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Visiting the Ellicott Square Building, by Charles Atwood, Buffalo, New York: in 1896, the largest office building

Updated on February 9, 2013
State flag of New York
State flag of New York | Source
Ellicott Square Building, Buffalo, New York
Ellicott Square Building, Buffalo, New York | Source
Thomas Alva Edison
Thomas Alva Edison | Source
Map location of Buffalo, New York
Map location of Buffalo, New York | Source

Distinguished complex in Italian Renaissance style

Even though a fine looking structure, one the surface it may seem that this building in Buffalo, New York might not be a really outstanding sight.

Some history and features

But it remains true that, among its most significant characteristics at its inception in 1896, the Ellicott Square Building, with its 41,500 m2, was the largest office building in the world. It thus set the standard for commercial buildings in the years ahead.

Another historic associations for the building is the fact that a number of Thomas Alva Edison's inventions were displayed here. Somewhat quaintly maybe, the exhibition halls in the Ellicott Square Building for these inventions were together known as Edisonia Hall.

The architect, Charles Atwood (1849-1896) (1) worked in Italian Renaissance style. The construction materials used were a combination of granite, iron and terra cotta, with brick facing in pearl gray.

The interior of the building has a noted marble mosaic flooring by William Winthrop Kent and James A. Johnson (2).

The building, via the name of the Square, is named for Joseph Ellicott (17601826), a prominent, local surveyor.

With its associations and features, the Ellicott Square Building is thus linked with a period of history which was dynamic in its economic growth and technological development and for this reason deserves assuredly to be regarded as one of the City of Buffalo's important visitor attractions; in its day, it really was outstanding.


(1) Architect Ellicott also worked on various Chicago commercial buildings and was responsible for the W. H. Vanderbilt residence in New York City's Fifth Avenue.

(2) Architect Johnson was also responsible for the United Office Building, Niagara Falls, New York.

Also worth seeing

In Buffalo itself, other noted visitor attractions include the Art Deco City Hall; Buffalo and Erie County Naval and Military Park,the Albright-Knox Art Gallery, the Theodore Roosevelt Inaugural National Historic Site at the Wilcox Mansion; Broderick Park's commemoration of the Underground Railroad; and many others.


How to get there: Continental 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, Buffalo is accessible via the Peace Bridge, the QEW links Fort Erie, ON with Hamilton and Toronto. You are advised to check with the airline or your travel agent for up to date information. Please 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.

For your visit, these items may be of interest


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