The Lower West Side is in Buffalo.
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EDIT AS NECESSARY
The Hispanic community still predominates in the Lower West Side, but it's also increasingly being colonized — and rehabilitated — by young, middle-class "urban pioneers" migrating west from Allentown and the Elmwood Village, buying up and renovating lovely but dilapidated old Victorian houses in places like Prospect Hill, the West Village, and 1 Five Points, where a small cluster of art galleries, upscale restaurants, and specialty shops has sprouted around the titular intersection of Rhode Island, Brayton, and West Utica Streets.
write this out and incorporate the following facts
- South Black Rock, what is today the Lower West Side, where streets were surveyed in a distinctive grid angled parallel to the shoreline that still exists; however, the land remained a sparsely settled forest, and none of the streets were actually constructed until the 1830s, '40s and after.
- As predicted, Buffalo grew explosively [after the completion of the Erie Canal], expanding its borders in 1832 to include newly developing South Black Rock.
- It was about 1850 when former mayor Ebenezer Johnson moved to Tennessee, placing his vast Lower West Side estate up for sale. The estate was subdivided into streets and houses that quickly took on a working-class character: the canal was only a few blocks away, and the crowded tenements of the First Ward were a place that canal laborers, largely Irishmen, were keen to escape if they could afford it. As the Irish pushed north, they were joined on the blocks closest to downtown by Italians, who, beginning in the 1870s, competed with the Irish for canal and railroad jobs. Further north, the park and parkway system that eminent landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted had planned for the city attracted development to Prospect Hill; its western arm, Porter Avenue, lined with rows of stately elms, cut a swath through the old South Black Rock street grid, passing Prospect Park and ending at "The Front" (now Front Park), the pleasant green space Olmsted planned for the beautiful Lake Erie shoreline. The similar Richmond Avenue additionally extended north toward Delaware Park along the eastern fringe of the district.
blah blah blah... 20th century decline and urban renewal
- Block after block of lovely brick Victorian cottages on the Lower West Side were demolished; these stable and vibrant, if poor, Italian communities were derided as "slums" by city leaders and replaced with public housing that was no better than what came before them, with the Italians dispersed to various parts of the city (most notably the Hertel Avenue area). As well, no sooner was the bed of the abandoned Erie Canal filled in than the monstrous Interstate 190 was built over its top. With the opening of I-190 in 1958, Buffalo was essentially cut off from its own waterfront; Front Park's serene river views were replaced by that of a noisy expressway. Thankfully, at the end of the 1960s, grassroots pressure forced the cancellation of plans for the West Side Arterial, another highway which would have bisected the Lower West Side along Virginia Street (the huge Niagara Street exit of I-190, the intended west end of the West Side Arterial, is a gruesome example of what might have been in store for the neighborhood).
- By the 1980s, the West Side was in rough shape. Though the Hispanic community that had replaced the Italians on the Lower West Side (and, later, spread northward to Prospect Hill) tried their best to keep the area up, the battle against drugs, crime and poverty at times seemed hopeless. However, glimmers of hope were emerging by the turn of the millennium" blah blah blah gentrification and D'Youville College also made massive investments in the surrounding neighborhood of Prospect Hill as it expanded during the 2000s.
Much like downtown Buffalo but not nearly to the same extent, the West Side riverfront is noticeably cooler and windier than other areas of the city and region. The refreshing breezes are a big part of why locals are drawn to waterfront oases like LaSalle Park during the stifling summer months, but by the same token, visitors looking to walk the Bird Island Pier during the spring or autumn would be well-advised to wear a windbreaker and long pants.
As the longtime home of Buffalo's Hispanic community, visitors to the Lower West Side will likely hear Spanish spoken almost as frequently as English. Those who want to practice their Spanish on the West Side may run into some difficulty, though: the fast-paced, somewhat slurred Caribbean dialects most often heard here may be difficult to understand for those used to standard Spanish.
a bit about immigrant languages - this began in the Upper West Side but moved south
Monolinguals need not worry — no matter their nationality, it's quite rare to encounter any West Side residents who cannot speak English at all.
Get in and aroundEdit
- Exit 8 (Niagara Street) provides access to the West Village and the Lower West Side as well as downtown.
- Exit 9 (Peace Bridge via northbound lanes; Porter Avenue via southbound lanes) leads to Prospect Hill and also Fort Erie, Ontario via the Peace Bridge. Cars headed southbound exit directly onto Porter Avenue, with the Peace Bridge onramp accessible via the roundabout on the other side of the overpass. Northbound traffic can either proceed directly to Customs and over the bridge or else keep to the left lane and exit at the corner of Busti and Massachusetts Avenues. (Despite what the signs say, there's no direct access to Porter Avenue from the northbound 190).
surface streets: Niagara Street
Porter Avenue and Connecticut Street - main cross streets; perhaps relocate the following para?
Driving in the Lower West Side can be tricky due to its many one-way streets. An easy trick to navigating the Lower West Side that dates back to the initial survey of the South Black Rock street grid is that most of the crosstown streets (those that run perpendicular to Niagara Street) are named after the United States' Eastern Seaboard states, with more southerly states closer to downtown and more northerly ones further out. Thus, anyone with basic knowledge of U.S. geography can judge what direction they're heading and approximately how many blocks they are from their destination. The system isn't perfect, though: the word "New" has been shed from the street names (for instance, it's "Jersey Street", not "New Jersey Street"), there's only one Carolina Street, rather than a North and South, the Olmsted-designed Porter Avenue supplanted the portion of York Street west of West Avenue in the early 1870s, Hudson Street interlopes between Maryland and Pennsylvania, and Maine and Delaware are not represented (respectively, to avoid confusion with Main Street and because Delaware Avenue already exists elsewhere in the city).
list which of these crosstown streets are major ones
meters along Niagara Street south of Hudson Street (in effect till 5PM every day except Sunday, $1 per hour to a maximum of 2 hours)
By public transportationEdit
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 West Side is traversed by a number of NFTA Metro bus routes:
To and from downtownEdit
NFTA Metro Buses #1 — William, #2 — Clinton, and #4 — Broadway all begin and end on, and take the same route to and from, the Lower West Side: outbound buses proceed southward down 4th Street from Carolina Street, turning left on West Genesee Street and entering downtown; inbound buses turn right from West Genesee Street onto 7th Street and proceed as far as Carolina Street. Buses #1, #2 and #4 end, respectively, at the AppleTree Business Park in Cheektowaga, at the Bank of America Operations Center in West Seneca, and at the Thruway Mall Transit Center in Cheektowaga.
NFTA Metro Bus #3 — Grant. Beginning at the city line at the corner of Tonawanda and Vulcan Streets, inbound #3 buses serve the Lower West Side via Hampshire Street, Normal Avenue, York Street, and West Avenue, emerging onto Carolina Street and proceeding downtown via Elmwood Avenue. Outbound buses: Hudson to Plymouth to Hampshire and the above-described route.
NFTA Metro Bus #5 — Niagara-Kenmore. Beginning at the University Metro Rail Station, then via Niagara to downtown
NFTA Metro Bus #7 — Baynes-Richmond. Beginning at the Richardson-Olmsted Complex in the Elmwood Village... southward down Richmond to Symphony Circle, ending downtown. Bus #7 does not run Saturdays, Sundays or holidays.
NFTA Metro Bus #40 — Buffalo-Niagara Falls. Beginning at the Portage Road Transit Center in Niagara Falls, Bus #40 proceeds through the West Side via Niagara Street same route as 5 but does not serve passengers whose trips are entirely south of Hertel Ave
NFTA Metro Bus #12 — Utica. Beginning at the corner of Niagara Street and Busti Avenue, eastbound buses on Route #12 head northward along Niagara Street and pass through the Upper West Side- southward thru LWS via Richmond then enters the Elmwood Village at West Utica Street and ends at the University Metro Rail Station.
NFTA Metro Bus #22 — Porter-Best. Beginning at the corner of Jersey Street and Lakeview Avenue, eastbound buses on Route #22 serve Prospect Hill via Jersey Street, 7th Street, and Porter Avenue, entering the Elmwood Village at Symphony Circle and ending at the Thruway Mall Transit Center in Cheektowaga. Westbound buses proceed along Porter as far as Lakeview, then turning left and proceeding as far as Jersey Street.
NFTA Metro Bus #29 — Wohlers. Beginning at the corner of Efner and Maryland Streets, eastbound buses on Route #29 proceed through the Lower West Side via Maryland Street. Buses then turn right on Cottage Street and enter Allentown, ending at the Delavan-Canisius College Metro Rail Station. Westbound buses serve Trenton, Esperar, and Efner Streets, ending back at Maryland Street. Bus #29 does not run Saturdays, Sundays or holidays.
