Buffalo's first Italian settler was Luigi Chiesa in 1848. His name became Louis Church, an Italian revolutionary, who opened a shop at Genesee and Elm and sold bird cages and mouse traps.
The first wave of immigrants came here from northern Italy. Later, a much larger group came from farther south -- from Abruzzi province in central Italy, from Calabria In the boot, from Sicily in the Mediterranean. Many Sicilians came to Buffalo at the beckoning of Francesco Barone, who arrived in 1882 from Vaile D'Olmo (Valley of the Elms). He shepherded the families of the unskilled farmers and encouraged them to send their sons into the medical and legal professions.
Most Italians settled at the waterfront, up to Niagara Street and Front Park and down to Eagle and Chicago streets. Their traditional neighborhood was the West Side, but Italians moved out past the city limits as early as 1900.
By 1910 Italians from hundreds of villages in sixteen different provinces -- such as Abruzzi, Calabria, Campobasso, and Campagna -- in southern Italy and Sicily lived in different parts of Buffalo.
Migrating by villages--
the Abbruzzese went to the upper East Side of Buffalo
the Campobassini to the lower East Side
the Calabrians to South Buffalo
the Campagnese adjacent to downtown
the Sicilians, the largest group, to the lower West Side in the vicinity of the waterfront, and this area came to be known as "Little Italy."
Today Itallians are scattered throughout the area, and second-generation Italians are indistinguishable from the general public except for their names. Dispersing throughout the area prevented Italians from gaining the political clout that they might have had.