growing collection of young, upwardly mobile urban pioneers busy restoring many of the handsome turn-of-the-century homes to their original luster. These same urban pioneers have also begun to colonize the blocks of   Cold Spring and   Masten Park closest to Main Street — a newly gentrifying area real-estate types have dubbed   Midtown — and are poised to do the same to the old red-brick Victorians of the   Fruit Belt, just east of the massive economic dynamo that is the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus.

Meanwhile, on the far eastern fringe of the city you'll find some enclaves of blue-collar white ethnics that are real slices of old Buffalo: the tenacious old Polish community of   Broadway-Fillmore is still hanging on, though it's much diminished in size from its turn-of-the-century glory days;   Kaisertown is a friendly off-the-beaten-path neighborhood that, despite its name, is far more Polish than German these days, and   Lovejoy is populated by a mix of Italians, Poles, Russians and Ukrainians. Also, the vitality of the   Kensington-Bailey neighborhood in the northeast corner of the city is maintained by the robust and diverse student body of the University at Buffalo's nearby South Campus — cheap student-oriented eateries and other shops line the business district of Bailey Avenue, while the residential streets sandwiched between Bailey and Main Street (an area sometimes differentiated from the rest of the neighborhood as   Kensington Heights) are a mix of college students and lower-middle-class African-Americans.

Finally, while they are not as visible or as well-known as their West Side counterparts, the East Side boasts thriving communities of immigrants that have given new life to formerly derelict neighborhoods and provide visitors with some of the most interesting experiences to be had in the district. Rubbing shoulders with the old-school Poles of Broadway-Fillmore is a growing contingent of Burmese and Vietnamese, while immigrants from Africa, South Asia and the Middle East (including the Yemenis who have taken a dominant place among the East Side small-business community in recent years) have settled around Fillmore Avenue in   Humboldt Park.

In addition to the neighborhoods mentioned above, there are also other place names visitors to the East Side might hear or encounter. Polonia is most often used as a synonym for Broadway-Fillmore, especially when talking about the Broadway Market, St. Stanislaus Church, and other remaining relics of the old Polish presence there; other times, it's used as shorthand for the entire Buffalo-area Polish community regardless of location. In addition, the eastern end of Broadway-Fillmore, stretching along Broadway between the New York Central Railroad tracks and Bailey Avenue, is often referred to as   St. John Kanty after the church that dominates the streetscape there. As well, East Buffalo is an alternative name for the whole district that's gaining currency among local boosters who want to avoid the stigma connected with the term "East Side".

History

The story of Buffalo in the 19th Century was one of meteoric growth and the arrival of a colorful patchwork of new immigrants from distant lands, and nowhere in the city was that more true than on the East Side. The East Side's history begins about 1830, just a few years after the inauguration of the Erie Canal which transformed the sleepy village of Buffalo almost overnight into America's newest boomtown. In those years, political strife and religious persecution was driving many people in Germany to seek refuge in the United States, and Buffalo soon became home to a mostly Catholic population of Germans from Bavaria, Württemberg, and other parts of southern Germany (as well as Alsace, a neighboring region of France whose culture is heavily influenced by Germany). These Germans were generally well-educated and skilled at a variety of trades, and the flat, fertile meadows on the east edge of Buffalo was where they settled: close enough to town that services were easily accessible, but far enough into the periphery that they could continue some semblance of the agrarian lifestyle they'd enjoyed in their homeland. As it grew, that area became known as the German Village.

St. Mary Redemptorist Church as it looked in 1914.

Soon the Archdiocese of New York, whose territory then included Buffalo, took notice, and in 1843 a new church was built in the heart of the German Village: St. Mary's, on Batavia Road (now Broadway) just past Michigan Avenue. Overseen by the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer, or "Redemptorists", St. Mary's grew into a major force in the neighborhood, running a parochial school as well as an orphanage and hospital, and serving as a beacon attracting still more settlement to the neighborhood. By 1850, there were about 20,000 Germans in Buffalo — over a third of the city's population — living in three main areas: the German Village itself lay between Genesee Street and Broadway; to the south, in what's now called the Ellicott District, were the fashionable townhouses of well-to-do merchants as well as a small, tight-knit Jewish community along William Street; and the isolated Fruit Belt in the city's northeast corner, a quiet, largely Protestant neighborhood on the high ground north of the German Village, named for the fruit trees the residents kept in their yards.

The Germans weren't the only people who settled east of downtown: Buffalo also had a tiny community of a few hundred African-Americans, centered around Vine Alley — the stretch of present-day William Street between Oak Street and Michigan Avenue, just inward from the Jewish quarter. Though they were victims of prejudice and discrimination as in the rest of the country, Buffalo's blacks were comparatively well-off by the standards of the day, with many working in skilled trades such as barbery and carpentry. The hub of their community was the Michigan Street Baptist Church, at the east end of Vine Alley.

After the Civil War, the booming East Side population began to spread out from the German Village: northward along Main Street, swallowing up the once-sleepy hamlet of Cold Spring with the ample wood-frame houses of wealthy businessmen, as well as eastward along Genesee Street into the countryside. By 1870, Germans made up fully half of Buffalo's population, not to mention a huge chunk of the city's elite: in the political realm, there was prominent lawyer-turned-U.S. District Attorney William Dorsheimer, as well as Philip Becker and Solomon Scheu, Buffalo's first and second German-American mayors, elected in 1875 and 1877 respectively (Becker would return to office in 1886). The German business community, for its part, included merchant William Hengerer, brewing magnate Gerhard Lang, prominent architect August Esenwein, and Jacob Schoellkopf, owner of the largest tannery in the United States and later founder of the first hydroelectric company to draw power from Niagara Falls. Buffalo Germans placed a great deal of importance on preserving their native language and culture: German schools, churches, social clubs, newspapers (including the Täglicher Demokrat, notorious for its political radicalism, and the Buffalo Volksfreund, financed by the head priest of St. Mary Redemptorist and widely seen as the mouthpiece of the Catholic Church), and other institutions abounded to such a degree that English was a second language on the East Side. In fact, there were calls for the city to make German an official language alongside English.

In 1868, William Dorsheimer invited his friend, landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted, to come to town and do for Buffalo what he had done earlier for New York City — design a large central park for the city's denizens to enjoy. Instead, Olmsted went one better and designed an interconnected network of many parks, linked to each other by wide, tree-lined boulevards he called parkways. The eastern extremity of this network was situated on Genesee Street at what was then the edge of the urbanized area of Buffalo, and The Parade, as Olmsted called this park, was designed with the East Side Germans in mind: it was centered on a rustic outdoor beer garden dubbed the Parade House. The park helped attract still more settlers to the outskirts of town — and Humboldt Parkway, the magnificent boulevard that connected it to the rest of the park network, soon became the East Side's most prestigious address: a wide swath of bucolic greenery with rows of large and opulent mansions on each side. Shortly after, the area's outward expansion would get another shot in the arm courtesy of the New York Central Railroad's Belt Line, a 15-mile (24 km) commuter loop that curved through the East Side a little bit outward from Humboldt Parkway, intended to enable residents of the periphery to commute to jobs downtown. Through the 1880s and '90s, the urbanized area advanced eastward all the way to the city line, including what is today Schiller Park, Lovejoy, and Kaisertown.

As the wealthier Germans pushed outward in the late 19th Century, fundamental changes came to the areas closer to downtown. The massive wave of German immigration to the U.S. began to subside, and in their place came different nationalities that would add to the increasingly colorful East Side tapestry. By the turn of the century, the old German Village was a Russian Jewish stronghold, and the Ellicott District to the south was a dismal slum populated by a mix of Jews, Italians, and Eastern Europeans. Later on, wealthier Jews moved to Hamlin Park, an attractive neighborhood north of Cold Spring built on the site of the old Buffalo Driving Park. By far the most numerous of the newcomers to the East Side, though, were the Polish immigrants who settled around the corner of Broadway and Fillmore Avenue. Polish immigration to the United States began in earnest about 1850, but at first most of the Poles who arrived in Buffalo stayed only long enough to arrange for travel further west, to well-established Polish communities in places like Chicago and Detroit. That all changed in 1872, when Joseph Bork, a land speculator of Polish descent who owned a large tract southeast of the old German Village, remembered that towns in Poland usually centered around a large church. To entice itinerant Poles to stay in Buffalo, he donated a prime lot to the Catholic diocese for the explicit purpose of establishing a Polish church. The diocese recruited Father Jan Pitass, a Polish-speaking priest from Silesia, and named the church St. Stanislaus, Bishop and Martyr. By the time St. Stanislaus opened, Bork had ensured that several hundred new houses were already completed and waiting to be bought; he repeated the same tactic when St. Adalbert was built in 1886, and for every new church in the neighborhood thereafter. By 1890, Broadway-Fillmore was home to 20,000 Poles.

As the 20th Century dawned, the East Side was in its glory days: the last bits of empty land in the city were being colonized by new neighborhoods (Kensington-Bailey, also known as "Summit Park" in those days as it was located on the highest ground in the city; Delavan-Bailey, an Italian district gathered around St. Gerard Church; and Fillmore-Leroy, on the former site of the Bennett Limestone Quarry), and Broadway-Fillmore had grown to be the second-largest shopping district in the city, with a lineup of discount stores (Neisner's, Eckhardt's, and the granddaddy of them all, Sattler's) to complement the high-end department stores of downtown. But in the background, the seeds of the area's decline were being sown. Beginning around the First World War and continuing through much of the century, the United States saw a Great Migration of African-Americans, who fled segregation and racist violence in the South and were attracted by the easy availability of factory jobs in the urban Northeast and Midwest. Buffalo, too, received its share of these newcomers — and soon the old black neighborhood around Vine Alley was bursting at the seams. African-Americans began to press outward, and while conditions in Buffalo were markedly better than where they came from, the abandonment by white residents of any neighborhood blacks were seen to be moving into (a phenomenon known as white flight) demonstrated the prejudicial attitudes they still had to face. By the Second World War, the Ellicott District and the old German Village were majority-black and had gained a reputation as a bad part of town — a reputation that was made quasi-official due to a practice called redlining, whereby real-estate agents and mortgage lenders conspired to effectively prohibit African-Americans from buying houses or renting apartments west of Main Street (the proverbial "red line"), while at the same time openly encouraging white buyers to avoid the East Side. Though the Fair Housing Act of 1968 made redlining de jure illegal, it continued behind closed doors for years thereafter.