By Metro RailEdit
The Metro Rail runs along Main Street, far east of here. However, the Lower West Side is fairly easily accessible from the Utica and Summer-Best Metro Rail Stations by way of NFTA Metro Buses #12 and #22, respectively. Those traveling to the West Side by both bus and subway are strongly advised to purchase a day pass for $5.00.
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 Lower West Side is one of the most bikeable parts of the city, populated largely by immigrants whose habituation to alternative modes of transportation, including bicycles, is imported from their home countries — as well as young, middle-class "urban pioneers" for whom carfreedom is a conscious choice.
Buffalo's oldest, largest, and best-known bike path is the Shoreline Trail, a multi-use trail that connects the Bethlehem Steel site in Lackawanna to Gratwick Park in North Tonawanda via the West Side waterfront, for a total distance of 22.6 miles (36.4 km). The Shoreline Trail passes into the Lower West Side near the posh Waterfront Village condos and closely hugs the shore of Lake Erie and the Niagara River for its length, with excellent views over the water and easy access to many waterfront attractions including LaSalle Park and the Fontana Boathouse. asphalt paved, 15 mph/24 kph
As indicated above, bike lanes and other accommodations have also been steadily added to the street grid. Among the streets which have been improved in this way is Richmond Avenue, with dedicated bike lanes throughout its entire LWS length
bike lanes on Niagara as far north as Hudson
Elsewhere, Porter Avenue sports a dedicated bike lane on each side between Symphony Circle and Niagara Street plus a signed off-street bike path west of Niagara Street as far as LaSalle Park where it connects to the Shoreline Trail, and Hudson Street boasts parallel bike lanes on each side between Plymouth and Busti Avenues, with "sharrows" (pavement markings on roads too narrow to accommodate dedicated bike lanes, indicating that drivers should be aware of bicyclists on the road) in place east to Wadsworth Street and west to 4th Street with access to LaSalle Park via a pedestrian bridge over Interstate 190. As well, sharrows lead from Hudson Street to Symphony Circle by way of West Avenue and Pennsylvania Street, and are in place on Connecticut Street between Niagara Street and Richmond Avenue, on Wadsworth Street from Symphony Circle to Allen Street, and on the entirety of Hampshire Street from Grant Street to the Shoreline Trail.
The Lower West Side has eight Reddy Bikeshare racks:
- on the east side of Niagara Street between Virginia and Carolina Streets, alongside the back end of the parking lot of the Turner Brothers Building
- on the south side of Porter Avenue at the corner of Jersey Street and Normal Avenue, across the street from Grover Cleveland High School
- on the south side of Porter Avenue at the corner of Fargo Avenue, in front of the D'Youville College Center
- on the north side of Connecticut Street at the corner of Normal Avenue, in front of Horsefeathers Market
- on the south side of Vermont Street between West and Fargo Avenues, in front of West Side Community Services
- on the north side of Rhode Island Street between West and Plymouth Avenues
- at the Five Points intersection, on the south side of West Utica Street at the corner of Rhode Island Street, across the street from Black Monarchy
- on the south side of Rhode Island Street at the corner of Landis Place, in front of Left Bank
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- 2 Frances Folsom Cleveland House, 168 Edward St. (Metro Bus 3, 11, 20, 25 or 29). Privately owned, not open for tours. This delightful cottage on Edward Street is where Frances Folsom Cleveland, wife of President Grover Cleveland, lived from her birth in 1864 to her matriculation at Wells College about 1880. Frances' father Oscar Folsom, a prominent lawyer, died at a young age in a carriage accident, whereupon his friend and colleague, Grover Cleveland, took on the responsibility of caring for his widow and two daughters. Cleveland's relationship with Frances would blossom into a romance, culminating in their marriage in 1886, the first and still the only presidential wedding to ever take place at the White House. Folsom Cleveland was immensely popular — the public was struck by her beauty, poise and intelligence, and ladies of the day slavishly copied her fashion sense — and she's still the youngest First Lady in U.S. history. Though the house at 168 Edward Street is not open for tours, the city has placed an interpretive plaque in front of it with details on Folsom Cleveland's life, historical importance, and legacy. Architecture buffs will also take note of this fine example of the mid-19th Century red brick Italianates that remain popular on the Lower West Side.
- 3 Karpeles Manuscript Library (Porter Hall), 453 Porter Ave. (Metro Bus 3, 7 or 22), ☏ . Su-Tu 11AM-4PM. The brainchild of California real estate magnate David Karpeles, the Karpeles Manuscript Library is the world's largest privately-owned collection of historic documents and manuscripts. The library consists of twelve branches nationwide, including two in Buffalo: Porter Hall, located in Prospect Hill at the beautifully restored former home of the Plymouth Methodist Church, and North Hall in Allentown. In addition to the travelling exhibits that rotate among all twelve branches of the library, Porter Hall houses the permanent collection of the Buffalo branch of the Karpeles Manuscript Library, including the William McKinley Room where original documents concerning the 1901 assassination of President William McKinley at Buffalo's Pan-American Exposition are displayed. Free.
- 4 Essex Arts Center, 30 Essex St. (Metro Bus 7 or 12), ☏ . A complex of four buildings that serve as living quarters as well as studio and exhibition space for painters, sculptors, photographers, musicians, and all manner of other artists, the Essex Arts Center has been a mainstay on the West Side for four decades running. The center traces its history back to 1969, when local steel sculptor Larry Griffis and his Ashford Hollow Foundation, which was established three years previously to administer the 400-acre (160 ha) sculpture park he'd established in Cattaraugus County, purchased the former Webster-Citizens Company Ice House to use as an arts studio and performance venue. The Essex Arts Center immediately attracted to its roster a veritable Who's Who of Buffalo's arts scene of the 1970s and '80s, and over the years it has proven to be an incredibly prolific incubator of institutions that have gone on to become major players in the local arts scene — Hallwalls Contemporary Arts Center, the CEPA Gallery, and the dearly missed Artists' Committee Gallery all got their start at 30 Essex before striking out on their own, and Big Orbit Gallery, founded in 1991 and described below, carries on the tradition at its original location. Besides the gallery, the Essex Arts Center also hosts frequent events such as art auctions, musical performances, and educational workshops and seminars whose proceeds go directly to benefit the local arts community.
- 5 Big Orbit Gallery, ☏ . F-M noon-5PM or by appointment. Established in 1991, Big Orbit Gallery is a collective run by and for artists, featuring a changing schedule of experimental exhibitions in a diversity of media. This expansive gallery — situated in a former warehouse whose high ceiling, adjacent interior courtyard, and minimalist decor lend it a cavernous, airy ambience — features diverse exhibitions of works by local artists. Everything from traditional media like painting and photography, to performance art and sound sculpture, to genre-defying, avant-garde spectacle of all kinds can be found here. These works are united by their transcendence of cultures and viewpoints: Big Orbit Gallery prides itself not only on bringing established artists from the Buffalo area to the national and international stage, but also on building awareness of emerging artists of underrepresented demographics. A word of warning: updates to their website are sporadic at best, so Facebook or the pages of Artvoice are probably better bets for those who want to see what's on at Big Orbit.
- 6 The Fargo House, 287 Fargo Ave. (Metro Bus 3, 5, 22, or 40). Open by appointment. This handsome old Victorian in Prospect Hill is part private residence, part archaeological dig and part art gallery: award-winning artist, architect, author and UB professor Dennis Maher bought it in 2009 when it was on the city's demolition list and has been living in and renovating it ever since, a process that has yielded a treasure trove of salvaged structural and decorative elements that he assembles — along with found items from thrift stores, flea markets, and other sources — into imaginative collages displayed in the gallery space on the house's first floor. This ongoing project has earned him praise from the New York Foundation for the Arts and in the pages of the New York Times, among others. Aside from Maher's own work, the Fargo House also occasionally hosts exhibitions by other artists from the local area.
