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This is an aerial photo view of the Village of Williamsville, New York, 1927. Williamsville is in the Town of Amherst, which is just east of Buffalo.
I grew up here, although a bit more recently than 1927, more like the 1970s and 1980s. This image is interesting in showing what was and wasn’t around back in 1927, and how things have changed.
A lot more detail can be seen in the large version (but not the notes):
More detailed information about the notes I’ve placed here:
Note 1: This little clump of houses includes my family’s old house of 114 South Ellicott Street. It was built in 1920. The house next door (to the south) is there too (also built in 1920), as is the house two doors up ("Sloan House", built in 1924). Across the street, the Sierpierski’s house isn’t there (was built in 1932), but the Broderick house is (built in 1900). There are no vacant lots on this street today, but in 1927 it appears to have been at least half vacant. The vacant lots were probably farms that were in the process of being sold and subdivided into housing lots when this photo was taken.
Note 2: "The Castle". As kids, we were enthralled by the castle. It was built in 1917, and probably expanded upon for many years. It is on an island in Ellicott Creek, which in effect is the castle’s moat. A stone bridge over the water leads to a big stone "gatehouse", complete with porcullis. The gatehouse looks half-ruined, the stones roughly cut. Around the island grounds are other stone towers and structures with the same half-ruined look. Tucked away behind gardens and paths is the keep, the main house. It is an amazing place, at least in my memory from childhood. After I moved away, a new street and housing plat was built just east and across the creek from the castle. The street was named "Castle Creek", and probably has removed some of the castle’s mysterious charm. Previously it was hidden behind thorny woods, with just an unmarked gravel access driveway.
Note 3: Today there is a dead-end street here, called Pine Acres Court. At least six house lots were fit into the slice of land between South Ellicott St and Oakgrove Dr. I was a bit surprised to find no hint of the street at all in this 1927 photo, but rather a dark area that might be wetlands. When I looked up more info, I found that the houses of Pine Acres Court were all built in the 1960s and 1970s, and that a good portion of the area is in Ellicott Creek’s 100-year flood plain. Perhaps it was a wetland back in 1927.
Note 4: Williamsville is where it is because Ellicott Creek falls over the Onondaga Escarpment here (I used to think it was the Niagara Escarpment, but just now learned it is actually the Onondaga Escarpment. There are several long east-west escarpments in western New York). Williamsville grew up around the rapids and falls of Ellicott Creek, where mills could make use of the waterpower. Many mills were made over the years, but today only one remains as anything other than ruins (the "Williamsville Water Mill"). In this 1927 photo, I suspect the "Dodge Mill" is there, just across the creek from the "Water Mill". There were other mills around, and some may still have been around in 1927.
Aerial photo imagery from Erie County’s website:
Main page on historical aerial photos of Erie County, NY:
Index of aerial photos from the 1920s: