You're Invited to the Urban Revival, a "festival of ideas for Buffalo."

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The Campaign for Greater Buffalo is hosting a series of three profusely illustrated presentations called Urban Revival Buffalo that it hopes will inspire fresh thinking on ways to revitalize the city while making it more equitable, sustainable, and attractive. The full slate of events is free and open to the public, with donations appreciated.


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Eugene Debs Hall

The series kicks off on Wednesday August 30 at 6:00pm at Eugene Debs Hall, Peckham and Clark streets, Buffalo, with “Bikeopolis,” a look at European bicycle cultures in Dutch, Belgian, and German cities by Campaign Executive Director Tim Tielman. Tielman rode his bike to school and on urban explorations while a child in the Netherlands. A bike rider ever since and fresh off a working holiday in Holland and Germany, Tielman will show what it takes to embed “bikethinking” in everyday life and how that creates an ever-improving local bikeway standards (yes, there is a manual for that) and networks, 11,000-space underground bike garages, an international network of intercity bikeways, vital cities and happy citizens.


It wasn’t always that way, even in The Netherlands. It took riots and bike “die-ins” by citizens to turn the tide of car culture and restore lost freedom of movement for those on bikes and to protect the historic architecture and land uses of Dutch cities that made walking and biking possible. Buffalo bicyclists once had the freedom to safely roam, too. The local bike network stretched to Lake Ontario and included a 23-mile path around Grand Island, built by the Erie County Sidepath Commission. How can Buffalo start rebuilding the ecosystem that makes a bikecity possible?

Bernice Radel, executive director of Preservation Buffalo Niagara and bike enthusiast, will provide an introductory talk relating her experience biking in The Netherlands. The event is a “Jane’s Talk,” a series of lectures held at Debs Hall.


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Lafayette Brewing Company

The Urban Revival then moves downtown for its second installment at the Lafayette Brewing Company in the Hotel Lafayette on Wednesday September 6 at 5:30pm and a look at the radical reconstruction of the lost cores of Berlin, Dresden, and Frankfurt. In “Back by Popular Demand,” Tielman explains that the cities were first bombed flat in WWII, then rebuilt in Modernist and Brutalist styles. Residents found them soul-crushing and unsupportive of a rich urban life.


That is, until the 1990s, when German reunification gave impetus to citizens’ movements to demolish the oppressive post-war constructions and empty spaces and fill them with outwardly exacting reconstructions of what existed before the war: medieval and baroque streets lined with everything from modest shophouses to imperial palaces. complete with streets and squares where cars are tightly controlled and humans given free-range, the reconstructed precincts are much-loved vessels of memory and vitality.

In the third and final installment in the series, “New Amsterdam,” again at the Lafayette Brewing Company, on Wednesday September 13 at 5:30pm, Tielman looks at the new neighborhoods built since 1990 that tourists, absorbed by charming and ingenious 17th century canals and canal houses, don’t see. Whether in old office parks, lumber docks, or on new man-made islands, the new neighborhoods employ techniques that emulate the comfortable domesticity of the 17th century within 21st century systems. You could call it paleo-urbanism. Buffalo, originally named New Amsterdam, could learn a lot from Old Amsterdam!

The largest Dutch cities were actually losing population due in no small part to post-war government policies favoring decentralization and road construction, combined with Modernist planning theories and architecture. With a lot of encouragement from an informed and demonstrative public, the city did an about-face and built new districts of thousands of apartments and houses according to principals, emphasizing materials, scale, and locomotion that supported human nature. It also refurbished existing streets and neighborhoods to increase quality of life by de-emphasize speed and cars.

The result? Amsterdam is better and more popular than ever, with steady growth, world-class historic areas, beautiful new architecture that compliments the old, and a superb mobility system that ties it all together.

To recap:

6pm Wed. Aug. 30, 2023 at Debs Hall,
435 Paderewski Dr. (near Central Terminal). Free (donation appeciated).
The bicycle is a vehicle for equitable, sustainable, mobility and freedom in historic cities worldwide. How do cities do it? Can Buffalo do it? A “Jane’s Talk’ in collaboration with Debs Hall. Come early—$3 pizza slices while supplies last!

