Elmwood Village is in the central part of Buffalo, New York. The neighborhood is located along Elmwood Avenue. The area is bordered on the south by the Allentown neighborhood. The community’s northern boundary abuts Buffalo State College and Delaware Park just beyond the Burchfield Penney Art Center. Its eastern boundary is Delaware Avenue (NY 384). The western boundary is Richmond Avenue, and to the west is the West Side neighborhood.
Buffalonians often mention Elmwood Village and Allentown in the same breath. While there are many similarities between the two, the astute visitor to Buffalo who experiences both neighborhoods will notice some differences. In Elmwood Village, the ambiance is decidedly upscale. By and large, its shops cater not to hipsters but to well-heeled urban bourgies, and the bars and restaurants on Elmwood Avenue invite a more refined clientele than the frat-boy meatheads who descend on Allen Street every weekend. In contrast, at the north end of the strip, you’ll find a small, stalwart cluster of low-key college dives catering to Buffalo State students. In short, Allentown is the place to party down with youthful abandon, while Elmwood is where you go when you get too old for that scene.
Until 1868, Buffalo’s northern boundary was located at North Street, and what is now Elmwood Village was a rural area known as “Shingletown,” traversed by a quiet country lane called Rogers Street. A tavern stood at the corner of Rogers and Utica Streets, serving as a way station for travelers between Buffalo and Black Rock; across the way stood a tiny chapel staffed by a preacher who traveled each Sunday from Westminster Presbyterian Church in Allentown. Other than that, however, Shingletown was little more than an expanse of apple orchards, pastureland, and forest. Elmwood Avenue existed between Butler Street (now Lexington Avenue) and West Delavan Avenue.
Like the Delaware District immediately to its east, what is today the Elmwood Village sprang to life largely thanks to the extensive system of parks and parkways that Frederick Law Olmsted developed beginning in the 1870s in what was then the outskirts of Buffalo, NYC. The large Delaware Park, the centerpiece of that system, was placed there; to serve as grand entrances to the park, Olmsted designed a series of parkways: wide avenues that extended between the park and the city, lined on each side with great rows of shade trees to give visitors a prelude to the tranquil green oasis that awaited them (he also redesigned Rogers Street in the same manner, which would come to be renamed Richmond Avenue). Though these parkways ran through empty land at the time, Olmsted correctly assumed that as the city grew, they would attract the attention of the growing aristocratic class, who were already beginning to build ample estates on Delaware Avenue to escape the crowds and congestion of downtown. By 1890, Elmwood Avenue had been extended southward, a streetcar line had been established, side streets had been laid out with still more homes, and the neighborhood as it is today had begun to take shape.
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