However, these beginnings of the decline of the East Side were just a prelude to the decline that Buffalo as a whole would suffer beginning after the Second World War. The reasons for that decline were varied, but foremost among them was the opening of the St. Lawrence Seaway in 1959, which enabled freight ships to access the ocean directly via the Welland Canal rather than unloading their cargo at Buffalo for shipment further east by railroad. Within ten years, the once-bustling Buffalo Harbor was virtually empty, and though few East Siders worked at the port itself or in the grain elevators, the shockwaves reverberated all over the city. The combined effect of the Seaway and the new Interstate Highway System caused traffic on the railroads to decline sharply, shuttering many of the warehouses and industrial facilities on the Belt Line, putting many railroad workers in Lovejoy and Schiller Park out of work, and leaving the   New York Central Terminal in Broadway-Fillmore, which opened in 1929 on the eve of the Great Depression and had never been used to its full capacity, virtually derelict (it was abandoned outright in 1978). The Interstate highways also enabled erstwhile city residents who worked downtown to move to the (literal) greener pastures of suburbia; consequently, Buffalo's population plummeted from nearly 600,000 in the mid-1950s to less than 300,000 in 2000. The department stores, food markets, and other businesses followed the residents out of the city as well; one by one, the glitzy shopping destinations along Broadway closed their doors, unable to compete with suburban malls and plazas. To cap it all off, the nationwide groundswell of resentment among blacks that culminated in the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s fed into the hostility between Buffalo's African-American community and the remaining East Side whites; though Buffalo never had a full-scale race riot as other U.S. cities did during this period, the palpable tensions drove many of the latter over the city line into the lily-white suburbs.

Worse still was the urban renewal that served as the city's hamfisted response to the decline. "Slum clearance" actually began earlier on the East Side than anywhere else in the city — during World War II, the Willert Park Homes, one of three public housing developments built in anticipation of the flood of American GIs returning from overseas, went up on several blocks of the Near East Side. The other two developments, Kensington Village and the Kenfield Homes, were built near the city line in areas that were still considered desirable; those were reserved for whites only, while the nominally integrated but de facto all-black Willert Park served to further concentrate poverty in the city's most blighted district, worsening the problem it intended to solve. As in the rest of Buffalo, the urban renewal campaign accelerated after the war: it was in 1959 when three dozen city blocks of the old Ellicott District (bounded by Michigan Avenue, William Street, Jefferson Avenue, and Swan Street) were completely leveled, with a massive new series of public housing developments promised — but with the exception of the Towne Gardens high-rises, the majority of that land remained vacant for over a decade afterward, a "72-acre wasteland in the heart of the city" according to a particularly scathing editorial in the Buffalo Courier-Express. But the coup de grâce came in 1960, when the tree-lined median of Olmsted's Humboldt Parkway was eviscerated to make way for the Kensington Expressway, a noisy intrusion that tore the heart out of Hamlin Park and Humboldt Park and left the formerly bucolic greenway as little more than a pair of expressway service roads.

While there's clearly much work still to be done on the Central Terminal, the enduring commitment of the local preservation community to seeing through such a monumental project in a troubled neighborhood is truly remarkable.

Since hitting rock bottom around the year 2000, Buffalo has picked itself up and turned itself around with increasing momentum. However, perhaps because it was the hardest-hit part of the city during the downturn and because of the ongoing stigma regarding what lies east of Main Street, the East Side has struggled to share in that rebirth. Crime, poverty, urban blight, and other associated ills remain severe problems, and there are many areas that are going to continue to deteriorate before they bottom out — but signs of hope have belatedly begun to emerge in some parts of the East Side, especially those closest to downtown and Main Street. While the demolition of abandoned buildings continues to rob the district of its historic character, the newly-built infill housing that has gone up in the Near East Side since the 1990s is at least transforming formerly derelict areas into tracts of taxable, owner-occupied housing. The infill continues to creep eastward, but much to the consternation of preservationists the suburban style of the new builds clashes with the historic character of what remains of the old streetscape. But naysayers can take pride in the status of the Central Terminal as one of the largest-scale, highest-profile, and longest-term historical preservation projects in Buffalo to date, all the more remarkable given its location in blighted Broadway-Fillmore. As well, the shiny new Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus has spurred investment in the adjacent Fruit Belt, where property values have skyrocketed and old Civil War-era cottages are being restored, as well as along Main Street, where a growing number of old warehouses and seedy brownstones in the westernmost blocks of Cold Spring and Masten Park (now rebranded Midtown by real estate promoters) have been reborn as upscale apartment buildings marketed to medical professionals. The young, upwardly-mobile urban pioneers who have transformed the West Side have gotten into the act on the East Side as well, especially in Midtown and Hamlin Park; they've been spurred on by Buffalo's Urban Homestead Program, by which abandoned, city-owned houses in blighted areas are sold for $1 to those who have the financial means to rehabilitate them, and who agree to live in the house themselves for three years. Most recently, the East Side's traditional identity as a haven for immigrants has come full circle, with new arrivals from Asia and Africa attracted to its ample low-cost housing (and increasingly priced out of the newly trendy Upper West Side, where they had amassed previously). With 2015 shaping up to be a record-breaking year in terms of new redevelopment projects planned for the area, it looks like the East Side may finally be starting to turn the corner along with the rest of the city.

Visitor information

Broadway Fillmore Alive is an online information resource that is for its neighborhood what Buffalo Rising is for the city as a whole: a source for news on business openings, cultural events and other happenings, and historic preservation; tidbits of neighborhood history and profiles of local movers and shakers, all delivered with an upbeat tone intended to help in the struggle to "promote, preserve and revitalize East Buffalo's historic Polonia".

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Get in and around

By car

A combination of light traffic and an extensive highway network makes the East Side the easiest part of Buffalo to get around by car. A downside is the condition of the roads: potholes abound, especially on the side streets.

The Kensington Expressway (NY 33) is the main highway thoroughfare through the East Side, entering the city from Cheektowaga on a due-west course, then turning south at its junction with the Scajaquada Expressway (NY 198) and ending downtown. From east to west, interchanges are located at:

Interstate 190 runs mostly through South Buffalo, but it clips the southeast corner of the East Side near the city line. You can get to Lovejoy and Kaisertown easily via Exit 1 (South Ogden Street) and Exit 2 (Clinton Street/Bailey Avenue). Also, although the New York State Thruway (I-90) runs north-to-south beyond the city line in Cheektowaga, Exits 52W (Walden Avenue) and 52A (William Street) provide relatively easy access to Schiller Park and Lovejoy, respectively.

The radial streets that converge on downtown — including Genesee Street, seen here — figure among the East Side's main throughfares.

The pattern of surface streets on the East Side is basically a gridiron overlaid with a number of roads that fan outward from downtown like the spokes of a wheel — extensions of Joseph Ellicott's historic radial street plan that dates back to 1804. Clockwise from the northwest, you have: Main Street (NY 5), Kensington Avenue (which doesn't extend to downtown itself, but branches off from Main Street and proceeds northeastward in the same radiating direction), Genesee Street, Sycamore Street (which merges with Walden Avenue at Martin Luther King, Jr. Park), Broadway (NY 130), William Street, Clinton Street (NY 354), and Seneca Street (NY 16). These streets are among the East Side's major thoroughfares, and for travellers without a car at their disposal, they're among the best-served public transit routes in the city: catching a bus or train into downtown or out to suburbia along any of these streets is a cinch, even on weekends.

As for crosstown routes, the north-to-south thoroughfares are some of the East Side's most crowded streets, home to business districts that bustle despite being located in marginal areas off the radar screens of most locals. Heading inward toward downtown, there's Bailey Avenue (US 62), the single busiest street in the East Side that links the neighborhoods of the Far East Side: Kensington-Bailey, Delavan-Bailey, Lovejoy, and Kaisertown, followed by Fillmore Avenue, Jefferson Avenue, and Michigan Avenue. The East Side's major east-west crosstown routes are, from north to south: East Amherst Street, East Delavan Avenue, East Ferry Street, East Utica Street, and finally Best Street, which turns into Walden Avenue at its junction with Genesee Street in front of Martin Luther King, Jr. Park.

Realistically, unless there's a special event going on such as Dyngus Day in Broadway-Fillmore, you are virtually never going to have a problem finding a place to park on the East Side. Even if by chance parking on the main thoroughfares is crowded, you'll always find a spot on a side street nearby. And parking is almost invariably free – except for one block of Broadway between Michigan Avenue and downtown, the district does not contain a single parking meter. The only place where you might run into a problem is in the western half of the Fruit Belt, adjacent to the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus. Here, much to the consternation of neighborhood residents, hospital employees regularly park on-street in order to dodge the high rates at the paid parking lots. The Common Council has recently considered limiting on-street parking in the Fruit Belt to permit holders (i.e. neighborhood residents) only, but for now no limitations are in effect.

