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Work Underway at The Monroe

With financing in hand, work on the redevelopment of the former Record Theatre store at 1786 Main Street has kicked-off.  Jason Yots of Common Bond Real Estate, Derek King and Michael Puma of Preservation Studios, and Richard Rogers and Travis Gordon of Urban Vantage are partnering on the project.

When complete, “The Monroe” will include 17 workforce apartments and 11,000 sq.ft. of commercial space. The apartments will, on average, be affordable to households earning less than 80% of the area median income. The commercial spaces will include neighborhood shops and eateries that will occupy the former car showroom and ring a multi-season courtyard. The project also will include multiple micro-offices and studios for emerging entrepreneurs and artists.

The roughly $7 million project is being financed in part by The Community Preservation Corporation, in cooperation with New York Homes and Community Renewal. Empire State Development Corp. also will provide financing under its Better Buffalo Fund program. The developers also raised equity financing through the syndication of federal and New York historic tax credits, and through a Regulation D offering hosted by Common Owner.

BRD Construction is the general contractor on the project. Completion is expected by Fall 2023.

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AT&T and Explore & More Team Up

Explore & More – The Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Children’s Museum and AT&T have collaborated to create and bring an innovative hands-on experience in digital literacy to 3,000 Buffalo and Niagara Falls area third-grade students that attend tier-1 schools.

The AT&T Digital Enrichment Experience launched Thursday, September 29th with 45 students being the first participants engaging in digital literacy activities across the museum. The digital literacy education program has been designed to address equality issues in technology education and to help local students impacted by the digital divide gain digital literacy knowledge and skills which are key barriers to broadband and device adoption, while helping to narrow the digital divide. Designed to help improve student readiness, this program will help students build skills and confidence using technology and utilizing the internet in safe and educational ways. To eliminate economic barriers, the programis being offered at no cost thanks to support from AT&T, which is part of the company’s $2 billion nationwide commitment from 2021-2023 to help bridge the digital divide.

Explore & More’s AT&T Digital Enrichment Experience is a free, no cost opportunity for groups of students from Buffalo and Niagara Falls public and charter schools to visit the museum to participate in this digital literacy program. The program guides students through age appropriate digital and technology focused activity stations throughout the museum’s seven interactive play zones and three educational studios, with different fun and engaging digital activities at each stop. In addition, the program provides an educational video to be viewed in their classroom with their teachers prior to students beginning the Digital Enrichment stations. The areas of education will cover computer programming, robotics, digital safety and more.

Students will also receive a certificate of completion. In addition, AT&T is providing all students in the program and their schools access to The Achievery, a free digital learning online platform created by AT&T designed to make digital learning more engaging, entertaining, and inspiring for K-12 students.

“It is an honor to work with Explore & More to develop this innovative digital literacy education program which will help young students develop critical skills that will prepare them for success inside and outside the classroom in a  wonderful learning and fun environment,” said Amy Kramer, President, New York State, AT&T. “AT&T is also proud to be collaborating with the local public school districts to allow even more students across region to visit and benefit from this outstanding museum, while helping to bridge the digital divide for these remarkable third graders.”

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WNY SOUNDSTAGE | OCTOBER EVENT ROUNDUP

October is an incredible time to be in Western New York – the air is perfectly crisp, the leaves are turning brilliant colors, and it’s the textbook definition of “sweater weather.” It is also a fantastic time to find a bounty of incredible events to harvest.

Below are a few of our recommendations for events that should not be missed this month.

Coucou: A Fashion Retrospective of NYC Designers

photo by Cheryl Gorski

CEPA Gallery Located in Buffalo’s Historic Market Arcade Complex, 617 Main Street
October 7-November 4
#Free #Art

Sneak a peek inside the world of New York designers Phillipe and David Blonde through Cheryl Gorski’s fashion documentary photography. Over the last decade, Gorski has used her uncanny ability to capture emotion through a fashion lens to record the innovative collections of The Blonds.

Play/Ground 2022

Buffalo RiverWorks, 359 Ganson Street
October 7-10, 2022
$10-$35
#Art #Event

Get outside and explore this public art extravaganza. It’s guaranteed to be 4 days of fun, art, and play for all ages. The site-specific interactive public art installations brought to you by contemporary artists.

Adult Book Fair

Buffalo Iron Works, 49 Illinois Street
October 8, Noon – 4:00 PM
#Free #Event

If you were a child of the 80’s or 90’s, you couldn’t wait for the elementary school book fair. Half Baked Book Club Podcast & Twenty6 Productions are bringing a version of this nostalgia tinged event to all ages at Buffalo Iron Works. Vendors, podcasts chatter, and harvest brews available.

.9 Mile Collaborative Presents Blacks’ Myths feat. Walter Kemp 3

Babeville, 342 Delaware Avenue
October 9, 5:00 – 7:00 PM
$33.69
#Music

Blacks’ Myths create pulsing, hypnotic rhythmic structures that churn unpredictably, all while exploring the cracks and ambience in between. Joined by Walter Kemp 3, this duo’s music is the perfect way to end a weekend.

