Everyday, important landmarks that add to Buffalo's uniqueness among American cities are at risk of being lost forever. From mom-and-pop taverns to storied waterfront grain elevators, some of Buffalo's most irreplaceable sites are threatened. For many sites, only a limited time might remain for you to experience and visit before vanishing by neglect, mismanagement, lack of funds or ill proposed development. Some sites are loved, others despised. One thing for certain...they are part of what makes Buffalo unique.
Do you have a favorite Buffalo-Niagara site or way of life that is "endangered?" E-mail ForgottenBuffalo.com for list consideration. ForgottenBuffalo@aol.com.
Presenting Forgotten Buffalo's "inaugural" Most Endangered (listed in no particular order):
Arcade & Attica Steam Locomotives
Great Northern Grain Elevator
Bethlehem Steel North Office
New York Central Railroad (West Shore RR) Roundhouse
Parkside Candy Shoppe
Fire Boat Cotter
Wildroot HQ and Factory
White Bros. Livery
Polish Union of America Building
E & B Holems Complex
POLISH UNION OF AMERICA BUILDING - FILLMORE AVE.
Large holes in the roof are exposing the second and third floors to the elements. Let this NOT be another White Bros.
Oh no... not another White Bros! The terra cotta roof was damaged in a fire...now the elements are effecting the structural integrity of this Polonia landmark. Built in 1914, the Polish Union of America Building at 761-765 Fillmore Avenue housed professional and business offices, the inter-war Polish Consulate, WHLD Polonia Varieties Radio studios, a library, a restaurant, the first headquarters of the Adam Plewacki American Legion Post, a printing company, a typesetting graphic art establishment, a large balconied auditorium, and the Polish Union of America general offices. As a keystone in Western New York's Polonia, the Polish Union of America building hosted presidents, top government officials of America and Poland, and many distinguished personalities in various fields. The PUA left for West Seneca in the 1990s, leaving the building to various landlords. The current church who owns the building is in no position to restore and preserve this important element of the historic Polonia District.
Chicago Iron Works/E.B. Holmes Warehouse
Located in the Historic First Ward, the Chicago Iron Works is one of the last canal era factory complexes in Buffalo. At one time, the factory made machinery that manufactured barrels. Although the facade looks in decent shape, the rear of the building has completely collapsed. This building reminds me of the industral structures found in Toronto's Distillery District that have now been turned into condos, shops and a brewery. Click picture to the right for more images. Unfortunately, this building is so far gone, that its future will be the wrecking ball.
WHITE BROS. LIVERY STABLE
A historic West Side building that once served as a boarding stable for the horse-drawn carriages of prominent Buffalo families appears fated to face a wrecking ball after a portion of its brick wall collapsed during June 2008. The three-story brick structure at 428 Jersey St., known as the White Bros. Livery & Boarding Stable, dates to the 1800s. Richard Waite, the building’s architect, is also know for designing the Parliament Buildings in Toronto, Ontario. The building served as boarding stable for horses that pulled the carriages of some of the city’s elite families.
Our Grill, Amherst Street, Buffalo
An important part of the urban landscape. Often located at the end of the block, neighborhood taverns were important social hubs for friends & family. Many of these establishments, operated for generation by single families, features elaborately crafted bar and back bars. Shifts in social drinking and the ban on indoor smoking has caused many of these historical time capsules to close in recent years. Forget Applebees! Don't miss the opporunity to visit a neighborhood gin mill before its "last call" for them all.
Wilson Street, Buffalo
Built in the 1880s, hundreds of wooden framed dwellings were erected to house one of the largest Polish settlements in America. Over the last 10 years, hundreds of these unique homes have been torn down only to leave vast blocks of open fields. Crime, poverty, post-war flight and the high costs associated with maintaining wood framed structures in Western New York's climate are all contributing factors to the area's demise. No plan is in place to preserve this unique form of urban architecture.
ARCADE & ATTICA STEAM LOCOMOTIVES
The sounds and smell of steam no more on the ol' A&A
For decades, the only place in New York State to experience a REAL steam locomotive was the ol’ A&A. Since the first excursion season in 1962 until the end of the 2001, Arcade & Attica steam locomotive 2-8-0 No18 served frontline duty on passenger excursions entertaining thousands of children. With the passing of strict Federal Railroad Administration regulations dealing with steam locomotive certification, inspection and operation, No18 has remanded out of service due to costly maintenance and upgrades. NOTE - Steam was to return to the A&A during the summer of 2008.
FIREBOAT E.M. COTTER
A long range fiscal plan needs to be establish to keep the Cotter running well into its next century.
As the world's oldest working fireboat, The Edward M. Cotter has borne three names, survived a devastating explosion and, as she proudly begins her second century of service, stands ready to protect vessels and the Buffalo shoreline. As a public relations and marketing tool, the Cotter has been Buffalo’s goodwill ambassador to city’s throughout the Great Lakes in the US and Canada Yet, in a City as financially strapped as Buffalo, The Cotter is a true luxury with no long-term funding plan in place.