- Community Beer Works, 520 7th St. (Metro Bus 5, 22 or 40), ☏ . On a limited basis, Community Beer Works offers free, informal tours of the newly expanded production facility where it churns out such Buffalo craft-beer favorites as the zesty, piney "Frank" American pale ale and the 5.9% ABV "Whale" brown ale. As of November 2018, a permanent tour schedule is said to be forthcoming. Contact brewery staff for more information.
section lede - discuss Olmsted parks
- 7 Front Park, North side of Porter Ave. between Busti Ave. and I-190 (Metro Bus 5, 22 or 40). One of Buffalo's many Olmsted parks, Front Park (or "The Front", as it was originally named) is situated along Porter Avenue just south of the Peace Bridge and contains a soccer field, tennis courts, and picnic facilities, as well as original features such as "The Hippodrome", a 3.5-acre (1.5 ha) lawn intended for picnicking or informal team sports, and a terrace concourse for carriages adorned with a handsome statue of Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry. Intended to both showcase and enhance the beauty of the Niagara River and Lake Erie and emphasize its significance to the history and identity of Buffalo, the park once also boasted extensive formal gardens. At the north end of the park stood Fort Porter, built in the mid-1840s as a customshouse and military installation. Some time later, Olmsted was given the green light to extend the Front beyond the canal to the edge of the river itself; though it never materialized, this extension would have included playgrounds, a beach, and a boardwalk. Sadly, together with the West Side's other Olmsted park, Riverside Park, Front Park was badly damaged by the urban renewal that decimated the West Side in the middle 20th Century: the construction of Interstate 190 over the former canal bed robbed the concourse of its serene lake views, and the construction of the new plaza for the Peace Bridge in 1951 culled seven acres (2.5ha) from the size of the park, resulted in the demolition of Fort Porter, and routed noisy trucks bound for Canada through the park (the latter problem will be solved by the controversial expansion of the Peace Bridge plaza slated for the next few years, after which trucks will access the bridge from a new entrance away from the park).
- 8 LaSalle Park, South side of Porter Ave. between I-190 and lake shore (Metro Bus 22 or 29). Though not an Olmsted park, LaSalle Park is the largest park along Buffalo's waterfront, and its plethora of amenities — baseball diamonds, soccer fields, a swimming pool, a skate park, and a dog run ("The Barkyard") — have made it popular among locals. This 89-acre (36 ha) expanse was named Centennial Park when it opened to visitors in 1932, Buffalo's 100th year as a city. Later, of course, its name was changed to honor the French explorer René-Robert Cavalier de La Salle, whose ship Le Griffon passed along the Lake Erie shore in 1679, the first European to see the land now called Buffalo. Architecture buffs will enjoy the Buffalo Water Authority's historic Colonel Francis G. Ward Pumping Station, built between 1909 and 1915 to a design by the local firm of Esenwein & Johnson in a style that's an eclectic hybrid of Beaux-Arts Neoclassicism and the Romanesque Revival.
In addition to the large parks listed above, the West Side also contains a couple of smaller green spaces that are pleasant places for visitors. Covering two blocks at the corner of Porter Avenue and Niagara Street, in the shadow of the massive Connecticut Street Armory, is 9 Prospect Park. When Frederick Law Olmsted was doing his work in Buffalo, he also redesigned this already-extant park and integrated it into his system, albeit with a layout that bears little resemblance to his typical work. As well, the West Village contains the charming 10 Johnson Park, a small "residential park" similar to the two in Allentown that's located on the former estate of Buffalo's first mayor, Dr. Ebenezer Johnson. - Massachusetts Avenue Park
Other outdoor attractionsEdit
- 11 Bird Island Pier, access from Broderick Park (Metro Bus 5, 12 or 40). The Bird Island Pier dates from 1822, when it was built as a buffer between the Erie Canal and the rough waters of the Niagara River, and was once a lively place of fishing shacks, canal boats, and pleasure steamers bound for Canada and Grand Island. Though those are long-gone, the pier recently completed an extensive renovation and structural stabilization and, for the first time in three years, is now completely reopened as a scenic pedestrian walkway. Proceeding southward from Broderick Park past the Peace Bridge and onward to a point parallel to LaSalle Park — 1.3 miles (2 km) in all — walkers can experience an unparalleled view of the Niagara River and Fort Erie to their right, then turn their head and watch rowing crews from Canisius, St. Joe's, and other area high schools set off along the canal from the West Side Rowing Club. At the end, you're treated to a waterfront panorama that is simply without equal, with the Erie Basin Marina in the foreground and the downtown skyline and grain elevators off in the distance. NOTE: As of November 2019, the section of Bird Island Pier south of the Peace Bridge is closed due to major structural damage suffered during a pair of lake storms the preceding year.
- 12 Massachusetts Avenue Project, 389 Massachusetts Ave. (Metro Bus 3), ☏ . Staff-led tours Tu 4PM & Sa 10:30AM. Founded in 1992 by West Side residents, the Massachusetts Avenue Project's vision encompasses access to affordable and nutritious food for all, the transformation of blighted urban areas into productive green space, community education, and economic betterment on a grassroots level. Its centerpiece is the Growing Green Urban Farm, the first one in Buffalo, located on thirteen vacant lots totalling more than an acre (4,000 square meters) in area. Produce is grown in a large greenhouse as well as expansive garden beds, and the farm also features a small orchard of fruit trees, free-range chickens, and a fish hatchery — all kept green by a state-of-the-art, rainwater-fed aquaponics system installed in 2009. Farm work is performed by local youths recruited through the Mayor's Summer Youth Program, educating them with information about healthy food as well as valuable work skills. There's also a farm stand onsite where the fruits of the land are sold. $2 suggested donation.
variant of standard lede for this section
- 14 Fargo Estate Historic District. Covering an irregularly-shaped expanse of 49 acres (20 ha) on the south slope of Prospect Hill bounded very roughly by Prospect Avenue, Hudson Street, Normal Avenue, York Street, and Porter Avenue, the Fargo Estate Historic District is situated right next door to the Allentown Historical District, with which it shares some similarities especially in terms of architecture. The district's namesake is the opulent country manor that once occupied two and a half of these blocks — home to William Fargo, a onetime Buffalo mayor and millionaire shipping magnate who went down in history as co-founder of Wells, Fargo & Co. — but the Fargo Estate itself was short-lived, existing only for two decades before Fargo's heirs subdivided the land into residential lots around 1890. What you'll see here now is a tract of two- and three-story wood-frame or brick houses that date to between roughly 1880 and 1930 and were once home to a middle-class Italian-American community; one of the most historically intact residential neighborhoods on the West Side. Italianate, Second Empire, Queen Anne, and Colonial Revival styles dominate, along with some later styles such as Craftsman and American Foursquare. Today, it's the intactness of the period streetscape, more so than any individual buildings, that's at the heart of the Fargo Estate's appeal to fans of architecture and urban design. However, if you're interested in seeing some neighborhood historical and architectural landmarks, you can head to the former Plymouth Methodist Episcopal Church at 453 Porter Ave., built in 1911 and now home to the Karpeles Manuscript Library, or the lovely Second Empire-style Engine No. 2 and Hook and Ladder No. 9 fire house (1875, 310 Jersey St.) Another facet of the district's history is exemplified by Life Memorial Park at the corner of Porter and Normal Avenues, a pleasant garden established in 1992 in commemoration of local victims of the HIV/AIDS epidemic.
- 15 Prospect Hill Historic District. Located on the waterfront near the foot of the Peace Bridge at the west end of the larger neighborhood with which it shares its name, the Prospect Hill Historic District is a 21-acre (8.5ha), five-block cluster of single- and two-family homes bounded roughly by Busti Avenue, Rhode Island Street, Niagara Street, Columbus Parkway, 7th Street, and Porter Avenue. The houses in the district span a relatively long period of history — from the 1850s through the 1950s, roughly — during which time Prospect Hill's evolution from a proto-suburban scattering of houses and small farms on the outskirts of town to a well-off inner-city neighborhood populated by the upper crust of Buffalo's Italian-American community was set into motion largely by Frederick Law Olmsted's park system, the far western reaches of which — Front Park, Porter Avenue, and Prospect Park — abut the district. Though it held up to Buffalo's late 20th-century decline better than most West Side neighborhoods and remains a desirable address today, sadly, the majority of Prospect Hill's most historic buildings have been lost to the wrecking ball over time — notably, the castlelike Fort Porter (built in 1844 at the north end of Front Park and used by the military as a customs and guard house) and the Tuscan villa-style Colonel Samuel Wilkeson House (c. 1863, once located at 771 Busti Ave.) were demolished for two separate expansions of the Peace Bridge plaza, in 1926 and 2013 respectively. However, the district still contains a number of handsome homes in a wide variety of architectural styles.
