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Preserving Buffalo's Concrete Colossi

There's a plaque along the Buffalo, N.Y. waterfront that explains in 1842 the world's first steam powered elevator to transfer and store grain was built here. Landscape architect Lynda Schneekloth is promoting a grain elevator heritage trail to tell that pivotal part of Buffalo’s past.

Reconsidering Concrete Atlantis: Buffalo’s Grain Elevators is a 2007 book edited by University of Buffalo Professor Lynda Schneekloth, MLA, in which she and preservationists, urban planners and historians tell the historic, economic and cultural story of the Buffalo elevators through images, drawings, maps, floor plans and anecdotes. The book's 12 authors are from the UB School of Architecture and Planning, Cornell University and Columbia University. The authors also present proposals about what to do with the abandoned elevators on the Buffalo waterfront.

Schneekloth envisions an international conceptual park that presents the area's natural landscape and embraces not only the history of the grain industry, but also that of the railroads, the Great Lakes commerce enabled by New York's Erie canal, the U.S. and Canada steel-making, the pioneering electric power generation and even the manufacture of Pierce Arrow automobiles.

The authors hope Buffalo's historic concrete grain elevators will be part of the city's future. These edifices have been compared to cathedrals and even Egyptian temples for imposing interior spaces. The Landmark Society of the Niagara Frontier has nominated two of the grain elevators to the state and federal Register of Historic Places.

Source: Buffalo News, UB School of Architecture and Planning

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June 18, 2019, 8:37 am PDT

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