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Part IV

By: Greg Jandura

         After the luncheon, the assembled guests followed the Avis band down to the platform to send off the Expire state Express, the first train to leave the new terminal. No one was permitted to board the train as it made its regular stop at Exchange street to pick up passengers. Unbeknownst to the people at Buffalo Central Terminal an aerial stunt was being performed at this same time by aviatrix Mary Daly to signal the station's opening. In her airplane, a Fokker, "Miss Daly swooped over downtown Buffalo and the Exchange Street Depot as the Empire state Express left for the new terminal." While the train stopped briefly, she circle in the air around the structure, and then accompanied the train to the city limits as an aerial escort. (20)

         The enthusiasm of the crowd broke all bounds when a tottering old man stepped up to them and was almost swept off his feet by the enthusiastic greeting he received from President Crowley.

         The person was Charley Hogan, famed engineer of old who took the Empire state Express across the state on her first run nearly forty years ago. His hand shook a trifle and his step was not as firm as it was when he made his record-breaking trip in 1893 with locomotive #999 that brought him fame, but there was a gleam in his eye as he stood with former associates.

         There was a hush of expectancy as the track was cleared and the engine crew mounted to the cab. The hush grew more solemn as Billy Goulding leaned out in characteristic manner and looked at his chief. For the moment, Patrick E. Crowley discarded his official cloak. He was an ordinary trainman.

"All Aboard!"

         Two brief words and a wave of the hand by President Patrick E. Crowley, and the Empire state Express proudly puffed out of Buffalo Central Terminal at 2:15 o'clock, marking the official opening of the new station of the New York Central Railroad. At the extreme end of the track, the crack daylight train was brought to a stop and Billy Goulding, of 837 Amherst Street, stepped from his cab of locomotive to be greeted warmly by President Crowley. Following was R.W. Boland, of 156 Hertel Avenue, his fireman, who was joined almost immediately by Henry Conway of Niagara Falls, the conductor.

         The gathered throng was much impressed as that famous train lowly gathered speed and left the beautiful new terminal for the first time. Officials and employees, as well as the veteran engineer was proud of the station and proud of the train. The shout that arose was deafening. The crowd continued to gaze as the nine car train behind locomotive #5250 found its way out of the yard and was soon lost to view around a curve.

Buffalo Central Terminal was officially open." (21)

       "Following this event, the public dedication ceremonies were held on the Plaza in front of the main entrance. Thomas H. Hanrahan President of the Chamber of Commerce presided. The speakers at the outdoor affair were New York Central President Crowley, Sir Henry W. Thornton, President of the Canadian National Railways; William A. Pendergast Chairman of the New York State Public Service Commission; William H. Fitzpatrick, Chairman of the Grade Crossing and Terminal Commission; and City of Buffalo Mayor, Francis S. Schwab."

         Mr. Crowley presented the symbolic key to Buffalo Central Terminal to Mr. Hanrahan, who in turn presented it to Mr. Fitzpatrick, who will give it to the Buffalo Historical Society as a treasured memento of the occasion. These ceremonies concluded, the officials returned to the interior of the terminal where Mayor Schwab pulled a string drawing back curtains which brought to view the bronze tablet at the entrance to the terminal.

         At the close of the program, the terminal doors were unlocked and the building opened for public inspection. Scores of New York Central ushers were on hand to guide visitors through the station and explain its main features. The "ooh's" and "aah's" could be heard throughout the building.

       For 50 years, this stately building would see millions of people from all over the globe. It would be the scene of many tears of departure and of arrivals. Many native Buffalo men remember their triumphant return from the war and the rush of family and friends in its immense concourse. It would be the starting point for a new adventure or life and the quiet end to others. The glory years are gone for now and the end of its use as a railroad terminal under the Amtrak flag, came without fanfare, glory or with much notice in 1979. But today the terminal has a new champion of friends and supporters under the guise of the "Central Terminal Preservation Coalition." This small but growing and dedicated group of individuals is striving to bring the luster back to this historic landmark. Each year they have brought much improvement to the building itself and the surrounding grounds. Three years ago, the four massive clocks in the tower were put in motion again and are illuminated at night in what might be considered a "Beacon of Hope" for what might be again. You can visit their website for progress and upcoming events at "Buffalo Central Terminal" -

"The End"


