Taken from the Watson Elevator or one of its neighbors out in the Buffalo Harbor, this image offers a photographic view from the same year the hand-drawn 1880 Hutchinson map was published.
It shows Buffalo’s skyline dominated by three steeples – all three of which still stand, but are certainly less dominating today.
When the photo was taken, the leftmost clocktower belonged to the relatively new City and County Hall building. Today, the building is known as Old County Hall, standing across Franklin Street from the Rath Building. It’s the home of the Erie County Legislature, the county clerk and courtrooms.
The middle steeple belongs to St. Joseph Cathedral, and to the right is St. Paul’s Episcopal Cathedral.
The foreground area of this photo is today occupied by the Marine Drive Apartments and Canalside.
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.
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.