MOVED BY HISTORY
The Buffalo Central Terminal has long been the people’s palace. Opened in 1929 to serve more than 200 trains and 10,000 passengers daily. An Art Deco icon integral to Buffalo’s architectural legacy, the Buffalo Central Terminal was placed on both the National and State Registers of Historical Places in 1984. Despite the last train having left the station in 1979, the Terminal’s importance as both a major piece of transportation infrastructure and a cultural asset in the greater Broadway-Fillmore neighborhood make its restoration a singular opportunity for the region.
In 1997, the 12.5-acre Buffalo Central Terminal site was acquired by the non-profit Central Terminal Restoration Corporation (CTRC). For 25 years the CTRC has been an active steward of the building, relentlessly advocating for the Terminal.
Our priorities are both simple and monumental. The Terminal will be a hub of activity – a beacon and a destination that attracts people and investment. Together, we will celebrate and foster community voice and connections that shape broader revitalization efforts in Broadway-Fillmore. The Terminal will join and elevate the strong future of the city and region.
Building Our Future Era
The Next Chapter Begins with the Master Plan
Empire State Development releases $20 million to support completion of Phase 2 Capital Improvements at the Buffalo Central Terminal as part of the Regional Revitalization Partnership.
A Request for Expression of Interest (RFEI) is released to solicit Development Partner(s) for the reuse of the Buffalo Central Terminal.
The CTRC is awarded $61 million through the Regional Revitalization Partnership, a major public and philanthropic initiative to spur economic growth on Buffalo’s East Side and across Western New York.
The Central Terminal is award $1 million through the Broadway-Fillmore Downtown Revitalization Initiative to support enhancements to the Great Lawn.
The Central Terminal receives a Community Placemaking Grant from the Project for Public Spaces to transform the Terminal’s Great Lawn from an under-designed, grassy lawn into a highly activated green space for the sharing of civic experiences.
Phase 1 Capital Improvements are completed. A $5.6 million project comprising $5 million in New York State capital funds, along with a $300,000 National Grid grant and a $300,000 NYS Environmental Protection Fund grant, repaired and replaced the severely deteriorated roof over the former restaurant area to stop water infiltration.
The Master Plan is completed after an extensive community engagement effort. Replacement of the former restaurant roof is completed.
The Central Terminal, Broadway Market, and Broadway- Fillmore neighborhood are awarded a $10 million Downtown Revitalization Initiative (DRI) grant.
Construction begins in connection with Phase 1 Capital Improvements. Focused on the Passenger Concourse, this project will replace the former restaurant roof to make the space clean and dry.
The CTRC becomes a part of the East Side Avenues, an initiative born out of the Buffalo Billion catalytic investment.
Empire State Development Corporation allocates $5 million for planning, design and construction improvements to the existing historic entry lobby and passenger concourse.
The Action Era
The Central Terminal Restoration Corporation Steps Up
World Monuments Fund: Buffalo Central Terminal is named to the World Monuments Watch List as one of just 25 cultural heritage sites around the world.
The East Side’s own Goo Goo Dolls film a music video at the Terminal. The movie Marshall films scenes in the concourse while completing $90,000 worth of cosmetic upgrades to the concourse.
The Buffalo Central Terminal completes the 3-acre Urban Habitat Project, a regenerative pollinator conservation and green infrastructure project.
The National Trust for Historic Preservation holds its annual conference in Buffalo with sessions and receptions at the Central Terminal.
Toronto antique dealer Robert Navarro donates an original light fixture back to the Terminal, and also returns the $3,000 raised by the CTRC to purchase the artifact.
In honor of the Terminal’s 80th birthday, the concourse clock is officially returned permanently to the concourse.
Large capital improvement projects are completed in the restaurant area and entrance.
The CTRC receives the Daniel B. Niederlander Award for “outstanding programming by a local heritage organization” from the Buffalo History Museum.
The CTRC celebrates its 10th anniversary. Dyngus Day returns to the Central Terminal.
Buffalo Central Terminal sees record-breaking numbers of visitors – including 20,000 in September alone, due to the first-ever Train Show, the Buffalo Brewfest and the annual Picnic on the Plaza Oktoberfest.
The historic concourse clock is purchased and restored with $25,000 in support from M&T Bank.
