HIGGS: Early Niagara Falls and more on Main Street

Norma Higgs

I jumped ahead last time with the history part of my column so I will include it this week. Always good to know what came before us. This info is from the city directory also.

Niagara Falls is situated between Lake Erie and Lake Ontario, where the two lakes "overlap." The city is on the Niagara River, 23 miles below Lake Erie and 14 miles above Lake Ontario. The river connects the two lakes which have a difference in elevation of 326 feet, and this difference is the source of the great amount of water power at Niagara for the development of electrical energy serving the many industries.

For centuries before the coming of the white man, the local Indians used the Niagara River as part of a water route to the interior of the continent, portaging around the Falls and the gorge. The Great Lakes and the Niagara River were used to link the Hudson and the St. Lawrence rivers with the Ohio, Mississippi and Missouri rivers. The explorers and missionaries followed the water routes established by the Indians. In the settlement and development of the Central West, the early fur-traders and settlers made use of the same water routes, including the Niagara River and the portage at Niagara. Traders followed this route in their trips between Quebec and New Orleans.

A trading post was established near the Falls for the exchange of goods between the settlers and the Indians, later becoming the Village of Manchester. A mile below the Falls another small village known as Clarksville was established. In 1848 these two villages amalgamated and were incorporated as the Village of Niagara Falls. In 1892 the Village of Suspension Bridge, about two miles below the Falls, and the Village of Niagara Falls combined and were incorporated as the City of Niagara Falls.

Since pioneer days the Niagara area has held a position of importance in transportation; first as part of a transcontinental land and water highway, later as a center for rail and motor highways, and still later for air transportation.

Let's get to 1951 and see what was across Main Street from last week's listings. Another "five and dime” at 1914-16 known as Kresge’s was a "sister shop" to the one at 34 Falls St. Next door was Port Jewelers, Inc. Richard Port was the president and Frieda was vice president. They lived at 2463 Michigan Ave. 1908 was known as the beginning of the Bingenheimer Block where Jane Lee Corp. was selling woman's clothing.

1908 - 10 were pretty well established with La Mae Beauty Salon with Ellen D’Augistino as the operator. David Franco Hosiery came next with owner from Buffalo. Guess what? The next shop was G. R. Kinney Co. Inc. "a shoe store". William Cygnor was the manager and he resided at 422 Cedar Avenue. Dominic Augistino and wife Ellen lived at 1908.

1902 was the site for Krausman’s Inc. another department store. This was a favorite of my mother as they had nice reasonable prices and carried a good stock of aprons and house dresses, etc. which were a large part of her regular wardrobe. Sister and I would go in with her to look around and watch the small tubes moving along a special track to the balcony in the back of the store where the money was counted and a receipt was issued and sent down a companion tube. Donald Krausman was the owner-operator and he lived at 918 Maple Ave. 

Let's cross Lincoln Place to visit Lerner's at 1820, one of our favorite places. They carried clothing that girls like us really related to. Margo Ward was Manager at this busy shop. It was actually two shops connected inside with just an aisle separating the two individual buildings. Margo lived on Grand Island.

1818 was Thom McAnn's Shoes. Harold Atkins was manager and resided at 1023 South Ave. with his wife Laura. 1816 came next and it was home to Holly's Stores, Inc. -Agnes Hull was the manager and lived at 714 8th St., Apt. 9. This was and still is the Eleanor Apartments. Vacant for many years the building was recently sold to someone in Queens I believe. There is lots of activity there right now as the owner is installing heating and electric and other amenities. I hope they bring a nice group of tenants as there are over 20 apartments here.

At 1812 1/2 was Albert Siegel's hat store He was a milliner and lived at 424 Pine Ave. Mandia's Rathskeller brings back memories for me. It was a favorite place for those of us who finally reached the "drinking" age. It was actually in the basement of Albert Siegel's Hat shop. As I recall the stairs leading to this popular spot were really steep but the restaurant/bar was very accommodating. Herman Mandia was the host - he resided at 458 Third Street.

1812-14 was known as the Quinn Block and Howard G. Well operated a men's furnishings shop. He lived at 449 Vanderbilt Ave. with wife Ann. There were several apartments next but I will leave that for next time.  

Contact Norma Higgs at niahigg@aol.com.

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