Inside the main concourse of the abandoned art deco Buffalo, New York, train station.
It seems everyone loves old art deco buildings, but no one knows how to preserve them. At least that is the feeling I get listening to the endless discussions of the future of Providence’s Superman Building, so-called because it looks like the Daily Planet building from the 1950s television series.
Meanwhile, as Luke Spencer writes at Atlas Obscura, preservationists in Buffalo, New York, are holding out hope for an art deco “train station, lying forlorn and mostly forgotten … the old Buffalo Central Terminal.
“Opened in 1929 for the New York Central Railroad, the Buffalo Central Terminal was every bit as grand and opulent as Manhattan’s Grand Central Terminal, Philadelphia’s 30th Street station and Washington DC’s Union Station.
“These were the days when Buffalo was known as the Queen City, built on the strength of automobiles, livestock, steel, and other heavy industries prospering along the seam of the Erie Canal, connecting New York to the Great Lakes. Buffalo thrived to such an extent it was chosen to host the prestigious 1901 Pan American World’s Fair. At this point, Buffalo was the eighth-largest city in the United States. … In its heyday, Buffalo Central Terminal was servicing 200 trains a day.
“But the decline in Buffalo’s economic fortunes, and the rise of domestic airlines and automobiles, spelled the end of the grand Terminal. In the early hours of the morning of October 28, 1979, the last Lake Shore Limited train service heading west left Buffalo. The grand old Terminal was never used again.
“For decades, the building was left abandoned, silently falling apart, while the surrounding neighborhood similarly declined. But the spirit of the Nickel City is strong. No more so than in the recent efforts of the non-profit, Central Terminal Restoration Corporation (CTRC), which has been fighting to not only preserve the Terminal, but restore it to its original magnificence. …
“The building itself would need extensive repairs. Forty years of neglect have seen much of the original fixtures either stolen or stripped, particularly in the mid 1980s, when the Terminal was sold off in a foreclosure sale. …
“Perhaps the best chance for the Terminal’s rejuvenation lies with Canadian property developer Harry Stinson, who was named as the designated developer of the site by the City of Buffalo and the CTRC in 2016.” More at Atlas Obscura, here.
It’s a treat to see historic buildings saved and turned to new and profitable uses. Let’s keep tabs on this one.
Photo: Luke Spencer
Is this the prison staircase in the opening scene of Little Dorrit, by Charles Dickens? Oh, guess not.