When the Erie Canal opened in 1825, Buffalo went from a being a busy trading community, to setting the stage to become the industrial powerhouse that it ultimately transitioned into. One of the resulting technological wonders was the grain elevator – Buffalo was the birthplace in 1842.
Buffalo’s grain elevators and silos are one of the architectural elements that define this city. Not only is Buffalo the birthplace of the grain elevator, the city had a big hand in perfecting it.
Joseph Dart developed the first steam powered grain elevator (the Dart Elevator). He also designed the marine leg, which is the unloading conveyor that was affixed to the side of the elevator. The marine leg served to unload the freighters, without the need for manual labor. The time to unload a single freighter went from seven days to two days.
It is interesting to note that the concrete silos are sturdier today than ever before, because it takes concrete around 100 years to fully cure (learn more).
A knowledgable local figure, heavily versed in the history of the silos and elevators once said:
“Winter time is when all the grain elevators look the best because everything else is muted and you can really see the shapes and the lines. Buffalo has one of the largest collection of grain elevators in the world. The elevators were the foundation for Buffalo’s industrial growth. Despite all of the years of abandonment (for the most part), they are still holding up. That just goes to show their power and might. It’s also the reason that they should be revered and respected.”
The video below was produced by Full Circle Studios. It does an excellent job of showcasing these majestic wonders.