The Buffalo Central Terminal turns 75 – with a big celebration. The historic concourse clock is purchased and restored with $25,000 in support from M&T Bank.
The Preservation League of New York State selects the Terminal as one of seven most endangered properties, the first Erie County building to receive this special designation.
The CTRC Era
In August, the Buffalo Central Terminal property is transferred to the Central Terminal Restoration Corporation. After almost 20 years of neglect and abuse, CTRC principals and visionaries Scott Field, Tim Tielman and Tom Hryvniak lead the way in beginning to preserve this landmark.
The train concourse, owned by Amtrak, is leased to private contractor for heavy equipment storage
The Anthony Fedele Era
The Auction of the Buffalo Central Terminal
Anthony Fedele defaults on taxes and US Bankruptcy Court Judge John W. Creahan orders foreclosure sale, the city puts the Buffalo Central Terminal up for auction. Thomas Telesco wins the terminal for $100,000. He is the only bidder.
NY State Energy Office energy surveys are requested by Buffalo Central Terminal owner Tony Fedele for the remaining five buildings of the Central Terminal Plaza complex and are carried out by J.M. Hague III, P.E.
The Buffalo Central Terminal is placed on State and National Registers of Historical Places. Nominated by Julia S. Stokes, NY Deputy Commissioner for Historic Places, confirmed nomination in a letter by Orin Lehmen, Commissioner, NY State Office of Parks and Recreation and Historic Preservation and State Historic Preservation Officer.
Train concourse bridge from the terminal is demolished to allow passage of taller freight cars on the Belt Line. Property is separated.
The Disco Era
The Doomed Penn-Central System
Amtrak abandons the Buffalo Central Terminal on Oct. 28, in favor of using its new Dick Rd. station in Cheektowaga, and the reopened downtown exchange station. The last train leaves the Buffalo Central Terminal on Oct. 28. Anthony Fedele & Galesi Realty purchase the Buffalo Central Terminal for $75,000.
Penn Central RR, Lehigh Valley RR, Erie-Lackawanna RR, Lehigh & Hudson River RR merge to form Conrail. Conrail now owns the Buffalo Central Terminal.
Amtrak is created. Amtrak takes over majority of the intercity passage service in the US, using the Buffalo Central Terminal as its Buffalo terminal until Oct. 28, 1979.
Penn Central Railroad declared bankrupt
The Civil Rights Era
The End of the Twentieth Century Limited
New York Central Railroad and Pennsylvania Railroad merge, forming the Penn Central System, the terminal’s second owner.
Pullman Service Building, Coach Shop, Ice House and Power House demolished to reduce taxes and maintenance.
The Midcentury Era
The Decline of Passenger Travel
Public Service Commission allows New York Central Railroad to abandon Buffalo-Niagara Falls Service.
Due to loss of revenue and decline in train use by the general public, the BCT is put on the market for $1,000,000 (1/14th of its original cost). It does not sell.
The Post War
The Rise of Rail in Support of the War
The Terminal was an essential hub for moving troops, goods and services during the war years. If you have a Central Terminal story from this era, please share it with us through our online form.
The Great Depression
Surviving the Great Depression
The 1930s were pretty stable as far as transportation needs, even during the Depression. If you have a Central Terminal story from this era, please share it with us through our online form.
The Roaring Twenties
The Buffalo Central Terminal Opens for Business
BCT construction completed. Grand opening June 22nd. Grand opening includes Chamber of Commerce Gala attended by 2,200 people, the largest event in Buffalo at that time. At 2 p.m., the first train departs from the terminal: the Eastbound Empire State Express.
Steel work raised throughout the year, last rivet driven in December. All iron work done by Premier Fireproofing owned by Otto Klotz.
Patrick Crowley, president of New York Central Railroad, elected architects Fellheimer & Wagner to design BCT. Construction begins on the 17-floor office tower and terminal.
Site preparation starts. Sewer and drainage systems and 30 miles of track laid. Lindbergh Dr. built (now Memorial Drive). Groundbreaking for underpass south of terminal allowing William St. (most direct connection to downtown) to cross under New York Central main line.
New York Central Railroad, The City and Grade Crossing, and the Terminal Station Commission signed an agreement to allow BCT to be built at its present location, 2.5 miles from downtown business district.