Article by Kevin Heffernan
Photos Courtesy Central Terminal Restoration Corporation
For those of us born after 1979, Buffalo’s Central Terminal has resembled a apocalyptic wasteland. The miles of train platforms gave a glimpse into what the earth would look like after humans, with trees growing beyond rooftops and up through the tracks that were designed to move 3,200 passengers/hour, with 200 trains/day. Its farthest platforms are actually home to some impressive graffiti, and provide unique backdrops for photoshoots.
Check out how HOONIGAN and Forza Horizon 3 took advantage of the sheer size of the complex to produce this incredibly shot piece:
But as the CSX train continues to roll by a few hours/day, your eyes are drawn to the terminal itself. Sitting atop of a hill overlooking the east side and downtown, the structure is so clearly proof of what Buffalo once was – a bustling city with an exploding population, willing to spend the money to make buildings that inspire generations. Central Terminal’s restoration now gives hope to what it can be once again.
My first taste of the building wasn’t until 2008. We hopped in a cab to get to a massive Halloween party inside. Dropped off at Fillmore and Padarewski, we had five beautiful blocks to walk up with an ominous green glow of the tour guiding us closer to the sounds of thumping bass. When we walked in, I lost my mind by the sheer size, history, and decay. The 2008 and 2009 parties were some of the best we’ve ever been to, and have since been replaced by camera crews searching for ghosts of servicemen and women saying goodbye to loved ones before deployment in the 1940’s.
While it may be a very long time before we see people boarding trains in the area, there are plenty of people throughout the concourse every spring summer and fall. New York State awarded the Central Terminal a $5Million grant to use in renovations, staffing, as well as marketing to create a sustainable flow of revenue. Part of that revenue stream being built is from the $5 tickets to come watch jazz and other musical performances in the main concourse, like this Wednesday’s George Scott Big Band show!
Does Big Band mean only people who remember the 1940’s will be there? Not. At. All.
The days of sneaking into the concourse are over, and that’s a good thing. Now you can enjoy this building the way it was supposed to be enjoyed, brightly lit, sealed off from the weather, full of people, music and dancing. The city needs to embrace projects like this. Let’s switch the headlines from another “Major Real Estate Developer Wins Additional Tax Breaks to Build Luxury Lofts and Empty Storefronts” to “Grassroots Efforts to Rehabilitate Central Terminal Yield Countless Economic Improvements for Neighborhood Residents.”
Hear about this Wednesday’s show and how, $5 or $5M at a time, the building has come back online in the videos below, and keep the Central Terminal on your radar as its glory is restored – With your help.