A few East Side business districts do have parking regulations worth mentioning. On Main Street between Hertel Avenue and Best Street — through Fillmore-Leroy, Hamlin Park and most of Midtown — parking is limited to two hours every day but Sunday between the hours of 7AM and 7PM. Between Humboldt Parkway and East Delavan Avenue in the vicinity of Canisius College (and along Jefferson Avenue from Main to East Delavan) it's prohibited entirely — visitors to campus should ask for a parking permit at the admissions office in Lyons Hall and then park in the lot in front of the building, or else find a spot on a side street. Visitors to Sisters Hospital can park in the lot facing Main Street; rates are $5/day. South of Best Street, it's two-hour parking on weekdays from 8AM to 5PM.

On Bailey Avenue, parking is limited to two hours Mondays through Fridays from 7AM to 7PM between Millicent and Highgate Avenues in the Kensington-Bailey business district. In Delavan-Bailey, Lovejoy, and Kaisertown, parking is one hour everyday from East Delavan Avenue south to Lang Avenue between 10AM and 4PM, and prohibited outright south of Walden Avenue. If you're visiting these areas, East Delavan Avenue, East Lovejoy Street, and Clinton Street are all much better options — parking there is easily available and unrestricted at all times. In Broadway-Fillmore, parking along Fillmore Avenue between Stanislaus and Peckham Streets and along Broadway from Strauss Street to Memorial Drive is two hours only, everyday but Sunday from 7AM to 7PM; east of there, along Broadway from Memorial Drive to Gatchell Street, it's one hour only (same days and times). If you're heading to the Broadway Market on a Saturday in the weeks leading up to Easter, on-street parking will be hard to find, but never fear — the Market has a free ramp that, while well-used, rarely fills up completely.

Elsewhere, parking in the Cold Spring business district is limited to one hour on weekdays between 7AM and 7PM along Jefferson Avenue between East Ferry and Riley Streets, and in Delavan-Grider to two hours on weekdays between 7AM and 7PM along Grider Street from the Kensington Expressway ramps to East Ferry Street. If you're visiting the Erie County Medical Center, basically your only choice is the pay lot in front of the hospital, where the rate is $6/day.

Rental cars

By public transportation

Public transit in Buffalo and the surrounding area is provided by the Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority (NFTA). The NFTA Metro system encompasses a single-line light-rail rapid transit (LRRT) system and an extensive network of buses. The fare for a single trip on a bus or train is $2.00 regardless of length. No transfers are provided between buses or trains; travelers who will need to make multiple trips per day on public transit should consider purchasing an all-day pass for $5.00.

The East Side is better served by public transit than any of Buffalo's other districts, doubtless due to the fact that East Siders tend to be less well-off and are less likely to own their own vehicle than people from other areas of the city.

By bus

The East Side is served by the following NFTA Metro bus routes:

To and from downtown

NFTA Metro Bus #1 — William. Beginning at the AppleTree Business Park in Cheektowaga, Bus #1 enters the East Side on William Street, serving Lovejoy via North Ogden Street, East Lovejoy Street, and Bailey Avenue. Returning to William Street, the route passes through Broadway-Fillmore and the Near East Side before ending on the Lower West Side.

NFTA Metro Bus #2 — Clinton. Beginning at the Bank of America Operations Center in West Seneca, Bus #2 proceeds down Clinton Street through Kaisertown, the southern edge of Broadway-Fillmore, and the Ellicott District. It then turns north from Clinton onto Michigan Avenue and continues back toward downtown via William Street, ending on the Lower West Side. Outbound trips take Clinton Street directly from downtown.

NFTA Metro Bus #4 — Broadway. Beginning at the Thruway Mall Transit Center in Cheektowaga, Bus #4 proceeds down Broadway through Broadway-Fillmore and the Near East Side, with service to the Broadway Market. It ends on the Lower West Side.

NFTA Metro Bus #6 — Sycamore. Beginning at the Walden Galleria in Cheektowaga, Bus #6 serves Schiller Park, Genesee-Moselle, Broadway-Fillmore, and the Near East Side via Walden Avenue and Sycamore Street. It ends its run at the Waterfront Village Apartments downtown.

NFTA Metro Bus #8 — Main. Beginning at the University Metro Rail Station, Bus #8 proceeds down Main Street through Fillmore-Leroy, Hamlin Park, Cold Spring, and Masten Park, with service to all the East Side's Metro Rail stations. It ends downtown.

NFTA Metro Bus #15 — Seneca. Beginning at the Southgate Plaza in West Seneca, Bus #15 serves a small portion of the Ellicott District via Swan Street, Michigan Avenue, and North Division Street before ending at the Adam's Mark Hotel downtown. Outbound trips take South Division Street to Michigan Avenue.

NFTA Metro Bus #24 — Genesee. Beginning at the Buffalo Niagara International Airport in Cheektowaga, Bus #24 proceeds through the East Side via Genesee Street, passing through the Schiller Park, Genesee-Moselle, Humboldt Park, and Near East Side neighborhoods with service to Schiller Park and Martin Luther King, Jr. Park. The route ends at the Buffalo-Exchange Street Amtrak Station downtown.

An outbound #26 bus passes by the Delavan-Canisius College Metro Rail Station in Hamlin Park. The East Side is the district that's best served by Buffalo's public transit system.
Crosstown Routes

NFTA Metro Bus #12 — Utica. Beginning on the West Side, Bus #12 takes East Utica Street through Cold Spring and Humboldt Park, with service to the Utica Metro Rail Station. Turning right on Fillmore Avenue, the bus meanders its way through Humboldt Park and Genesee-Moselle via French, Kehr, and East Ferry Streets before turning northward, serving Delavan-Bailey and Kensington-Bailey via Bailey Avenue, Langfield Drive, and Eggert Road. From there, the bus turns down Winspear Avenue and passes through Kensington Heights on its way to its terminus at the University Metro Rail Station.

NFTA Metro Bus #13 — Kensington. Beginning at the University Metro Rail Station, Bus #13 proceeds down Bailey Avenue, Kensington Avenue, and Grider Street, passing through Kensington Heights, Kensington-Bailey, and Delavan-Grider with service to the Erie County Medical Center. Turning westward down East Ferry Street and from there southward on Main Street, the route proceeds through Hamlin Park, Cold Spring, and Masten Park before ending at the Utica Metro Rail Station.

NFTA Metro Bus #18 — Jefferson. Beginning at the Delavan-Canisius College Metro Rail Station, Bus #18 passes down Jefferson Avenue through Hamlin Park, Cold Spring, Masten Park, the Fruit Belt, and the Near East Side before ending in the Old First Ward.

NFTA Metro Bus #19 — Bailey. Beginning at the University Metro Rail Station, Bus #19 passes down Bailey Avenue through Kensington Heights, Kensington-Bailey, Delavan-Bailey, Genesee-Moselle, and Lovejoy, before ending in South Buffalo.

NFTA Metro Bus #22 — Porter-Best. Beginning on the West Side, Bus #22 proceeds along Best Street through Masten Park and Humboldt Park, with service to the Summer-Best Metro Rail Station, Martin Luther King, Jr. Park, and the Buffalo Museum of Science. Continuing eastward along Walden Avenue, it passes through Genesee-Moselle and Schiller Park, and ends at the Thruway Mall Transit Center in Cheektowaga.

NFTA Metro Bus #23 — Fillmore-Hertel. Beginning in Black Rock, Bus #23 proceeds through North Buffalo via Hertel Avenue, emerging on Main Street at the East Side's inner boundary and serving the Amherst Street Metro Rail Station before turning onto Fillmore Avenue. Proceeding southward on Fillmore, the bus passes through Fillmore-Leroy, Humboldt Park, and Broadway-Fillmore, with service to Martin Luther King, Jr. Park, before ending in South Buffalo.

NFTA Metro Bus #26 — Delavan. Beginning on the West Side, Bus #26 proceeds along East Delavan Avenue through Hamlin Park, Delavan-Grider, and Delavan-Bailey, with service to the Delavan-Canisius College Metro Rail Station, ending at the Thruway Mall Transit Center in Cheektowaga.

NFTA Metro Bus #29 — Wohlers. Eastbound trips begin on the Lower West Side and proceed through the Fruit Belt and into Masten Park via High and Johnson Streets. Turning northward, the bus then continues through Cold Spring and Hamlin Park via Wohlers Avenue, Hager Street, and East Delavan Avenue (with service to the Deaconess Center via Riley Street, Humboldt Parkway, and Northampton Street), terminating its run at the Delavan-Canisius College Metro Rail Station. Westbound trips continue further down East Delavan and serve Hamlin Park, Cold Spring, and Masten Park via Humboldt Parkway and Dodge Street before rejoining the above-described route at Wohlers Avenue. Bus #29 does not run Saturdays, Sundays or holidays.

NFTA Metro Bus #32 — Amherst. Beginning in Black Rock, Bus #32 proceeds along Amherst Street through Fillmore-Leroy, with service to the Amherst Street Metro Rail Station. From there, Kensington-Bailey is served via Berkshire (on westbound trips only), Bailey, and Kensington Avenues. The bus ends its run at the Thruway Mall Transit Center in Cheektowaga.

By Metro Rail

The Metro Rail is an LRRT line that extends along Main Street from the University at Buffalo's South Campus southward to downtown, along the western border of the East Side. The Metro Rail serves as the backbone of Buffalo's public transit system, accessed directly by many bus routes. Like the buses, the fare for the Metro Rail is $2.00 ($4.00 round-trip); the $5.00 all-day passes available on Metro buses are also valid for the Metro Rail.

There are five Metro Rail stations located on the East Side. From north to south, they are:

North of the five listed above, the   LaSalle Station is located a short distance from the East Side in University Heights, and provides easy access to the Kensington Heights and Kensington-Bailey areas.