Creatures After Dark

Buffalo and Erie County Botanical Gardens, 2655 South Park Avenue
October 13, 14, 16, 20, 21, 23, 28, 29, 30 from 6:00 – 9:00PM
$15 adult, $7.50 age 3-12
#Event

Topiary “creatures” made from live plants fill the botanical gardens. Tour through the exhibit for many Instagram moments, and enjoy the mix of the natural and theatrical.

Nosferatu Reinvented

Lancaster Opera House, 21 Central Ave
October 15 at 7:30 PM
$14
#Film

This hundredth anniversary showing of the classic film boast a new score by Broadway’s Kurt Noble. The new score will be played by automated musical instruments. This event is sure to be fang-tastic.

Festival Weekend #6: The Great Pumpkin Farm

11199 Main Street, Clarence, NY 14031
October 22 + 23, Noon – 4:00 PM
#Event

Go to The Great Pumpkin Farm to live out your zombie apocalypse fantasies. The venue boasts zombies in the corn maze from noon to four. After surviving that event, walk through the pumpkin palace to choose the perfect pumpkin, enjoy an apple cider donut, and buy a scarecrow in the Halloween Store. The Great Pumpkin Farm is open daily, now through October 31 from 10:00 AM to 7:00 PM, click here for more on the festival weekend lineups.

Witches Ball | Highway to Hell

The Statler
$45-$175
#Event

Buffalo Rising’s Witches Ball is back at The Statler and ready to take you on a “Highway to Hell” on Saturday, October 29 from 7:00 p.m. to 1:00 a.m. so you can Rock! Rock! (Till You Drop. Buffalo’s best immersive Halloween experience features dozens of the most ‘hardcore’ local artists, actors, drag queens, musicians, DJs, psychics, mediums, and more!

This is just a small selection of all the great events happening this month. For more ideas of things to do and see in WNY, check out our newly launched Cultural Calendar.

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Tree Plantings, Community Gardening, and Clean-ups: Tool Library Fall 2022 Service Days!

Buffalo, NY – The Tool Library’s service events return to put their tools and volunteers to work with a calendar of community service events every Saturday in October and on November 5. Each of the six service events provide an opportunity to beautify, strengthen, and contribute to the WNY community through direct, hands-on action. 

Volunteers with The Tool Library have helped plant more than 10,000 bulbs in community gardens, pocket parks, and green spaces across the city!

This fall’s schedule includes park and trail cleanups, planting in community gardens, and gardening at William Gaiter Parkway, and cleanup in Dewey Park. In addition to focusing on neighborhood improvement activities, The Tool Library’s service events provide an opportunity for volunteers to learn new skills, such as pruning, gardening, and tree planting.

To register to attend a service day and view the full calendar of events, visit thetoollibrary.org/service

For its first service day of the season, October 1, The Tool Library will be partnering with the Resource Council of WNY on their Perkins Park Cleanup. The Tool Library will also be presenting the organization with their first ever Community Partner of the Year Award for all of the organization’s support of Buffalo’s East Side.

“Giving passionate people the tools they need to turn an idea for change into action within their communities is essential to The Tool Library,” said Darren Cotton, Board President of The Tool Library. “That’s what these service days are about. What providing affordable access to tools is about. By lending and using these tools, we are enabling all to contribute to the beautification, repair, collective knowledge, and sustainability of WNY.” 

Fall 2022 Service Days are made possible with the support of National Grid and the offices of Hon. Crystal Peoples-Stokes, Majority Leader, Hon. Lisa Chimera, 3rd District Legislator, and The Tool Library’s sustaining donors.

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BPO shows us how it’s done in the big city 

Because I don’t usually review “one-offs” (since there’s no opportunity for readers to hear a second performance) I didn’t tell you about the really magical, evanescent Buffalo Philharmonic season-opening concert at Kleinhans Music Hall on September 17 titled “Midori Returns” when JoAnn Falletta conducted world-famous violinist Midori in her return engagement with the BPO. After the traditional playing of both the Canadian and U.S. national anthems (complete with audience sing-alongs) the concert opened with an upbeat “Fandangos” composed in 2000 by Puerto Rican composer Roberto Sierra. It wasn’t announced as such, but did fit nicely with “Hispanic Heritage Month.”  If the name Sierra rings a bell, it could be because he has been an integral part of the bi-annual JoAnn Falletta Guitar Concerto Competition, as judge, as composer of the guitar work “Folias,” and because that same “Fandangos” opened the finals concert at the inaugural competition in 2004.