Man and boy biking amsterdam
To be safe and sociable, bikeways should allow side-by-side riding.

Back by Popular Demand
5:30 pm Wed. Sept. 6, 2023 at Lafayette Brewing Co., Hotel Lafayette, 391 Washington St. Free (donation appreciated).
Citizens demanded Frankfurt, Berlin, and Dresden demolish Brutalist and Modernist post-war buildings and street plans and reconstruct entire historic areas. They got their souls back, and an economic boost. Could Buffalo do the same?

Frankfurt altstadt
Every building in this image of Frankfurts Aldstadt has been reconstructed following available documentation or according to historic construction techniques and materials.

New Amsterdam
5:30 pm Wed. Sept. 13, 2023 at Lafayette Brewing Co., Hotel Lafayette, 391 Washington St. Free (donation appreciated)
Buffalo was founded as New Amsterdam. (Old) Amsterdam and Buffalo tried urban renewal and highways in the 1960s and 1970s. Massive fail. Amsterdam changed its approach to “paleo-urbanism” and became an international marvel. See the Amsterdam tourists don’t see, and what makes it work.

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New housing outside Amsterdam conforms to innate human preferences, like Amsterdam canal houses of the 17th century.


Rare Look at Buffalo's Arts & Crafts Masterworks coming in September

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Campaign for Greater Buffalo executive director  Tim Tielman and Henry Swiatek of Swiatek Studios, art restorers, for a special tour of the interior and exterior decorative extravaganza that is the peak of Arts & Crafts architecture, the 1920s churches of Oakley & Schallmo.  An Abundance of Delight, the Arts & Crafts of Oakley & Schallmo is an exploration of mastery not to be missed.

Chester Oakley (1893-1968) and Albert Schallmo (1884-1928) worked together for just nine years before Schallmo’s premature death. The last years of the partnership produced four exquisite churches in the four corners of the city: St. John’s in Riverside, St. Casimir’s in Kaisertown, St. Luke’s on Sycamore St. on the East Side, and Blessed Trinity, serving the north-central part of the expanding city. Their work was the end of an era; no more large churches were built in Buffalo, and modernist architects sought to cast shade on decoration.  This is a rare chance to see these marvels of brick and terra cotta in one day. Includes snacks and beverage to sustain you!

Reservations can be made by calling 716-854-3749, or by scrolling to the post below to reserve online through our tour calendar.

The Expert and Entertaining way to Explore Buffalo Architecture!

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"This may be the best city tour we've ever taken."
TripAdvisor reviewer from Pittsburgh

The Campaign for Greater Buffalo's Open-Air Autobus is on the road for its 14th stellar season. The Open-Air Autobus is the biggest part of our LearnAboutBuffalo programming of tours, lectures, and publications. Not only to you get an informative two hours of seeing Buffalo in a fresh way, your tickeys help support our non-profit historic preservation activities.

There is no better way to learn about Buffalo than to travel around and about Buffalo with the experts of The Campaign for Greater Buffalo History, Architecture & Culture. Climb aboard the Open-Air Autobus—a mobile classroom that's the best way to see, hear, and smell Buffalo (toasted oats, chicken wings, charcoal-grilled hot dogs!).

Reserve a seat with one of our news-making experts for their personal take on Buffalo.

Tim Tielman, the leading voice for preservation in Buffalo for 30 years and recent Buffalo News Citizen of the Year.

Paul McDonnell
, president of the Campaign for Greater Buffalo and president of the American Institute of Architects: New York.

Chris Hawley
, planner, Buffalonia collector, restorer and operator of Eugene Debs Hall, a classic Buffalo shophouse and tavern.

The Campaign is Buffalo’s most dynamic preservation organization. Our trips reflect our character: Passionate, lively, and knowledgeable, led by experts who love exploring the world around them. Our trips are built on 30 years’ worth of architectural and historical research and help raise funds for our wide-ranging preservation work. Join Larkin Development Group in supporting our programming and the preservation it makes possible!