By bike

Buffalo has been making great strides in recent years in accommodating bicycling as a mode of transportation, with recognition from the League of American Bicyclists as a Bronze-Level "Bicycle-Friendly Community" to show for its efforts. The East Side lags behind the rest of Buffalo when it comes to bicycle infrastructure, but it's rapidly catching up.

On each side of Humboldt Parkway, there's one dedicated bike lane from Martin Luther King, Jr. Park north to East Delavan Avenue, but past there only the southwest side has one (the other side has been discontinuous since the Kensington Expressway was routed through here in 1960). To cross the expressway by bike, you can use the footbridge next to Northland Avenue or else take East Delavan, where the bike lane on the abbreviated northeast half of the parkway continues across the overpass to the other side. South of there, still straddling the Kensington, Cherry Street and BFNC Drive each have a dedicated bike lane set up similarly to the ones on Humboldt; beginning at Jefferson Avenue, the latter side ends at Lemon Street while the former extends westward clear to Michigan Avenue. As above, there are two pedestrian bridges that cross over the expressway, one just east of Hickory Street and one between Peach and Grape Streets.

Elsewhere in the district, on Broadway there's a bike lane on each side of the street from Bailey Avenue west to Fillmore Avenue, and Fillmore Avenue has a lane on each side from William Street north to Martin Luther King, Jr. Park, with "sharrows" (pavement markings on roads too narrow to accommodate dedicated bike lanes, indicating that drivers should be aware of bicyclists on the road) north from there to East Ferry Street. Also, most recently, in Kaisertown sharrows were added to South Ogden Street between Seward and Griswold Streets, continuing north of there as a dedicated bike lane on each side of the street as far north as Dingens Street.

On foot

Walking can be a good way to get from place to place within certain particularly pedestrian-friendly East Side neighborhoods, such as Lovejoy, Kaisertown, and to a lesser extent Kensington-Bailey. But, in general, the East Side does not lend itself well to this method of transportation. Aside from the high crime rate in many areas (a danger that's greatly amplified when the sun goes down), the distances between points of interest on the East Side are too long to effectively cover on foot. If you don't have a car or bike at your disposal, you're best off using public transit.

See

Artspace Buffalo is situated in the National Register of Historic Places-listed Buffalo Electric Vehicle Company Building on Main Street in Midtown.

Art

The emerging East Side arts community is centered on the newly gentrifying neighborhoods just east of Main Street, now home to a growing population of creative types.

  • Buffalo Arts Studio (Suite 500),  +1 716 833-4450. Tu-F 11AM-5PM, Sa 10AM-2PM (Sep-May only). With about two dozen artists-in-residence working in a diversity of different media and representative of a broad cross-section of the local arts community, the Buffalo Arts Studio provides artists from Buffalo and beyond a venue to exhibit their works — either as part of the permanent collection or through the temporary exhibitions they hold frequently — as well as affordable studio space in one of the area's premier up-and-coming arts facilities. As well, the Buffalo Arts Studio's mission to advance awareness and enjoyment of art among the community at large manifests itself in the form of art classes, mural paintings and other public art projects offered to local citizens. Donation.
  • Mundo Images (Suite 255),  +1 716 598-8850. Tu-F 11AM-4:30PM, Sa by appointment. Moved to the Tri-Main Center in 2014 from its former home in Allentown, Mundo Images is run by Ann Peterson, a professional photographer, language instructor, and world traveler whose mission is to enrich the world through photography, educate young people, and raise awareness of environmental issues. In addition to the small gallery where works by Ann as well as other artists are displayed, Mundo Images also produces, and sells at local stores, greeting cards printed locally on chlorine-free FSC Certified paper, which promotes environmentally appropriate, socially beneficial, and economically viable management of forests. Free.

Museums

History

The East Side is the place to learn the story of Buffalo's African-American community — especially the place where it all began, just outside downtown on the Near East Side, where the formative institutions of black Buffalo are preserved as the Michigan Street African-American Heritage Corridor.

The Demise of Humboldt Parkway: A "Heinous Act of Urbicide"

Frederick Law Olmsted had designed his share of parks before he came to Buffalo, but the system he conceived here in the 1870s was the fullest expression of his architectural philosophy to date. The whole idea of a park, according to Olmsted, was to provide such a completely wild and natural experience that visitors would forget they were in the city. The parkway, in turn, was an extension of that idea: it was a way for people to get from one park to another without leaving that bucolic setting. Olmsted's parkways were wide boulevards lined with row upon row of huge shade trees, and the East Side's Humboldt Parkway was the grandest of them all: it stretched between Delaware Park and what is now called Martin Luther King, Jr. Park, 1.8 miles (2.9 km) long and 200 feet (61 m) wide, with eight rows of elms down the middle and one on each side, rivaling the Champs-Elysées and the other grand avenues of Paris that served as its models. In short order, Humboldt Parkway became the most prestigious address on the East Side, lined with huge mansions that were the homes of the elite upper crust of the Buffalo German community.

But Humboldt Parkway's glory days as the verdant heart of its neighborhood came to an abrupt halt in what author and historian Mark Goldman describes as a "heinous act of urbicide". It was the age of the automobile, and local bigwigs had planned for a major highway, dubbed the Kensington Expressway, to run between downtown and the airport — straight down the middle of the parkway. A few prescient members of the community rallied in opposition, but they were no match for the city government and the powerful business interests pushing for the expressway — and this was the '50s, after all, before public opinion had turned against the idea of destroying city neighborhoods in this manner. By 1960, when the bulldozers arrived to uproot the beautiful century-old trees, most of the well-to-do neighborhood residents had already left, replaced by slumlords and destitute tenants. Thus Humboldt Parkway soon fell victim to the same pattern of abandonment and blight as the rest of the East Side. It was such a disgrace that, in an act of defiant disgust, prominent local architect Robert Traynham Coles bought a vacant lot on Humboldt Parkway the next year and built a beautiful modern-style house on it, designed so the entrance was in back and the rear faced the street and the highway. The house is now on the National Register of Historic Places.

Despite the monumental scale of the task, there have been several proposals recently to rehabilitate Humboldt Parkway in one form or another. One plan, favored by the Buffalo Olmsted Parks Conservancy and the state Department of Transportation, would deck over a one-mile (1.5 km) portion of the expressway, between Best and East Ferry Streets, at a price of $250 to $500 million. A disadvantage to that plan is that the deck would not be able to support large shade trees like the ones the parkway originally had, nor would the side streets that were cut off from each other by the expressway "moat" be reconnected. Another proposal, favored by the city government, would eliminate the expressway altogether and replace it with a tree-lined, ground-level urban boulevard. Some purist preservationists object to that plan because it would not be an exact recreation of the old Humboldt Parkway, though it would indeed resemble many thoroughfares designed by Olmsted for other cities.

Humboldt Parkway today.

Parks

While it's not by any means the greenest part of Buffalo, East Siders take full advantage of the parks and other open-air spaces their neighborhood has to offer.

  •   Humboldt Basin (West side of Fillmore Ave. in center of park; Metro Bus 22, 23 or 24). The centerpiece of Martin Luther King, Jr. Park, the Humboldt Basin is a five-acre (2 ha) water feature of several functions: in the summer it serves as a "splash pad" where neighborhood kids can cool off and frolic underneath fountains of cool water that jet upwards from sprinklers embedded in the ground, in the winter it's an outdoor ice rink, and in the spring and fall it's a pleasant, peaceful reflecting pool. The Humboldt Basin was reconstructed and reopened in 2013 by the Buffalo Olmsted Parks Conservancy; originally, it was part of the Olmsted brothers' 1896 redesign of what was then called Humboldt Park, an immense wading pool with a sand and clay bottom (later replaced with concrete) that had been dry and abandoned since the 1980s.
  •   Martin Luther King Tribute Plaza (East side of Fillmore Ave. across from Humboldt Basin; Metro Bus 22, 23 or 24). Designed by sculptor John Wilson, the Martin Luther King Tribute Plaza was unveiled in October 1983, six years after the city made good on its longstanding promise to neighborhood residents to rename the erstwhile Humboldt Park in honor of the civil rights leader that's depicted in this eight-foot (2.5m) bronze bust portrait. The figure is sculpted in a somewhat idealized way; in the words of the artist, it was intended to "sum up the larger-than-life ideas" of Dr. King and capture his "inner meaning" rather than simply as a lifelike representation. Underneath the bust, on the side of the low stone wall that serves as its pedestal, is a bas-relief engraving of Dr. King at the podium at his famous "I Have a Dream" speech.
  •   Rose Garden (Just east of Buffalo Museum of Science; Metro Bus 12, 22, 23, 24 or 29). Hidden in plain sight on a quiet pedestrian walkway right next to the science museum is Martin Luther King, Jr. Park's rose garden: a small, cozy, tree-shaded oasis recently restored by the Buffalo Olmsted Parks Conservancy where a variety of roses and other flowering plants bloom in season.

Of the other parks in the district, the largest ones vary widely in quality: the baseball diamonds, soccer fields, and playgrounds at   McCarthy Park and   Walden Park bustle with romping children and amateur sports teams in the warm months, while   Schiller Park is little more than an overgrown lawn with an abandoned park shelter and derelict duck pond. As well, smaller parks like   Hennepin Park in Lovejoy,   Houghton Park in Kaisertown, and   Sperry Park in Broadway-Fillmore serve as gathering places for their respective local neighborhoods.

Aside from Martin Luther King, Jr. Park, Olmsted also designed two smaller East Side green spaces, neither of which survive in their original form:   Masten Park is located next to the Johnnie B. Wiley Amateur Athletic Pavilion and is today completely covered with basketball courts, a baseball diamond, and other sports facilities, and Bennett Park on the Near East Side has been lost entirely (the Bennett Park Montessori School stands on its site).

