What it looked like Wednesday: Buffalo Harbor, 1961

By Steve Cichon

This 1961 photo shows crews creating a new opening for Buffalo Harbor in the old breakwall.

Buffalo News archives

The multiphase project started in 1958 and took several years, with the dredging of the lake side of the breakwall to 26 feet, the dredging of the harbor side, then the improvements to the wall including cutting a new entrance and the building of another 1,800-foot detached breakwater out in the lake to protect that new harbor entrance.

Most of the 170,000 tons of stone used to build the new wall was quarried in Bedford, Ind., and channels as deep as 30 feet were dug in order to allow ships passing through the deeper channels of the St Lawrence Seaway to enter Buffalo Harbor. One immediate impact was larger loads of raw materials having direct access to the Bethlehem Steel plant.

The lighthouse seen in the background was replaced with the project as well — it had been tilted since being hit by a freighter. A new automatic lighthouse was built as the final phase of construction.

By the time the project was finished in 1963, the total cost topped $8 million.

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Steve Cichon

Steve Cichon writes about Buffalo’s pop culture history. His stories of Buffalo's past have appeared more than 1600 times in The Buffalo News. He's a proud Buffalonian helping the world experience the city he loves. Since the earliest days of the internet, Cichon's been creating content celebrating the people, places, and ideas that make Buffalo unique and special. The 25-year veteran of Buffalo radio and television has written five books and curates The Buffalo Stories Archives-- hundreds of thousands of books, images, and audio/visual media which tell the stories of who we are in Western New York.