In 2010, I photographed a trashed 18-wheeler on Ohio Street. In the background were the grain elevators of the Cooperative Grange League Federation. The shot became part of a collage combining a vintage photograph of a theatrical group. I had found it in an album thrown out on the street that year.
Yesterday, as I walked on Ohio Street so much has changed. The trashed truck is gone and in its place are construction materials signaling that a big project is planned. The new Riverfest Park has turned the water’s edge into a tourist destination. And in the background are the elevators, minus one. The 1909 Wheeler Elevator with its monitor roof has been demolished. It was taken down at “the 11th hour” with preservationists fighting the City Commissioner. During the demolition, part of the tower fell dramatically into the river.
The clusters of grain elevators along the Buffalo River are so central to Buffalo’s identity. Can the city, the preservationists and businesses come together to decide which teeth in the landscape should be saved and what can be pulled out? Can painful dramas end with a master plan in place? Buffalo is filled with amazing pieces of history of all sizes. Can we slow down before tossing them away?