Grain Elevators - Table of Contents  ..........   Waterfront - Table of Contents 

Buffalo Grain Elevator Preserve
Nature and modern industrial structures interact to create a unique sculpture park

By Dennis Galucki and Chuck LaChiusa
Center for the Study of Art, Architecture, History and Nature

By the end of the Civil War, Buffalo was the world's largest grain port. Today, Buffalo has one of the largest collections of grain elevators in the world.

The grain elevators were built on the Buffalo River to temporarily store grain that was being transferred from the Midwest via Great Lakes ships onto barges that utilized the Erie Canal and later onto railroads that would take the grain to the hungry population on on the East coast.

Buffalo's Joseph Dart had revolutionized the industry with his steam powered elevator in 1842. Over the next half century the wooden elevators evolved into tile, steel, and then concrete structures a quarter of a mile long. Amazingly, the concrete elevators could be erected in only a couple of weeks once the foundation was laid!

European architects discovered American grain elevators, and these engineering marvels influenced the development of modern architecture -- especially skyscrapers.

Many of the elevators are today abandoned and very expensive to demolish. What to do with them? While there are many possibilities, the simplest is to appreciate these structures as art and sculpture. This Web site suggests taking advantage of the natural setting the sinuous Buffalo River provides for an aesthetically incomparable experience.

Photos were taken in June 2004 in a kayak. The launching spot was Ohio Street Boat Launch. To drive there, go south on Michigan Ave. to the Michigan Bridge. Turn left on Ohio Street and continue for a minute or two until you come to Fr. Conway Park on your left. Across the street is the Ohio Street Public Access Park. Drive into the parking lot across from the park.

A bit of history: Fr. Conway Park was earlier the Ohio Basin. The smell was quite offensive. The demolished Larkin Administration was used as fill for the basin. Dirt was added and that's one way to create a park.

As you're in the parking lot facing the river, you'll notice a small inlet to the right filled with driftwood. That's what left of the Ohio Basin.

"Buffalo Grain Elevator Preserve" is a term that Dennis suggests.

See also:

Center for the Study of Art, Architecture, History and Nature