After “Fandangos” Midori appeared to perform the hyper-romantic Violin Concerto by Erich Wolfgang Korngold, famous in the last century for his movie scores. Midori plays quietly but in Kleinhans, you could hear every note.  More importantly, her very presence seemed to inspire the orchestra to greater heights.  Honestly, and I’ve been going to Kleinhans since the 1960s, the BPO never sounded better.  They had a lush sound, but not mushy or muddy, and each solo passage in the orchestra was crisp, clean, and immaculate. One could say that they shimmered.

For some reason, even though the large opening night audience showered her with four enthusiastic curtain calls, Midori declined to offer an encore. But wait, as it turned out, there was a brilliant violin “encore” when, after intermission, Falletta conducted (from memory, without a score) one of her favorite works, “Scheherazade” by Rimsky-Korsakov.  Like the Korngold, it’s a hyper-romantic work that uses the entire orchestra, features various sections, and also soloists to great advantage. In that work, the “voice” of Scheherazade” (the sultan’s wife who came up with “1,001 Arabian Nights” stories) was played on the violin by the BPO’s concertmaster, Nikki Chooi. OMG, did he ever rise to the occasion.  He’s always great, but here he was 1,001 times great. 

Having set the bar incredibly high, I wondered if the BPO could maintain that opening night level of excellence. Short answer: Yes and one reason is that we get more Nikki Chooi!  

And that brings us to the most recent concert, the Friday morning September 30 10:30 am “Coffee Concert” (free coffee and donuts are offered in the Mary Seaton Room prior to those concerts). The concert was titled “Destination: Carnegie Hall! The Lukas Foss Legacy” where, in commemoration of his 100th birthday, the BPO celebrated the life and works of Lukas Foss, one of the most important composers of the last century who was the music director of the BPO from 1963 to 1970, and, like his successor at the BPO, Michael Tilson-Thomas, a transformative force in the Buffalo arts scene.

That’s all true, but judging from the sparse audience on Friday, I’m wondering if people stayed home thinking that this concert was going to be one of those edgy, avant-garde, academic, astringent, ascerbic affairs from the 1960s “Creative Associates.” Short answer: It wasn’t. What did it sound like?  Aaron Copland’s music.  Lovely Americana. 

Good news: the concert repeats Saturday evening, October 1 at 7:30 pm at Kleinhans.  Now, these two “local” concerts at Kleinhans are a chance for us to hear the music that will be played Monday night, October 3 at Carnegie Hall at 7:00 pm. Actually, JoAnn Falletta turned around on the podium and thanked us all for being there for the “rehearsal” for Carnegie.  The concert is billed for New York audiences (and the large Buffalo contingent traveling down to Manhattan) as the “Lukas Foss Centennial Celebration at Carnegie Hall.”

Where is Carnegie Hall?  It’s at 881 7th Ave, New York, NY.  How do you get to Carnegie Hall?  You know the answer: “Practice, practice, practice!” (I’m sorry, I couldn’t resist.)  

The concert started with Foss’s “Ode for Orchestra” composed after World War II in memory of the fallen and it sounds like movie music, maybe by James Horner (“Legends of the Fall”) or Rachel Portman (“Cider House Rules”) but also like Ottorino Respighi’s Pines of Rome (particularly the section on  “The Appian Way” with that steady pounding of the tympani). 

The next work, composed originally for the violinist Itzhak Perlman, was “Three American Pieces” and featured the BPO’s Nikki Chooi.  Again, very easy listening, very much in the vein of Aaron Copland’s Americana pieces (“Rodeo,” “Appalachian Spring,” or his opera “The Tender Land”).

Then, guest flutist Amy Porter came out with her custom-made 14K white gold flute with rose gold engraved keys to play a work originally composed by Foss for Buffalo’s own Carol Wincenc.  Called a “Renaissance Concerto” it featured a small orchestra with an “echo” orchestra (flute and strings) positioned in the balcony.  

After intermission, we heard Foss’s Symphony No.1, a work written in his youth, that I found a little meandering, like a lot of American compositions from the last several decades. It wasn’t my favorite part of the concert, but your mileage may vary.  What everyone loved, however, was the concert closer, the “Three Dance Episodes from On The Town” by Foss’s life-long friend, Leonard Bernstein.  Very jazzy with the tune “New York, New York” embedded in the final movement, so if you get lost on your way to Carnegie Hall, just remember the lyrics: “New York, New York, a helluva town / The Bronx is up, and the Battery’s down / The people ride in a hole in the groun’ / New York, New York, it’s a helluva town! 

Good luck on your Carnegie Hall concert, BPO! (Remember this “preview” concert repeats Saturday, October 1, at 7:30 pm at Kleinhans.) The BPO Box Office can be reached at 716-885-5000.

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The 27th Annual World Pumpkin Weigh-off at the Great Pumpkin Farm

The 27th Annual World Pumpkin Weigh-off at the Great Pumpkin Farm will soon take place.

On Saturday, October 1 (Fall Festival) the weighing of the pumpkins will commence, with numerous growers competing for the chance to walk away with the first prize ($1000) in the World Pumpkin Weigh-off.

