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Home > Our City > Buffalo My City > Buffalo My City Watercolors > 38-A Market Arcade

38-A Market Arcade

Narrative by - David M. Rote
(Narratives are copyrighted)

One of the oldest commissions of architect Edward Brodhead Green still extant in the city of Buffalo is the strikingly ornamented Market Arcade at 617 Main Street. Constructed in 1892 and for some years also known as the Palace Arcade, the Market Arcade connected Main Street with the great Washington Street Market which covered the block between St. Michael’s Church and Chippewa Street. The Arcade builder G.B. Marshall, who made his fortune in oil, has often been biographically confused with G.B. Mathews, a Buffalo flour miller who owned the Market Arcade from 1933 until his death in 1942.

Arcades became popular "mini-malls: in the 19th century in France and England. America’s first arcade was built in Providence, Rhode Island in 1828. Mr. Marshall sent E.B. Green abroad to study London’s Burlington Arcade and Green’s adaptation includes the requisite clerestory windows and iron canopy, which provide a brightly-lighted concourse with three floors of business addresses. Over the impressive doorway is an elaborate terra-cotta escutcheon featuring the head of a bison or "buffalo," long an adopted symbol of the city of Buffalo. The entire façade is repeated on the Washington Street side of the building.

The Arcade has had a roller-coaster success story. Once the Washington Market ceased operations, a series of owners attempted to keep the Arcade afloat. The City of Buffalo acquired the property in March 1979 through bankruptcy proceeding. Today the Arcade is home to numerous small businesses, houses the Empire State College's Niagara Frontier Center and is the impressive location of the Buffalo Visitor’s Center, a 3,000 square foot facility with displays and multimedia presentations. Directly next door in the Salter Building is the Breckenridge Brewing Company, one of several micro breweries which have been introduced to the Buffalo area over the past few years. Buffalo My City historian David Mott Rote is depicted preparing to photograph the main Street façade for later reference.