Concrete Central

175 Buffalo River
Erie County
New York
Historic American Engineering Record
National Park Service
U.S. Department of The Interior
P.O. Box 37127
Washington, D.C. 20013-7127
HAER No. NY-243
Location: 175 Buffalo River, Buffalo, Erie County, New York
Date: Elevator “A”: building permit application February
6, 1915; approved April 9, 1915; completed August,
1915 –
Elevator “B”: building permit application January
14, 1916
Elevators “C/D/E”: building permit application
December 7, 1916; completed November, 1917
Designer: H. R. Wait, Monarch Engineering
Builder: Monarch Engineering
Status: Derelict
Significance: The grain elevators of Buffalo comprise the most
outstanding collection of extant grain elevators
in the United States, and collectively represent
the variety of construction materials, building
0 forms, and technological innovations that
revolutionized the handling of grain in this
Information: The documentation of Buffalo’s grain elevators was
prepared by the Historic American Engineering
Record (HAER), National Park Service, in 1990 and
1991. The project was co-sponsored by the
Industrial Heritage Committee, Inc., of Buffalo,
Lorraine Pierro, President, with the cooperation
of The Pillsbury Company, Mark Norton, Plant
Manager, Walter Dutka, Senior Mechanical Engineer,
and with the valuable assistance of Henry Baxter,
Henry Wollenberg, and Jerry Malloy. The HAER
documentation was prepared under the supervision
of Robert Kapsch, Chief, HABS/HAER, and Eric
DeLony, Chief and Principal Architect, HAER. The
project was managed by Robbyn Jackson, Architect,
HAER, and the team consisted of: Craig Strong,
Supervising Architect; Todd Croteau, Christopher
Payne, Patricia Reese, architects; Thomas Leary,
Supervising Historian; John Healey, and Elizabeth
Sholes, historians. Large—format photography was
done by Jet Lowe, HAER photographer.
0 Historians: Thomas E. Leary, John R. Healey, Elizabeth C. _
Sholes, 1990-1991
0 HAER No. NY-239
(Page 2)
This is one in a series of HAER reports for the Buffalo Grain
Elevator Project. HAER No. NY—239, “Buffalo Grain Elevators,”
contains an overview history of the elevators. The following
elevators have separate reports:
NY-240 Great Northern Elevator
NY—241 Standard Elevator
NY—242 Wollenberg Grain & Seed Elevator
NY—243 Concrete-Central Elevator
NY-244 Washburn Crosby Elevator
NY—245 Connecting Terminal Elevator
NY—246 Spencer Kellogg Elevator
NY-247 Cooperative Grange League Federation
NY-248 Electric Elevator
NY-249 American Elevator
NY—250 Perot Elevator
NY—251 Lake & Rail Elevator
NY—252 Marine “A” Elevator
NY-253 Superior Elevator
NY-254 Saskatchewan Cooperative Elevator
. mt-256 Urban Elevator
NY-257 H-0 Oats Elevator
NY-258 Kreiner Malting Elevator
NY-259 Meyer Malting Elevator
NY-260 Eastern States Elevator
In addition, the Appendix of HAER No. NY—239 contains brief
notations on the following elevators:
Buffalo Cereal Elevator
Cloverleaf Milling Co. Elevator
Dakota Elevator
Dellwood Elevator
Great Eastern Elevator
Iron Elevator
John Kam Malting Elevator
Monarch Elevator
Pratt Foods Elevator
Ralston Purina Elevator
Riverside Malting Elevator

The Concrete-Central elevating complex, measuring 960′ x 72′
and capable of storing 4,500,000 bushels of grain in 268 bins,
was the largest transfer elevator in the world upon its
completion in 1917. The complex lies between the Buffalo River
and the tracks of the former New York Central Railroad. This
site, the farthest upstream of any elevator, was apparently
provided by the railroad, which seems to have been a prominent
influence throughout its construction. Although apparently
operated by the Eastern Grain Mill and Elevating Corporation,
half of the elevator was built for the Central Elevating
Corporation and was for some time known as the Central Elevator.
