Let’s plant some trees!

If you’ve been paying attention to NorthBuffalo.org, Hello Hertel or Hertel Avenue’s Facebook page, you should know about the upcoming Spring Clean-Up on April 26. (I’ve been practically crying for signs of spring since February)

If you just learned of this now, not to worry, it’s not too late to sign up to help out.

What hasn’t been as widely publicized is: in conjunction with that clean-up will be a Re-Tree spring planting on a few of our NoBo streets. I’ve been working closely with Ryan Sajdak, NorthBuffalo.org’s founder, and we’ve secured an order of 50 trees!

But I also promised Ryan that we’d have enough people to help plant those trees.

So again, it’s not too late to sign up, and if you’re someone who loves lining an urban neighborhood with some beautiful foliage like me, please check the box on the registration form that indicates you want to help with the planting. And feel free to mention Hello Hertel in the comments section too, I’d love to meet any loyal readers of this blog!

In closing, here are some pictures of the trees we’ll be planting, along with their funny names. Hope to see you on the 26th!

Cercis Canadensis (Redbud)

Cornus X Constellation (Dogwood)

Parrotia Persica (Persian Ironwood)

Prunus Virginiana (Canada Red)

 Eucommia Ulmoides (Hardy Rubber)

Ginkgo Biloba (Ginkgo Princeton Sentry)

Quercus Coccinea (Scarlet Oak)

Quercus Rubra (Northern Red Oak)

School 81: A Diamond in the Rough?

I gave birth to this kid four months ago.


Cute, right?

Well he wasn’t more than a day or two old, before Charlie and I started SERIOUSLY talking about where we would send him to school. Sure, we were getting a little ahead of ourselves given that he has to first master some basic life skills like eating and sleeping and cheering for the Bills before the bus pulls up and whisks him off to kindergarten. But still, now that we have a real-life tiny human in front of us, all of a sudden we feel like we have to start the conversation.

Many o’ times we’ve uttered the words “well there’s NO WAY we can send him to public schools, not in Buffalo”. The options were always Catholic schools, charter schools (whatever those are) or banking on the fact that we were raising the next Albert Einstein and we’d be enrolling him in the early achiever program at Harvard.

A pleasant Facebook conversation with a Hello Hertel reader I’ve never met now has me thinking otherwise.

This fellow North BuffaLOVER wrote me a quick note to say how much she enjoyed reading our blog. We exchanged a number of pleasantries and yada yada yada (thanks George Costanza for one of the greatest segues ever), turns out we have a mutual friend (classic Buffalo) AND turns out she’s a teacher at School 81 on Tacoma Ave.

I have driven by that school a million times and in the last four months have been wondering if that is one of the good ones you hear young parents living in the city talk about. According to her, it is. My eyes lit up.

She said the principal at 81 runs a “tight ship” and their students go on to Nichols and City Honors. She acknowledged that Buffalo Public Schools do have their challenges (putting it nicely) but said that walking into School 81 is unlike any other. Who is this Principal Tight Ship and what is he all about?

See this article from the Buffalo News on School 81’s Principal, Robert Clemens.

If you’re a young parent in North Buffalo, I truly hope you clicked that link. After reading that, I have a renewed sense of hope that a Buffalo public school, School 81 in our own backyard, could be a viable option for our child’s education someday.

A renewed sense of hope from a complete stranger, now Facebook friend, thanks to this very blog.

Now I just need Principal Clemens to stick around for another 13 years…ya know, in case that Harvard thing doesn’t work out.

Ramblings from the past: Hertel Avenue

There I was, sitting in a local cafe in downtown Rochester, flanked by my Buffalo regalia, reading an old and crumpled Artvoice (I had been in Rochester for ten days) when a gentleman approached me and exclaimed, “It’s an amazing city, your Buffalo. Too bad I never got an opportunity to live there.”

“Yes, indeed. It is a gem of a city!” After graciously thanking him, I went back to my coffee date with the crumpled Artvoice.

Two minutes later, the gentleman came back, “So where did you say you live in Buffalo?”

North Buffalo.”

