Railroads in Buffalo
Lehigh Valley Terminal
125 Main Street, Buffalo NY
Octastyle colonnade: Eight columns in a row
Looking Backward: Lehigh Valley Terminal
By The Public Staff
Feb. 3, 2015
“The Lehigh Valley Railroad has given Buffalo its first modern passenger station.” —Buffalo Morning Express, August 31, 1916
The Lehigh Valley Terminal, 125 Main Street, was the western terminus of the “Route of the Black Diamond” connecting Buffalo to New York through Pennsylvania. When it opened in 1916, the Lehigh Valley was one of four downtown railroad stations, alongside the New York Central and Erie on Exchange Street and the Lackawanna at the foot of Main Street.
The four-story structure, designed by architect Kenneth M. Murchison, was dubbed a “beauty house for the public” and “monument to Buffalo’s expansion.” Beyond its gray Indiana limestone facade with eight great columns was a white marble-clad concourse, at the time the largest and highest room in Buffalo.
The terminal featured a ticket office, barber shop, smoking room, restaurant, and invalids’ room. Modern facilities included an air-washing plant, baggage checks by pneumatic tube, and a sloped tunnel connecting the terminal to the headhouse below Washington Street.
The terminal was in use for only 36 years, the Lehigh Valley shuttering the station in 1952 in favor of a new facility at South Ogden and Dingens streets. A proposal by Councilman-at-Large Peter J. Rybka to reuse the Lehigh Valley as an intercity bus station did not advance beyond the idea stage.
The Thruway Authority, having acquired the Lehigh Valley’s 4-track mainline for the construction of the I-190, demolished the station in 1960. The Donovan State Office Building was built on the site, and today it is the location of Phillips Lytle LLP and a Courtyard by Marriott.
Lehigh Valley Terminal / Donovan Building
(online June 2016)
When the city purchased and filled in the Hamburg Canal, they attempted to get the railroads to form a Union station there. Instead, the Lehigh Valley Railroad built their freight facilities adjacent to the former canal.
1916 - The Lehigh Valley Railroad opens their passenger facilities along Washington Street, adjacent to the the former canal.
Lehigh Valley spent $5 million dollars on the project with a new 4 track main line approach. The architect for the terminal was Kenneth M. Murchison of New York and the contractor was J. Henry Miller of Baltimore.
1955 - Lehigh Valley railroad moved to a new terminal.
1960 - The downtown terminal was demolished to make way for the William J. Donovan State Office Building.
1961 - The Lehigh Valley Railroad ended passenger service.
1975 - Lehigh Valley Railroad's freight component was absorbed by Conrail.
2008 - The 1960 Donovan building was scheduled for demolition on the same site as the old Lehigh terminal
2012 - Benderson Development was awarded rights to redevelop the Donovan Building for Phillips Lytle LLC
2013 - Donovan building receives plywood and glue-on fake brick facade as 'One Canalside' project
The Buffalo News building (1971) and part of the I-190 were constructed on the old Lehigh railyards