Sycamore & Herman - One Last Time

I was recently introduced to Verlyn Klinkenborg's The Last Fine Time (1990). It's an amazing read if you're interested in post-war Buffalo social history and the decline of once thriving neighborhoods and cities. Klinkenborg focuses on the lives of the people who made 'George & Eddies' an everyday destination at 722 Sycamore Street, corner of Herman. Today the corner is vacant.

722 Sycamore Street - Buffalo, NY
Seven twenty-two Sycamore Street looks like a patch where the very idea of property has been voided. Its vacancy is the sign of something larger than deeds. It resembles a Midwestern field where the stand of crops shows odd variations: the sign of a buried well or a bulldozed farmhouse or soil where there once grew a border of crabapple trees. This lot was Indian territory. It was part of the Great Northwest, a wheat growing region, the breadbasket of a very young nation. It was part of the rise of Buffalo. It was all the things it has been since those long ago days. Now 722 Sycamore Street lies fallow. - The Last Fine Time, p. 202
From a 1940 Sanborn Map of the neighborhood.

722 Sycamore Street, Buffalo NY

Here's the Amazon link - The Last Fine Time. Verlyn Klinkenborg is also a New York Times editorial board member. Here's some recent writing and bio.


Anonymous said...

"The Last Fine Time" is one of the best books ever written about Buffalo. Nice to have the map & pix of the site.

fix buffalo said...


Buffalo's Central Library has a fine collection of these maps in the Grosvenor Room. Really worth checking out...

Library Diva said...

It makes me want to cry, it makes me want to punch...please tell me, if someone really wants to help change things around here, not someone with any money at all or power really, what can they do to help?

Max said...

"The Last Fine Time" is a essential read for anyone who wants to grasp what happened to our city during the last half of the 20th Century. Author Verlyn Klinkenborg masterfully tells that story by weaving in the lives of those who worked to make Buffalo the marvelous place it was. I witnessed it during those years and if I'd known it was going to disappear so dramatically as it did, I wish I'd appreciated it more. I always thought it was going to sustain and didn't realize how unique and spacial it was. Cities - and particularly the people who inhabit them - grow old, pass away or move on to other places while the dynamic forces which brought them together also go elsewhere.

Rick Sparkes, Grand Blanc, MI said...

I remember reading a review of "The Last Fine Time" in the Detroit Free Press Back in 1991 or 1992, and having to order a hardbound copy of the book from a bookstore at a mall in Flint. But it was well worth the wait. That is one of the most fascinating books I've ever read and I still dig it out and pick through it even now in the year 2013. I wish I had known the Wenzek family and lots of the people who made Buffalo the town it used to be.