These registration features, damn.

Goose Island

Dublin Core


Goose Island


Goose Island as seen from Tonawanda Island, postcard detail, ca 1913. "Goose Island" wasn't a real island: it was a triangular hunk of land in Tonawanda bordered by the Erie Canal, the Niagara River and Tonawanda Creek, in the area where Tops and Rivershore Drive are today (see this map). The city waterworks, factories, trains, taverns and homes all mingled here in a pre-zoning law stew. In the mid-nineteenth century, Goose Island has a reputation as the part of town a fatigued, sober and lovelorn "canawler" can go to be cured of at least two of those conditions. Even decades after the Canal era, the island persists in its proffering of roguish entertainments. In the mid-1920s, during Prohibition, local law enforcement organizes a series of "vice raids" on establishments in the area, citing widespread lawlessness (the language in the articles is delicately vague, but offenses seem to include the venerable tandem of whoring and drinking).

The Historical Society of the Tonawandas reports (p. 18) that the island also hosted Gillie's merry-go-round company, Louis Philip Perew's curious Electric Man, and the Bork Hotel.

The island is at last taken by the forces of good. The canal from Tonawanda to Buffalo is filled in around 1927, effectively reconnecting the recalcitrant island to its parent. Later, "Urban Renewal" razes all its remaining structures but the waterworks. Today the former "island" is quietly and profitably inhabited by a small plaza, a nightmarish housing project, Tops Friendly Markets and, perhaps most resonantly, the headquarters of the Tonawanda Police Department.