Buffalo's Street Car System
Photo credit: Buffalo Rising, Buffalo Green Code, Buffalonian.com, Forgotten Buffalo,
Click image for high-resolution map
Joe Sparacio via Buffalo History Museum, Carl Skompinski, Hamlin Park Historic District
Joe Sparacio via The Sunday Times, Michael Taylor, Wikipedia
City of Buffalo
223 miles of above ground street car track servicing tens of millions of riders throughout Buffalo's radial grid street system each year
After 100+ years of passenger transportation via rail, street car service ended in the early 1950s. The streetcar tracks were usually covered up with asphalt, and occasionally during major road work, construction crews may dig up remains of tracks that have been buried for the past fifty years. Only a 1 mile section of above-ground light rail installed on Main Street in the 1980s provide the type of passenger service that hundreds of miles of track once did.
- 1834 - "The first street-railway, in reality if not in name, was the Buffalo to Black Rock road, with horse-drawn cars"
- June 11, 1860 - The Buffalo Street Railroad Company opened a Main street line from "the Dock" as far as Edward street, and as far as Cold Spring by July
- June 23, 1860 - The Niagara Street Company opened a service to Black Rock
- 1864 - The Buffalo Street Railroad Company built its second line, on Genesee street
- 1868 - The Buffalo Street Railroad Company acquired the Black Rock line from the Niagara Street Company
- 1873 - The Exchange Street line was built
- 1874 - Addition of the William and Michigan Street lines
- 1879 - The Main street line extended to Delaware Park
- 1880 - Addition of lines on Connecticut, Allen, and Virginia streets
- 1884 - Jefferson and Emslie streets added
- 1885 - Broadway, Carlton, Ferry, and Chenango streets added
- 1886 - West Avenue line opened
- 1888 - Forest Avenue line opened to the Park, plus Jersey and Baynes streets lines added
- 1889 - Electric power introduced to the Delaware Park line, and then the entire system within a few years
- 1890 - The Buffalo Street Railroad Company, Buffalo East Side Street Railroad Company and Buffalo West Side Street Railroad Company merge under the name of the Buffalo Railway Company.
- 1897 - Buffalo Traction Company opened a line from Erie street to and through Walden Avenue
- 1898 - Buffalo Traction Company adds route from Erie street to the Union Iron Works in South Buffalo.
- 1899 - Buffalo Street Railroad company and Buffalo Traction Company merge
- 1902 - Buffalo Railway Company went out of existence, with the International Railway Company becoming organized
- Over a period of a few decades, various mergers and new track connected Buffalo to all of the major suburbs, Niagara Falls, Toronto, and Rochester
- 1919 - Street cars carried 191,200,048 passengers in Buffalo
- 1920 - Buffalo had 223 miles of street railways
- 1935 - Elimination of streetcar service on virtually all west-side lines, including Niagara, Grant, Hoyt, Elmwood, West Utica, and Connecticut streetcars.
- April 14, 1941 - William and Jefferson routes cease streetcar service.
- September 1941 - Seneca and South Park routes cease streetcar service.
- WWII - Street car removal ceases for 6 years
- February 6, 1947 - Utica route ended service.
- February 20, 1948 - Clinton and Sycamore routes ended service
- 1950 - The final six streetcar routes ended service
- Sunday, June 18, 1950 - All Cold Spring Depot streetcar service ceases (Main, Parkside/Zoo & Kensington).
- Saturday, July 1, 1950 - All Broadway Depot streetcar service ceases (Broadway, Fillmore/Hertel and Genesee).
- The Niagara Frontier Transit Corporation spent 6 months moving 175 streetcars from the Cold Springs and Broadway streetcar barns over the remaining streetcar track to the Military car barn where the outer bodies were removed and burned.
