Buffalo in Erie County, New York — The American Northeast (Mid-Atlantic)
Michigan Avenue Heritage Corridor
The dawn of the Industrial Age signaled the first wave of the Great Migration from the South. A new generation of African Americans looked to the North for a better quality of life.
In the early 1900s, African Americans continued to arrive from nearly everywhere south of the Mason-Dixon line. They came from the Carolinas, Tennessee, Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi and Florida. In Buffalo they found plentiful work. They worked as laborers in booming steel mills and factories and as servants, cooks and chauffeurs for the wealthy.
Newcomers to Buffalo founded black-owned hotels, nightclubs, funeral parlors, drug stores, restaurants and social groups. Savvy entrepreneur Dan Montgomery owned three hotel and supper clubs famous for their steak dinners. The Lower East Side was home to Sims and Towne New and Used Furniture Store, Jones Brothers Mortuary and the Maloney School of Beauty Culture.
Brown Bomber Cab Co., Buffalo and Erie County Historical Society.
Manhattan Hotel and Supper Club. Buffalo and Erie County Historical Society.
The Colored Musicians Club.
The Colored Musicians Club evolved from Local 533 of the American Federation of Musicians, founded in 1917. In 1934, led by Ray Jackson and Lloyd Plummer, some of the union members purchased the building at 145 Broadway. Jazz greats Dizzy Gillespie, Miles Davis, Count Basie, Duke Ellington, Lionel Hampton and Billy Holiday and others, would sometimes "jam" there after a local gig. Today the Colored Musicians Club members remain active in the ommunity and hold music lessons for local youth.
Little Harlem Hotel and Nightclub.
The Little Harlem Hotel and Nightclub opened in 1934 at 496 Michigan Avenue. The club was famous for its Chinese food and decor and became a favorite of literary and entertainment circles. Harlem Renaissance personalities and jazz greats such as Cab Callaway, Billy Eckstine and Sarah Vaughan, among others were entertained here. Heavyweight champ Joe Louis visited the Little Harlem Hotel when he came to Buffalo. It remained a favorite meeting place for African American political and business leaders until it was destroyed by fire in 1993.
The famous Little Harlem Hotel and Nightclub. Buffalo and Erie County Historical Society.
Little Harlem Hotel and Nightclub.
Buffalo, NY was far away from the oppressive Jim Crow laws of segregation that emerged following Reconstruction in the South.
Physicians Ivorite L. Scruggs, Ezekial Nelson, Theodore Kakaza and H.H. Lewis established their practices along William Street. Attorneys Clarence Maloney, John H. Coston and Julian Evans had law offices there.
The Douglas Grocery Company opened its first store, an African American cooperative enterprise.
Robert Joplin opened the McAvoy Theatre to offer high class pictures and up-to-date vaudeville to the black community.
Frank E. Merriweather Sr. founded The Criterion Press.
Elisha A. Gilbert started his dental practice and ophthalmologist W. Yerby Jones opened an office on Buffalo's Lower East Side.
Dentist Elisha A. Gilbert at work.
Location. 42° 53.147′ N, 78° 52.054′ 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. A Melting Pot (here, next to this marker); Little Harlem Hotel (within shouting distance of 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 6, 2015, by Anton Schwarzmueller of Wilson, New York.)
Categories. • African Americans • Arts, Letters, Music •
Credits. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016. This page originally submitted on March 6, 2015, by Anton Schwarzmueller of Wilson, New York. This page has been viewed 219 times since then and 28 times this year. Photos: 1, 2. submitted on March 6, 2015, by Anton Schwarzmueller of Wilson, New York.