Architecture

For the architecture buff, the East Side's main claim to fame are the magnificent churches that pepper the landscape liberally. These palatial edifices represent styles popular in the second half of the 19th Century: Gothic, Romanesque, and Renaissance Revival (with the "Polish Cathedral" style of floor plan especially common in the dense cluster of churches around Broadway-Fillmore), and serve as relics of the East Side's bygone days as home to populous and prosperous communities of Catholics from Germany, Poland, and elsewhere. While some of the churches carry on as active parishes and some have been sold off to outside buyers and repurposed for various uses, others remain vacant and deteriorating, with uncertain futures ahead of them. See the Historic Churches of Buffalo's East Side tour for more information about these architectural treasures.

As well, out of the sixteen historic districts in Buffalo that are recognized by either the National Register of Historic Places or the Buffalo Preservation Board, one of them is located on the East Side:

Do

Festivals and events

The East Side's calendar of annual events represents both old and new: most notably, a full schedule of summer jazz festivals at Martin Luther King, Jr. Park and elsewhere are bookended by a pair of Polish-American ethnic shindigs in Broadway-Fillmore in the spring and late summer. The most well-known festival venue in the district is the exquisite Art Deco-style New York Central Terminal on Memorial Drive, rescued from demolition in 1997 by the not-for-profit Central Terminal Restoration Corporation, who have been diligently restoring it to its former glory since then. Attending an event there is an opportunity to help Buffalo preserve one of the crown jewels of its architectural cornucopia.

The Polish Heritage Dancers march down Broadway in the 2012 Dyngus Day Parade.

Spring

Summer

Sports

Martin Luther King, Jr. Park's historic Humboldt Basin wears many hats: in the summer, it's a splash pad where neighborhood kids cool off; in the spring and autumn, it's a lovely reflecting pool as seen here; in the winter, it's frozen over and converted to a popular free ice skating rink.

Ice skating

Roller skating

Theater

Live music

The quad at Canisius College on a sunny April day. Canisius' 77-acre (31 ha) campus is the cornerstone of the Hamlin Park neighborhood.

Learn

Buffalo's third-largest institution of postsecondary education and its largest private one,   Canisius College's sprawling Main Street premises have, after a vigorous period of expansion over the past two decades, come to dominate the northwest part of Hamlin Park. Founded in 1870 by a group of German Jesuit priests and originally located next to St. Michael's Catholic Church downtown, the college's current location began as a satellite campus in the first decade of the 20th Century and quickly evolved into its main one. Canisius today is a highly-regarded educational institution where some 5,000 students earn undergraduate and graduate degrees in over a hundred different fields.

Buy

Kensington-Bailey

The stretch of Bailey Avenue between Winspear Avenue and the Kensington Expressway is the most bustling retail district on the East Side.

Clothing and accessories

If you're on the hunt for streetwise urban fashions, Ken-Bailey is the place to be: up and down the strip, there's an abundance of options.

Specialty foods

The north end of the Bailey Avenue strip boasts a pair of Asian groceries that serve UB students as well as a growing immigrant community.

Furniture and home decor

Looking south down Bailey Avenue from the corner of Westminster Avenue, in the heart of the Kensington-Bailey business district.

Liquor, beer and wine

Music

Midtown, Cold Spring, and other Near East Side areas

For now, the East Side's western flank is the least amenable area of the district for those in search of a neighborhood shopping experience. But with new investment breathing life back into Main Street and the old Cold Spring business district along Jefferson Avenue, look for this scenario to be turned on its head over the next few years.

Clothing and accessories

Specialty foods

Chocolate, candies and sweets

Antiques

Books

In Fillmore-Leroy you'll find a pair of Christian bookstores that are great places to pick up Bibles and other religious literature at low prices.

Furniture and home decor

Liquor, beer and wine

Music

Miscellaneous

Delavan-Bailey and Schiller Park

Clothing and accessories

Specialty foods

Liquor, beer and wine

Tattoos and piercing

Miscellaneous

Broadway-Fillmore

In the first half of the 20th Century, the corner of Broadway and Fillmore Avenue was the epicenter of Buffalo's second-busiest retail district after downtown — and the second-busiest single intersection in the whole state, surpassed only by Times Square in Manhattan. Today it's a shadow of its former self — ask a local about the iconic local discounter of years past, Sattler's, and you'll likely hear a lengthy diatribe about how its iconic flagship store at "Nine-Nine-Eight" Broadway was demolished in 1982 to make way for a Kmart that itself closed in short order. (It remains standing today, boarded up.) Still, there are more than a few hardy holdouts in old Polonia, though urban clothing stores now outnumber five-and-dimes by a great deal. At the center of it all is the struggling but still vibrant...

The Broadway Market, seen here the weekend before Easter, the busiest season of the year. This place is the last of its kind in Buffalo — there were once a half-dozen or so public markets in the city like this one, but in the years after World War II they declined and, one by one, died off in the face of competition from the supermarkets and shopping malls of suburbia.

Clothing and accessories

  • Dexter's Hats, Caps and Things,  +1 716 812-5672. Sa 9AM-4PM. At the Broadway Market on Saturday mornings and afternoons and pretty much anywhere else in the city at other times, Dexter Shaw sells quality men's hats — fedoras, porkpies, newsboy caps, and more — to neighborhood types looking for a snazzy addition to their style. Satisfaction is 100% guaranteed.
  • Everything's Very African,  +1 716 713-0847. Tu-Sa 10:30AM-5PM. Perhaps be a more accurate name for this place would be "Everything's Very African-American" — while they stock a token selection of tribal-themed decorative items as well as shea butter shampoo and body lotion, you won't find any dashiki, kaftans, or other such items here. Instead, this Broadway Market fashion boutique features a range of smart urban styles that walk the line between upscale elegance and street-level sass, with fancy dresses and ladies' hats as well as some really nice gold jewelry.
  • Gridlock Lacquer. Sa 11AM-2PM, Oct-Mar. With Gridlock Lacquer, Lisa Menchetti offers a full line of specialty hand-mixed nail polishes in colors and designs that pay tribute to the mighty industrial history and rich culture of Buffalo — only here can you adorn your nails with the vibrant colors of "Loganberry", "The Blizzard of '77", and the Polish-themed "Smingus Dyngus". All products are cruelty-free and made with ingredients sourced from U.S.-based suppliers, and they contain no toxic formaldehyde. And if you're visiting from another Rust Belt city, they have Rochester-, Pittsburgh-, and Cleveland-themed collections as well.
If you like sausage, you've come to the right place.

