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Before Bridges

Before and after were totally different scenes.

Before the 1930’s people lived on the island, but there weren’t stores, churches, or schools. Children piled onto boats to be chartered across the wide blue river to get an education on the mainland. In brutal winter months (don’t forget this is Buffalo, known for its snowfall), kids sometimes got stranded when the water was too treacherous to transverse. They’d be forced to stay with "city" friends they went to school with. Sometimes these sleepovers laster for days until the blizzard conditions lifted.

Before the bridges, Islanders chose to live here for the land. They worked it, they were pioneers, they were outcasts. They were considered by mainlanders to be a bit-of-a-fool for choosing such a hard life. They would have chosen this out of necessity. They were poor.

At some point, Grand Island residents began petitioning for the State of New York to fund a public works project to build a bridge. Several years later, it happened. That's when tourists and newcomers discovered the island. They moved in hoards. They had money. They bought land, cut down trees, and built exclusive resorts and restaurants that the native Islanders couldn’t afford to patronize. Soon, a highway barged through the heart of Grand Island. In the matter of 10 short years life was completely transformed.

What do you know about life before the bridges?

The Sign

Altered Perimeters