Looking Backward: Exchange Street Station, circa 1930

by / Apr. 19, 2017 12am EST
“A crew of workmen early this morning will swing axes of destruction on the old New York Central station, center of more than a half century’s stirring events in the history of the street. Thus will go the building which for six decades felt the tread of the rich and poor, the mighty and the lowly, the happy and the sad.”—Buffalo Courier Express, November 13, 1935
Prior to the opening of the Central Terminal in 1929, the Exchange Street Station was Buffalo’s busiest rail center. Seen on the right in a photograph taken in about 1930, the Exchange Street Station was built by the New York Central Railroad in 1870 at the same location as Buffalo’s first permanent railroad station erected in 1848. The station was abandoned on January 23, 1929, and Exchange Street went dark. “Less than two years ago here was one of the busiest places in Buffalo,” according to an October 25, 1931, Buffalo Times account. “The roar of incoming and departing trains, the platform and waiting room jammed with hurrying humanity. Kisses of farewell. Kisses of greeting. Tears of joy. Tears of grief. Cries of newsboys. Shouts of trainmen. Raucous voices of cab-drivers seeking fares. The mellifluous baritone of the announcer—‘Rochester… Syracuse… Utica… Schenectady… Albany… All points east… All aboard!’ But it is quiet now.” The passenger traffic that fueled hotels, restaurants, and taverns vanished, and today not a single building remains from Exchange Street’s railway heyday. The station was demolished in 1935, and a new Exchange Street depot eventually replaced it in 1952. As early as Thursday, Mayor Byron Brown is expected to announce the preferred location for a new intercity rail station. It may be the same spot where the New York Central chose to put a station in 1848.