Louis Zittel was born in Johnsonsburg, Wyoming County, New York in February 1836. His parents, Anna and Peter, came to the States from Germany shortly before Louis was born. Mr. Zittel was educated in the public schools. As a young man in the 1860s, Mr. Zittel moved to Buffalo and purchased a farm at the corner of Seneca and Cazenovia Streets. At the time, the area we know of as South Buffalo only consisted of four streets – Buffum, Seneca, Cazenovia and Indian Church. You could take a stagecoach to South Buffalo from Buffalo, and the trip was so long, it was generally only worth it if you were going to spend the night. Mr. Zittel established a post office in South Buffalo. Before 1891, the Post Office Department had no established policies regarding post office naming. Postmasters were allowed to name their post offices as they wished. Mr. Zittel named his post office “South Buffalo”, thereby creating the hamlet of South Buffalo and forever banishing “south side” from our city’s geography.
In 1887, Frederick Law Olmsted was commissioned to design a new park for the southern portion of the City (at this point, he had already designed what we know as Delaware, Front and Martin Luther King Parks). Olmsted’s original vision for the South Buffalo park consisted of a large waterfront park along the Lake Erie shore south of what is now Tifft Street, east to the railroad corridor. The original design was rejected as it was too costly, too likely to be damaged by storms coming off the lake and too far away from the residential areas of South Buffalo. In 1888, Park Commissioners began looking for another site suitable for park use. Three sites were identified to be used – the 76-acre Hart Farm which was being promoted for residential development along Cazenovia Creek, the grove at Mineral Springs, and a 156-acre just outside the southern boundary of the City limits. The Parks Commissioners ended up approving two parks, that we now know as South Park and Cazenovia Park.
Louis Zittel was a strong proponent for creating the park at the Cazenovia Creek site. Serving as a Park Commissioner, Mr. Zittel worked hard to get the unused Hart Farm tract used as a park. The park is a monument to Mr. Zittel’s perseverance and interest in benefiting his section of the City. After the park was laid out, he moved to 150 Cazenovia Street, where he could view the park from his front windows. The property where his house stood is now the American Legion.
After his move, he subdivided his farmland and developed the streets surrounding the street that bears his name.
Mr. Zittel died on April 22, 1921 at his home on Cazenovia Street at the age of 87 years. He is buried in Forest Lawn.
To read about other streets, check out the Street Index.
- “Proceedings of the Society”, Volume 26. Edited by Frank H. Severance. Buffalo Historical Society Publications, 1922.
- “Named after Park Commissioner”. Courier Express, March 12 1939, sec 5, p 12.