Kahn in Buffalo........
Table of Contents
Ford Motor Company/ Terminal A
901Fuhrmann Boulevard, Industrial Heritage Trail, Outer Harbor, Buffalo, NY
Ford Motor Co. Fuhrmann Assembly Plant/Terminal A
901 Fuhrmann Blvd. near Ohio St.
Photo © 2020 Chuck LaChiusa
"Back in June 1930, 94 acres of land lying under water next to Fuhrmann Boulevard was purchased from the state and the Buffalo Creek Railroad. A year later, the swampland had been miraculously transformed into an important cog in operations of the gigantic Ford Motor Company.” —Buffalo Courier Express, August 26, 1951
The Ford Motor Co., Fuhrmann Assembly Plant, is one of Buffalo’s automobile manufacturing landmarks. The plant, built in 1930 and designed by Albert Kahn Associates, began churning out cars and trucks in 1931. The plant had several fits and starts, due to the Depression and labor disputes, and during the war was leased to DNX Engine Corporation for building diesel engines. Ford resumed operations in 1945, and by 1953 had about 1,250 employees making 50,000 cars and trucks annually. At peak production, a new vehicle left the assembly line every two and a half minutes.
In 1958, Ford permanently shuttered the Fuhrmann plant, transferring operations to a newer facility in Lorain, Ohio. At its closing, the Fuhrmann plant became the last place in Buffalo where finished automobiles were assembled. More than 1.2 million Ford cars and trucks were made there.
With the exception of the power house and 100-foot-tall water tower, the 559,000-square-foot Fuhrmann plant still stands. The Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority has owned the mostly vacant factory complex, better known as the Terminal A Building, since 1967. Its redevelopment future, if any, is not yet known
"Looking Backward: Ford Motor Co., Fuhrmann Assembly Plant," Public Staff / Aug. 4, 2015
What to do with Port Terminal A is a multimillion-dollar question
Terminal A at 901 Fuhrmann Blvd. was built in 1931 and opened in 1938 as an auto assembly plant for Ford Motor Company. Albert Kahn, a prominent industrial architect, designed the building. The building is located between Fuhrmann Boulevard to the east and Lake Erie to the west, just north of the Queen City Landing project and Safe Marina Harbor.
Ford first made cars in Buffalo at the Tri-Main plant, also designed by Kahn, from 1913 to 1931. Ford moved production to the Outer Harbor so lake freighters could easily load and unload auto parts and products.
An estimated 2 million Fords were produced in the next 20 years before production ended in 1958, according to a 2015 report by the State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation. The Niagara Frontier Port Authority acquired Terminal A in 1962 and it was used for many years by the Port of Buffalo.
"Henry Ford selected strategic places throughout the nation for factories, and Buffalo, because of its transportation possibilities, was one of those sites," said Martin Wachadlo, a historic preservationist. "Ford would ship materials and the finished products on his own ships across the lakes to cut out the middleman, taking them from his Ford River Rouge Plant in Dearborn to Buffalo."
Wachadlo said the building is an important example of Kahn's work, and a testament to Buffalo's role in auto manufacturing.
"It was designed by one of the foremost industrial architects in America, who revolutionized the assembly line building for the auto industry," Wachadlo said. "It's an excellent example of Kahn's work, and a reminder of our waterfront industry, including car making, which is almost gone now."
Terminal A on Buffalo's Outer Harbor (Photo courtesy of the Office of Gov. Kathy Hochul