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  • Lucas R. Watson

Architecture around Buffalo: Connecting Terminal

By: Lucas R. Watson, Asst. Features Editor

A staple of the Buffalo Harbor, a reminder of our rich shipping past and an icon of the waterfront, the Connecting Terminal was the last concrete grain elevator ever built in Buffalo, having been constructed in 1915. It received its first shipment of grain just 108 years ago.

Over the years, however, many of the grain elevators in Buffalo fell into disrepair and remained empty skyscrapers that lined the Buffalo River and our waterfront.

The grain elevator helped create Buffalo’s notoriety as an established city. Before the inventions of grain elevators, grain had to be unloaded from freighters off the lakes onto rail cars or canal barges on the Erie Canal. It could then be exported to the Port of New York and worldwide. The grain was unloaded on the backs of dock workers who had one of the most demanding occupations of the era, especially in the bustling city of Buffalo. The grain elevator, invented in 1842, was monumental in the development of Buffalo and became prolific across our waterfront. It used a marine leg with buckets that could dip down into the ship's hull alongside, lift the buckets and dump them into the silo next to it. This invention assisted Buffalo in its rapid expansion and allowed ships to be unloaded much quicker. Before the grain elevator, it could take days to unload a ship; its implementation cut the time down to just a few hours. These advancements led Buffalo to evolve into the bustling city it would become.

The Connecting Terminal is a simple building, but it has gained notoriety in the last few decades due to its proximity to the blooming Canalside area. Yet it is one of the last 12 grain elevators in Buffalo, a city whose river was once lined up and down with grain elevators, and a city which recently lost one the Great Northern Grain Elevator, one of its most treasured grain elevators. The Connecting Terminal lives on today as it is visible from Canalside, and it has become the location of a fantastic light show happening every night.

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