Before 8am it's pretty easy to walk through with an active camera since the security guards apparently haven't started yet. I purposely chose not to include those hustling through the building on the way to work elsewhere, but other than lunch time there isn't many more people there any other time either.
With so few stores there isn't much reason to make the Mall a destination. The site deadmalls.com gives Main Place a mention, although it's scarcely alone, even in WNY.
Main Place was built in 1968 and used to be busy, hard as that may be to believe. Of course Main Street still boasted AM&A's (which had a connecting walkway to the mall), Hengerers, Hens & Kellys, Woolworths (with a basement store too),
I worked at Sattlers in the late 70's, which anchored one end of the mall while Erie County Savings Bank (the "Big E") was at the other. I was located right in the middle front of the Greenhouse food court. There used to be a Liberty Bank service window right next to the second floor entrance.
Sometimes as I'm passing through the mall I try to remember the names of businesses that used to be there and where they were situated. There were two main restaurants, both with outlets on each floor. The Milkie Way had the bar and full restaurant downstairs and a snack bar upstairs. JPease Pub was the opposite, although their version of casual dining downstairs still featured waitresses, I believe.
Shoe stores, including Bakers (which also had a store further up Main), Fathers and Sons, and Thom McCans, dominated the floor plan. Many trendy clothing stores were there also, like Gutmans, Casual Corner, The Limited. Rite Aid was there too, with an additional store a block up on Main that is still open, although they closed the lower portion down.
This version of "management" for Main Place Mall has seemed determined to empty it so that it can be used for telemarketing companies or other behind the scenes businesses. It has gone as far as to raise rents through the skylighted roof to drive tenants out that didn't fulfill their "vision", as empty as that is. Rumor had it that the main owners in NYC use it as a writeoff and have little incentive to attempt a return to vitality.
The "All About Buffalo" icon upstairs looks rather lonely, like "I stepped out of the nickel for this??"
The cars being removed from Main Street for the MetroRail did a lot to kill retail in downtown Buffalo, but the suburban malls were the original ones to rip the heart out. So even if cars return some day, there's still that. Then again, most of the grand old stores are gone, remaining only in memories.
Not all is dreary downtown. Many other blocks have something going on at various times. And when the weather is nice and the farmers market in progress and maybe a lunchtime concert in front of M&T, the sidewalks on Main get jammed. Where there's people there's hope.