Electric Tower - Table of Contents

Exterior - Electric Tower

535 Washington St., Buffalo NY


The building occupies the entire block. Here Washington Street is bordered by Genesee St. on the north, E. Huron St. on the south, and Ellicott St. on the east.


Additions: 1924, 1927


Esenwein & Johnson
Additions: E.B. Green & Sons


Beaux-Arts Classical Revival


Steel frame
White, glazed Terra cotta exterior

On this page, below:

Facade, west elevation

North elevation


2004-2016 Photos

Facade, west elevation

Facade, west elevation.
Triangular site on Washington, Genesee and Huron streets


Finial   ...    White, glazed terra cotta   ...   Cornice   ...   Dentil molding  ...    Roman Corinthian columns


White, glazed terra cotta parapet, overlooking Genesee Building/Hyatt Hotel, City Hall, and the Niagara River

Roman lattice   ...    Roman Corinthian columns

Beaux Arts style white, glazed terra cotta   ...  
Vertical margents

Facade   ...   Margents

North elevation

View south

North elevation.
Genesee St. looking west.
Genesee Building/Hyatt Hotel and Buffalo Savings Bank/M&T Bank at the right.

North elevation.

Roman lattice decorate the spandrel panels


The 294-foot-high General Electric Building was completed in 1912 to administer the sales and distribution of electricity from Niagara Falls.

The Electric Building, now [2004] called the Niagara Mohawk Building, was opened on the site of Gruener's Hotel and Gardens and is one of the most outstanding sights on the Buffalo skyline.

The models

The archtitects, Esenwein & Johnson, had designed a building for the Pan-American Exposition — the Temple of Music (where President McKinley was shot). The tallest building at the Pan-American Exposition (the theme of which was electric power) had been the Electric Tower (architect, John Galen Howard) which had been brilliantly painted and electrically lighted from top to bottom. The Goddess of Light surmounted the tower, making it 386 feet tall.

General Electric Building resembles, but is not a replica of the Pan-American's Electric Tower. Furthermore, in the 1920s, wings were added .

The General Electric Tower also echoes nineteenth-century archeologists' reconstructions of the Pharos, the lighthouse at Alexandria, that was one of the seven wonders of the ancient world. The imagery is most persuasive at night when floodlights illuminate the top of the building.


The building is a slender, octagonal 294-foot-high skyscraper sheathed in white-glazed terra cotta that makes it gleam after every rainfall. On top of the 14-story building there in a three-tiered tower crowned with a cupola and ball, looking very much like a white-frosted wedding cake in both daylight and floodlight.

The original building included the octagonal tower plus a Huron Street wing which was heightened in the 1920's when an additonal wing on Broadway was also added.

The 14th level of the tower originally contained an auditorium and a stage (later dismantled).


Courtesy of Explore Buffalo

Special thanks to Anthony Diina, President of Metrodata Services, Inc., for his cooperation and assistance
Photos and their arrangement 2016  Chuck LaChiusa
| ...Home Page ...| ..Buffalo Architecture Index...| ..Buffalo History Index... .|....E-Mail ...| ..

web site consulting by ingenious, inc.