The bustling activity of a once prosperous railroad car wheel business at the foot of Forest Avenue, depicted in the painting above, has become the inspiration for the virtual exhibit being created in collaboration with Buffalo State’s Museum Studies graduate Exhibit Design & Interpretation class. The painting was recently donated to Western New York Heritage by Fred Cooley, whose father and grandfather were instrumental in the business’ success. The title of the piece, New York Car Wheel Works 1870, is clearly written at the center bottom. The name of a second well-known Buffalo enterprise, the Matthews-Northrup Company, publishers of the Buffalo Express newspaper and various maps, etchings and lithographs, can be found in the lower left.
Graduate students Alexandra Dwyer, Maria Johnson, and Sasha Naples are busy flexing their research muscles as they comb through archives, both digital and in-person. With a widely diverse background in fine arts, museum studies, sociology & anthropology, archaeology, history and animal behavior/ecology & conservation, these students are bringing their talents and expertise to the forefront as they begin to build a narrative for the tentatively titled “Art and Iron” exhibit that will be showcased right here on Western New York Heritage’s website.
Already encountering the difficulties of conducting research during the time of COVID, when much of their research has been limited to what can be discovered online, they are quickly coming to realize just how many archival records have not yet been digitized.
So, we would like YOU to join in the process! To supplement their investigations, we’re reaching out to our Western New York Heritage readers with the request to share any and all – information, archives, images, stories, whatever you may have – on these two companies – The New York Car Wheel Works and The Matthews-Northrup Company. Emails can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.