What it looked like Wednesday: Opening Day at Central Terminal, 1929

By Steve Cichon

The throwing open of the doors of Buffalo’s new terminal “mark(ed) another milestone in the progress of the metropolitan city of Buffalo,” wrote reporter Paul Schifferle on the day this photo was taken — June 22, 1929 — opening day of the New York Central Terminal.

The Central Terminal was hailed as “another milestone in the progress of the metropolitan city of Buffalo,” when this photo was taken in 1929. (Buffalo Stories archives)

“This $15,000,000 edifice is more than a mass of steel, marble, brick and concrete artistically formed into a splendid example, of modern architecture, perfectly appointed and recognized as one of the finest terminals in the country,” he continued.

“It is a civic monument and a symbol and pledge of the New York Central’s faith in the future greatness of the city.

“Thousands of men and women, prominent in all walks of life, joined in the colorful ceremonies attendant upon the formal opening of the new station.

“The walks on Lindbergh drive and Curtiss and other streets in the vicinity were crowded with a large number of others who were denied the privilege of entering the spacious and ornately decorated building until 3 o’clock in the afternoon when it was thrown open to the public. Thousands inspected the building during the afternoon and evening.”

Railroad brass and city fathers bragged endlessly about the features of the new building. It had enough lunch counter space to feed 250 people at the same time — dwarfing anything, they said, even at New York City’s Central terminal.

Buffalo Stories archives

Buffalo Stories archives

In bragging about his latest triumph, W. P. Jordan, resident engineer of the New York Central railroad, offered some thoughts which might be useful to those looking to see the former rail hub returned to that purpose.

“The new terminal is so located as to be unusually convenient to access from all parts of the city,” he said. “Indeed, the location is in many ways unique in this respect. In the first place it is near the geographical center of the city, and hence plays no favorites in this respect.”

“In the second place, the location which some critics looked upon as out-of-the-way, carries with it some peculiar advantages, particularly as regards space.

“The site of the building proper — old Polonia Park — Is itself one that offered unusual opportunities to create a terminal that has been created to meet the needs, not only of the Buffalo of today, but also the Buffalo of tomorrow.

“All about it wide avenues are laid, offering approaches from all directions, of a sort that would facilitate the handling of traffic and minimize the confusion, congestion, delay and danger with which so many city terminals have to contend.”

The $15 million building served as a passenger terminal in Buffalo from 1929- 1979.

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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.