- 16 West Village Historic District. Much like the Fargo Estate Historic District, the West Village is a period residential neighborhood located on the site of what was once a large private estate: in this case, that of Buffalo's first mayor, Dr. Ebenezer Johnson, which was sold to developers after he left town in 1850. The West Village is the closest part of the West Side to downtown — 22 acres (9 ha) bounded by South Elmwood Avenue, Tracy Street, Carolina Street, Whitney Place, and West Chippewa Street — and it contains a veritable encyclopedia of late-19th Century architectural styles, with the Italianate, French Second Empire, Romanesque Revival, and Gothic Revival all well-represented. In addition, the single-family dwellings that dominated the neighborhood through the 1800s were joined around the turn of the century by a few handsome brownstone apartment buildings. As with the Fargo Estate district, the appeal of the West Village doesn't have as much to do with individual buildings as with its overarching identity as an unusually intact example of an attractive mid-19th Century residential district — as well as its street pattern, where the radial avenues laid out by Joseph Ellicott in Buffalo meet the diagonally-tilted old South Black Rock gridiron in an irregular labyrinth centered on Johnson Park, deeded to the city by the former mayor on what was once the site of his front lawn and redesigned by Frederick Law Olmsted in 1876. Nonetheless, the Gothic Revival Prospect Avenue Baptist Church at 262 Prospect Ave. (corner of Georgia St.), built in 1867 and enlarged in 1881, is a real beauty.
Prospect Hill is also home to one of the Niagara Frontier's six Frank Lloyd Wright buildings:
- 17 Fontana Boathouse, 40 Porter Ave. (Metro Bus 22), ☏ . Open for tours (Apr-Sep: check website for schedule, Oct-Mar: by appointment only). The only boathouse ever designed by the eminent Frank Lloyd Wright, the Charles and Marie Fontana Boathouse has perhaps the most unusual history of any of Buffalo's Wright buildings. Designed in 1905 (contemporaneously with Wright's most famous Buffalo commissions, the lost Larkin Administration Building and the very-much-alive Darwin D. Martin House), it was intended to be built for the University of Wisconsin Boat Club in Madison, but was instead built in Buffalo — in 2007, over a century after Wright's design was finalized — and only thanks to the dogged efforts of a local group of Wright aficionados financed largely by Buffalo-born screenwriter Tom Fontana. The only alteration to the original design was the replacement of the stucco on the exterior walls with concrete. The Fontana Boathouse does double duty today as both the working boathouse of the West Side Rowing Club and a destination for the growing legion of architectural tourists who come to Buffalo to see the works of Wright and other greats. It's also available to rent for private events. Tours $10.
Festivals and eventsEdit
- Buffalo Small Press Book Fair. Held annually in early April, the Buffalo Small Press Book Fair sees authors, artists, poets, booksellers, bookmakers, and book enthusiasts descend on Karpeles Manuscript Library's Porter Hall to break bread, exchange ideas, and interact with fans and aspiring authors. Books, zines, artwork, and other materials can be bought and sold, and lectures, symposia, poetry readings, and other cultural performances are also put on. Attendance is free of charge and open to the public.
- 1 Kavinoky Theatre, 320 Porter Ave. (Metro Bus 3, 5, 22 or 40), ☏ . The Kavinoky Theatre is located in Prospect Hill on the campus of D'Youville College. Over the course of its history, not only has the Kavinoky Theatre thoroughly restored the historic former Porter-View Room under the auspices of the D'Youville Capital Campaign, but this local repertory company of professional actors has produced nearly 150 plays and musicals of a consistently high quality, earning them more awards than any other troupe in Buffalo. The Kavinoky Theatre has given many actors of local extraction their start in the business.
- 2 New Phoenix Theatre on the Park, 95 Johnson Park (Metro Bus 3, 5, 11, 20, 25 or 40), ☏ . Buffalo's premier alternative theatre, the New Phoenix Theatre on the Park opened in 1996 in a historic house in the West Village and has quickly gained an impressive reputation for the high-quality, diverse range of performances it has hosted in its tiny space, trending heavily towards bold contemporary works of theatre as well as avant-garde reinterpretations of old favorites. The New Phoenix Theatre on the Park hopes to foster a spirit of community collaboration not only through its exciting theatrical offerings, but also by playing an active role in the ongoing revitalization of the West Village neighborhood.
- 3 Kleinhans Music Hall, 3 Symphony Cir. (Metro Bus 7 or 22), ☏ . Designed by the internationally-famous father-and-son team of Eliel and Eero Saarinen, Kleinhans Music Hall is among the most architecturally distinguished buildings in Buffalo (it has served as a model for Festival Hall in London, among other venues), and boasts world-renowned acoustics. Aside from the several-times-weekly performances of the Buffalo Philharmonic itself, Kleinhans also features performances by other orchestras, small theatrical shows, and popular music acts — which have included Natalie Merchant, Johnny Mathis, and the Indigo Girls — performing either on their own or backed by the Philharmonic as part of the BPO Rocks! concert series.
2 D'Youville College is a private Catholic college that's been located in Prospect Hill since 1908. The college was established by the famous Grey Nuns of Montréal and named after their founder, St. Marie-Marguerite d'Youville. A pioneer in the field of higher education for women, D'Youville was the first college in the Niagara Frontier to admit women, and though it went co-ed in the 1970s, its student body is still about three-quarters female. The school has expanded aggressively over the past quarter-century, taking a leading role in neighborhood revitalization and constructing many new buildings in the area (and rehabbing several vacant ones too) for their use. Today, D'Youville is a robust college with a student body of 2,700, including over 1,000 post-graduate students. Undergraduate, graduate and doctoral programs are offered in a wide range of fields such as international business, education, and information technology, but especially in health-related professions such as nursing, dietetics, chiropractic, and physical therapy.
Divide by sub-neighborhoods?
Niagara and Connecticut Streets are the Lower West Side's main thoroughfares for shoppers. By comparison with each other, Connecticut Street is smaller in size but noticeably more upscale, while bustling Niagara Street is larger and more typically "West Side", with a wide array of urban clothes stores, Grant Street-style ethnic food markets, and other shops. There's a smattering of more out-of-the-way shops on other streets as well.
Clothing and accessoriesEdit
- 1 Black Monarchy, 527 W. Utica St. (Metro Bus 7 or 12), ☏ . Tu, Th & F noon-6PM, Sa 8AM-8PM, Su 11AM-4PM. Urban clothing boutiques come a dime a dozen in Buffalo, but Black Monarchy is one that seems tailor-made for the West Side. Here, streetwise sass is eschewed in favor of an Afrocentric house style where bright colors and vibrant tribal patterns abound. These are no mere imitations: the better to (in the words of their website) "recreate the conglomerate of our world", Black Monarchy sources all their pieces from artisans in Africa and elsewhere across the world. And you couldn't ask for a friendlier owner to buy from.
- 2 Kings of da West, 461 Niagara St. (Metro Bus 3, 5, 29 or 40), ☏ . M-F 1PM-7PM. The central node of a trio of related shops on the corner of Niagara and Hudson Streets, Kings of da West sells West Siders a variety of new and secondhand urban clothing, shoes, jewelry, and fashion accessories as well as a small variety of cigarettes and smoking supplies. Ladies aren't left out in the cold either: Queens of da West extends the business into the storefront next door, with ladieswear, purses and other accessories, wigs, and fragrance on offer in similar styles. Lastly, Kings Wireless is a destination for cell phones and accessories as well as electronics repair.
Those who've come to the Lower West Side in search of delicious Puerto Rican food are better off heading to a restaurant than a specialty grocery store; Hispanic cuisine is mainstream enough around these parts that its ingredients are easily available in ordinary supermarkets such as Tops on Niagara Street (which boasts what must be the best selection of Goya products Buffalo has to offer). However, if you were intrigued by the multiethnic cornucopia of immigrant-run food shops on Grant Street and are thirsty for more, the Lower West Side has what you're looking for.
- Community Beer Works, 520 7th St. (Metro Bus 5, 22 or 40), ☏ . M, W & Th 3PM-10PM, F 3PM-midnight, Sa noon-midnight, Su noon-8PM. With a motto of "Embeer Buffalo", Community Beer Works proudly produces a range of award-winning craft beer that's available not only in their own tap room and at local bars and restaurants like Allen Street Hardware and Pano's, but also in a small retail store where beer aficionados can come and fill their bottles and kegs or buy branded merchandise such as T-shirts, glasses and growlers. Best of all, Community Beer Works' commitment to the well-being of the Buffalo area is legendary, and spent grain from the brewery is donated to the Massachusetts Avenue Project to be reused as fertilizer.
- Five Points Bakery, 44 Brayton St. (Metro Bus 7 or 12), ☏ . M-Sa 7AM-7PM, Su 7AM-4PM. Quoting their website, Five Points Bakery is all about "raising the bar on local food" and "striv[ing] to overcome the limitations of our food system and reclaim our food heritage through education... and a dedication to sustainability". Sound a bit high-concept and pricey? It is, but those who persevere past the sticker shock will find the homemade artisanal multigrain, whole-wheat and ciabatta bread worth splurging for — and it's all made with organic locally-grown grain. If you've got a sweet tooth, the cinnamon rolls are among the hugest in town, and that's just for starters. All this goodness is available to grab and go, but if you like, you can also linger at the toast bar.