By doing a trip, you are doing good: The Campaign is a charitable organization chartered by the New York State Dept. of Education, and revenues are plowed directly back into local historic preservation. Become a member of the Campaign ($36.50 and up for individuals) and you get a 20% discount on all our tours and events!

The Campaign’s trips are popular, informative, well-done. Book your seat or schedule a charter today! Ph # mortised cut

Reserve your tour by clicking on a one of our scheduled tours on the calendar below. Have a charge card handy. Want to reserve over the phone? Something online not working right? Call us at 716-854-3749. Walk-ups are always welcome, space permitting.

Reserve online by clicking on a highlighted date on the calendar below, or the button below the individual tour descriptions. You can call us for reservations at 716-854-3749 as well. You'll need a charge card handy.

We go rain or shine, thanks to our roll-down, see-through roof. We're not going to let a little passing shower spoil your day! Still, always dress for the weather.

Tour poster whirlwind"The tour highlights what you need to see and the guide was very animated and kept you wanting more."
TripAdvisor reviewer from Toronto

The Buffalo Whirlwind

• 10:00am Saturdays and Sundays from June 24 to September 10.

• Meet at Larkin Square, Seneca & Emslie streets. Two hours, $30. Discounts for groups of 10 or more.

• Reservations: Click on calendar at top, button below, or call 716-854-3749

There are few places you can see buildings by America’s Big Three architects— Louis Sullivan, Frank Lloyd Wright, and H.H. Richardson— plus a park system by Frederick Law Olmsted. Buffalo is one of them.

On this trip, besides the master works by the Masters, you’ll see scores of other beautiful buildings and houses by prominent national and international architects and the streets and neighborhoods where Buffalonians carry on their everyday lives.

We start at the Larkin Square, in the heart of the Larkin Historic District (which The Campaign created!). We proceed to the Old First Ward and its grain elevators,  the Canal District (we saved it!), downtown buildings at the dawn of the Skyscraper Age,  then out to the broad Victorian-Era residential districts and the foundation of American Architecture, H.H. Richardson's Buffalo State Hospital, conceived in 1870. 

In between, you’ll see world-altering industrial architecture, the preening mansions of Delaware Avenue, and the prototype for the skyscraper, Sullivan’s Guaranty Building. We’ll put it all in context for you, as we point out dozens of buildings as markers of Buffalo’s progress through the years.

You’ll see:

• Kleinhans Music Hall • First Presbyterian Church • Ellicott Square by Daniel Burnham & Co. • St. Paul’s Episcopal Cathedral by Richard Upjohn • The Canal District • Niagara & Lafayette squares • Millionaires’ Row • Allentown Historic District • Delaware Historic District • Larkin Historic District • City Hall and Old County Hall • Theater Historic District • Bidwell, Chapin, Lincoln parkways.

The Whirlwind is an compelling two-hours with Tim Tielman, Paul McDonnell, or Chris Hawley. Entertaining experts all!

Grand Tour Tielman poster 2022The Grand Tour

• Saturday, 10:00am September 9

• Meet at Larkin Square, Seneca and Emslie streets. $40. Discounts for groups of 10 or more.

• Reservations: Click on calendar at top, button below, or call 716-854-3749

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Tim Tielman

Some people just want more: More buildings, more neighborhoods, more stories, more impressions, and more understanding of The City of Buffalo. To meet that demand, Tim Tielman will lead a special 3-hour Grand Tour that covers all the sites of our Whirlwind trip, but adds all the places we wish we could’ve shown you before with our mobile classroom the Open-Air Autobus.

Spend three hours with an expert and see:

• Buffalo's epic grain elevators—the harbingers of Modernist architecture
• Lake Erie and Buffalo’s harbor defenses
• Frank Lloyd Wright's Martin House compound
• Fredrrick Law Olmsted's Delaware Park
• The Linwood Historic District

The Grand Tour is also available as a charter, with lunch and a rest stop—it makes a great afternoon outing! Contact us for special pricing at 716-854-3749, or FrontDesk@

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Exploring the Past & Future Belt Line

• Sunday, 10:00am September 10

• Meet at Larkin Square, Seneca and Emslie streets. $40. Discounts for groups of 10 or more.

