Looking Backward: North of City Hall, 1958

by / Apr. 5, 2017 12am EST

In a rare color photograph taken in 1958, the West Village and Allentown appear much as they do today, but there are important differences. This view from the City Hall Observation Deck would have been much different today had the West Side Arterial, connecting the Kensington Expressway and Niagara Thruway, been built. With the arterial plans scrapped in 1976, mass clearance was averted, but spot demolitions have still done damage. The largest change came with the 1971 construction of the Thaddeus J. Dulski Federal Building, displacing an entire block between Delaware, Huron, Cary, and South Elmwood. The Buffalo Elks Temple, built in 1925, had an indoor pool, handball courts, bowling alleys, banquet rooms, and 1,900 seat auditorium. It was demolished in 1997 for the parking lot south of Spot Coffee. The Ford Hotel, built in 1922 with 700 rooms, was demolished in 1999 to help Benderson Development turn the adjacent office building into a hotel. The creation of the Allentown Historic District in 1978 and West Village Historic District in 1980 helped prevent further destruction, but these buildings were not protected.