- 3 Mineo & Sapio Italian Sausage, 410 Connecticut St. (Metro Bus 7), ☏ . M-F 9AM-4PM, Sa 9AM-2PM. Along with the Armory Restaurant, Mineo & Sapio is along the last remnants of the old Italian Village: they've been on Connecticut Street since 1920. They sell a variety of sausages, but the classic-recipe Italian is unsurprisingly the marquee selection: 100% pork, no preservatives or artificial colors, all-natural hog casings. Best of all, despite the fact that the bulk of their sales nowadays are to supermarkets and restaurants, the atmosphere at the retail shop is friendly, cozy, and fragrant with the aroma of sausage spices. You can buy it frozen like at the grocery store if you want, but since you have the opportunity, you really want to go for the fresh stuff.
- 4 Paradise Wine, 435 Rhode Island St. (Metro Bus 7 or 12), ☏ . W-F 11AM-7PM, Sa 10AM-6PM, Su noon-5PM. The inventory at this hipster wine shop in Five Points eschews the big names completely in favor of a small, handpicked selection of organic, biodynamic, sustainably crafted wines (and ciders and craft spirits) sourced from small family-owned vineyards in the local area. If that sounds too high-concept for your price range, think again: an integral part of this place's mission is making holistically produced products available to those of all budgets. Eponymous owner Paula Paradise is enthusiastic about sharing her treasure trove of wine knowledge to serve each customer's individual needs and palate.
- 5 WestSide Tilth Farm, 251 Vermont St. (Metro Bus 3), ☏ . Farm stand open F 5PM-7PM in season. Co-owners Neil and Carrie's farm got its start in 2015 as West Side Herbs & Alliums, and despite the name change, those remain the cornerstones here (the selection of herbs is particularly astonishing, ranging from everyday pantry staples to medicinal herbs to obscurities like lemon balm and buzz buttons). But they've diversified their repertoire since the old days: nowadays you'll also find fruit trees, microgreens, and a whole host of other vegetal goodies, all grown organically in raised beds so as to sidestep the issue of soil contamination that is the bane of urban farmers across the Rust Belt.
- 6 Á Châu International Market, 833 Niagara St. (Metro Bus 5 or 40), ☏ . M-Sa 9:30AM-7:30PM, Su 9:30AM-6PM. "International", yes, but let's be more specific: the bulk of the inventory on Á Châu's shelves comes from Southeast Asia. Here you'll find fresh meats and fish, a blockbuster selection of produce such as durian, bok choy, and flaming hot Thai chilies, frozen foods, and to quote one reviewer: "every kind of spice, edible sea critter, and sauce you could ever ask for". Authentic and gritty with none of the supermarket gloss of Wegmans or Tops, the squeamish may need to avert their gaze from sights like whole frozen bullfrogs in the coolers, buckets of freshly eviscerated organ meats, and whole ducks, chickens and rabbits strung up as window displays.
- 7 Arbin Grocery & Fresh Meats, 397 Connecticut St. (Metro Bus 7), ☏ . Daily 9AM-9PM. Situated on bustling Connecticut Street a stone's throw from Masjid al-Eiman, Arbin Fresh Meat's inventory goes far beyond what's in its name: you'll find a mishmash of goods geared toward Buffalo's growing Bangladeshi, Pakistani, and Indian immigrant communities, including Indian spices, large sacks of channa daal and other grains, Western-style snack foods, a surprisingly ample range of household items, and a modest selection of fresh produce. At Arbin the aisles are cramped and the shelves are not particularly well organized, but the small size of the store means that if they carry it, you'll probably find it before too long.
- 8 Chez La Camer & Rock Centero Market, 941 Niagara St. (Metro Bus 5, 12 or 40), ☏ . M-W 10AM-7PM, Th-Sa 10AM-8PM, Su noon-5PM. Along with a range of hair and beauty supplies, braiding, cosmetics, and ethnic clothing, African food is the specialty at this newly established market at the north end of the Niagara Street strip. A modest variety of both fresh and frozen groceries are available for aficionados of the cuisines of West and Central Africa. Also, for anglers who are keen on trying their luck at nearby Broderick Park or elsewhere along the West Side riverfront, live bait is offered for sale.
- 9 Karibu Market, 469 Niagara St. (Metro Bus 5, 29 or 40), ☏ . Su-F 10AM-8PM. Karibu Market's inventory of "African Foods & More" places an especial emphasis on nonperishable staple grains such as cornmeal, semolina, and ground cassava fufu — you'll see enormous sacks of these stacked up in front of the windows as you walk in. But there are also more modest selections of fresh produce and meat (goat is a specialty), as well as a few Western-style groceries and snacks.
- 10 Phu Thai Asian Market, 356 Connecticut St. (Metro Bus 7), ☏ . Daily 9AM-9PM. In stark contrast to the pan-Asian or even pan-Southeast Asian selection at many of its competitors, the groceries here are almost exclusively Thai in provenance: at Phu Thai you'll find all the usual shelf-stable dry groceries, what must be Buffalo's best selection of Southeast Asian soft drinks, a decent variety of frozen meat and fish, and a more modest selection of fresh produce (best practice is to show up on Thursday morning, when fresh shipments of Thai chilies, ginger, and other exotic greens are delivered). Drawbacks include an unfortunate tendency to not label their merchandise with prices.
- 11 Roze Myanmar Grocery Store, 931 Niagara St. (Metro Bus 5, 12 or 40), ☏ . Lucky 7 Asian Market made the move to Black Rock some time ago, but at the old location, Roze offers more or less the same thing: staple grains in huge sacks; shelves lined with snacks, spices, condiments and nonperishables; some freezer cases; a limited selection of veggies.
Chocolate, candies, and sweetsEdit
- 12 Blue Table Chocolates, 44B Brayton St. (Metro Bus 7 or 12), ☏ . M-F 10:30AM-6PM, Sa 10AM-7PM. In review after review, these gourmet artisanal chocolate truffles are described almost more as miniature works of art than as food, and when you get the box open it's not hard to see why. But don't discount Blue Table's creativity in the culinary department either: from lemon-pistachio to coconut-passionfruit to delightfully crunchy sunflower seed, you'd be hard-pressed to find flavors like this anywhere else. And if all of this sounds unattainably expensive, think again.
- 13 The Chocolate Shop, 871 Niagara St. (Metro Bus 5, 12 or 40), ☏ . M-F 9AM-5PM. West Side native Frank Caruana entered the confectionery business way back in 1950, and The Chocolate Shop is where you'll find him still busily custom-molding chocolates to his customers' specifications, whether it be reproducing a sample item or bringing their zaniest fantasies to life in chocolate form. The bulk of the business here is corporate orders and fundraisers, but at their Niagara Street retail location can be found a range of chocolates and candies (including sponge candy, Buffalo's favorite chocolate treat) as well as personalized gift packs made fresh daily with only the finest ingredients.
- La Flor Bakery, 544 Niagara St. (Metro Bus 5, 22 or 40), ☏ . Daily 8AM-9PM. After you get done munching on some of the most delicious Puerto Rican food in town, don't forget to make a stop at the attached bakery for dessert, with bizcocho, several varieties of flan, pastelillos, and other delectable tropical desserts to take home.
- 14 Burning Books, 420 Connecticut St. (Metro Bus 7 or 22), ☏ . W-Su 11AM-7PM. This is not your ordinary bookstore, but if you're on the lookout for a unique gift for that hard-to-buy-for far-left radical on your list, Burning Books probably has what you're looking for: in the words of one reviewer, "books that people in power don't want you to read". Histories, biographies, reference materials, magazines, leaflets, DVDs, and even kids' books regarding a diversity of themes of social injustice and revolutionary politics — everything from the Black Panthers to the Stonewall Riots to the Zapatistas — all come at decidedly 99%-friendly prices.
- 15 Urban Roots, 428 Rhode Island St. (Metro Bus 7 or 12), ☏ . Tu-Sa 9AM-5PM, Su 9AM-3PM, shorter hours in winter. Urban Roots is a cooperatively run community garden center where $100 will buy you lifetime status as a "member-owner" with access to exclusive promotions and discounts, first notification of special events and new items in stock, and a voice in store policy — but don't worry, you don't need to be a member to shop there! Plants for sale range from the everyday to the unusual, the selection of seeds is encyclopedic (including Baker's Creek heirloom strains and organic, non-GMO Seeds of Change), and garden accessories round out the inventory. Prices are high, but so is the quality of what they sell.
