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Thread: Buffalo: Central Terminal in its declining years

  1. #1
    Cyburbia Administrator Dan's avatar
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    Buffalo: Central Terminal in its declining years

    Everybody here must know about Central Terminal, the once-grand railroad station on Buffalo's Polonia/Broadway-Fillmore neighborhood, that is considered arguably one of the greatest urban ruins in the United States.

    There are literally tens of Web sites devoted to Central Terminal online. Most either show the building as it was during its glory years of the 1940s, when young Girl Fridays kissed their boyfriends as they headed off to battle the Krauts, or as it appeared in the late 1990s and this decade, in a state of advanced decay.

    I stumbled across a Web site that shows Central Terminal as how I remember it ... in the 1970s, as a still-functioning and sound but mostly empty building, devoid of almost all activity.

    http://www.icenine.org/photography/bct.html

    What's interesting is that one picture shows a Bee Line diesel rail car. The Bee Line is a little-documented commuter rail line between Buffalo and Niagara Falls until the mid-1980s, I think. Despite the abundance of railfans online, there's very little information about the Bee Line.

    The images are haunting, to say the least.
    Growth for growth's sake is the ideology of the cancer cell. -- Edward Abbey

  2. #2
    Cyburbian Mud Princess's avatar
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    Wow. Reminds me of the pre-restoration photos of Ellis Island... Is this building still standing? I've never been to Buffalo.

  3. #3
    Unfrozen Caveman Planner mendelman's avatar
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    seeing these pics reminds me that I should talk to my dad about the Central Terminal

    He grewup in the Polonia neighborhood in the 50s and was suprised and slightly saddened by the state of neighborhood when we visited in 1998.

    That is one of the most amazing examples of Art Moderne/Art Deco design and archtiecture in the USA.
    I'm sorry. Is my bias showing?

    The ends can justify the means.

  4. #4
    maudit anglais
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    Quote Originally posted by Dan
    What's interesting is that one picture shows a Bee Line diesel rail car. The Bee Line is a little-documented commuter rail line between Buffalo and Niagara Falls until the mid-1980s, I think. Despite the abundance of railfans online, there's very little information about the Bee Line.
    Cool images. I don't think that's a Bee Line rail car though - the masking pattern on the front looks like something the Canadian Pacific used in that time period (referred to as the "Hockey Mask" striping). That train may actually be a CPR (Toronto-Hamilton-Buffalo Railway) service.

    [/rail geek]

  5. #5
    Cyburbian gct13's avatar
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    What a station. Since I don't know anything about it, I'll look for more sites about it.

  6. #6
    Cyburbian Planderella's avatar
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    Is it publicly- or privately-owned? Are they ANY efforts to preserve it or redevelop it? It's sad to see a once fine building go to such waste.
    "A witty woman is a treasure, a witty beauty is a power!"

  7. #7
    Cyburbian jsk1983's avatar
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    I'm not sure who owns it, but organizations do exist that are trying to save it. The problem is that it is in high crime area, away from the downtown core. Some have suggested that the new Erie county casion which will owned by the Seneca nation should go there, but they just recently purchased land in Cheektowvegas, so that's out. It a buetiful building but in all reality I don't see much of a future for it. Anyone have any suggestions as to what should be done with it?

  8. #8
    Cyburbia Administrator Dan's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Tranplanner
    . I don't think that's a Bee Line rail car though - the masking pattern on the front looks like something the Canadian Pacific used in that time period (referred to as the "Hockey Mask" striping). That train may actually be a CPR (Toronto-Hamilton-Buffalo Railway) service.
    Did the TH&B have passenger service to Buffalo during the 1970s and 1980s? I remember seeing the DRC idling away in front of the little Exchange Street Station in downtown Buffalo in the early 1980s. I was told that it just went to Niagara Falls.
    Growth for growth's sake is the ideology of the cancer cell. -- Edward Abbey

  9. #9
    Cyburbian jordanb's avatar
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    How far is it from downtown?

  10. #10
    Cyburbian jsk1983's avatar
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    From the center of downtown it is 2.6 miles, or nine minutes. The problem is the area is just rather decrepit, not the kind of place one would want to spend much time in.

  11. #11
         
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    Does anyone have any present pictures of the train station? Is it near the light rail line? Is it still structurally sound?

  12. #12
    Cyburbian jsk1983's avatar
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    The light rail line goes from downtown to University Heights ending at the south campus of the University of Buffalo. The terminal is located on the east side(east of downtown), while then light rail is in a more northeasterly direction.

  13. #13
    Cyburbia Administrator Dan's avatar
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    http://www.biniasz.com is a great personal Web site that prominently features the neighborhood surrounding Central Terminal. The Polonia/Broadway-Fillmore neigborhood isn't a great neighborhood, or even a good neighborhood, but it's certainly not unsafe for visitors. The area gets very questionable a few blocks east of Fillmore, or across the railroad tracks that run north of and parallel to Broadway.

