Torn-down Tuesday:  Skyway dooms railroad right-of-way

By Steve Cichon
steve@buffalostories.com
@stevebuffalo

Just as Buffalo has a renewed sense of optimism, with many of the imaginative construction projects underway in 2015 and planned for beyond, the people of Western New York were excited about futuristic, forward-looking projects in the 1950s, too.

Buffalo News archives

There had been talk of a “high-level bridge” along the inner and outer harbors of Buffalo for decades by the 1950s. The idea was to provide automobile access to downtown Buffalo from the south, while also maintaining seafaring ships’ access to the harbors and Buffalo River.

In 1950, it was written, “The first spadeful of earth turned for the span will culminate a 25-year dream of city planners for a route to provide the smooth flow of traffic to and from Buffalo from the southeasterly approach.”

By 1954, the way was being cleared at what was to become the downtown end of the high-level bridge.

This photo shows the area where  West Swan, Franklin, Upper Terrace and Erie streets come together, with one of Buffalo’s oldest landmarks — the St. Joseph’s Old Cathedral rectory, built around 1860 — off to the right and city hall overhead.

The old tracks of the New York Central Railroad are just out of view, and can be seen in this photo taken a bit further back. The tracks were given up in part for the roadbeds of the Skyway and the I-190.

Buffalo Stories archives

Buffalo in the ’80s: Remember when it used to get cold and icy?

By Steve Cichon
steve@buffalostories.com
@stevebuffalo

As Buffalo enjoys its longest-ever wait for measurable snow, here’s a friendly reminder of what our winters usually look like.

Buffalo News archives

Most years, Lake Erie sees maximum ice coverage during early to late February, though the lake has been covered in January during the last two winters (2013-14 and 2014-15.)

2003 Lake Erie ice coverage

But during 2011-12, one of the mildest winters on record, only 13.9 percent of the lake was covered with ice. That same year, only 36.7 inches of snow fell — the third-lowest total on record.

While our mild November and December have left us carefree in the snow department, once the weather turns colder, most Buffalonians will have at least some fear of lake-effect snow unless, and until, Lake Erie freezes over.