If you like Puerto Rican food, the Lower West Side is the place for you: this is the heart of Hispanic Buffalo. But that's just the beginning of the story: fans of upscale cuisine will want to head to Five Points, whose gentrified ambience is more redolent of Allentown or the Elmwood Village.
|This page uses the following price ranges for a typical meal for one, including soft drink:|
- 1 Armory Restaurant, 311 Connecticut St (Metro Bus 3 or 22), ☏ . M-F 11AM-2PM. Located in the shadow of the gargantuan Connecticut Street Armory (hence its name), the order of the day at this throwback to the old Italian Village is simple, homestyle red-sauce fare. There's no set menu, only a changing slate of about eight or nine daily specials at any given time; favorites include lentil soup, sandwiches of spicy Mineo & Sapio Italian sausage, and a concoction known as "The Brick": an ample portion of baked ziti with a blend of ricotta and mozzarella cheeses as well as the most mouth-watering sauce you've ever tasted. The Armory has been a favorite meeting place and hangout for Buffalo politicians since the 1960s, when the West Side's own Frank Sedita served as mayor, and its low prices and remarkably quick service have also won it a loyal following among D'Youville College students. $10-15.
- 2 BreadHive Cooperative Bakery, 402 Connecticut St. (Metro Bus 7), ☏ . Tu 8AM-6PM, W-Su 8AM-3PM. BreadHive first made its name with delicious fresh-baked bread (the flagship "West Side Sourdough", multigrain, deli rye and Danish-style rugbrød) and bagels (eight varieties, all baked with locally-grown organic flour and wild yeast). But with their expansion from a mere walk-up window to a full-size restaurant has come additions to the menu in the form of delicious sandwiches all named for the owners' favorite female musicians — favorites include "The Robyn" (their version of what Jewish delis call the "Rachel", with beet caraway sauerkraut sourced from the West Side's own Barrel + Brine) and "The Bjork" (a vegan-friendly concoction with tempeh "bacon"). In the morning there's a somewhat smaller range of breakfast sandwiches, plus locally-roasted Public Espresso. $10-20.
- 3 Custard Corner, 211 Porter Ave. (Metro Bus 5, 22 or 40), ☏ . Daily 11AM-11PM, Apr-Oct. Once upon a time, hot dogs at Ted's followed by delicious soft-serve at Custard Corner was the classic West Side waterfront double-shot. Though Ted's Porter Avenue location closed in the '90s, its counterpart still hops during the warm months — and as if to make up for the loss, Custard Corner's now serves hot dogs, burgers, fries, chicken fingers, and other summertime snack-bar favorites. But of course, the main draw is still a changing selection of hard and soft Perry's ice cream (try the sponge candy flavor for a true taste of Buffalo!) that comes in cones, sundaes, or as part of an "Arctic Swirl" — their knockoff version of Dairy Queen's "Blizzard". There's nothing better on a summer day than relaxing here with a sweet treat on an umbrella-shaded picnic bench and taking in the view across the street to Prospect Park. $5-10.
- Essex Street Pub, 590 Rhode Island St. (Metro Bus 7 or 12), ☏ . M-Sa 11AM-4AM, Su 3PM-4AM. Five Points' favorite hipster watering hole, now serving a full menu of pub grub. Barbecue is the specialty of the house at the Essex Street Pub: Texas- and Memphis-style platters of house-smoked brisket, pulled pork, ribs, and wings served with cornbread, coleslaw, baked beans, or mac & cheese, with just the right amount of sauce to accentuate but not overwhelm the flavor of the meat. And they make their own pastrami and corned beef, too: try their "PLT", where the former serves as a replacement for the bacon in the classic recipe. Downsides include the service, which can be slow and gruff; also, no one would call this place the most comfortable in the world (seating is at the bar on high stools, or at one of the few wobbly tables if they're free). $10-20.
- 4 Five Points Bakery, 44 Brayton St. (Metro Bus 7 or 12), ☏ . M-Sa 7AM-7PM, Su 7AM-4PM. If you're in search of a full hearty meal, look elsewhere. But if you just want to nosh (and especially if money is no object), Five Points Bakery's toast bar is a popular West Side locavore destination. Choose from their selection of locally-grown organic breads, pop a slice in the toaster, top it with your choice of honey, peanut butter, or various fruit compotes and cheese spreads, then find a seat either indoors at a table or along the bar, or if the weather is nice, on the rear patio, whose rustic furniture and adobe-colored stucco walls give it a distinctly Southwestern feel. Laptop jockeys can take advantage of multiple Ethernet ports, and both dining room and patio have kids' play areas that are fully stocked with toys, games and books. $10-15.
- 5 La Flor Bakery & Restaurant, 544 Niagara St. (Metro Bus 5, 22 or 40), ☏ . Daily 8AM-9PM. Generous portions of delicious Puerto Rican specialties served up for a pittance in a genial, family-oriented atmosphere: that's the name of the game at this combination restaurant/bakery. Those in search of a light lunch or a quick snack can enjoy sandwiches that range from familiar standards like turkey and ham and cheese to Hispano-Caribbean selections such as an excellent cubano, as well as deep-fried classics like alcapurrias (described by many as the best in Buffalo), tostones, and yuca al ajillo. On the other side of the spectrum, heartier entrees — pollo guisado, pollo frito, pernil, and the daily specials that make up the true heart and soul of La Flor's delicious cuisine — are served with heaping sides of yellow rice and beans. $10-15.
- 6 Niagara Café, 525 Niagara St. (Metro Bus 5, 22 or 40), ☏ . M-Sa 11AM-10PM, Su noon-8PM. Niagara Café is a Buffalo culinary pioneer, serving up Puerto Rican specialties on the main thoroughfare of Buffalo's West Side Latino community since 1992. There are those who say the place lags behind its competitors nowadays, coasting on its name recognition and status as multiple-time winner of awards from the likes of the Taste of Buffalo and Artvoice's annual "Best of Buffalo" poll (most of which they won when they were pretty much the only game in town), but that's not entirely true. The menu may not hold any surprises for those familiar with the cuisine, but it does what it does well — and there's nary a better way to put your finger on the pulse of Hispanic Buffalo than to chat it up with the locals in Niagara Café's spiffy dining room to the strain of the salsa music on the stereo. $10-15.
- 7 Sabor de Mi Tierra, 247 Niagara St. (Metro Bus 3, 5 or 40), ☏ . Tu-Su 9AM-5:30PM. If nothing else, Sabor de Mi Tierra is a testament to the fact that not only have West Side Latinos increasingly had to make way for a diverse rainbow of immigrants from across the globe, but the Latino community itself, once overwhelmingly made up of Puerto Ricans and Dominicans, has also diversified. In what was once the home of a Puerto Rican bakery, you'll find a short but delicious menu of Colombian specialties: lunchy street-food options like arepas (stuffed with your choice of chorizo or pork belly) and empanadas (beef or chicken) make their requisite appearance, but the signature dish is the gargantuan bandeja paisa, wherein a wide variety of hearty Colombian favorites come together in massive portions on a platter. Somewhat incongruously, Sabor de Mi Tierra also makes the best Cuban sandwich in Buffalo. $10-25.
- 8 Bellini's Bistro, 350 Pennsylvania St (Metro Bus 3, 7 or 22), ☏ . Tu-Sa 5PM-10PM. Everything about Bellini's says "old school", from the decor (white tablecloths, warm-toned walls, subdued lighting) to the small but well-stocked bar to the menu of traditional upscale Italian fare with a few creative flourishes here and there: highlights include chicken saltimbocca in a beurre blanc sauce over real mashed potatoes (a solid step above the instant glop other places serve, according to a consensus of diners), as well as an appetizer of meatballs in a zesty but not fiery arrabbiata sauce. It doesn't take much imagination to picture a trenchcoat- and fedora-clad Don Draper lookalike in the 1960s taking his wife out on the town to a place like this. Parking is on-street, but usually easily available — the exception is when there's a performance at Kleinhans Music Hall; do the best you can in that case. $25-50.
- 9 Pho Lantern, 837 Niagara St. (Metro Bus 5 or 40), ☏ . Tu-Sa 11AM-9PM, Su 11AM-7PM. Owned by the same folks as Á Châu International Market across the way, it's no surprise that Vietnamese cuisine is the name of the game at Pho Lantern, but it is surprising that the specialty of the house is not the namesake soup but seafood: selections include steamed mussels, crab, shrimp, clams, oysters, crawfish, lobster, and a fairly faithful rendition of Buffalo-style fish fry. Sadly, most of the non-seafood options are not as good; exceptions to that rule are some not-half-bad banh mi sandwiches and the pho itself: it comes in one variety only, with tendons, meatballs, and (optionally) thinly sliced filet mignon, but it's a contender for Buffalo's best. $10-35.