Specialty foods

  • Al Baraka Halal Meat & Food. M-Sa 8AM-5PM. Serving a growing immigrant community on the East Side from a stall in the traditionally-Polish Broadway Market, Al Baraka's kitchen-sink list of merchandise consists of flours and grains, a huge selection of teas, dried fruits and legumes, fruit juices and other cold drinks, a small selection of halal meats, and more and more. Products from India and the Middle East are the main attraction, but there are also East Asian groceries to choose from as well. Staff is friendly as can be.
  • Broadway Seafood & Meat,  +1 716 893-1050. M-Th 8AM-4:30PM, F-Sa 8AM-5PM. Situated along the back wall of the Market with one large cooler for seafood and one for meat, Broadway Seafood & Meat is huge. The latter cooler has pretty much every kind of butcher meat you can think of, including unusual items like rabbit and soul-food staples like hamhocks, pigs' feet, turkey necks and chitlins; the former proudly displays fresh whole fish on ice (again, pretty much every kind you can think of; the selection of freshwater whitefish is especially good), as well as huge five-pound fish fillets, crab legs that come fresh or packaged, and homemade hush puppies for a side dish. Service is prompt and friendly, and prices have to be seen to be believed.
  • Camellia Meats,  +1 716 597-0281. M-Sa 8AM-5PM. Aside from the stand-alone location in Humboldt Park they expanded to in 2013, Camellia Meats' Broadway Market stall is still alive and kicking, with a full range of the same high-quality, low-price fresh meats you can get at the other place. Yes, that includes the award-winning house-brand Cichocki's Polish sausage.
  • Deb's Delights,  +1 716 652-8298. W 10AM-5PM. Drawing on her background in the catering business as well as her talents in the kitchen, Debra Dechert took up canning as a hobby in 1989. Little did she know that a quarter-century later it would turn into a lucrative business for her: Deb's Delights ships its inventory nationwide from their headquarters in East Aurora, and their products sit on the shelves at numerous supermarkets in the Western New York Area in addition to its flagship retail outlet that opens for business each Wednesday at the Broadway Market. What products make up that inventory? No less than 70 different varieties of jellies, relishes, salsas, hot sauces, condiments, and — above all — pretty much any kind of vegetable that can be pickled; a high-quality range of stuff that ably demonstrates the truth of her slogan, "If you can't, I can".
  • Famous Horseradish,  +1 716 893-9771. M-Sa 8AM-5PM. Sure, at this longtime Broadway Market vendor you can pick up a jar of the delicious, zesty namesake product which can otherwise be found in supermarkets all over the area, as well as harder-to-find beet horseradish. But Famous Horseradish also stocks a full range of horseradish-infused products like spicy mustard and cocktail sauce, as well as a variety of homemade pickles and sauerkraut. The remaining space on the shelves is filled out by a selection of fresh produce that's similar to the kind of stuff you'll find at Lewandowski's, but reduced in variety and quantity — though naturally, if you're in the market for fresh horseradish root you're in luck.
  • Keeping Traditions,  +1 716 698-2280. Sa 8AM-5PM, 2nd week of November through Easter. Keeping Traditions is the project of brother-and-sister team Greg and Julie Czochara, who keep alive their late mother's traditional pierogi recipe (hence the name) that their family enjoyed every Christmas: they handmake hundreds of these dumplings a day in their facility in Tonawanda, fresh-freeze them, and ship them to a growing roster of local stores and supermarkets as well as selling them directly to the public at the Broadway Market, on Saturdays from mid-November through Easter (unlike the majority of the vendors at the Market, Christmastime is Keeping Traditions' high season; they're here daily around the holidays). The pierogi these folks make are pretty hefty — around 5 inches (13cm) in size on average — and come with a variety of fillings including farmer cheese, cheddar cheese, onion, potato, sauerkraut, mushroom, and various combinations of the above, as well as special varieties that change from month to month.
  • Kissed by the Sun Spice Company,  +1 716 435-6011. Sa 10AM-4PM. Kissed by the Sun Spice Company was born in 1999, when owner Liz Fickhesen fell in love with the bold, zesty flavors of the Caribbean while on vacation in Tortola. True to form, these all-natural, all-kosher, pesticide- and MSG-free spice blends are the perfect accompaniment to island cuisine (their website even has an online cookbook for some ideas). Kissed by the Sun's biggest sellers are their seasoned sea salt blend with garlic, celery seed, parsley and a hint of ginger — a healthy alternative to table salt with one-third the sodium — as well as the sweet-hot pepper flakes made from the skins of red and jalapeño peppers, flavorful yet not too spicy.
  • Lewandowski Produce,  +1 716 896-7163. M-Sa 8AM-5PM. Open six days a week, this longtime Broadway Market vendor is the place to come if you want fresh fruits and vegetables. Most of what you'll find at Lewandowski's is fairly standard produce-section stuff — onions, potatoes, lettuce, broccoli, peppers, and other stuff that will do you well if you plan to whip up a delicious Polish meal, as well as apples, oranges, bananas — but there are some more interesting finds as well, especially when it comes to root vegetables (rutabaga and yams are ubiquitous) and a surprising selection of unroasted nuts and fresh herbs. Lewandowski's also stocks a small variety of honey, jams, and preserves.
  • Lupas Meats,  +1 716 892-4809. M-Sa 8AM-5PM. When it comes to Broadway Market butcher shops, Broadway Seafood and Meats may have size and variety on their side, but these guys have the crowds. The venerable stand operated by family patriarch Petru Lupas and his son, David, is an old-school operation — "as close as you can get to the original Broadway Market", in the words of one reviewer who grew up in Polonia during its golden years — and the constant hustle and bustle of customers testifies to the quality of what they sell. Lupas sells meats that are handcut daily, and the stars of the show are (of course) Polish delicacies such as fresh and smoked kielbasa, kiszka, kabanossy, and slab bacon. This is also a place to find workmanlike cuts like oxtails, neckbones, hog jowls, chicken feet and other stuff that you can't get at fancy-shmancy places elsewhere, as well as soul-food cuts that cater to an incresingly African-American customer base. In terms of deli meats, bologna, ham, and other pork products abound, as do local brands: Wardynski's and Sahlen's wieners, Russer ham and bologna, Yancey's Fancy deli cheeses, and Lupas' own house brand. To cut down on the already low prices, you might opt for one of the variety packs if you're buying a large quantity, or else show up late in the day, when prices are reduced to move as much inventory as possible.
  • Malczewski's,  +1 716 597-0281. M-Sa 8AM-5PM. In Buffalo, Malczewski's is synonymous with the local tradition of the baranek wielkanocny, or butter lamb — the centerpiece of the traditional Easter breakfast spread, it's a block of butter sculpted by hand into the shape of a lamb (symbolic of the "Lamb of God" of Catholic iconography), with a red ribbon tied around its neck (a symbol of the blood of Christ) and a red-and-white Alleluia flag stuck in its back. The butter lamb is a tradition native to several Eastern European lands, but on this side of the Atlantic it's unique to Buffalo. Since Mr. and Mrs. Malczewski retired in 2013, Camellia Meats has taken over the making of the butter lambs, as well as the rest of the operations at this old-school Broadway Market food stall: all your favorite Polish specialties are represented, from homemade pierogi and kluski noodles to kiszka, kapusta, czernina, farmers' cheese, and smoked hams.
  • Pierogi by Paula,  +1 716 285-8180. Sa 8AM-5PM. In her hometown of North Tonawanda, Paula Duge grew up with the tradition of helping her mother make traditional Polish pierogi for their Easter morning breakfast. Today, the savory dumplings she whips up at her facility in suburban Rochester are still made by hand using authentic ingredients and the secret Kurasiewicz family recipe — "just like Babci made", as the saying goes. Whether it be traditional savory fillings like potato, sauerkraut, or imported farmers' cheese or dessert pierogi stuffed with fruit preserves, they're all preservative-free and delicious. Paula's sister Judy handles the Buffalo-area operations of Pierogi by Paula, including its presence at the Broadway Market every Saturday. (If you're here on Tuesday or Friday, the folks at White Eagle Bakery have a key and can get you pierogi from the freezer case.)
  • Spices by Milly,  +1 716 310-2321. Sa 9AM-4PM, Nov-Mar; daily 9AM-4PM, Mar-Easter Sunday. Spices by Milly offers up a selection of spices and herbs that dwarfs what you can find on the shelves of your average supermarket, and whose chef-level quality comes from the hours of research the owner puts in on the ideal physical characteristics and preparation and storage methods for each of her individual products. That's just the beginning of the story, though: Milly also stocks a huge range of prepared goodies like cooking oils, salad dressings and dips, hot sauces and salsas, dehydrated vegetables, a range of premium quality herbal teas (including decaffeinated varieties), and powdered soup and gravy mixes based on her own family recipes.

Chocolate, candies and sweets

  • Chruściki Bakery,  +1 716 893-1464. M-F 8AM-4PM, Sa 8AM-5PM. At the Broadway Market, countless Polish confectioners have come and gone over the years, but the Chruściki Bakery is the stalwart original that (despite a marked decline in service and quality over the years) still keeps folks lining up all year long, but especially in the weeks leading up to Easter, to satisfy their sweet tooth. The titular item that earned this place their stature is chruściki, otherwise known as "angel wings" — flat strips of dough twisted into ribbon shapes, deep-fried and sprinkled with powdered sugar; a light-as-air deliciousness — but you can also pick up pączki, placek, makowiec, and mazurek, as well as home-baked rye bread, pierogi, and full hot breakfasts. The Chruściki Bakery also has locations in Kenmore and Lancaster.
  • Franklin's Kettle Korn. Sa 9AM-4PM, Thanksgiving-Easter. Kettle corn is the specialty that gave this longtime Broadway Market stall its name: it comes in three sizes and in regular, cinnamon, and extra-sweet flavors. But there's also fresh honey, beeswax, and handmade candies sourced directly from Lyle Franklin's expansive Chautauqua County farmstead, as well as novelty beer glasses, knit hand towels, and other miscellaneous stuff.
  • Melanie's Sweets Unlimited,  +1 716 895-1959. M-Sa 8AM-5PM. Scratch-made cakes, pastries and cookies come out of the oven all day at Melanie Krygier's sweet shop, which has been open here at 999 Broadway since 1978. Melanie's specialty is "lamb cakes": lamb-shaped slabs of pound cake drizzled in a sweet sugar glaze and frosted with a white coconut icing.
  • Strawberry Island,  +1 716 895-3279. Tu-Sa 10AM-4PM. "We'll dip anything in chocolate" is the saying around here, and at Strawberry Island that can mean anything from marshmallow Peeps, to roasted nuts, to Twinkies, to the fresh strawberries that gave this place its name. But that's just the beginning of the story: this old-time candy shop stocks all the sweets you remember from the halcyon days of your youth — jelly beans, saltwater taffy, crispy sugar waffles, fudge — as well as only-in-Buffalo specialties like sponge candy (available in regular, dark chocolate or orange chocolate) and Charlie Chaplins (a mix of marshmallows, roasted cashews, and coconut flakes covered in chocolate fudge and sprinkled with coarse salt).
  • Sweet Temptations du Jour,  +1 716 536-0567. Barbara Keating started out whipping up small batches of family-recipe Polish pastries like makowiec and selling them at craft shows and farmers' markets around the area, but today Sweet Temptations du Jour has expanded to an eclectic array of sweets representing culinary traditions from across Europe — German pfefferneusse spice cookies, Russian teacakes, Italian cugidati, and Croatian-style apple strudel are just a few of the concoctions available by special order from the website. As for the Broadway Market stand where you can find Keating every Saturday, it stocks a limited slate of changing selections from Sweet Temptations' oeuvre, always including the specialty of the house: light, crunchy sugar waffles dipped in chocolate and topped with candied nuts, dubbed "Sweet Nuthings". Chocolate-covered kettle corn is another big seller. And if you're planning a trip to Buffalo but can't make it to the Broadway Market on a Saturday, fear not — Sweet Temptations du Jour also has a brick-and-mortar location in Allentown!
  • White Eagle Bakery,  +1 716 896-3949. Tu 10AM-4PM, F-Sa 9AM-4PM. Owned since 1925 by four generations of the same family, White Eagle Bakery is most famous for their chruściki, the familiar red-and-white boxes of which adorn the shelves at Wegmans and other area supermarkets in the runup to Easter. But these folks sell the whole lineup of Polish pastries: placek, strudel, cream horns, pastry hearts, cakes and pies, and the seasonal favorite pączki which flies off the shelves from Fat Tuesday all the way through to Easter Sunday. As well, a close second to chruściki on the list of customers' favorite White Eagle products is the wholesome, soft-crust seeded Polish rye bread baked fresh daily. If you're in town at the beginning of the week, come see these folks at their other location, D&L Bakery in Depew.