• Reservations: Click on calendar at top, button below, or call 716-854-3749

Join Chris Hawley, The Man Who Knows Too Much Cool Stuff, as he uncovers one of Buffalo’s Hide-in-Plain-Sight secrets: The New York Central Belt Line railroad of the 1880’s, the city’s most consequential transportation project after the Erie Canal. Chris lives along the Belt Line and has just restored and occupied both parts of a classic Buffalo shophouse!

The Belt Line attracted huge industrial plants like Pierce-Arrow, Ford Motor, Larkin Soap, and, of course, the titanic NY Central Terminal itself.

See how John Larkin and Darwin Martin built a gargantuan factory complex that, building-by-building, traces the de- velopment of modern architecture. Today it is Larkinville, a new neighborhood of offices, apartments and gathering places.

See the changes to Henry Hyde’s innovative Mentholatum factory, F.N Burt’s Niagara Street and Seneca Street folding box plants, and other former factories that have been converted to lofts, restaurants, and commercial space trading on industrial appeal. Learn their stories and those of the diverse neighborhoods it traverses, Parkside, Polonia, Black Rock, and the “Yammerthal,” the stone quarries called the “Vale of Tears.” Reserve now!

An Abundance of Delight: Inside four Arts & Crafts Masterpieces Oakley & Schallmo 2023 $45 tour poster

• Saturday, 10:00am September 16

• Meet at Larkin Square, Seneca and Emslie streets. $45. Discounts for groups of 10 or more.

• Reservations: Click on calendar at top, button below, or call 716-854-3749

Join Tim Tielman and restoration artist Henry Swiatek for a special 4-hour tour of the extravagant interiors and exteriors of four of Buffalo's most proclaimed Arts & Crafts buildings—churches designed by the firm of Chester Oakley and Albert Schallmo. Far-flung St. John's in Riverside, St. Casimir in Kaisertown, St. Luke's on Sycamore Street, and Blessed Trinity in Leroy are essays in craftsmanship and the humanistic aesthetic at the heart of the Arts & Crafts movement.  Plus, a discover the beautiful Tudor Revival parish house "hidden" to all but hard-core architectural aficionados!

Be part of a rare occasion and see these unique masterpieces and revel in their attention to detail, from the painted ceilings terra-cotta-tiled passages and the hundreds of pieces of multi-colored iconographic symbols that takes a book to decipher!  Reserve now!

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Buffalo's Best: Green & Wicks, Architects

• 10:00am Sunday September 17

• Meet at Larkin Square, Seneca & Emslie streets. $40. Discounts for groups of 10 or more.

• Reservations required: Click on calendar at top, button below, or call 716-854-3749

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Paul McDonnell

The firm of Green & Wicks (1882-1917) coincided with Buffalo's Golden Age. W.S. Wicks (1854-1919) and E.B. Green (1855-1950) were Buffalo’s most distinguished architects of the period. The firm had dozens of major commissions, many of them superb examples of their type, whether office building, hotel, apartment building or grandiose mansion. The number and quality of its commissions is staggering: Buffalo Savings Bank, The  Market Arcade, half of “Millionaire’s Row,” the Twentieth Century Club,  the American Radiator factory, the Marine Bank, the Albright Art Gallery, department stores, and more.

Join Campaign for Greater Buffalo president Paul McDonnell, who is also the incoming president of the American Institute of Architects: New York, to explore fine structures of wood, brick, and stone,  prominently sited or tucked away on side streets, radiating charm and poise. Join Paul as he hunts down dozens of the buildings and tell the tales of the people who lived, worked, worshiped, and socialized there.