- 10 The Black Sheep, 367 Connecticut St. (Metro Bus 7), ☏ . M-Th 5PM-10PM, F-Sa 5PM-11PM. Building on the eclecticism of Bistro Europa, the previous eatery from owners Steve and Ellen Gedra, Black Sheep's brief but kaleidoscopically diverse menu is not just a grand tour of Europe, as before, but a round-the-world adventure: selections change frequently, but shareable small plates have included classic pierogi, pakora with squash and onion drizzled with spicy basil lime aioli, and (as always) the famous cheese and charcuterie boards, while full-size mains tend to be a touch less adventurous (think in terms of roast or fried chicken, pasta preparations, and gourmet burgers). The common threads running through everything are an emphasis on locally-sourced farm-to-table ingredients, and, in the words of one reviewer, "eyes-rolling-in-the-back-of-your head delicious[ness]". $35-75.
- 11 Las Puertas, 385 Rhode Island St. (Metro Bus 3, 7 or 12), ☏ . Tu-Sa 5PM-10PM. Casa Azul downtown is Victor Parra Gonzalez's innovative take on Mexican street food, but it's here where his culinary majesty truly comes into bloom. No mere upscale Mexican restaurant, Las Puertas' menu is an eclectic fusion of some of the most daring cuisine Buffalo has to offer, where French cooking is easily the most prominent (but hardly the only) secondary element. Standouts include ceviche with a spicy tomato sauce that's an interesting addition to the flavor profile, a guacamole appetizer garnished with salty caramel brittle (!) and crushed spicy crickets (!!!), and an exceptionally creative take on bone marrow: puréed into a mousse, dressed with beef consommé, tomatillo, and onion ash, and stuffed back into the bone before being served. Small plates predominate, so come prepared to mix and match. $30-75.
- 12 Left Bank, 511 Rhode Island St. (Metro Bus 7 or 12), ☏ . M-Th 5PM-11PM, F-Sa 5PM-midnight, Su 11AM-2:30PM (brunch) & 4PM-10PM. Would you believe Left Bank was once a daring innovator on the Buffalo restaurant scene, serving an eclectic menu of upscale New American cuisine since 1992 in a neighborhood that, in those days, many had left for dead? Fast forward to the present and it's largely the same menu; nowadays many people describe Left Bank as staid and dated, but why fix what isn't broken? Offerings are categorized into small plates of rustic "peasant fare" (featuring the best fried calamari in the city) and more upscale "bourgeois fare" (the ahi tuna tartare is a particular standout), and a slate of artful full-size mains of steak and chops, seafood, and pasta, all served in an ambience that's arty meets industrial meets pub. Off-street parking is available, too; a rarity in this part of town. $25-55.
- 13 Providence Social, 490 Rhode Island St. (Metro Bus 7 or 12), ☏ . M-W 5PM-11PM, Th-Sa 5PM-midnight, Su brunch 11AM-3PM and dinner 5PM-10PM. Providence Social closed in January 2018, then reopened under new management a few months later. The ambience is the same: pure gangland-era Art Deco, appropriately enough for a place that was once the scene of a Mafia hit. But the food is... different now. The menu is still well-executed, though not as creative as it used to be — today you'll find as many options in the realm of "upscale takes on old favorites" (i.e. stuffed banana peppers with garlic crostini; chicken Napoleon in Grey Goose tomato cream sauce) as innovative new creations — and the new owners seem to have taken a shine to Italian cuisine, with a wide range of pasta dishes, chicken and veal piccata, and the like. Brunch is big business too, with mimosas all around. $35-70.
The following pizzerias are located in Prospect Hill, Five Points, and the Lower West 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.
- 14 Pizza Town, 859 Niagara St. (Metro Bus 5 or 40), ☏ . Daily 11AM-midnight.
- 15 Ricotta's, 349 Niagara St. (Metro Bus 3, 5, 29 or 40), ☏ . M-Sa 11AM-11PM, Su 11AM-10PM.
- 16 Family Dollar, 517 Niagara St. (Metro Bus 5, 29 or 40), ☏ . M-Sa 8AM-9PM, Su 9AM-9PM.
- 17 Tops, 425 Niagara St. (Metro Bus 3, 5, 29 or 40), ☏ . Daily 6AM-midnight.
- 18 Horsefeathers Winter Market, 346 Connecticut St. (Metro Bus 3 or 22), ☏ . Sa 10AM-2PM Nov-May. Every Saturday morning during the winter months, the ground floor of Horsefeathers Market is transformed into a winter farmers' market where over twenty farmers and vendors from all across Western New York sell fresh produce and locally crafted artisanal food products — cookies, jams and jellies, even organic dog treats and local wine.
Though D'Youville College is located in Prospect Hill and much of the area is populated by students, there is no real agglomeration of greasy spoons and watering holes around it as there is near Buffalo State College or UB South Campus. This is likely because the nightlife of the Elmwood Village and Allentown is within easy striking distance. There is a small cluster of spots in Five Points, but those are hipster hangouts, not college bars.
- The Black Sheep, 367 Connecticut St. (Metro Bus 7), ☏ . At this Connecticut Street destination better known for its maddeningly eclectic menu of locally-sourced gourmet cuisine, you can also enjoy a selection of beers curated by Community Beer Works at a bar made of wood salvaged during the thorough restoration process that preceded the Black Sheep's opening.
- 1 Community Beer Works, 520 7th St. (Metro Bus 5, 22 or 40), ☏ . Community Beer Works was founded as Buffalo's first nanobrewery, but now that it's moved into its spacious new production facility on the Lower West Side, it's questionable whether that description applies anymore. At the attached taproom, you'll find 20 different beers on tap at any given time — from CBW perennials like "Frank" and "The Whale" to a rotating selection of seasonals, test batches, and "guest" brews — along with bar snacks and even a game room.
- 2 Essex Street Pub, 590 Rhode Island St. (Metro Bus 7 or 12), ☏ . If you've read Wikivoyage's coverage of the bars in neighboring Allentown and thought to yourself "that seemed like it was a really nice scene before the knucklehead frat bros took over", head to Essex for the closest thing to it that's left. This small, cozy dive bar offers cheap drinks, a food menu of house-smoked barbecue, a couple of pool tables and a dartboard, and a chilled-out ambience where you don't have to shout to hold a conversation. Come down for left-of-the-dial DJ sets on "Attack of the Vinyl Mondays", or on Tuesday nights for "Kold Az Ice Karaoke".
Coffee shops and juice barsEdit
Despite the aforementioned lack of a D'Youville-area bar district, the coffeeshop scene in Prospect Hill (along with nearby Five Points) is among the most vibrant in Buffalo, with an übertrendy vibe very much in sync with the West Side's emerging identity.
- 3 Remedy House, 429 Rhode Island St. (Metro Bus 7 or 12), ☏ . M-Th 6AM-10PM, F-Sa 6AM-11PM, Su 6AM-5PM. This is it, folks: peak hipster in Buffalo. An airy space with two walls of windows offering a panoramic view of Five Points' namesake intersection, Remedy House matches its straight-outta-Williamsburg vibe with a staggering range of expertly roasted coffee and tasty loose-leaf tea that's packed with nuanced flavor (for the superlative example of this, opt for the cortado), plus a selection of pastry sourced from local bakeries and even beer and wine. Best of all: if the foregoing conjures up visions of blasé service from a staff of trust-fund kids who think they're better than you, prepare for the polar opposite. The only downsides are that the space is tiny and can get cramped during peak hours (to avoid that, hit up the sidewalk patio), and prices for anything other than coffee are astronomical.
- 4 Tipico Coffee, 128 Fargo Ave. (Metro Bus 3, 5, 22 or 40), ☏ . M-F 6AM-9PM, Sa 7AM-9PM, Su 7AM-8PM. With an out-of-the-way location in a leafy residential area, Tipico is the best-established of the Lower West Side's hipster coffeeshops: if you can't make it to the shop, you'll find their coffee poured at restaurants all over Buffalo. If you can make it there, the experience is a mixed bag: thumbs up for the coffee itself (locally roasted and served in both drip and pour-over iterations; smooth, full-bodied and above all strong); thumbs down for high prices and omnipresent flies (the latter an unfortunate side effect of keeping the floor-to-ceiling windows open in summer); "meh" for a pleasant but grungy ambience (chipped flatware and dusty tabletops are almost the rule rather than the exception).
And for cat lovers, Niagara Street is where you'll find...
