Buffalo’s Grain Elevators
Rediscovering the Industrial Monuments of the Early Modern Age
When LeCorbusier saw the pure cylindrical forms of Buffalo’s concrete grain elevators he exclaimed: “The first fruits of the new age!” Today many of these heroic monuments of the early modern era stand unused along Buffalo’s waterfront, relics of a time when the city played a leading role in the storing and processing of the nation’s grain. For the most part, they are forgotten by the community that once drew economic sustenance from them.
Buffalo’s grain elevators – an ensemble of as many as twenty giant complexes mostly along the Buffalo River – need to be remembered. The layers of meaning that they have absorbed over the decades need to be interpreted. They need to be brought back into the consciousness of the residents of the city, to be seen, understood, appreciate, celebrated, and reused.
The goals of this project are to bring the elevators into the public consciousness of the City of Buffalo and to formally recognize their national historical significance. This will be done by
- organizing a public conversation around the history, preservation, and reuse of these impressive structures and
- by preparing the nomination forms to the National Register of Historic Places.
Listing on the National Register will make the used and vacant elevators eligible for the Federal Historic Preservation Tax Incentive Program, one of the federal government’s most successful and cost-effective community revitalization programs.