For anyone that sets the NYS record, $5000 is on the line. Plus, if a pumpkin is able to weigh in at over 2708.8 pounds… the grower can expect to collect a $10,000 cash prize, along with claiming a world record. Last year’s winner was David DuBoy of Williamsville, NY, whose pumpkin weighed in at 1359 pounds, according to the organizers. And don’t think that a world record is out of reach – in 1996 a pumpkin clocked in at 1,061 pounds at Fall Fest, earning a page in the Guinness World Record. Of course, the pumpkins have been growing steadily since that time.

Also happening this weekend:  

Animatronic dinosaurs Vinnie and Teddy will wander around the corn maze from noon to 4:00 p.m. both days looking for prey In Jest Juggling will perform at 1:30 p.m. and 3:30 p.m. on October 2ndThere will be live music at the Witch’s Brew throughout the weekend

And there’s a lot more in store, including amusement rides; hayrides; corn maze; apple cannons; the pumpkins and mum patch; pumpkin cannon; Apple Cannons; shooting gallery; homemade donuts, pies, cookies and pastries; and Halloween decorations and special events such as IndePumpkins Day, the Pumpkin Olympics, and the Pumpkin Drop.

Fall Festival at Great Pumpkin Farm

The Fall Festival runs weekends through Monday, October 31 from 10:00 a.m. to 7pm

The Festival also runs on Monday, October 10 (Columbus Day)

The Great Pumpkin Farm is open weekdays from 10:00 a.m. to 7pm from now through Monday, October 31.  There is NO admission on weekdays, except on Columbus Day, October 10. The Pumpkin Palace is open and features Halloween decorations, a bakery and candy store as well as the Witches Brew Bar & Cafe. Guests can purchase pumpkins; cornstalks; gourds and cider. There’s also a petting zoo, hay maze and playground. Group tours are also conducted during the week. 

Cost: Admission to the Fall Festival is $12.00/person (children two and under admitted free) – Seniors 65 and older are $10.00

Visit here for more information on the Annual World Pumpkin Weigh-off.

Admission to the Fall Festival includes (Tickets are good for any weekend):

FREE Magic Show with Mike & AnnieFREE Petting ZooFREE Cow Train RideFREE Tractor Drawn HayrideFREE Boo Barn EntryFREE Children & Adult Pie Eating ContestsFREE Scarecrow Making ContestFREE Pumpkin Decorating ContestFREE Mummy Wrapping Contest and a FREE kids craft area

Back By Popular Demand: The Jumbo Jumping Pillows; Zombie Train; Cow Train; Hayrides; Gem Mining and the Bakery and Halloween store.

Location: The Great Pumpkin Farm is located at 11199 Main Street in Clarence and features plenty of free, onsite parking. 

More Information: Complete event information is available at www.greatpumpkinfarm.com

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The Power of The Grid

For those who are impressed by the outward appearance of The Grid – Cedarland Development and D&S Capital Real Estate’s five-story building at 1155 Main Street – they will be even happier with with the interior.

Kevin Dagher

The residential amenities at The Grid are bar none (in Buffalo). I recently toured the mixed-use development with Kevin Dagher, Vice President of Cedarland Development Group, who assured me that the residents had everything that they could dream of at their fingertips. To date, with 217 apartments, this is the biggest project that Kevin has brought online. He told me that is was the project that raises the bar for apartment living in Buffalo, and I would have to agree with him. Not that there aren’t some nice places to live these days – there’s just something “next level” with The Grid.

Maybe it’s the VR Gaming Room, or the tech-forward Package Room. Or it could be the sprawling community lounge with demonstration kitchen, or the killer patio with an automated garage door? There’s even a convenient 24-hour Fitness Center, and an elaborate pet washing station. Not to mention the community coffee kiosk, the conference room, a number of places to break open a laptop and chill (including a co-work space), front desk amenities, underground bike storage, and in-unit laundry. It’s got just about everything that anyone could ask for, including commercial tenants Dark Horse Barber Studio and Papa John’s (coming soon). And another “Coming Soon” is the Strive Markets concept – a vending market that will be available to residents of The Grid, founded in Buffalo by NFL Pro Jon Corto and his wife, Jen. The micro market will offer healthy meals and snacks around the clock, for anyone in the building that needs or wants a quick fix. Oh, and there’s an additional 800 SF commercial space available, as an FYI.

Package Room

Demonstration Kitchen

Fitness Center

Game Lounge

Pet Washing Station

Co-work Space

As we toured the building, checking out all of the various features, I asked Kevin if he was from Buffalo. He told me that he was born in NYC, and moved to Buffalo with his family in 2003. He attended University at Buffalo (for Urban Planning and Environmental Design). Today, he runs Cedarland Development alongside his father, Dr. Fadi Dagher (see the team).