- 5 Buckminster's Cat Café, 577 Niagara St. (Metro Bus 5, 22 or 40), ☏ . Tu-F 10AM-6PM, Sa 10AM-8PM, Su 11AM-5PM. Buckminster's is one of two cat cafés in Buffalo, and by comparison with its competition, it's less expensive and sports a somewhat longer and more diverse menu (local craft beer and cider are served, and breakfasters should check out the French toast sandwich, wherein bacon, egg and cheese are set between two slices of the namesake treat!), but with somewhat shorter business hours. As usual, the dining room is strictly separated from the cat area, and there are additional rules and restrictions governing the latter: to wit, Buckminster's charges $5 a head to enter the Cat Zone, no more than five people are allowed in at a time (in the warm months when the "Catio" is open, that number doubles to 10; advance reservations are a good idea in either case), and kids under 12 must be accompanied by an adult. But if you just want to nosh in the café, fear not — you can still watch the kitties frolic and play through the glass dividing wall!
After the closure of the Porter Avenue Pied-à-Terre, the Lower West Side went the better part of a decade without any accommodation of its own. That changed in 2018, when the former Dr. Hubbard A. Foster House on Wadsworth Street was converted to a bed and breakfast. If that doesn't suit your needs, the next closest hotels are the many located downtown. If you're on a budget, a quick five-minute drive north into Tonawanda will take you to a selection of low-cost motels of varying quality clustered around exit 15 of Interstate 190 and exit 1 of Interstate 290.
- 1 Buffalo Harmony House, 70 Wadsworth St. (Entrance on St. John's Pl., Metro Bus 7 or 22), ☏ . Check-in: 4PM, check-out: 11AM. Upstairs at this charming B&B, five guest rooms sport names and decor schemes inspired by Western New York's endemic bird life: the lower-end but still lovely "Blue Jay Billet" offers the standard amenities of queen bed, free WiFi and wired Internet, 42" LCD TV, charging station with clock radio, and private bathroom with hair dryer, while in the top-of-the-line "Hummingbird Haven" the bed is upsized to king and adorned with an antique brass frame, and the bathroom has a restored clawfoot tub. Downstairs is where breakfast is served: a changing menu of slow-cooked, healthy homemade fare by candlelight on fine china for that upscale touch. And all over the house, architecture buffs will swoon at the exquisitely restored Queen Anne-style features. $149-349/night in high season.
nearest P.O.s Grant St & downtown
3 Isaías González-Soto Library located at 280 Porter Ave. adjacent to Prospect Park for WiFi; 18 comps free of charge and available to all
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.....Other problem areas include the Lower West Side (particularly the blocks north of Connecticut Street and west of 15th Street).....
By contrast, Five Points is merely average in terms of crime, and Prospect Hill's crime rate is downright low. (DO NOT REUSE VERBIAGE FROM OTHER WS ARTICLES)
The West Side Times is a source for news and business listings
For non-emergency situations, 4 West Side Urgent Care is located on the Lower West Side at 564 Niagara St., between Jersey and Pennsylvania Sts.
Laundry and dry cleaningEdit
- 5 Connecticut Coin Laundry, 401 Connecticut St. (Metro Bus 7). Daily 7:30AM-10PM.
- 6 Niagara Coin Laundry, 546 Niagara St. (Metro Bus 5, 22 or 40), ☏ . Daily 8AM-11PM.
- 7 Porter Avenue Coin Laundry, 136 Lakeview Ave. (Metro Bus 5, 22 or 40), ☏ . Daily 24 hours.
- 8 Vega's Exclusive Dry Cleaners, 233 Niagara St. (Metro Bus 3, 5, 20 or 40), ☏ . M-F 9:30AM-5:30PM, Sa 11AM-2PM.
Places of worshipEdit
- 9 Holy Angels RC Church, 348 Porter Ave. (Metro Bus 3, 5, 22 or 40), ☏ . Mass Su 9AM, 10:30AM & noon (Spanish), Sa 8:30AM & 4PM, M-F 8:30AM. Located in Prospect Hill, Holy Angels is one of the oldest Catholic churches in Buffalo, founded in 1859 in what was then a middle-class Irish community on the outskirts of town by Bishop John Timon, in conjunction with several Oblate Fathers from Marseille. The addition in 1874 of the transept, sanctuary, and choir completed the building to its present appearance. Holy Angels has been a West Side anchor in the midst of the myriad changes that have taken place since then — neighborhood demographics have shifted from Irish to Italian to Hispanic (one Spanish-language Mass is still said every Sunday) to a multicultural pastiche, and the building is now an island in the middle of the greatly expanded D'Youville College — but the friendly and welcoming church community, 1,400 families strong, soldiers on.
- 10 Holy Cross RC Church, 345 7th St. (Metro Bus 5, 29 or 40), ☏ . Mass Su 10:30AM (English) & 12:30PM (Spanish), Sa 4:30PM (bilingual), M-W & F 8:30AM (English), Th 6:30PM (Spanish). Holy Cross was founded in tandem with the growth of the Italian community in its surrounding neighborhood, and has managed to remain a vital cornerstone of the Lower West Side despite the great changes that have taken place there over the century of its existence. Holy Cross today is a congregation that is vibrant and multicultural, but largely Hispanic, and Mass is said in both languages. True to the Italian tradition, the interior of the church is bedecked with scores of statues of the Madonna, many of which were brought over by the original parishioners from the old country.
Also, though the area where it's located would be better described today as part of downtown, the weekly Italian-language Mass at St. Anthony of Padua RC Church is a great way to get a taste of what the Lower West Side was like 50 or 60 years ago, as neighborhood old-timers stream back in to catch up with their neighbors and wax nostalgic about days gone by.
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Though the community is still overwhelmingly Catholic, evangelical Protestantism has begun to make major inroads among Buffalo's Hispanics. The West Side's Hispanic Protestant churches are occasionally large enough to worship in proper church buildings, but as with the African-American churches of the East Side, far more often they are small congregations that meet in converted storefronts or residences. There are far too many churches to include all of them on this list; below are the largest and most important ones. Except where indicated, all services are held in Spanish.
but try not to reuse verbiage
- 11 Buffalo Hispanic Seventh Day Adventist Church (Iglesia Adventista del Séptimo Día), 213 Vermont St. (Metro Bus 3), ☏ . Services Sa 9:30AM, W 7PM. On Saturday nights at 7PM, Pastor Miguel Calderón preaches to a small congregation of about two dozen faithful in a handsome Lower West Side brick building.
- 12 Community Church Jehovah Jireh, 62 Virginia St. (Metro Bus 5, 29 or 40), ☏ . Services Su 11AM. Active for over three decades and counting, the newly renamed Jehovah Jireh is Buffalo's first Hispanic Methodist congregation, active for over three decades and counting. Services that blend traditionalism with a contemporary, even innovative, touch that speaks to modern-day Hispanics are led by Rev. Dr. Alberto Lanzot in a gleaming new church building a few blocks from Niagara Street. Jehovah Jireh is a congregation that is inclusive, welcoming to visitors, and at the forefront in working to address the issues facing the Lower West Side community.
- 13 Destiny Church (Iglesia el Destino), 172 15th St. (Metro Bus 3). Services Su 10AM, W 7PM. At the former Our Lady of Loretto Catholic Church, the charismatic Pastor Daniel Nieves heads up rousing, modern-style Pentecostal services conducted bilingually and with an emphasis on youth-oriented ministries. At El Destino, music, dancing, and other performances are incorporated liberally into worship services to better reflect the concerns and lifestyles of real-life people.
- 14 Iglesia Lo Esencial, 93 Massachusetts Ave. (Metro Bus 3, 5, 12 or 40), ☏ . Services Su 12:30PM & Tu 7PM. Taking its name from a passage in the Gospel of Matthew, the ministry philosophy espoused by pastor Anthony Serrano focuses on lo absolutamente esencial para vivir (what's absolutely essential for life). Two Spanish-language services a week take place in a converted 1880s-era brick commercial building at the corner of Massachusetts and Prospect Avenues.
- 15 Iglesia Misionera Pentecostal, 224 Hudson St. (Metro Bus 3, 5, 29 or 40), ☏ . Services Su noon. Located at the corner of Hudson Street and Fargo Avenue, Iglesia Misionera Pentecostal has been active since 1991. In addition to the Spanish-language services that take place every Sunday, a youth ministry and men's and women's groups are also held, on Thursday and Tuesday respectively.
- 16 Masjid al-Eiman, 444 Connecticut St. (Metro Bus 7 or 22), ☏ . A combination mosque and Islamic community center that is a gathering place for a wide variety of events relevant to the West Side Muslim community, al-Eiman is a small, quaint mosque with a diverse congregation and a traditional Sunni orientation. Services are held bilingually in English and Arabic and comprise all prayers, including formal jum'a.
fort erie via peace bridge, upper west side, allentown, elmwood village