“I see, where in North Buffalo?”

“Hertel Avenue, it’s one of the oldest neighborhoods of Buffalo.”

“Oh, how fascinating. So what’s the history of this place?”

“Umm..well..” (I am sure there is a history, except that I don’t know.) “I am sorry but I don’t really know.”

As these words escaped my mouth, so did my North Buffalo pride.

Obviously, this blog post is an effort to nurse my wounded Pride and to give all of us NoBu’s a glimpse of Hertel’s past.

First Bus_Filmore-HertelStretching for four miles from Niagara Street to Main Street across North Buffalo, Hertel is named for John Stephen Hertel, former County Supervisor from the old twelfth ward. North Buffalo, and Hertel Avenue owed their habitation to the invention of automobiles around the 1900′s, becoming home to many Italian Immigrants who moved from the deteriorating lower west side of Buffalo (the Canal District), along with many Russian Jews, who relocated to Hertel Avenue from their original neighborhoods in the 1930′s.

Last Trolley Hertel-FilmoreWith the people, came their culture. Hertel Avenue became a hot spot for shopping, dining and entertainment. During the early 20th century, trolleys were a major source of transportation for Buffalonians- and these tracks crisscrossed Hertel. People came to shop and dine at places like Van Slyke’s Pharmacy and Klaiber’s Delicatessen.

Sample Dress ShopOne of the most famous businesses that Hertel Avenue ever saw was “The Sample Dress Shop” opened by Anne Bunis at 1635 Hertel Avenue in 1928. The store catered to women’s clothing and other fashions, and saw tremendous success, thanks to its excellent marketing strategies which included dropping brochures from airplanes throughout the city, and their immensely popular Pup Sale, which was considered one of the most coveted sales event by Buffalo shoppers.

Sample_Liquidation Sale circa 1993Sample Pup Sale Flyer circa 1944

While The Sample Dress Shop was definitely a feather in the crown of Hertel Avenue, North Park Theater was its crowning glory. Built in 1920, as a part of Shea’s chain of theaters, designed by architect Henry L. Spann, the building was adorned by a grand pipe-organ and Tiffany lights which have since been removed. The theater’s ownership has passed from Shea’s to Dipson Theaters to its present owners, who recently restored the theater to its formal glory, and reopened the crown jewel of Hertel to its people.

North Park Theater

This sums up the history of Hertel, friends! So next time when someone asks about this fascinating neighborhood of yours, go ahead and share the glory. You are welcome :)

This blog post is first in the series of blog posts which aim to shine light on aspects of Hertel – which are unique to this neighborhood. Stay Tuned for more! 



A guy walks into a theatre…

I popped into the North Park Theatre this past weekend to inquire about partnering with the Advertising Club of Buffalo to screen a film. I walked away with much more than an answer to my inquiry.

I had a great conversation with programming director, Ray Barker, who was excited to discuss bringing a new film to the theatre. He also showed me around the lobby a bit. I quickly bought a bag of popcorn.


I then was given a mini-tour of the theatre by co-owner, Tom Eoannou. It was incredible to hear what he had to say about the restoration work, but what was even better was seeing his enthusiasm about it all. It’s such an exciting time for the theatre and for Hertel.


Check out what else I had to say about it in my blog written for Visit Buffalo Niagara, here.

Take Two: Is It %&!$#+@ Spring Yet?!

Just less than three weeks ago I wrote an “I’m at my wits end” blog about how it just won’t stop being cold and snowy and stupid outside.

I took an optimistic and motivational approach by ending that blog with a countdown to spring link.

Clearly, my optimism was ill-timed.

Today is March 12, seven days away from the start of spring, and we’re hanging out with our second blizzard of the year.

didn’t want one blizzard, but two? That’s just vulcan ridiculous.

So…here’s my second attempt at rallying us around the idea that the better weather is still within reach…albeit a little ways away.

The good folks at NorthBuffalo.org are doing a spring clean-up on our North Buffalo streets – which I’m guaranteeing will be snow, ice and salt free – on April 26.

Sign up here. Hope to see you there!

Oh, by the way…100 days to summer!