Visiting Buffalo, New York: A Skyline Marked by the Gothic Revival Old Post Office, Once the City's Tallest Building
Buffalo's tallest building between 1901 and 1912
Buffalo, New York, is endowed with many historic buildings, and one of these is what is now known as the Old Post Office (1) building. Construction of this Post Office began in 1897 and was completed in 1901.
Executed in Gothic Revival style in a combination of pink granite, Spanish tiling and concrete, the structure belongs to an era when public buildings tended to be of a decidedly more ornate character than custom would dictate today, before the functionalist theories of influential architects such as Le Corbusier (2) began widely to hold sway.
The Gothic inspiration of the Old Post Office, which has already for several decades featured in the US National Register of Historic Places, is seen especially in its numerous pinnacles and pointed window arches (3).
The crowning feature of the Old Post Office is undoubtedly its tower. At 74 meters (244 feet), the height of the tower made the building Buffalo's tallest between the years 1901 and 1912. When one thinks of the economic expansion of the Empire State in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, reflected in its buildings, this was certainly quite some achievement.
The United States Supervising Architect, over which Office Jeremiah O'Rourke (1833-1915)(4) and James Knox Taylor (1857-1929)(5) successively presided during the period of building of the Old Post Office, was responsible for its design.
The building ceased to serve as a post office in 1963. Since 1981 it has housed facilities of Erie Community College, thus providing a sedate and ornate backdrop to the activities of this educational institution.
The Old Post Office Building is situated at 121 Ellicott Street, Buffalo, New York.
July 6, 2019
(1) See also: https://www.emporis.com/buildings/133894/old-post-office-buffalo-ny-usa
(2) Charles-Edouard Jeanneret (1887-1965), otherwise known as Le Corbusier.
(3) In actual fact, at a distance, the arching may seem to be in rounded Syrian style, but on closer examination the arching may indeed be seen to be pointed, albeit with a less pronounced pointing than is the case in many other Gothic buildings.
(4) Architect O'Rourke was also responsible for the Old Post Office, Washington, D.C.; and for the designs of many church buildings in which the Gothic Revival style was prominent.
(5) Architect Taylor was responsible for many US Post Office buildings, and notably also for the Ellis Island Immigrant Hospital.
Some sourcing; Wikipedia
Also worth seeing
Notable buildings in Buffalo include: the Ellicott Square Building (which was originally the world's largest office building); the Electric Tower (originally known as the Niagara Mohawk Building); the Art Deco City Hall; Broderick Park, Black Rock, Buffalo, has poignant memories of the Underground Railroad.
How to get there: United Airlines flies from New York Newark to Buffalo Niagara International Airport, where car rental is available. Buffalo, NY is linked with Albany, NY via the I-290 and I-90. From Canada, accessible via the Peace Bridge, the QEW links Fort Erie, ON with Hamilton and Toronto. Please check with the airline or your travel agent for up to date information. You are advised to refer to appropriate consular sources for any special border crossing arrangements which may apply to citizens of certain nationalities.
MJFenn is an independent travel writer based in Ontario, Canada.
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