The building’s unified design was the work of H. R. Wait, the
engineer of the Monarch Engineering Company of Buffalo
responsible for its construction. The elevator is the third
example of Wait’s early standardized designs in Buffalo and
differs only in small details from the Connecting Terminal and
Superior “A” elevators built in 1914 and early 1915.‘
The elevator has a full basement with columns supporting the
overall bin slab on which the bins are constructed. It was built
from 1915 to 1917 in three successive years of construction. The
original “A” House, built in 1915, lies below the northerly
section of the workhouse and extends northward beyond it. The “B”
House, built in 1916, lies to the north of “A” House and is the
northern terminus of the complex. The “C” House lies below the
southerly section of the workhouse and extends southward beyond
it. The “D” and “E” houses are still farther south. The “C,” “D”
and “E” houses were all built in 1917. The basement works were
constructed by conventional fixed form techniques. The bins were
built using slip forms lifted by yokes which bore on threaded
jacking rods. The concrete was poured in 6″ lifts.
The complex consisted of two distinct elevators divided
about the center of the workhouse. The northern elevator, “A” and
“B” houses, was known as the Concrete Elevator, while the
southern range of houses was designated Central Elevator.
Evidence of this subdivision may be seen in the early lettering
on the workhouse. The north and south sections of the workhouse
carry the words “Concrete” and “Central,” which formed
“Concrete-Central” on the riverside elevation and “Central-
Concrete” on the landward side. At a later date this side was
also changed to Concrete-Central. »
The building permit for Concrete Elevator’s “A” House was
made in 1915, but-plans for a “proposed 1 million bushel elevator
for the Eastern Grain Company” date from 1914. The Eastern Grain
Company transformed itself into the Eastern Grain Elevator & Mill
Company in January of 1915. The structure was completed by
August of that year, and the plant was operational by October.
HAER No. NY—243
(Page 4)
Built at a estimated cost of $226,700, the elevator provided
storage at 21 cents per bushel.
“A” House measures 212′ x 72′ and has a capacity of
1,050,000 bushels stored in twenty-seven main cylindrical bins,
sixteen interspace bins and twenty outerspace bins. The main bins
are arranged in three parallel rows of nine bins. These have an
inner diameter of 20′ and are spread on 24′ centers with link
wall contacts. The link walls are 2′-8″ long. The southwest
corner bin is sub-divided horizontally to provide an upper boat
loading bin. The main bins have a capacity of 26,000 bushels. The
capacity of the interspace bins occupying the interstices between
the main bins is extended by link walls. The two rows of eight
interspace bins have a capacity of 16,000 bushels. The three
interspace bins below the workhouse have less capacity, as they
also accommodate the elevator legs between the double
longitudinal link walls. The twenty outerspace bins occupy all
available spaces between the exterior main bin walls. Like the
main bins, these have convex outer walls built to the diameter
and equal to one-sixth of their circumference. The outerspace
bins have a capacity of 4,200 bushels and rise to a height of 95′
above the bin slab.
The bins are composed of l:2:4 concrete and have a wall
thickness of 8″. The link walls are 1′-6″ thick except beneath
the workhouse, where the transverse walls are 2′-6″, and the
longitudinal link walls on either side of the elevating legs are
8″ thick. The vertical reinforcement consists of eight 1″
threaded jacking rods and eight 1/2″ square verticals. The
jacking rods are positioned on 8′ centers at link wall
intersections and at intermediate positions. On the outer wall,
an intermediate position is close to the point of intersection
between main and quarter (outerspace) bin walls. Ordinary
verticals are placed between jacking rods at 4′ intervals. The
quarter walls each have two jacking rods and two verticals. The
rods are close to the point of intersection with the main bin
wall, and the verticals are positioned between them on 4′
centers. The link walls have two ordinary verticals in 4’ lapped
lengths near the intersection with the main bin wall. The jacking
system allowed the employment of long lengths of threaded rod.
Verticals were placed in the middle of the bin wall.
The horizontal reinforcement is wired to the outside of the
verticals and is of smooth (non-deformed) rectangular bar. Main
bin reinforcement is graduated in equally spaced l2″ courses bent
about the main wall verticals——an ordinary one and a jacking rod-
—closest to the point of intersection. The direction of the bend
is reversed at every course, spreading the load between these two
verticals. The intersection of main and outerspace walls is
filleted and accommodates an anchor bar of 1/2″ square bar. The