“The Grid is a dream project,” Kevin told me, who now has over 50 employees that he works with at Cedarland, and numerous high profile projects. “It’s a $33 million project – we wanted to create something very special for Buffalo. The residential units are 95% leased. We designed the project for the young urban professional and graduate students. Being so close to the Medical Campus was key. The site was the former Buffalo Motor Lodge property. Today, the project attracts people who are looking for fully furnished units, which is a new concept for Buffalo.

“Our tenants want a place to study and sleep. They don’t want to worry about the headaches that are associated with furnishing an apartment. They’ve got more important things to consider. This has been a very exciting project for us – we pulled it off with the help of Utah-based Blackfish Investments and Architectural Resources (A|r). The design was inspired by the city’s street grid – the design element can be seen on the outside of the building, as well as throughout the building’s interior. We also liked that the building is situated along the Metro Rail route.”

For me, watching the transition of the former forlorn Motor Lodge site into a beehive of development activity is worth its weight in gold. And now that Kevin (and the Cedarland group) has set the bar high, and proved that people want to have nice trappings, without being weighed down by movables, I can only hope that there are more of these types of developments on the horizon.

Welcome to Buffalo.

Get connected: The Grid | 1155 Main Street | Buffalo NY 14209 | 716-500- GRID

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Scajaquada Creek, The Riviere aux Chevaux?

West of the Great Northern Elevator so prominent in the News these days, there is a historical place marker located on Michigan Avenue near Ganson St. stating that the first settlement of Buffalo occurred near there, at a trading post established by Daniel Chabert Joncaire aka Joncaire Chabert.  The settlement was established at what the French called the “Petit Rapide” or Little Rapid at a place also known as the “Riviere aux Chevaux” or Horse River.  But is the location on an island in the Buffalo River, correct or was the Horse River somewhere else?

The Riviere aux Chevaux was established by Joncaire-Chabert in 1758 at the behest of Governor General Vaudreuil who oversaw Canada for the French.  The settlement probably lasted until the French surrendered Fort Niagara in July of 1759.

The whole idea of a settlement at the rapids near Lake Erie is spelled out to Daniel Joncaire-Chabert by his superior the Governor General of New France (Canada) Pierre Rigaud Vaudreuil.  This is captured in a memoir written by Chabert in 1760. 

From the memoir we see that in April of 1758 during the midst of the French and Indian War, Vaudreuil sends a letter to Chabert stating;  

…Chabert will endeavor to clear the lands at the Horse River, located there at 6 leagues from the Portage at the entrance to Lake Erie …

Vaudreuil continues by telling Chabert what to bring to the Horse River; 

…he will take from the small Fort the boats and cars which will provide him with the necessities to send to the Strait the animals and other things which he may need for the establishment of the said River,

Chabert also tells us; 

…all the hopes of abundant harvest after many expenses to clear & seed the lands of the Horse River & the Petit Rapide,  …

This seems to indicate that the Horse River and the Petite Rapide are one and the same, or are connected and proximate to each other.  The French were not talking about Buffalo Creek when they talked about the Little Rapid, they used the word “Strait” and that is in fact what the Niagara River is.  The French were talking about the fast moving water leaving Lake Erie that pushes quickly in to the Niagara River and then slows as it moves north past Unity Island.  The fact that the Scajaquada Creek empties into the rapids as they slow near the end at Unity Island, supports the possibility that Scajaquada Creek is the Riviere aux Chevaux and that it is not Buffalo Creek. 

At the time Vaudreuil makes the request of Chabert, Chabert is in charge of the “Petit” or “Small” Fort Niagara, just south of Niagara Falls.  His mission there is to move ships and their cargo around the falls by taking them out at Lewiston and transporting them to the small fort where they could continue up the Niagara into Lake Erie.  Historians have noted that the new settlement was supposed to be a trading post, and the memoir notes that Chabert was farming at the settlement as well.  While these are important aspects of the settlement and Chabert was involved with both at the Petit Fort, to me, during the middle of a war, it seems likely that the French would have been more concerned about having the ability to move boats, supplies and personnel up and down the river and the trading and farming would have been secondary or supportive of their true mission.  This mission can be completed if the settlement is at the mouth of the Scajaquada River but having a settlement in Buffalo Creek for this purpose seems unlikely and less productive.

So why do historians up to the present time believe the settlement is on an island in the Buffalo River? 

It seems likely that the person responsible for stating that the Horse River was Buffalo Creek was Franklin Hough a noted author and social scientist who gave the designation in his 1866 translation of the Memoirs of Pierre Pouchot.  Pouchot, the Commandant of Fort Niagara during the French and Indian War, gives us an account of the Niagara Frontier prior to and at its surrender.   Pouchot describes;

The entrance of the lake, as far as to the Riviere aux Chevaux forms a great bay lined with fiat rock, where no anchorage can be found.  If they could keep open the mouth of this river, they would find anchorage for vessels.  