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Travel anywhere around Buffalo anytime you want by chartering the Open-Air Autobus. There is no better way to learn abot Buffalo than to see, hear, smell the city. We’ve done school trips from grade 2 to graduate students, weddings, bar mitzvahs, reunions, and corporate affairs. You get a ride like no other and expert commentary from the passionate pros of The Campaign for Greater Buffalo History, Architecture & Culture. We know our stuff! Ph # mortised cut
• 46-person capacity
• See-thru, roll-down rain fly
• $750 for up to two hours with expert commentary; longer tours available
• About $15 per person at capacity
• $440 for up to three hours for bus & driver only
• Take a walking tour with same top-notch experts: $200 for 2 hrs. for up to 20 people; $10 ea. add’l.

 Call now: 716-854-3749

From Trash to Treasure: Our Proposal for the Broadway Auditorium

2.A - Armory Place V.6 - MKT [12.2.16]Once again, the city of Buffalo has called for Requests For Proposals from developers for the Broadway Auditorium (nee Armory, nee Arsenal, nee Batavia Market), for 75 years ingloriously used to store garbage trucks, salt mounds, and dump trucks. Rather than turn the site over to a private developer and face an uncertain future ("Dang, we thought we could save the building, but it is worse than we thought! We're going to have to demolish it and use the whole 4 acres for our new-build project!"), the site should restored and remediated for public use and operated by a non-profit set up for the purpose.

The Campaign's illustrated Armory Place proposal has the details and historic photos and an outline of the site's history.

Download our Armory Place concept here and read all about it!

Bway Aud auto show

Buffalo News calling for investigation into judge's handling of Great Northern case

The Buffalo News, in its lead editorial of September 20, is calling for an investigation into judge Emilio Colaiavoco's handling of the Great Northern case, in which he lifted a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) that had prevented the demolition of the landmark on July 5, but blocked the ability of The Campaign for Greater Buffalo to appeal until he dismissed the case on Sept. 14. That was the same day city officials had announced could be the start of demolition—72 days after lifting the TRO.

News cartoonist Adam Zyglis the same day made sure people did not lose sight of Mayor Byron Brown's culpability, publishing a drawing of Brown as an attendant pushing the "down" button on the elevator. Brown had refused to rescind the emergency demolition order, falsely claiming that the city charter does not allow him to do so.

Blockade ends, ADM starts destroying, Campaign moves to halt demo

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ADM began demolition by cutting out the central bin on the north side, where wall damage occurred during a Dec. 11 windstorm

Shortly before 10:00am on Friday September 16,  ADM Milling began cutting up the exposed steel tanks of the historic Great Northern grain elevator. It was 73 days after judge Emilio Colaiacovo issued a decision against The Campaign for Greater Buffalo but, in effect, instituted a blockade against an appeal by not dismissing the case. It was only with the arrival of demolition equipment and a steady drumbeat of articles, editorials, and guest editorials in the Buffalo News and online that Colaiacovo finally acted on Thursday 15 September to dismiss—on the day city officials declared the demo could start.

By evening The Campaign and its attorneys Richard Lippes and Richard Berger, had submitted a notice of intent to appeal, and followed up with the necessary documents early the next afternoon. The Campaign is now awaiting word from the Appellate Division of the Fourth Judicial Department of New York State Supreme Court of which judge has been assigned the case and if and when a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) blocking demolition will be issued.

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The genius of the Great Northern's engineering is that each bin-and-column set is structurally independent, as this 1897 construction photo demonstrates

The Great Northern was designed and built as an immense chassis of steel columns and unique round girders in which rest dozens of the now-familar steel cylinders that stored grain. Structurally, each of these sets of columns and their bin is independent—every other bin could be removed sequentially in a feat of reverse engineering without causing the others to collapse. Similarly, the workhouse is supported by those same columns with a repetitive series of "bents," 21 in all. Those could be methodically snipped off one by one without jeopardizing the structural integrity of the remaining roof (again, think an Amish barn-raising in reverse). The issue is this: halting demolition will be worth it, because so much of the building will be intact.

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Model of the Great Northern shows the 21 steel "bents" that frame the workhouse and are supported by 3-foot square steel columns, with the immense grain bins supported by circular girders and column sets

But delay can work to ADM's nefarious ends: It wants to carve out the bins and support columns, but not the workhouse. It intends to cut out the columns supporting the workhouse until it collapses in half like the Titanic, then repeat the process with the southern half of the structure. Thus, an immediate TRO is of the essence.