St. Adalbert's, Stanislaus Street, Buffalo
Another reminder of a shrinking city. Built by trained craftsmen, emulating historic, old world designs, Catholic Churches in the city give the Buffalo skyline a unique European look. Past consolidation and closure of parishes has not been good to these architectural treasures. With the current round of closures being announced, churches such as St. Ann?s on Broadway, St. Adalbert?s on Stanislaus Street, St. Gerard?s on Bailey and many others will soon be on the auction block. What will happen to these structures? What will happen to the paintings, stained glass and other artistic wonders inside? What will happen to the communities that surround these complexes?
Love it or hate it...the Skyway...Uniquly Buffalo
The Buffalo Skyway opened in 1955 and was hailed as one part of a grand plan for the "rapid transit of automobiles" around the city of Buffalo. The other jewels in the city's transportation necklace, the Kensington Expressway and the Scajaquada Expressway, were under construction, funded primarily by New York State. These would be joined to the New York State Thruway. What urban planners did not take into account was how the span would cut off the downtown business district from the waterfront. For decades, as Buffalo looks to the waterfront as an economic draw, discussion continue about the future viability of this elevated highway, given its limited use in winter due to frequent weather closures, its high rate of accidents, and the continuing cost of maintenance. One thing for certain, the view of Lake Erie is spectacular from the Skyway…especially as a dark band of lake effect snow clouds loom in the distance over the southtowns.
GREAT NORTHERN GRAIN ELEVATOR
What would the Buffalo waterfront be like without the Great Northern?
2006 was a devastating year for Buffalo’s historic grain elevators with the demolition of the H-O Oats & Schafer Brewing Elevators and the fire at the wooden Wollenberg Grain and Seed Elevator on the Eastside. Why are these massive, crumbling relics of our industrial past important? They are what make Buffalo unique. You can’t see a collection of structures like this anywhere else in the world. Take a drive down to the First Ward on a summer morning and marvel at the massive size and simple lines of the buildings. The 1897 Great Northern Elevator at 250 Ganson Street is an outstanding example of an intermediate steel grain elevator. It is the only local example and the sole surviving "brick box" working house elevator in North America. Owners of the Great Northern, ADM, have requested demolition of the structure for years. Until then…this amazing building is experiencing “demolition by neglect.”
BETHLEHEM STEEL NORTH OFFICE, LACKAWANNA
Located on Rt. 5, near the Union Ship Canal. One of the most endangered sites in Buffalo-Niagara
Built in the early part of the 20th century, the North Office of the Bethlehem Steel Company in Lackawanna resided over one of the greatest steel making complexes in the world. In 1977 Bethlehem reduced steel making capacity at the plant causing employment to drop from almost 20,000 in 1965 to 8,500 in 1977 before further declining to a skeleton crew in 1982. The plant closed in 1983. The office currently site crumbling on the waterfront, a reminder of an era when millions were made by capitalists and workers found good paying jobs to build families. The North Office Building, located on Route 5 at the edge of the plant, is crumbling. Years of neglect and harsh Lake Erie winds have reduced this once proud structure.
PARKSIDE CANDY SHOPPE, MAIN @ W. OAKWOOD PLACE
A 1920s throwback. Parkside Candies on Main Street
The former Parkside Candies Shoppe at 2305 Main Street began operation in the late '20s and until the mid 80s, looked much as it did the day it opened. The business was so well preserved that when filmmakers were scouting location sites for Robert Redford’s “The Natural,” the site was used to recreate a Chicago soda shop. After the restaurant closed in the early 1990s, the historic interior was removed. Over the last 20 years, the building housed offices, a daycare center and now sites unused. The "neon" sign was removed and its location is unknown. In 2007, it was proposed that the City of Buffalo’s film office take over the place to use as offices.
NEW YORK CENTRAL ROUNDHOUSE
For most of the 20th century, Buffalo was second to Chicago in rail traffic. Visit Buffalo’s LAST example of a unique form of industrial architecture.
One of the largest railroad centers in the United States, Buffalo was second only to Chicago in rail terms. Buffalo was an industrial behemoth and a major transportation hub with 13 trunk line railways connecting it to every major city in the Northeast.The New York Central was by far, the biggest railroad in the city with sprawling classification yards, a towering terminal and lines that crossed Buffalo in all directions. The surviving New York Central Roundhouse on Buffalo's Eastside is the city's LAST example of this unique form of industrial architecture. Dating back from the 1880s, the building is located on Broadway near Bailey Avenue behind a supermarket and survives as a storage building for a local contactor.
WILDROOT PLANT & HQ
Art modern styling of the 1937 Wildroot World HQ
Wildroot Hair Tonic was introduced in Buffalo, New York in 1911 with the trademark "Wildroot" registered in 1932. It's commercial jingle was a staple on radio and early television. It was a Buffalo product that kept men looking handsome around the world. The company was locally owned and operated until 1959 when purchased by the Colgate-Palmolive Co. for $10.5 million dollars. The 1937 Wildroot office building and factory still stand at 1740 Bailey Avenue between Broadway and Sycamore Streets. The 100,000 sq. foot structure has been vacant for over 25 years. It's location in a depressed area of the site does not lend itself positively towards future development.