Hough then adds in a footnote to Pouchot’s description;

Buffalo Creek, which now forms Buffalo Harbor.

We have no further description by Pouchot nor explanation by Hough, but I surmise that because Pouchot only described two waterways coming from the east towards Erie and Niagara, and that Hough had designated the other as Tonawanda Creek, that he decided Buffalo Creek must be the River of Horses.

While Pouchot’s description is far from conclusive, I can understand why Hough, using Pouchot’s description made his designations.  We will, however, share other information from the French Canadians in the area of that time, that bring Hough’s decision into question.

But first we should mention that other historians including Buffalo historian Frank Severance seems to support Hough and in 1917 Severance writes in An old frontier of France;

There are maps on which both the Tonawanda  and  the Buffalo appear as **R. aux Chevaux”;  but the  French of Chabert’s time applied this name to Buffalo River;  and since he had already designated the Tonawanda, he could only have meant the Buffalo,  at the mouth of which,  in 1758,  as we have seen,  he had erected buildings and cultivated lands.

Here we see that Severance is aware of a map showing the Riviere aux Chevaux, but discounting it by insisting Chabert has made different designations.  Maybe he was confusing Hough and Chabert,  as Chabert never indicated the Riviere aux Chevaux as Buffalo Creek.  Also, other than Crevecoeur’s map which we will talk about next, I do not know of any other 18th century map showing the Riviere aux Chevaux.

The name Horse River is important as it told the French what to expect when they arrived at this place.  Unlike the British who mostly named places after people, the French tended to give some type of descriptor to a location that might be useful for future travelers.  The Riviere aux Chevaux was a designation to let future sailors know that at this place you would need animals to assist in pulling your boat or to carry your cargo up the rapids to the lake.

There were other Frenchmen at that time who referred to the Riviere aux Chevaux and the information they share should not be discounted.  Instead we need to weigh this other evidence and see if it brings us a clearer picture of the location of the Horse River and thusly Chabert’s settlement.

The only 18th century map by a Frenchman showing the Riviere aux Chevaux is a map by Michel Crevecoeur and it is surely the map that Severance mentioned above.  It shows that the Horse River is at the end of the rapids in the Niagara River that flow from Lake Erie.  Buffalo Creek as we all know, is south of the rapids.  The rapids are referred on the map as “swift” and can be seen below:


Author’s copy of Crevecoeur Map

Michel Crevecoeur, like Pouchot, was in the French Army during the war and he worked making maps under Montcalm the commanding French General.   After the war, he worked as a surveyor, farmer and later as a Consul for the French after the American Revolution.   He was probably one of the only people to have visited the Niagara Region under the French, British and American administrations.  He wrote a popular best seller, Letters of an American Farmer, and his later writing Le Voyage dans la haute Pensylvanie et dans d’état de New York gives us probably the best description of Niagara at the time of its publication in 1801.

Crevecoeur’s map, published 6 years after Pouchot’s book came out, accompanied a later French edition of Letters of an American Farmer in 1787, and seems to have included the Riviere aux Chevaux possibly to clarify the placement mentioned by Pouchot due to Pouchot’s less than precise description. 

That the French knew about the rapids and the need for a portage is noted by Peter A. Porter in an address regarding the French explorer LaSalle in Volume VIII of Publications of the Buffalo Historical Society.  The sailing of the Griffon in 1679, some 80 years earlier than the time referred to by Pouchot and Crevecoeur show;

The  river  was  now  sounded,  up  as  far  as  Lake  Erie, and  an ample  depth  of  water  found; and  soon,  with  a favorable  breeze,  and under  her  own  sails,  the  Griffon  ascended  the  stream,  and  anchored below  Squaw  Island,  to  await  La  Salle  and  her  equipments.  It  was July  before  he  reached  her,  bringing  the  necessary  out fittings.  it was  the  end  of  that  month  before  everything,  anchors,  stores,  merchandise for  trade  in  the  West,  were  all  on  board.  And then,  it  was not  until  August  7th,  that  a strong  northeast  wind  enabled  her, with  the  aid  of  her  crew  on  the  beach  towing,  to  overcome  the  rapids and  to  reach  the  waters  of  Lake  Erie.

Peter A. Porter was the grandson of Peter Buell Porter who along with his brother ran the portages on the Niagara River after the British left the area at the end of the 18th century.  Where did Peter Buell and Augustus Porter run the portage?  They used a portage around Niagara Falls from Lewiston to where the Old Stone Chimney still stands today along the Niagara Scenic Parkway.  This is the same portage the French had established 50 years earlier and that the British used after taking over from the French.  The Old Stone Chimney lies close to where Daniel Joncaire-Chabert had established the Petit Fort Niagara and the area was known under the British as Fort Schlosser.  The Porters also ran a portage at Scajaquada Creek, taking boats and goods up to Bird Island where they would then be able to enter the Lake.  This I believe is the same portage that Joncaire had established in 1758.  In 1818 the first steamboat to ply Lake Erie, the Walk In The Water, was towed up to the lake from Scajaquada Creek due to the rapids.

