Buffalo entered a period of explosive growth after the construction of the Erie canal in 1825. The original Western terminus of the Erie Canal was in the city of Buffalo near where Buffalo Creek/River empties into Buffalo Harbor. The western terminus of the canal is now in Tonawanda. The canal and Great Lakes shipping quickly became the prefered route for goods transported from the interior of the country to the Eastern states. The waterfront near the canal terminus filled with warehouses, docks and silos built to store Midwestern grain and transfer it from ships to canal barges. The silos constructed during this period were built with wood, brick or stone. Rail transportation gradually superseded the Erie Canal in importance but the port of Buffalo continued to be the main location where grain from Great Lakes ships was off-loaded and transported to the East coast. In the early 1900s concrete construction technology improved radically with the introduction of slip forming techniques. During the early 1900s old grain storage facilities were torn down and were replaced with the massive concrete structures pictured here.
The canals traveling through the city of Buffalo were filled in in the 1950s. Major improvement projects to the canal moved the main western terminus to Tonawanda where it is today. The original Erie canal terminus has recently been reconstructed as a part of a historic park in downtown Buffalo (Commercial Slip). In 1959 the Saint Lawrence Seaway opened. This gave ships a direct route from Great Lakes ports in the Midwest to the Atlantic. After the Saint Lawrence Seaway opened the silos lining the Buffalo waterfront became obsolete. The strength and thickness of the concrete silo walls make them very hard to demolish. Some have been torn down but many still stand today, most of them empty, making a canyon of Buffalo Creek. There is a nice view of the silos from a small waterfront park at South and Hamburg streets. The Ohio Street bridge is another nice place to walk around and look at the silos and creek/river. It's also possible to walk to Buffalo Creek through a grassy/wooded area of abandoned industrial land at the end of Katherine Street. There is a fair amount of industrial traffic in the area but essentially zero pedestrian traffic.
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