It should be noted that the demolition itself revealed the City and ADM's crocodile tears about public safety to be just that—fake. Traffic was allowed to go by normally on Ganson Street, trains went by on the tracks, yachts bobbed at anchor across the City Ship Canal. The Great Northern was never in danger of "imminent collapse," the city and ADM actions over the last 10 months belied their legal ejaculations in court about public safety being their driving concern. It is contempt for the public.

You can help the Campaign save the Great Northern by making a contibution in the sidebar or use the qr code below.

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Great Northern in 11th hour as Campaign fights court-imposed limbo

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I kept on thinking about Al Franken’s book Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them (With more lies! And New Liars!) as I listened to the testimony of two engineers employed for the purpose of supporting the demolition of the landmark Great Northern grain elevator. It was paid-for poppycockery of the lowest order.

The building, damaged during a December gale, was in “imminent danger of collapse,” according to Franken bookformer Commissioner of Inspections and Permits Services James Comerford, who retired in January. The building still stands eight months later, in no more danger of structural collapse than it ever was. But, Justice Emilio Colaiacovo of State Supreme Court agreed with the City in a first hearing in January an appellate court-ordered further hearing in June that a state of emergency is ongoing. On July 5th, Colaiacovo lifted the TRO imposed by the appellate court. 


GNE Erecting Cupola and Main Roof  Sept 2  1897. NW Miller Feb 4 1898
Too late for the hearing, two sets of construction photos were found in early August that offer yet more confirmation that the building, as engineered, was built without the support of its enclosing brick walls. (Above, a spectacular picture from The Weekly Northwestern Miller; a print of the same was the basis of a sketch printed in the Buffalo Courier of October 4, 1897). Campaign boardmember John Paget also took new drone photographs in early August, which prove any notions of the fallen bricks having jeopardized the structural integrity of the building is —take your pick—paranoia or poppycockery. The pictures  show the immense superstructure, with integral cylindrical storage bins and roof, standing on its own before the brick walls are even half built.

More photos, as well as the complete text of this article are in the Sept. 2022 Greater Buffalo Download Greater Buffalo #33 Sept. 2022

Greater Buffalo #33 Sept. 2022 1

To recap, Comerford, with the full support of Mayor Byron Brown, issued a fatwa on the Great Northern on December 17. The Campaign for Greater Buffalo immediately filed suit to stop it, gaining a temporary restraining order (TRO) until the case could be heard. That happened, in a rush, on January 3rd. Judge Colaiacovo would not permit The Campaign to call any witnesses, stating that only Comerford’s testimony was relevant to decide whether his emergency demolition order was “arbitrary and capricious.” Colaiacovo ruled against The Campaign, lifted the TRO, and dismissed the case on January 5th.

The moment a case is dismissed, a party can appeal, and Campaign attorney Richard Berger immediately commenced an appeal based in part on The Campaign not being permitted to present its argument and witnesses. Berger secured a preliminary injunction from Appellate Court justice Tracey Bannister. The appeal was heard in April, with a six-judge panel unanimously finding for The Campaign, and ordering Colaiacovo to hear testimony from The Campaign.

The second hearing before Colaiacovo (actually an extension of the January hearing) was in June. The Campaign’s witness was its volunteer president, Paul McDonnell, former architect for the Buffalo schools and incoming president of the New York State chapter of the American Institute of Architects. Coliacovo discounted McDonnell’s testimony, which included both contemporaneous renderings of the Great Northern during construction (based on photographs on this page) and of a digital model of the Great Northern’s primary structural members commissioned by the Campaign, by virtue of his being association plaintiff, was professionally compromised as an architect. On the other hand, the judge admitted to giving great weight to an engineer paid by ADM’s attorneys specifically to testify in support of demolition who hadn’t been inside the structure or done any forensic investigation at all.

Reyner Banham, who studied the Great Northern intently and clambered throughout, top to bottom, with students during summer field work while the elevator was in operation in 1977, 1978, and 1979, features it in his seminal study Concrete Atlantis (1986).

