Today cruise ships have become synonymous with the Caribbean and other tropical locales, but during the 19th and early 20th centuries Great Lakes passenger steamers cruised the waves delivering tourists to cities like Chicago, Detroit, Cleveland, Toronto, and even Buffalo. The Great Lakes were a major source of tourism and travel during this period and the cities surrounding the lakes prospered because of it. Some ferry lines still remain, but the heyday period has passed. However, evidence of this era can still be found in many of the cities and in the ephemera produced as a result.
Fenton Parke was a graduate of the University who became a much respected member of the Buffalo and Western New York Community. The Fenton Parke papers, held by the University Archives here at the University at Buffalo, contain documents and correspondence as well as many items collected by Parke during his life. One such item found within this collection is a map of the City of Buffalo from 1915.
Created by Buffalo Electrotype Works, a smaller company in the city, this map was provided to passengers aboard steamers visiting Buffalo. In addition to providing a wonderful snapshot of the city in 1915, the item itself is a fabulous example of the style and design utilized by printers and engravers during the era. The map specifically emphasizes locations like parks for tourists to visit as well the streetcar and rail lines should they be needed. Interestingly enough, the map also identifies the individual tax districts of the city at that time. Of particular note though is shaded area located around D-11 in the map grid which reads Site for the University of Buffalo. Known today as the University’s South Campus, this space was still yet to be utilized in 1915 and was home instead to the Erie County Almshouse.
This is the first post in a new blog series. “From the Stacks” highlights unique, little-known documents and artifacts uncovered by the staff and student assistants who work with the rich historical collections of the University Archives.