Wagner Palace Car Complex (Pullman) - East Buffalo
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Located on Broadway near Bailey Ave, the former Wagner Palace Car (later Pullman) complex is one of the last Reconstruction era industrial sites in Buffalo. It was the construction site of some of the complex luxurious railcars during the “Golden Age” of American Railroading.
Webster Wagner invented and put in operation his first drawing room or palace car, "the first ever seen in America," in 1867. This car and its comforts of home became so popular with tourists; it earned Wagner quite a fortune. The company became the second largest builder of sleeping cars in the United States.
Traveling by railroad was not always a comfortable experience, at least compared to today's standards. From the 1830s through the '50s, long-distance train travel allowed little sleep if you didn't stop at a village or city for an overnight accommodation. Webster Wagner was a freight agent in Palatine Bridge, NY with the New York Central Railroad Company. Wagner saw the need for better comfort, and came up with the idea of building sleeping cars. With the assistance of some enterprising men, Wagner constructed four such cars, at a cost of $3,200 each. Berths were provided for the sleepers, along with a pair of cheap blankets and pillows.
The Wagner Palace Car Company of Buffalo was located at Broadway and Bailey and covered 35.7 acres. The company survived until Jan. 1, 1900 when The Pullman Palace Car Co. bought its major competitor. This plant was in operation by Pullman until 1959 when the complex was shut down. For the last 30 years of its life, it served the hundreds of passenger trains that stopped at the near by Central Terminal.
A number of buildings survive (2007) along with Buffalo’s last remaining roundhouse used by the West Shore and New York Central Railroads.
1880 Ward Map featuring Wagner Palace Car complex. Click image for larger view