Buffalo Lighthouse - Table of Contents .............. Buffalo Waterfront - Table of Contents
Buffalo's Waterfront: A Guidebook
Located on the Coast Guard base across from the Erie Basin Marina, the lighthouse is a conspicuous symbol of Buffalo's past and present. Built in 1833, it is the oldest building on Buffalo's waterfront and one of the oldest lighthouses on the Great Lakes. It is the second of four lighthouses to serve as Buffalo's light. The base, up to the cornice, dates from 1833, while everything above it dates from 1857.
The light stands near the end of a long stone pier which can be called the foundation of Buffalo, originally having been laid down by Samuel Wilkeson in 1820. (The first Buffalo light stood at the shore end of the pier.) It created a sheltered harbor along the previously untamed shore.
The lighthouse is constructed of ashlar limestone and bluestone, and is one year younger than Buffalo itself (chartered as a city in 1832). The tower is 68 feet tall and tapers from a 20-foot diameter at the base, where the walls are four feet thick, to a 12-foot diameter at the top, where the walls are two feet thick.
In 1914 the lens was taken from this tower to one built just behind the outer harbor breakwater. The breakwater light then became the principal, or third, Buffalo light. A fourth light, a 71-foot white tower on the breakwater itself, has been the main light since 1963.
Unused and deteriorating, the 1833 light was almost demolished in the late 1950's. After a proper hue and cry it was saved and restored by 1961. Further restoration in the late 1980's resulted in floodlighting of the tower's shaft and illumination of the cupola.
The lighthouse cannot be reached by public transportation, but can be seen from the Erie Basin Marina on the north bank of the Buffalo River. A pedestrian path along the south bank from the head of Fuhrmann Boulevard ends at the light and affords a nice view of the skyline. The Coast Guard station itself is occasionally opened to the public for special events.
See also: Highlights of Buffalo's History, 1833
Page by Chuck LaChiusa
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