What’s a Kenilworth? - INTERVIEW
blog by Ben Tsujimoto • February 07, 2013 @ 12:47pm
If you’re a long-time Western New Yorker and Facebook has become a daily part of your life, there’s a good chance you’ve stumbled across the location “Kenilworth, NY” in your “Newsfeed”—especially via mobile—and raised an eyebrow.
You may even consider yourself a Western New York map wizard, where you know the boundaries of Elmwood Village East and West, and can recite the cross-streets of Main Street from Goodell to UB North Campus in alphabetical order, and still, Kenilworth may not ring a bell.
Due to bewilderment—and my bizarre, inquisitive nature—I put the word “Kenilworth” into Google and browsed the results. The initial text block, via Wikipedia, reads as follows:
Kenilworth, New York is an unincorporated area in the town of Tonawanda in Erie County, New York, USA. Additionally, Facebook Mobile typically groups Buffalo, Kenmore and the Town of Tonawanda into the location “Kenilworth, New York.”
Unfazed by the contradictory Wikipedia details, I pressed forward in my search before stumbling upon the Town of Tonawanda Library’s Kenilworth branch. I called and chatted with library associate Margaret Kunz, who admitted she fields this question all the time—both at her job and on Facebook.
“I hear the question all the time,” Kunz said. “Especially since we’re the ‘Kenilworth Library’ and not located on Kenilworth Road (which is a few blocks away).”
Kunz kindly explained that Kenilworth was originally one of eight Tonawanda neighborhoods, closest to the border between Buffalo, Amherst and Tonawanda (see map below for an illustration.)
In 1902, the neighborhood housed Kenilworth Race Track—on the modern-day corner of Niagara Falls Boulevard and Kenmore Avenue—and seated 4,000 equestrian enthusiasts (or, let’s face it—aggressive gamblers.) Six years later, though, horse race gambling was outlawed and the site turned to other uses (see header photo courtesy of the Kenilworth Library’s Facebook page and the Ken-Ton Bee).
For some reason, Facebook wants the legacy of Kenilworth to live on—maybe there’s a history of horse race gambling in the mega-company’s mobile development team. Without any confirmation, the designation of Kenilworth seems to extend far beyond traditional limits, shooting as far north as Ellicott Creek Park.
Now, when someone asks you, “where the heck is Kenilworth?”, you can babble about horse racing, gambling, libraries and Facebook’s odd mobile locations. Buckets!