    Some Buffalo Central Terminal sites:

    http://central.terminal.railfan.net
    http://rockpile.buffalonet.org/terminal/terminal01.html
    http://bct.buffaloexploration.com
    http://www.novim.us/terminal
    http://www.infiltration.org/abandoned-bct.html (from Toronto!)
    http://kittyempire.org/viewy/bct/
    http://www.trainweb.org/rshs/GRS%20Buffalo%201.htm
    http://www.buffalocentralterminal.com
    http://www.fed-up.com/gallery/bct
    http://lucky.phpwebhosting.com/~ah/a/mem/tc.html
    http://www.biniasz.com/pages/10/index.htm
    http://homepages.wmich.edu/~d9kohrma/buffalo/bct.html
    http://www.pbase.com/spencey82/bct
    http://www.jinxmagazine.com/urban_mountaineering3.html
    http://www.nfcnrhs.com/gallery_Buffa...l_terminal.htm (nmore rare, spooky 1970s era images)
    Growth for growth's sake is the ideology of the cancer cell. -- Edward Abbey

  14. #14
    maudit anglais
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    Quote Originally posted by Dan
    Did the TH&B have passenger service to Buffalo during the 1970s and 1980s? I remember seeing the DRC idling away in front of the little Exchange Street Station in downtown Buffalo in the early 1980s. I was told that it just went to Niagara Falls.
    I don't know, but I can try to find out. I know VIA inherited a Toronto-Buffalo run, which was eventually cut back to Niagara Falls, Ontario.

    Here's a colour pic illustrating the "hockey mask" striping used on CPR RDC's in the late '60s and early '70s. I even managed to find the exact same unit pictured in the Buffalo Central pic (link courtesly of abpr.railfan.net):

    http://abpr.railfan.net/cgi-bin/thum...ckisSFcoll.jpg

    EDIT: IMG removed and link provided to preserve copyright

  15. #15
    Cyburbian thestip's avatar
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    The Buffalo Central Terminal Restoration Corp. bought the Terminal from the City in 1997. They have basically been in the process of sealing the building since then so as to protect the interior form the elements. Significant damage was done in the early '90's to the interior from water that was coming in through the roof and broken windows. They had a day last year where they opened the Terminal to visitors and over 4000 people showed up, so there is considerable interest in restoring the structure. Location is the problem. The only way I see there being any decent reuse of the structureis is if MetroRail (light rail) is extended to the airport, which the corridor passes directly under the structure. That corridor is in our MPO's 25 year plan, but until the City's finances are in better shape I really don't see it happening anytime soon. The Restoration Corp. has made the site look better at least, it planted a bunch of trees and keeps the landscaping up, and it did relight and restart the clocks on the tower which can be see from miles around.

  16. #16
    Unfrozen Caveman Planner mendelman's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Dan
    http://www.biniasz.com is a great personal Web site that prominently features the neighborhood surrounding Central Terminal.
    Thanks for the link Dan. I sent it to my dad. I hope it triggers some good memories for him.

    Those pics of Broadway commercial druing the 50s, shows how retail should have stayed - pedestrian
    I'm sorry. Is my bias showing?

    The ends can justify the means.

  17. #17
    maudit anglais
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    As a follow-up for Dan, I received the following information via the Toronto-Hamilton-Buffalo Railroad Historical Society:

    CP Budd cars were first assigned to the TH&B trains in October 1970. They
    were still using the Buffalo Central Terminal as late as the summer of 1977.
    That summer I picked up my college roommate there. I not sure when the
    Central Terminal was closed in favor of the Exchange Street station.

    Kevin Leddy
    TH&B Railroad Historical Society.

  18. #18
    maudit anglais
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    Quote Originally posted by Dan
    What's interesting is that one picture shows a Bee Line diesel rail car. The Bee Line is a little-documented commuter rail line between Buffalo and Niagara Falls until the mid-1980s, I think. Despite the abundance of railfans online, there's very little information about the Bee Line.
    I dug up a little more info, specifically on the bee-line. The following was supplied by Dale Madison of the TH&B hist. society:

    The Buffalo-Niagara Falls Beeliners (NYC's name for RDC's) were remnants of
    thru NYC-Niagara Falls or NYC-Detroit-Chicago via Niagara Falls
    service. RDC's were introduced in the last 1950's in lieu of thru
    NYC-Falls trains. IIRC the last thru NYC passenger service that ran via
    the Falls was in the early 1960's after which the RDC's made connections
    with thru passenger trains in Buffalo. That service stopped altogether
    about 1966.

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    Central Terminal Update

    Adaptive Re-Use? Rumpy and the rest of you fellow Buffalonians -- All Aboard!!!


    [http://buffaloreport.com/index.html]

    [Click on picture of bridge]
    Last edited by Miles Ignatius; 09 Jul 2004 at 6:29 PM. Reason: Fix Link

  20. #20
    Cyburbian Rumpy Tunanator's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Miles Ignatius
    Adaptive Re-Use? Rumpy and the rest of you fellow Buffalonians -- All Aboard!!!
    There has been all sorts of ideas thrown on the table regarding the re-use of the building. Retail development, the dreaded casino, hotel, etc. The main Buffalo Post Office distribution center abutts the property and I know that CSX, as well as the Canadian RR use the yards, but from my understanding (and little known information gathered) the site woud be along the expansion of the LRT line extending to the airport.

    You might ask yourself, expanding rail, here? Well because of our position on a major trade route (2nd largest) between Canada and the U.S., funds may be available and the outlook may be possible, setting up the possiblity for the re-use of the Central Terminal. Its a priority (extended line to airport) in the LRP due to the high monthly ridership along the existing line, so who knows.
    A guy once told me, "Do not have any attachments, do not have anything in your life you are not willing to walk out on in 30 seconds flat if you spot the heat around the corner."


    Neil McCauley (Robert DeNiro): Heat 1995

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