Looking Backward: Grant & Breckenridge, 1899

by / Aug. 12, 2015 12am EST

The neighborhood around Grant and Breckenridge streets was sparsely settled as late as only 115 years ago. This photograph, shot in 1899, captures bookkeeper Frederick H. Branstater at his home at 286 Breckenridge Street, northwest corner with Grant. His house is deeply set back from a dirt road lined with wooden sidewalks. A few dozen chickens surround him.

This rural scene changed quickly thereafter, particularly since electric streetcar service had been introduced on Grant Street in 1893. Denser development followed population gains in Buffalo, which, between 1900 and 1910, added more than 70,000 residents, leading to a total of 423,715.

In 1900, the house at 286 Breckenridge was demolished and replaced with six row houses. In 1938, the site was leveled again and replaced with the F. W. Woolworth Co. store at 110 Grant Street. That building still stands, its original Art Deco facade concealed. Rainbow Shops now occupies the site where Branstater once tended to his chickens.