Buffalo Central Terminal
The Buffalo Central Terminal was built between 1927 and 1930 to replace several separate passenger terminals operated by different railroads in downtown Buffalo. The terminal was built almost 3 miles from downtown because of the availability of land and so that trains passing through Buffalo would have fewer grade crossings to negotiate. The complex sprawls over 61 acres. The main tower has 17 floors and is 271 feet tall. The main terminal buildings enclose over 500,000 square feet of floor space. Passenger rail traffic declined sharply after World War II. The population of Buffalo also began declining after 1950. In 1980 the terminal closed. After closing, the terminal was sold to an individual for $75,000. The terminal then changed hands several times during the 80s and 90s. The owners of the building in the 1990s began stripping everything of value they could from the building. During the 1990s along with being stripped by the owners the building was open to the elements as most of it's windows had been broken out. In 1996 the badly damaged terminal was acquired by a group of preservationists for $1 becoming the property of the non-profit Central Terminal Restoration Corporation.
The Central Terminal Restoration Corporation has managed to stabilize and secure the buildings. Restoration work is on-going but is very costly and moving at a slow pace. I spoke to a police officer watching the place when I visited. He mentioned that he seldom saw anyone there working or otherwise. The CTRC holds fund raisers several times a year. They also offer periodic tours of the buildings. I would love to go back to Buffalo and go on one of those tours. The terminal is an incredible building but is unfortunately isolated from the more vibrant parts of Buffalo. The neighborhood the terminal is in is poor and depopulating. There are no nearby districts or institutions that could help support turning the building into condominiums or offices. The complex is big enough though, that if redeveloped, could help revitalize the neighborhood around it. It's going to take a lot of work, time and money to make that happen though. It seems that to be successful, that a redevelopment project on this scale would require active and large scale city participation. Currently most of the city of Buffalo's redevelopment efforts are being focused on the waterfront, many miles from the central terminal.
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