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The following description of Saloons of Polonia at the Turn of the Century was written by John Daniels, Director of the Buffalo Social Survey. It orginially ran in the Buffalo Illustrated Morning Times newspaper on January 23, 1910.
Adam's Tavern, Buffalo, New York, 1933. The regulars returned to Adam's Tavern, 1012 Sycamore (at Loepere) to hoist some brews and, it would appear, a shot or two as well shortly after the repeal of Prohibition in 1933. Adam Pilarz, proprietor, stands behind the bar along side his son John. The family ran the tavern from 1924 until 1949. Thank you to Ed Pilarz for sharing this priceless family picture.
Among the many kinds of Polish business establishments, first place, numerically, is occupied by saloons. So far as can be determined from examination of names, the directory published by the excise commission last December shows that there were at that time 221 Polish holders of liquor licenses. To these should be added a few whose nationality could not be determined, either from the names or from the location of saloons, and a larger number who, with the full return of good times, have gone into the saloon business since this directory was printed. From a comparison of the number given in the directory as situated in the main Polish district, which is 149, and the number I actually counted in that district and of whose Polish proprietorship I made certain, which was 176, it would appear that 27, at most, have started up in this district within the last few months. The addition of the 27 brings the, total up to 248, to which must be added also those of recent appearance in other localities. According to this reckoning there must be at least 250 Polish saloons in Buffalo. The instances in which I found saloons on three of the corners of street intersections were by no means rare, and in several cases saloons occupied each of the four corners. Their distribution is widespread. Besides the proportionately large number, 34, in the small Black Rock section, and the six in the compact colony at Clinton street and the city line, there are 32 in other localities. Most of these are scattered through the region south of William street, extending west even across lower Main street, but several of them are situated on the northern part of Fillmore avenue and on one of the streets leading from Fillmore in that vicinity.
Many of the saloons are very small and extremely meagre in their equipment, evidently being barely self-supporting, and are also objectionable from the point of view of cleanliness and sanitation. It is an interesting fact that 33 of the 250 or more liquor licenses are held by women.
The total number of liquor licenses outstanding in Buffalo at the time the excise commission's last directory was issued, was 1,571. Taking 221 as the minimum number of licenses held by Poles at that time, it will be seen that they hold over fourteen per cent. of the total number. In the preceding article, it was pointed out that the Poles own only 1.8 per cent. of the taxable property of the city. The proportion of Polish salons is, therefore, eight times as great as the proportion of property owned by Poles.