Furniture and home decor

Gifts

  • Amber Gems,  +1 716 480-8277. Sa 9:30AM-3PM. The warm-colored, yellowish little gems that gave this place its name are sourced directly from Poland's Baltic Sea shoreline, and adorn a huge range of jewelry including earrings, rings, necklaces and pendants, bracelets, brooches and more. But that's just the beginning of the story here: you can also choose from a range of Polish porcelainware, all handpainted the old-fashioned way with lead-free glaze and safe for use in the freezer, dishwasher, oven, or microwave. And if you're in the market for a kitschy gift, you can find coffee mugs, shot glasses, sweatshirts, decals, decorative items all emblazoned with the proud Polish flag.
  • Ceramics By Design,  +1 716 677-6564. Sa 8AM-5PM. This is where West Seneca native Audrey Lehr sells a wide variety of brightly colored ceramic figurines, garden gnomes, kitchenware, and seasonal decorative baubles, all handmade by the artist herself. A small selection of jewelry rounds out the offerings at Ceramics By Design.
  • Enchanted Market Gifts & Cards,  +1 716 894-1332. Tu-F 10AM-3PM. If you're looking for the perfect kitschy souvenir to remember your visit to the Broadway Market by, Monika Poslinski's gift emporium is the place you want to be: pretty much everything on the shelves — flags, scarves, aprons, t-shirts, hats, baby clothes, shot glasses, ad nauseam — is colored red and white and comes emblazoned with the proud Polish falcon. Enchanted Market also sells charming blue and white pottery imported directly from Bolesławiec, Poland's ceramics capital, as well as imported glassware such as beer steins and wine glasses, and a selection of English- and Polish-language greeting cards.
  • Theresa's Treasures for the Home. Sa 8AM-3PM. The name of this shop is a bit of a misnomer: the main stock in trade at Theresa's Treasures for the Home is a collection of jewelry that runs toward the loud and gaudy (sometimes hilariously so) — large, brightly-colored, and obviously fake gemstones that wouldn't look out of place at a Mardi Gras parade. Kitsch abounds in the housewares selection too: there are lots of porcelain decorative figurines and kitchenware, cut glass dishes & goblets, and trinkets such as solar powered dancing animals. If you're among the Eastertime crowds at the Broadway Market, you'll also find painted wooden Easter eggs and other seasonal fare.

Liquor, beer and wine

Miscellaneous

  • Hands & Paws Cookies and Treats,  +1 716 361-2801. Sa 10AM-4PM. At Hands & Paws you can find a variety of artisanal pet treats made of natural, wholesome, high-quality ingredients — a popular seller are bone-shaped peanut butter cookies drizzled in yogurt and dog-safe chocolate substitute — as well as chew toys, collars, mats, and other accessories all handmade in the USA. Custom embroidery is available. Most of the items here are for dogs, but Hands & Paws also carries a line of catnip toys and cat beds.
Clinton Street is Kaisertown's main drag.

Lovejoy and Kaisertown

Specialty foods

Art

Liquor, beer and wine

Tattoos and piercing

Miscellaneous

In addition to the small neighborhood shops listed below, the South Ogden Plaza just off William Street contains a location of the national big-box discounter,   Big Lots.

Delavan-Grider, Humboldt Park, and Genesee-Moselle

Clothing and accessories

Specialty foods

With a vibrant Muslim community clustered along Fillmore Avenue north of Martin Luther King, Jr. Park, Humboldt Park is a great place to stock up on fresh halal meats and other ethnic fare.

Furniture and home decor

Liquor, beer and wine

Miscellaneous

Eat

The East Side is not the part of Buffalo you head for when you want a ritzy haute cuisine experience, but that's not to say the restaurant scene there isn't interesting. It's a heady brew that includes elements from all facets of the area's identity and history: in Broadway-Fillmore old neighborhood gin mills double as homestyle Polish eateries, north of there you have your pick of take-out joints specializing in halal Arabian and Pakistani cuisine, and all over the district you can find some of the best off-the-beaten-path barbecue and soul food restaurants in the region. The one thread that unites them all is the price point — the East Side is where you'll find some of Buffalo's best and cheapest food.

This page uses the following price ranges for a typical meal for one, including soft drink:
Budget Under $20
Mid-range $20-$40
Splurge Over $40

Kensington-Bailey

The Bailey Avenue strip has the most diverse and interesting range of eateries on the East Side. If you like Jamaican, you'll be especially pleased with your options.

Budget

Tucking into a delicious plate of brown stew chicken, with red beans and rice, steamed vegetables, and a frosty bottle of ginger beer on the side. Jamaican food figures prominently among the East Side's restaurant scene.

Mid-range

Groceries

Pizza

The following pizzerias are located in Kensington-Bailey and Kensington Heights. Those who are interested in pizza delivery (as opposed to pickup) might want to also check listings in adjacent districts; local pizzerias will often deliver to several different neighborhoods of the city.

Local chains

The following local chains have locations in Kensington-Bailey and Kensington Heights. Descriptions of these restaurants can be found on the main Buffalo page.

Midtown, Cold Spring, and other Near East Side areas

Budget

Mid-range

The Near East Side is the only part of the district that has anything approaching an upscale dining scene: there's a pair of beloved homestyle Italian eateries just outside downtown, and a swanky nightspot in Midtown that serves a classed-up take on Southern American comfort food.

Groceries

Pizza

The following pizzerias are located on the Near East Side. Those who are interested in pizza delivery (as opposed to pickup) might want to also check listings in adjacent districts; local pizzerias will often deliver to several different neighborhoods of the city.

Delavan-Bailey and Schiller Park

Budget

Groceries

Broadway-Fillmore

If Polish cuisine is your thing, Broadway-Fillmore is where you want to be.

Budget

  • East-West Café,  +1 716 895-1929. M-Sa 9AM-4PM. Take the respective halves of this place's name to mean "Eastern Europe" and "Western New York", and you'll have a pretty accurate idea of the menu here. At East-West Café, you're just as apt to nosh on Polish specialties like gołąbki (cabbage rolls), tangy czernina (duck blood soup), and huge, mouth-watering Polish sausage dogs that dwarf the buns they're served on (condiments are around the corner from the cash register) as you are to enjoy local favorites like beef on weck, fried bologna sandwiches or fish fry. Simple sandwich-shop fare like burgers, fries, subs, and melt sandwiches round out the menu, along with breakfast fare in the morning and sides such as chili mac and collard greens that add a soul food element to the mix. Service is quick and friendly. $5-15.
  • Jafran Halal Restaurant,  +1 716 392-9497. M-W 10AM-5PM, Th-Sa 10AM-8PM. Since January 2015, Mahmuda Chowdhury and Sitara Arshad have been serving up "Halal Income Halal Food" (no exaggeration, prices are very good!) at this humble restaurant located in the Broadway Market. South Asian specialties are the rule of thumb at Jafran — an ample selection of biryani, Pakistani-style kebabs and kofta, and tandoori chicken is featured — but you can also get familiar American fare like burgers, chicken and beef hoagies, pizza (plain cheese only), and even fish fry. All the food served at Jafran is jabeha halal, and on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays, the restaurant's separate entrance leading directly to Broadway enables it to stay open much later into the evening than the market itself. $10-15.
  • McKenzie's Soul Food Shack,  +1 716 897-4052. M-Sa 8AM-5PM. This place is worth going out of your way for — despite the fact that it's just a humble little Broadway Market stand, local foodies in the know agree that the Southern-fried soul food dished out (in, it must be emphasized, huge portions) at McKenzie's are among the best in Buffalo, and can hold its own with what you get south of the Mason-Dixon Line. If you've ever been down South to a "meat and three" joint, the setup will be instantly familiar to you, but at McKenzie's it's "meat and two" — that is, you choose from a meat-based main course and two side dishes for a flat price of $8. There's a range of selections on offer, but really you can't go wrong no matter what you choose — the ribs are fall-off-the-bone tender, the meatloaf is to die for, and the fried chicken is crispy on the outside; moist and juicy on the inside (and comes in smaller portions than the other mains), while mac & cheese is rich and flavorful and the collard greens have a spicy kick. $10-15.
  • Potts Deli & Grille,  +1 716 826-6575. M-F 8AM-5PM, Sa 9AM-4PM. As the signs indicate, Potts Deli serves a combination of Polish and American fare. If you've been to the main location on Rossler Avenue in Cheektowaga, you'll notice that the menu at the Broadway Market satellite is abbreviated and tilts more heavily toward standard American comfort food — but you'll also be pleased to know that the award-winning quality of the huge pierogies remains unscathed (don't be put off by the price; you get what you pay for in terms of both size and quality). If you're in the mood to eat Polish, you can also opt for gołąbki, smoked kielbasa (no fresh, sadly), or a "Polish platter" that combines all three with sauerkraut and mashed potatoes on the side. As for Potts' American selections, you've got a workmanlike slate of standard diner options punctuated by local favorites like fried bologna and Wardynski's hot dogs. Whatever you order, it's served up with businesslike efficiency in a friendly, folksy environment pleasantly secluded from the rest of the market. $5-20.

Groceries

Much more than just the Broadway Market, the East Side's densest concentration of supermarkets and food shops can be found on the stretch of Broadway between Fillmore and Bailey Avenues.

Pizza

The following pizzerias are located in Broadway-Fillmore. Those who are interested in pizza delivery (as opposed to pickup) might want to also check listings in adjacent districts; local pizzerias will often deliver to several different neighborhoods of the city.

Lovejoy and Kaisertown

Budget

Groceries

Pizza

The following pizzerias are located in Lovejoy and Kaisertown. Those who are interested in pizza delivery (as opposed to pickup) might want to also check listings in adjacent districts; local pizzerias will often deliver to several different neighborhoods of the city.

