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Buffalo, NY

photos by the author

The Station Too Late, Too Far

Page 3

Visits over the next two years only increased my fascination for the structure, and appreciation of what it must have been like during the heyday years of the 1940's and early 1950's. Historic photos of 4-6-4 Hudsons and 4-8-4 Niagaras and first generation cab units on an endless parade of limiteds of the Great Steel Fleet, and NYC publicity films such as the Steam Locomotive, Flight of theCentury and The Railroad Signaloffered glimpses back in time.

In 1979 the train concourse had not yet been destroyed, and the train gates were intact. Today this it is partially demolished, cut off from the rest of the station, and abandoned.

For three decades Central Terminal was a grand place. Then, the slow at first and then accelerated decline in passenger traffic rendered the Terminal as excess baggage. The railroad cut back, and Central Terminal began to show signs of decline.

In 1979, the terminal was still mainly intact, although mostly a vast, empty "white elephant". Then, Amtrak left with the October time change. Conrail removed its offices about a year later. A series of failed redevelopment ventures, some outright chicanery in the 1980ís and abandonment have left the Terminal in ruins. The adjacent neighborhood rapidly declined. Central Terminal suffered from neglect and severe vandalism.

In the late 1990ís, the preservation group, Buffalo Central Terminal Restoration Corp. acquired the building. Still controversial, Central Terminal has few peers and is certainly a worthy cause. Itís sheer size, and the limited funding for a restoration project is daunting.

It will take a monumental effort to rescue it. Only time will tell if the last and the greatest of Buffalo's railroad stations will survive.

Itís one week before the end of passenger service, October 20, 1979.

(For further reading on the history of Central Terminal, I recommend the excellent detailed history by Garnet R. Cousins in the September and October 1985 issues of Trains magazine.)

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This page was last updated Monday, January 31, 2000

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