Buffalo East Side:
Short History of Buffalo Gangs and the city’s East Side
Some might know the history of the streets of the East Side of Buffalo with the GoodYear Crew, Sly Green and the L.A. Boys, or the old Juice Crew and Bailey Style Posse, but Buffalo gangs and neighborhood cliques originated during the late 1950s and grew during the 1970s.
Some of the original gangs in the city of Buffalo were likes of the Matadors, Mad Dogs, and Manhattan Lovers, who were known as the biggest in the city as the three formed the 3M Nation.^
To go along with the 3M Nation, there was also the Pythons, which had different factions in the Cold Springs neighborhood and in the Talbort and Ellicott Mall housing projects, Lamp City, Allahturks, and numerous others throughout the streets of the Buffalo ghetto on the city’s East Side.^
Old school Buffalo gangs were much different from the gangs, cliques, and neighborhoods of the 1990s and 2000s. Gangs of previous eras and generations were less violent and had little to no affiliations with drugs as there was more a community pride than the mindset of modern day gangs.
– Streetview image of Goodyear Ave, the once home of the Goodyear Crew.
Entering into the late 1980s and 1990s the streets saw a major transition as an uptick in violence in the community due to the introduction of narcotics into the community. During this period, people like Sly Green and the rest of his crew, who were often labeled as the L.A. Boys, were a major influence in the streets of the East Side. Sly Green’s reign would only last until the mid-1990s as federal indictments led to his incarceration.
While the LA Boys were located throughout the city, there were a number of blocks on the East Side that also became notorious, like Goodyear and the once Goodyear Crew. After the L.A. Boys were arrested there was a void, and the Goodyear Crew filled it. In an area of other legendary ‘hoods like Montana Bridge (Montana Avenue), the Goodyear Crew would become the new kings of Buffalo, but only lasting until ’95 as indictments and arrests ended their short run.
Buffalo East Side History
Long before Buffalo gangs, the city’s East Side for the urban community was only located in a small designated area, an area centered around William Street. Eventually the community would slowly expand into places like the Fruitbelt and Cold Springs along Jefferson Avenue. As many of the original residents of the East Side left the city, the East Side would become the heart of the city’s urban population.
Even though Buffalo’s black population has been around since the city’s early days, most moved into the city during the great migration of African Americans from the southern states, which occurred between the 1920s and the 1960s.
– Streetview image of Jefferson and Northland, around the Cold Springs Neighborhood
In the beginning, Buffalo was one of the least segregated cities in the country with white and black residents living and working alongside each other. As newcomers, who were recruited by family members and companies that needed workers, came into the city of Buffalo the views of the black population began to change.*
The change was seen with discrimination, racism, and segregation as African-Americans were limited by the places they could live and on places they were allowed to work at.
Buffalo East Side Projects
During the 1930s, the government created the New Deal Act due to the affects that the Great Depression had on society, in turn this would help provide public housing in cities across the country. The city of Buffalo originally built four public housing projects, Kenfield, Perry, Lakeview, and finally Willert Park, which was the only housing project for black families that resided in Buffalo.
– Streetview image of the old Perry Housing Projects
Starting in the 1960s, urban renewal helped the city to build 5 high rise developments, mostly on the East Side, like Kensington Heights, Ellicott Mall, and Talbert Mall. The construction of the Ellicott and Talbert Malls, which were built between Michigan and Jefferson, helped change the East Side by displacing hundreds from the community.
Present Day Buffalo East Side
When the projects of the Buffalo ghetto began to deteriorate as numerous apartment unit were vacant and/or in need of repair, most housing projects were sold, renovated or eventually became closed. With the closing of Buffalo’s original high rise housing complexes many were displaced into various communities throughout the East Side of Buffalo.
Supposedly, with the hundreds of families leaving the East Side into the surrounding suburbs, the tax base of the East Side also left the community. This helped the transformation of the East Side into the label of the Buffalo ghetto with the suppose lack of funding for the necessary upkeep.
Currently, the East Side is heavily dilapidated with hundreds, if not thousands, of vacant lots and houses. The national trend of gentrification also seems to be making its way into certain sections of the Buffalo East Side. While the days of Buffalo gangs like the Goodyear Crew or the L.A. Boys are of the past, the streets still remain, though a different era and a different time.
Further Readings and Resources:
^Crockett, Sherman. “Cover Your Father’s Nakedness: Forgiving the Father Who Forsook You“- Volume 1. Xulon Press.
*Williams, Lillian Serece. “Strangers in the Land of Paradise“. Indiana University Press. 1999.
Buffalo East Side Related Topics:
Note: All information is provided through people of the community, outside sources, and research. Some information might not be current and/or 100% accurate.