Delavan-Grider, Humboldt Park, and Genesee-Moselle

Soul food and barbecue, barbecue and soul food — if downhome Southern cuisine is what you crave, you'll find it here in the heart of the East Side.

Budget

Mid-range

Groceries

Farmers' markets

Pizza

The following pizzerias are located in Delavan-Grider, Humboldt Park, and Genesee-Moselle. Those who are interested in pizza delivery (as opposed to pickup) might want to also check listings in adjacent districts; local pizzerias will often deliver to several different neighborhoods of the city.

Drink

The East Side's bar scene is definitely off the beaten path for local drinkers, but it's got plenty to offer those hungry (or, rather, thirsty) for a taste of the rapidly disappearing, rough-and-tumble, blue-collar Buffalo of old. Again, locals will advise against you crossing to the other side of Main Street, but as long as you use common sense and keep your wits about you in the rougher areas, you should be fine.

Midtown, Cold Spring, and other Near East Side areas

Coffee shops

There's a nascent coffeeshop scene on the Near East Side.

Delavan-Bailey and Schiller Park

Broadway-Fillmore

Alongside Lovejoy and Kaisertown, old Polonia is the hub of the East Side's bar scene. The bars in this neighborhood split the difference between African-American hangouts and blue-collar watering holes that are holdovers from bygone days.

Willie's on Ludington Street is the prototypical blue-collar gin mill of Lovejoy.

Lovejoy and Kaisertown

At the gin mills of Lovejoy and Kaisertown, you'll find all of the blue-collar grit and off-the-tourist-track feel of the bar scene in Broadway-Fillmore, but not quite as much of the old-Buffalo charm. It's definitely a safer part of town, though, especially at night.

Coffee shops

Delavan-Grider, Humboldt Park, and Genesee-Moselle

Sleep

On the East Side, you'll see signs posted in windows here and there advertising rooms for rent. However, the neighborhood being what it is, there's a good chance the building you're passing might simply be an abandoned boardinghouse whose sign no one bothered to take down. Even if not, a lodging situation like that is probably not the kind of thing a traveller wants to get involved in.

The East Side's lone recommendable accommodation is a charming former convent-turned-guest house in Lovejoy. If that kind of thing doesn't suit you, your next closest options are either the upscale properties downtown or the cluster of low- to mid-priced chain hotels around exit 1 of Interstate 190, just over the city line in Cheektowaga.

Connect

Buffalo's large   Central Post Office is located on the East Side, at 1200 William St. In addition to being the primary mail-processing center for the Niagara Frontier region, it's also a functioning post office in its own right. Letters, postcards, etc. that are dropped off here generally arrive at their destination at least a day earlier as opposed to those sent from a roadside mailbox or another post office, so if fast shipping is important to you, you might want to head here.

The East Side also has a number of other post offices:

If you need to access the Internet, your best bet is to head to a public library — all branches of the Buffalo & Erie County Public Library provide not only free public WiFi, but also computer terminals with wired Internet access that are available for a nominal fee even to those who don't have a library card. The East Side has three libraries: by far the largest is the   Frank E. Merriweather, Jr. Library in Cold Spring, with 47 public computers, while the   East Delavan Branch Library in Delavan-Bailey has 35 computers. Finally, the   East Clinton Branch Library in Kaisertown has ten fixed computer terminals as well as two portable laptops that are available for in-library use.

Stay safe

In Buffalo, poverty and blight does not always equal crime. Despite its appearance, this is actually one of the safer neighborhoods in the entire city.

Despite the fact that Buffalo's crime rate has fallen steadily since the 1990s, it is still higher than the national average for cities its size. As we've already gone over in the first part of this article, the East Side has a notorious reputation among Buffalonians for its high crime rate — a reputation that, while largely accurate, is a good deal more nuanced than local conventional wisdom says.

First off, while tales of murder, assault and other mayhem may make for splashy newspaper headlines, it's important to understand that most of the violent crime on the East Side is committed against locals. There's nothing random about these incidents: as long as you don't suddenly decide to join a street gang or deal drugs, as a visitor to the East Side you are not a target for violent crime, so don't worry too much about that. Theft, vehicle break-ins and property crimes are another matter, but even in those cases a little bit of common sense goes a long way. As in any urban area, it pays to lock your car doors, keep valuables out of sight, avoid flashy displays of wealth, and make yourself scarce after dark.

Secondly, it's important to remember that while poverty and urban blight are endemic districtwide, in terms of crime not all East Side neighborhoods are created equal. Just because you're in a neighborhood that's visibly rundown doesn't necessarily mean you're in danger. A lot of it has to do with density: the more businesses in a particular neighborhood or cars parked on a particular stretch of road, the more potential targets there are for the robber. Sadly, this means that the Bailey Avenue corridor north of Broadway — the main drag of the district, and the site of many of its best shops and restaurants — is the highest-crime area in the East Side and indeed the whole city. Other particularly crime-prone areas include Delavan-Bailey, the stretch of Genesee Street along the northern edge of Schiller Park, the Cold Spring business district, Delavan-Grider, and St. John Kanty. By contrast, Kaisertown, the Near East Side, Masten Park, and the western half of Broadway-Fillmore (including the area around St. Stanislaus) have little crime to speak of. The crime rates in other East Side neighborhoods vary, but tend to be in the middle of the pack by Buffalo standards.

Panhandlers generally avoid the East Side, with the exception of Midtown where you'll encounter some particularly persistent ones. "Persistent" doesn't mean "aggressive", though, and as elsewhere in Buffalo, a firm "no" almost always does the trick if you don't want to give.

Cope

Newspapers

The East Clinton Shopper is a small, eight-page monthly newspaper that covers Lovejoy and Kaisertown as well as adjacent areas of Sloan, Cheektowaga and West Seneca. You'll mostly find local business and event listings, but also of interest is a column written by Lovejoy's District Councilman, Richard Fontana, as well as the minutes of the Kaisertown Coalition's monthly meetings.

The Buffalo Criterion and the Challenger Community News are the newspapers of record for Buffalo's African-American community. As such, they double as sources for news and other happenings on the East Side.

Buffalo's largest single hospital, the mammoth Erie County Medical Center dominates the Delavan-Grider skyline.

Hospitals

Laundry and dry cleaning

Kensington-Bailey

Midtown, Cold Spring, and other Near East Side areas

Delavan-Bailey and Schiller Park

Broadway-Fillmore

Lovejoy and Kaisertown

Delavan-Grider, Humboldt Park, and Genesee-Moselle

Places of worship

The East Side is filled with a cornucopia of diverse religious congregations that represent its past, present and future: respectively, there are beautiful old Catholic churches left over from its days as a German and Polish stronghold, a multitude of black churches that reflect its status as the heart of African-American Buffalo, and a number of mosques and Buddhist temples in Humboldt Park and Broadway-Fillmore to serve mushrooming communities of new immigrants.

African-American

There are dozens upon dozens of African-American churches on the East Side, ranging from small congregations that meet in converted houses or storefronts to huge megachurches whose pastors are among the most prominent figures in the Buffalo black community. It would be impossible to list all of them in this article. Listed below are a few of the most important ones.

Of course, no discussion of Buffalo's black churches would be complete without mentioning the   Michigan Street Baptist Church. Though it no longer plays host to regularly scheduled services, the importance of the Michigan Street Baptist Church to the history of Buffalo's African-American community cannot be overstated: it's the oldest continuously black-owned property in Buffalo, in the years immediately prior to the Civil War it was notorious as a "station" on the Underground Railroad by which escaped black slaves from the South were spirited away to freedom in Canada, and it retains its prominence today as the centerpiece of the Michigan Street African-American Heritage Corridor.

Catholic

For generations, the East Side teemed with legions of immigrants from Poland and southern regions of Germany, and a big part of the legacy they left are a plethora of magnificent Catholic churches that dot the district today: an architectural treasure trove of proud stone and brick palaces whose majesty echoes — and can go toe-to-toe with — the ancient cathedrals and basilicas back in Europe. Check out the Historic Churches of Buffalo's East Side itinerary for a driving tour of the most impressive of these old churches. In the ensuing years, the economic decline and demographic shifts in the East Side have caused many Catholic churches to be abandoned or sold off to other owners, but a surprising number of congregations in the district remain active today — especially in Broadway-Fillmore, where you can still attend Mass in the Polish language at St. Stanislaus and Corpus Christi.

The foundation of St. Stanislaus, Bishop & Martyr in 1872 gave rise to the Polish community centered in Broadway-Fillmore. Unlike most East Side Catholic churches, St. Stanislaus is still an active and vibrant parish.

Eastern Orthodox

Lovejoy is an epicenter of Orthodox Christianity in Buffalo, with a pair of churches serving Ukrainian and Russian congregations respectively.

Mainline Protestant

The East Side's roster of mainline Protestant churches is multifaceted: many of them are located in blue-collar white ethnic areas near the city line and are attended by the same type of folks as always, but there are also a number of churches in inner neighborhoods that were able to weather the mid-20th Century demographic changes and now feature majority-black congregations — and even some like St. Philip's Episcopal that have been African-American since they were founded.

Nondenominational

Jehovah's Witnesses

Muslim

The East Side boasts a sizable collection of mosques, which are concentrated around Humboldt Park and the northern parts of Broadway-Fillmore where communities of Muslim immigrants have coalesced.

Humboldt Park and Broadway-Fillmore are home to a considerable population of Muslims.

Buddhist

Buffalo's Vietnamese Buddhist community is represented by a pair of temples, located in Broadway-Fillmore and Lovejoy respectively.

Go next

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