Buffalo in Erie County, New York — The American Northeast (Mid-Atlantic)
A Melting Pot
Michigan Avenue Heritage Corridor
From its earliest days as a frontier trading post, Buffalo, NY was the "Gateway to the West". It was the place where Americans of all ethnic backgrounds, nationalities and experience converged in pursuit of a better life.
Buffalo was the last stop on the Freedom Train.
Legendary Underground Railroad Conductor Harriet Tubman led bands of runaways through Western New York on their way to freedom in Canada. Fugitives stopped running to build "own self" communities. They raised churches, founded social clubs and businesses. The politics of what it meant to be African in America were discussed.
Buffalo, New York is where freedom seekers came to heal their spirit wound and to live physically free." Mother Moses (Harriet Tubman)
The lower east side of Buffalo, NY...a diverse community.
The Michigan Avenue Heitage Corridor lies in the center of an area known for its ethnic diversity. This area was home to Buffalo's earliest German, Italian and Polish comunities. African American, Jewish and Chinese neighborhoods were concentrated in the area known as the Lower East Side.
In the early 1800s, fugitives from slavery in the south and their families settled in the general area of Michigan Street and Vine Street. By the 1850s, this "colored" community numbered about 700. The neighborhood was defined by three structures, the Vine Street (Bethel) AME Church, the Vine Alley Colored School and the Michigan Street Baptist Church. This church is still sanding at 511 Michigan Avenue.
Portrait of African American Family c. turn of the 20th century.
Jewish immigrants arrived in the city in about 1840. In 1847 Temple Beth-El was founded. This was the first Jewish congregation between New York City and Chicago. By the end of the century, William Street was the heart of Buffalo's Jewish community and had established itself as a merchant district. For many years the Jewish Community Center was the social center of the city's Jewish population.
A small but significant Chinese community settled in the Lower East Side area. Michigan Street was home to a Buddhist shrine, several Chinese restaurants and a variety of grocery stores and dry goods merchants. In 1904, Quong Sing Lung Co., a store and pharmacy, occupied the site that later became the famous Little Harlem Hotel and Nightclub.
1790s: Black trapper Joseph Hodge had trading post.
1816: Buffalo recorded list of 16 black residents, nine as "slaves".
1831: First black church was founded: Vine Street African Methodist-Episcopal.
1835: Writer William Wells Brown arrived.
1836: Michigan Baptist Church was founded.
1843: National Negro Convention at Vine Street AME, which featured historic debate between Frederick Douglass & Henry Highland Garner.
1845: Michigan Street Baptist Church erected.
1891: Mary Burnett arrived as Mrs. William Talbert.
1892: Rev. J. Edward Nash took the pulpit of Michigan Street Baptist Church.
1900-1901: Mary B. Talbert led protest against the dehumanization of Africans and African Americans during the Pan American Exposition.
1905: Niagara Movement Conference: July 11-13.
1917: Local 533 American Federation of Musicians was founded, some members later organized Colored Musicians Club.
Location. 42° 53.149′ N, 78° 52.056′ W. Marker is in Buffalo, New York, in Erie County. Marker is at the intersection of Michigan Avenue and Arsenal Place, on the right when traveling north on Michigan Avenue. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Buffalo NY 14203, United States of America.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Moving North (here, next to this marker); Little Harlem Hotel (a few steps from this marker); Michigan Avenue Baptist Church (within shouting distance of this marker); Michigan Street Baptist Church (within shouting distance of this marker); a different marker also named Michigan Street Baptist Church (within shouting distance of this marker); Mary B. Talbert (within shouting distance of this marker); The Nash House (about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line); Colored Musicians Club (about 300 feet away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Buffalo.
Also see . . . Michigan Street African American Heritage Corridor. (Submitted on March 5, 2015, by Anton Schwarzmueller of Wilson, New York.)
Categories. • Abolition & Underground RR • African Americans •
Credits. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016. This page originally submitted on March 5, 2015, by Anton Schwarzmueller of Wilson, New York. This page has been viewed 260 times since then and 17 times this year. Photos: 1, 2. submitted on March 5, 2015, by Anton Schwarzmueller of Wilson, New York.