Henry Ford’s Queen City Connections

Outer Harbor Terminal “A” produced 1.2 million Ford cars and trucks in 28 years.

BUFFALO, NY – Developments at Buffalo Outer Harbor have been debated endlessly for many years, but nearly a century ago one of our country’s foremost innovators and industrialists saw its potential.

Henry Ford had a long relationship with Buffalo. In 1913 he began assembling cars on Kensington Avenue. 3 years later he built a new factory in what is now the Tri-Main building.

But his connections were also a bit personal at times. He visited the Chautauqua Institution several times with Thomas Edison, who was married to the institute’s founder’s daughter, Mina Miller. Jim Sandoro, founder of the Buffalo Transportation Pierce Arrow Museum, says Ford even made its first sale here before the Ford Motor Company was a thing.

“He sold his first experimental car to a man in Buffalo, and the man kept it for a couple of years, and Henry Ford bought it back to put in the Henry Ford Museum.”

In 1896 he sold the first working automobile, the Quadricycle, to Charles G. Ainsley of Buffalo for $ 200.

But it was in 1931 when Henry Ford really added his industrial footprint here on the outskirts of Buffalo. “There were only 35 plants in the country at the time, so Buffalo was a prime location for him. It was all shipping on the Erie Canal. It was an important place, and many of his top people came through Buffalo.” adds Sandoro.

As talks continue about the future of the waterfront, a building is testament to our connection with one of the country’s greatest industrialists. The #UnknownStoryofWNY of Henry Ford’s # QueenCity connections, this morning on #Daybreak @WGRZ. pic.twitter.com/TZBisiyiSd

– Pete Gallivan (@wgrzpete) April 20, 2021

The $ 6 million assembly plant on Fuhrmann Boulevard took advantage of Niagara Falls’ abundant power supply and dock access to the lake.

By 1953, the plant employed around 1,250 people, who produced 50,000 cars and trucks annually. In peak production, a new vehicle left the assembly line every two and a half minutes. The Fuhrmann factory was the last place in Buffalo where finished automobiles rolled off the assembly line. More than 1.2 million Ford cars and trucks were manufactured there.

In 1958, Ford opened the Hamburg stamping plant and moved on from the waterfront excavation, but the building now known as Terminal a could have an exciting future. Buffalo Naval Park has investigated various locations on the outer harbor, including the terminal of a building as possible expansion locations.

What might come next, the Erie Canal Harbor Development Corporation set up an advisory committee two years ago to consider options. They also hired a consultant to conduct a market study to examine possible uses for the building, including light industry, warehouse, culture, and maybe even housing. Recommendations from both are expected later this year.

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