Further information is provided by French Canadian explorer Joseph Chaussegross De Lery.  De Lery whose father came over from France, and was involved in the building of Fort Niagara, was born and grew up in Canada and was involved in travels through the Great Lakes.

De Lery kept meticulous journals that give exacting time between locations while travelling.  In his journal for May of 1754, he explains a trip from Fort Niagara out to Lake Erie and then down to Chautauqua Lake.  It seems a part of this trip, leaving from the Petit Fort Niagara and traveling by boat approximately 13 miles, to around Frenchman’s Creek on the west side of the river (according to Severance), took about 7 ½ hours.  This means De Lery’s group were traveling at about 1 ¾ miles per hour.  They rested for a few days due to harsh weather and then proceeded up the Niagara to the Riviere aux Chevaux.  According to De Lery this trip took about 1 hour and 10 minutes.

Scajaquada Creek lies about 1 ¾ miles from Frenchman’s Creek.  Buffalo Creek lies about 5 miles from Frenchman’s Creek.  Since De Lery would have travelled more slowly up through the rapids, it is obvious that De Lery could only have reached Scajaquada Creek in the time he recorded.

This seems to be the most relevant information on the subject of the Riviere aux Chevaux.  It shows that the Riviere aux  Chevaux and the Petit Rapide were not up in Buffalo Creek but rather situated near Unity Island and the Scajaquada Creek.

If we only had the information that Hough had, I can understand us believing that the River of Horses is Buffalo Creek.  With the additional information of De Lery, Crevecoeur, Joncaire and Vaudreuil it becomes clear that Hough was probably mistaken.  La Salle’s earlier usage and Porter and Barton’s later use of the area around Scajaquada strengthen the view that this location better suited for portaging boats through the rapids is the settlement founded by Chabert.  

Lead image: Author copy of 1907 Cobb map of a section of the Buffalo Harbor

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Part III | Western New York Will Be in the National Spotlight by “Going Dark”

Part III – Sun, Sun, Sun – Will it Come?

Panic At The Disco must have channeled the beliefs of the ancients for the intro to their song ‘When the Day Met the Night‘: 

When the moon fell in love with the sun

All was golden in the sky

All was golden when the day met the night

In the eyes of our distant ancestors, the Sun and Moon are constantly chasing each other in the sky, only meeting for that brief moment in time, leading to the awe and wonder felt by the terrestrial inhabitants below.  Today, we have people who travel around the world to observe and experience the total eclipses which happen predictably around the world.  Local leaders will see huge dollar signs in the estimate of 7.4 million people who travelled to see the 2017 total eclipse.   But it will take planning and a little luck for these tourism dollars to flow into local coffers.

The upcoming eclipse is expected to be viewed by millions more people than the estimated 20 million people (including those 7.4 million tourists) that saw the 2017 eclipse.

The people running our regional tourism at Visit Buffalo Niagara will have the following positives to work with.  First, the total solar eclipse that will pass over Western New York on April 8, 2024 will be the last total solar eclipse in the contiguous United States for 20 years, making this an event that Americans will be amped up to see.  Second, visitors can be brought in for a long weekend as the 2024 eclipse will occur on a Monday.  Third, the upcoming eclipse is expected to be viewed by millions more people than the estimated 20 million people (including those 7.4 million tourists) that saw the 2017 eclipse.  Some of that is because the path in 2024 will cross over more populated areas of the country.  But the path of totality is missing mega-cities like Houston, Chicago and Toronto that are an easy couple of hours drive to be part of the unique experience.

On the flip side, things not in our favor are weather related for an outdoor event.  First, the average temperatures for this time of the year are only 56° for the high and 36° for a low.  Second, the historical records show a 60% chance of having a cloudy or mostly cloudy day and about a 44% chance of precipitation sometime during the day – which may include snow.  Third, it will likely be breezy (when is it not in Western New York) with the winds chilled by a still cold Lake Erie.  

We will be able to watch the eclipse as it moves towards us directly over Lake Erie.

Even with the weather, if we get the word out, we can still have a lion’s share of the tourist market because we have something that places like Dallas, TX and Evansville, IN don’t have.  We will be able to watch the eclipse as it moves towards us directly over Lake Erie.  We will have not only an unobstructed view along the lakeshore, but a unique view of the lake as it is swallowed up in darkness right in front of our eyes.  Only the view from the eastern shore of Lake Ontario will rival our good fortune.

There is one other local viewing site that is unique along the path of the 2024 eclipse.  That would be Niagara Falls.   The best view will be from the American side of the Falls as the path will sweep in from the southwest over the Horseshoe Falls (though the view from the 775 foot tall Skylon Tower equally spectacular).  As mentioned in a Forbes article detailing unique viewing experiences, their biggest question about viewing at Niagara Falls was “Will the famous multi-colored illumination of the water switch-on during totality?” 