1. Hornaday, Hilton, "Terrace Tradition," Buffalo Evening NewsSaturday Magazine, August 21, 1938, p.1.
2. De Castro, J. Edmund, "Battle Over Terrace Recalls Railroad Canal Of 1880," Buffalo Evening News-Magazine, February 2, 1946 p.1.
3. "Buffalo's Railway Bi-Centennial," Buffalo Morning Express, September 5, 1886, p.2.
4. "A Landmark Gone," Buffalo Morning Express, November 8, 1903, p. 5.
5. "The Union Depot," Buffalo Morning Express, September 8, 1873, p. 1.
6. "New Central Station Now Center Of City," Buffalo Courier Express,
     June 23, 1929, Section 7, p.15.
7. "The New Depot," Buffalo Commercial Advertiser, August 22, 1883, p.3.
8. "Erie Enterprise," Buffalo Morning Express, March 1, 1879, p. 4.
9. "With The Railways-Lehigh Valley Station," Buffalo Morning Express. June 11. 1892. p. 7.
10. Doyle, James F.,"Agitation For Finer Station Began in 1879," Buffalo Courier Express,
       June 23, 1929, Sec. W-l, pp. 1,3.
11. "Union Station Plan Approved," Buffalo Times, April 26, 1899, p. 1.
12. "Buffalo's Railway Stations, They Are Behind The Times, Pictures Showing The Need For
       The New Union Depot," Buffalo Times, June 18, 1899, Section 1, p, 12.
13. "Railroad Presidents Invited To Confer," Buffalo Times, February 1, 1899, p. 4.
14. Cousins, Garnet R., "Beacon At Mile 435.9-1," Trains Magazine, September, 1885, p. 20+
15. "Have stormy Hearing On Station Plans," Buffalo Courier Express, January 8, 1927, p. 1
16. Muldoon, Peter L., "Guastivino Vaulting: Ancient Technology In A New World,"
       Smithsonian Preservation Quarterly, Spring 1995 Edition.
17. Lee, William J., "New Terminal Put In Service," Buffalo Evening News, June 22, 1929, pp. 1,7.
18. "Edibles For Central Banquet Described In Large Numbers," Buffalo Evening News, June 21, 1929, p.3.
19. N.Y.C.'s New Station is Dedicated Today," Buffalo Times, June 22, 1929, p. 2.
20. "Girl Flier Escort To First Terminal Train," Buffalo Times, June 17, 1929, p. 15.
21. "All Aboard Empire! Crack Train Steams Out," Buffalo Times, June 23, 1929, Section A-l, p. 2.

1947 "Freedom Train"


11/25/26 - Present platforms and train shed of American Railway Express Company will be expanded.
                 Steel framework for addition is completed Freight terminal to be ready by Summer of 1927.
07/09/27 - Concrete is finished and the laying of asphalt is begun on Lindburgh Boulevard.
07/24/27 - Construction contract to build Buffalo Central Terminal has been awarded to
                 Walsh Construction Company of Syracuse, New York.
09/08/27 - Plans for main station building are filed with the City of Buffalo-Bureau of Buildings
10/02/27 - Excavation worK and installation of foundation footings for plaza are complete.
                 Power House frame is up. Laying of foundation for the building proper begins the following week.
12/14/27 - Start of steel framework construction.
02/28/28 - Tower steel framework is 1/2 up.
03/13/28 - Tower steel Framework is 3/4 up. Baggage Subway concrete Is being poured.
03/29/28 - Tower steel framework is complete; Enclosure Of tower started at 7th level.
                  Limestone will be covered by bricks.
04/10/28 - Four levels of tower are enclosed; Steel framework for Main Concourse underway.
04/25/28 - Tower enclosure is 3/4 complete.
05/08/28 - Steel framework for Office Wing Is underway. Framework For Passenger Concourse begins.
06/07/28 - Tower enclosure Is 95% complete; Steel for Office Wing Is 100% complete.
06/22/28 - Tower Is completely enclosed.
07/23/28 - Steel framework For Passenger Concourse completed; Enclosure of Concourse
                 and Office Wing begins.
09/18/28 - Baggage Subway work is completed; All areas are completely enclosed; Interior
                 work is begun.
06/07/29 - Passenger Waiting Room is completed.
06/11/29 - Arrival/Departure Board placed in Concourse. 06/17/29 - Lunchroom is completed.
06/18/29 - Passenger Concourse is completed; All interior lights turned on for first time.
06/22/29 - Buffalo Central Terminal Dedication Ceremonies.

NOTE: Construction phase dates are taken from the pages of Buffalo's leading newspapers and also from the dated photographs taken by commercial photographer Gordon Inskip, father-in-law of Jean Inskip who turned over the collection to Mr. Joe Streamer, WNYRHS member and President of the Hamburg Historical Society.




   Main Building   6 Stories in height and roughly 250 feet by 300 feet.
   Tower   80 feet square and 20 stories in height.
   Passenger Concourse   66 feet wide and 300 feet long. Domes are 64 feet high and
   the vault between is 59 feet high. 
   Train Concourse   50 feet wide and 450 feet long. Ramps and steps lead from
   main concourse to 7 double passenger platforms beneath.
   These platforms have a total length of 7,480 ft. 
   Baggage Subway   Is beneath the 14 station tracks, which are set in concrete.
   It extends 660 feet beyond the main building. 
   Construction Material   9,725,000 brick; 12,750 tons of steel; 80,000 cubic yards
   of concrete required to build the Terminal. 
   Other Buildings   Connected with the Terminal are a fivestory mail and baggage
   building, 60 x 350 feet; a two-story express depot 60 x 860 feet,
   and a power plant building. 
   Trackage   30 miles of carefully drained trackage in station and yards.       
   Interlocking Towers   Towers 48 and 49 are the largest interlocking railroad signal
   plants in the world. Tower 48 is built for 432 levers, presently
   will have 312 levers controlling 173 signals; 29 check locks;
   110 switches, derails and movable point frogs. Tower 49 is
   built for 532 levers, presently will have 382 levers controlling
   222 signals; 29 check locks; 131 switches, derails, and
   movable point frogs. Both two-story buildings are 21 feet by
   110 feet. Three operators work 8 hour shifts every twenty
   four hours directing 1,400 freight and passenger movements
   daily from a lighted track diagram board 20' by 4 1/2'.

SOURCE: "Facts About The New Central Terminal," Buffalo Evening New, June 22, 1929, p. 7.
"World's Largest Rail Signal Plant For New Depot-2 Towers Direct 1400 Train Movements Daily," Buffalo Evening News, June 13, 1929, p. 27.

End of Part IV - go to:  Part I   Part II   Part III

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