- The tracks along Eagle Street were from the Clinton Street route. The line started at Main and Clinton, and ran along Main, Eagle, Emslie and Clinton to the city line. Return trips ran along Clinton, Emslie, Eagle, Michigan, North Division and Main to Clinton Street. At peak times, cars ran every 7.5 minutes.... Eagle is one of several radial streets laid out by Joseph Ellicott in 1804 that have been fractured over several decades, in this case by urban renewal and the construction of the NFTA bus station"
- Some line route numbers: #1 William, #2 Clinton, #3 Grant, #4 Broadway, #5 Niagara, #6 Sycamore, #7 Hoyt, #8 Main, #9 Parkside, #10 West Utica, #11 East Ferry, #12 East Utica, $13 Kensington, #14 Abbott, #15 Seneca, #16 South Park, #18 Jefferson, #19 Bailey, #20 Elmwood, #21 Michigan/Forest, #22 Connecticut, #23 Fillmore/Hertel, #24 Genesee, #26 Delavan
Recent Events and Actions Taken
- 1979 - Metro Rail construction begins
- 1985 - 6.4 mile Buffalo Metro Rail installed on Main Street. 1.2 mile above-ground section provides free street car service to downtown. The line is often mistakenly credited with the death of downtown retail, which had actually been suffering for years at the hands of sprawl encouraged by urban highways such as the 33. The Metro Rail has higher daily ridership than any bus route in the City.
Other Pertinent Facts
- The Buffalonian - Early Railroads
- Wikipedia - Routes of Buffalo Streetcars
- Wikipedia - 1935 Buffalo Street Car and Bus Guide
- Wikipedia - Buffalo Metro Rail
- Historic Polonia Preservation District - 1950 Broadway Street Car
- Historical Buffalo - 1948 Street Car photo album
- Buffalo Rising, August 2010 - Tracks Emerge on Eagle Street
- Buffalo Rising, November 2013 - Bring back the Elmwood streetcar!
- Buffalo Rising, December 2014 - Lessons in Light Rail
■ Frontier House
■ John D. Smith Gas Fixtures
■ Victoria Theater
■ 347 Fargo Avenue
■ 1934 Elmwood Avenue
■ Pijan Roost Bar
■ Market Bar
■ Cheektowaga Town Hall
■ St. Stephen's Evangelical Lutheran Home / MusicMall
■ Forks Hotel
■ Young & Swartz Inc.
■ 31 Barker Street
■ 1432 Niagara Street
■ 253 Allen Street
■ Imperial Building
■ Seneca Babcock Community Center
■ 171 Brinkman Avenue
■ 153 Brinkman Avenue
■ 217 Brinkman Avenue
■ 197 Brinkman Avenue
■ 201 Brinkman Avenue
■ 205 Brinkman Avenue
■ 209 Brinkman Avenue
■ Fire House Engine No. 20 - E.M. Cotter Fire Boat
■ Corner Bar
■ Chez Ami Restaurant
■ Knapp Building
■ 334 Fillmore Avenue
■ 326 Fillmore Avenue
■ 69 Whitney Place
■ Frontier House ■ John D. Smith Gas Fixtures ■ Victoria Theater ■ 347 Fargo Avenue ■ 1934 Elmwood Avenue ■ Pijan Roost Bar ■ Market Bar ■ Cheektowaga Town Hall ■ St. Stephen's Evangelical Lutheran Home / MusicMall ■ Forks Hotel ■ Young & Swartz Inc. ■ 31 Barker Street ■ 1432 Niagara Street ■ 253 Allen Street ■ Imperial Building ■ Seneca Babcock Community Center ■ 171 Brinkman Avenue ■ 153 Brinkman Avenue ■ 217 Brinkman Avenue ■ 197 Brinkman Avenue ■ 201 Brinkman Avenue ■ 205 Brinkman Avenue ■ 209 Brinkman Avenue ■ Fire House Engine No. 20 - E.M. Cotter Fire Boat ■ Corner Bar ■ Chez Ami Restaurant ■ Knapp Building ■ 334 Fillmore Avenue ■ 326 Fillmore Avenue ■ 69 Whitney Place
Added 2014-02-04 • Last changed 2015-09-18