Tomorrow, we will look at what local leaders will need to plan for to maximize the additional benefits from the tourists and how to turn the out of towners into our best ambassadors by rolling out the red carpet.

See Part I – Is this a Curse on Our Region?

See Part II – The Motion of the Celestial Spheres?

Lead image courtesy nationaleclipse.com

Order your eclipse glasses, Road Atlas, and swag

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Let’s Leave the Leaves

Author: Lauren Wesp

As Autumn arrives, Buffalo is slowly beginning the process of morphing into a landscape of warm hues. The intensely vivid colors of fall add even more beauty to an already scenic backdrop, from downtown skyscrapers, to historic grain mills, to houses/mansions from the early 20th Century, to a vibrant waterfront, and Olmsted Parks.

Though, as the array of red, yellow, and orange leaves commence their annual fall and will soon begin piling up, I trust that many Buffalonians are already dreading the backbreaking labor of attempting to eliminate each and every leaf that dares to hit the ground. But maybe we should just leave the leaves on our lawns?

Buffalo is known as the “City of Good Neighbors,” so of course, we want to be responsible members of our community. As good neighbors, we probably feel a duty towards the upkeep of the outdoor spaces of the buildings we inhabit. And raking up leaves, gathering them into bags, and tossing them into trash bins just seems like part of the whole deal. So I completely understand if you are feeling somewhat skeptical of my proposal and fully acknowledge that it could sound kind of crazy.

It might surprise you, though, to find out that raking leaves is actually a bit of a modern fad. It wasn’t until the 1930s that most people began using rakes to scour the ground, grabbing up leaves.

It’s all part of a more general trend toward overly manicuring our environment (along with practices like creating seas of shortened, dandelion-free grass or neatly sculpted bushes with not a leaf out of place). As a show of wealth and status, upper-class Britons in the 17th Century would demonstrate that they could afford to waste space with their highly tamed, pristine lawns.

In a bid to appear wealthy, the average person began adapting these status symbol lawns, until they eventually became the norm.

In a bid to appear wealthy, the average person began adapting these status symbol lawns, until they eventually became the norm.

Aside from seeming like we are imitating 17th Century British aristocratic aesthetics, though, you might be wondering if there are any other downsides to having leaf-free lawns. Obviously, it takes a good deal of time and energy to rake lawns, which could be a positive or a negative, depending on whether one enjoys raking. From an environmental standpoint, however, the value in raking (or not raking) is more clear-cut.

As mentioned earlier, raked leaves usually get compiled into bags before being tossed away. So there are multiple layers of issues at hand. The first would be the bags. Plastic garbage bags will have the harshest environmental impact, with the plastic taking an immense amount of time to decompose. If you plan to continue raking leaves, repurposing other bags, like perhaps some paper grocery bags you’ve got kicking around, would create a smaller impact. Regardless of the type of bag used, however, when we throw away our piles of leaves, they add weight to the garbage trucks, which burns extra fuel in the transportation process. Ultimately, the leaves make their way to their final destination, taking up space in landfills.

Photo by Lauren Wesp

Next, let’s consider the soil and the plants that grow in it. Some people are afraid that a blanket of leaves atop their grass (that aristocracy-style grass) will lead to its demise. But simply breaking up the leaves with something like a lawn mower will create a layer of mulch. This will make it easier for the leaves to break down while allowing the grass to breathe.

Packed with nutrients, the leaves will biodegrade and leave behind healthier soil. And if you really don’t feel comfortable keeping leaves on your lawn, another option would be to rake them up to be placed in a compost bin, thus still creating more nutritious soil. If you don’t own a compost bin, you can sign up for a composting service with organizations like Farmer Pirates.

Finally, we’ll take a look at the impact of raking on wildlife. Thousands of species, from caterpillars, to turtles, to chipmunks make their homes within the fallen leaves. So by disposing of the leaves, we are also throwing away wildlife habitats. When we instead choose to leave our leaves on the ground, we are helping animals to find essential resources that they need to survive. And to truly be a city of good neighbors, we can extend kindness to all of our neighbors, regardless of their species.

How often do we get a chance to do good by doing less?

All that being said, I can see why people might still be apprehensive about leaving the leaves on their lawns. I totally get being worried about your neighbors side-eyeing you for the apparent infraction of not maintaining a spotless lawn. It’s also an opportunity, though, to be a trendsetter while feeling good about doing something to benefit the environment. And how often do we get a chance to do good by doing less? Plus, now that you are informed about the environmental impacts of raking, you are well equipped to spit out knowledge defending your leafy lawn to any neighbor who might make a snippy comment.

On a final note, I absolutely do not discourage anyone from raking their leaves into a condensed area and jumping in said leaf pile before returning the leaves to their lawns. Some traditions should be here to stay!

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