The Ganson Street side, Banham said “still demonstrates the sheer artistry of the industrial brickwork of the former tradition at its late best—a pure wall, almost uninterrupted by openings and barely modeled by necessities of buttressing and corbeling. Yet this ‘almighty wall’ carries none of the weight of the internal storage system and little of that of the headworks [emphasis added].” I-beams resting longitudinally in a channel of the east and west walls provided a flange to attach the outermost edges of eighth-inch steel plate flooring of the distribution floor. Banham continued, “It is a pure weatherproofing skin, and the closure of the box against the elements is completed by a low-pitched roof whose central part suddenly rises in a steep clerestory...”

Describing the impact of seeing the 400-foot-long, 28-foot high run of the ground floor, Banham likened it to “a gigantic surrealist architecture turned upside down or like the abandoned cathedral of some sect of iron men. Weird as this may sound, it is a highly impressive space, monumental in scale and in the quality of the work, and that is a rare experience in the world of grain elevators, which are not usually, nor need be, provided with anything like public spaces.”

Banham found the four-story working house on top of it all equally moving, “almost cathedral-like: long, lit by ranks of industrial windows in the corrugated roofing on either side, filled with a golden-gray atmosphere of flying grain dust sliced by low shafts of sunlight.”

Banham’s work also informed 1981’s Buffalo Architecture: A Guide (Banham wrote an introduction). “The monumental exterior brick walls are a pure weather barrier, the grain being stored in an independent system of steel bins inside.” [emphasis added] Ditto for the cupola, “an independent structure, steel-framed. [id] ”

In 1990 it was designated as an official Buffalo landmark, resting on an application vetted by the Buffalo Preservation Board. It states flatly that the brick walls are non-structural.

The official record of American engineering says...

The non-structural design intent of the “Great Wall of Buffalo” is most definitively stated by the Historic American Engineering Record (HAER), established in 1969 by the National Park Service, the American Society of Civil Engineers and the Library of Congress). It is the nation’s official record of exceptional and distinctive works of engineering.

HAER found that “Both main and interspace bins were supported on a network of basement columns. The columns were of box girder form built up from medium steel plate. They were designed to carry 700 tons, including portions of the load of the grain, the dead load of the bin steel work, and the dead, live and wind loads from the cupola. [Emphasis added]

“The cupola consisted of a structural steel trussed framework clad in corrugated iron and rising to a height of 184''. The entire weight of the structure was carried by the extensions of the basement columns [id]. The first floor of the cupola extended across the full area of the building and contained the spouts and conveyors necessary to distribute the grain to any bin. All subsequent floors were contained within the narrow monitor. ”

That same year, the Historic American Engineering Record (HAER, pronounced hare) was documenting all the Buffalo grain elevators under the supervision of Robert Kapsch, Chief, Historic American Buildings Survey (HABS ) and HAER. Eric DeLony, then Chief and Principal Architect of HAER.

DeLony (d. 2018), who was chief of HAER from 1971 to 2003, personally visited the Great Northern, examining construction documents and plans on file at Pillsbury and City Hall. The verdict of America’s offical record of engineering, made by people who personally inspected the building inside and out and with access to construction documents?

All of this was as nothing to the judge compared to the pronouncements of ADM engineers with no experience with brick walled grain elevators and who did not inspect the building from the interior, nor, it seems, reviewed construction drawings.

Judge rules, but does not dismiss case, blocking appeal while demo plans move forward

All poppycockery notwithstanding, The Campaign could have begun work on an appeal immediately after the judge’s July 5 decision. But.

The judge did not dismiss the case when he decided against The Campaign, which means any appeal under Article 78, the New York procedure for challenging an administrative determination, is impossible and premature. So cited appellate justice John Curran of State Supreme Court when The Campaign sought relief from Colaiacovo’s limbo in July. Colaiacovo can simply ponder the case until kingdom come. Thus, we have a scheduled extinction-of a species of building for which Buffalo is famous, unless The Campaign can get the case before the full appeals court. The Campaign feels its case is as sound as the building, but it must be heard.

—Tim Tielman