Vintage ads suggested that, besides being good for washing down Uneeda biscuits, Coca-Cola had some curative properties. The "Relieves Fatigue" slogan dates this Schenectady wall sign to 1905-1910. Its bright colors with the greater wear above the "Coca-Cola" script suggest that it was sheltered by a slightly shorter demolished neighbor.
But what of the mysterious sign whose letters still faintly trace the words "Buffalo Store"?

The story goes that the "Buffalo Store" concept dates back to the days of the Erie Canal, when canal boat passengers first exposed back country hamlets to big city styles. A "Buffalo Store" professed to deal in fashions as sophisticated as those worn by the "ladies and gents" on Delaware Avenue or in Niagara Square. Although Schenectady was far from a hamlet, the name "Buffalo Store" carried a far more stylish cachet than "dry goods store", the period's generic term for an establishment that sold fabric and clothes.

In 1930, this building at 412 Broadway was home to both Benjamin Miller's clothing store and the Miller family. Benjamin Miller and his wife Ida had emigrated from Russia just after the turn of the century; his mother Fannie followed in 1920. The Millers rented the remainder of their house to five African-Americans, four of whom were orchestra musicians.

412 Broadway was in fact a social dividing line. To the north, Broadway had virtually all white residents, fully half recent immigrants from such European countries as Germany, Poland, Russia, Italy, and Lithuania. However, the neighborhood demographic altered greatly to the south.

The vanished building that once sheltered the Coca-Cola sign was the home and bakery of David Abramson, who had emigrated from Russia with his wife and son in 1913, as well as the residence of Shakespeare Perique, a mellifluously-named African-American mechanic from Louisiana. Several other buildings in the 300 block of Broadway were both the business places and homes of white tradesman, whose lodgers included African-Americans and white recent immigrants from Scotland, Cuba, Russia, Italy, Poland, Brazil, Spain and "Arabia". Some other interspersed buildings had either all white or all African-American tenants, while others had tenants of either race.
When Census enumerator Angelo DiDonna visited Broadway on April 15, 1930, the bite of the Great Depression was felt mostly by the young adult males, many of whom reported being jobless. Although the economic situation would grow grimmer as the year went on, most heads of households were still employed. Perhaps the most common job in these two blocks of Broadway was "laborer-electrical plant", an occupation shared by Gaetano Ciro, an emigrant from Italy in 1911, Sed Mussad, who emigrated from Arabia in 1924, John Trotski from Poland, Heriberto Lopez, who came from Spain in 1920, and Richmond Leah, an African-American born in North Carolina.

Quite possibly these residents of 1930s' Broadway would find much in common with today's immigrants. But where do today's immigrants find a neighborhood as truely diverse the 300 and 400 blocks of Broadway?