Tuesday, May 5, 2009

The Electric Elevator

On pages 209-213 of American Colossus, I discuss the Electric Elevator, a pioneering steel-binned grain elevator built in Buffalo, New York, in 1897 (the same year that the steel-binned Great Northern Elevator in Buffalo was built). Designed for the grain trader Edward W. Eames by W.S. Winn and built by his Steel Storage and Elevator Construction Company (based in Cornersfield, Indiana), the Electric was a truly revolutionary creation. Not only were its bins were made of steel, but they were also free-standing and unenclosed (unlike at the Great Northern, where the bins were enclosed in a brick house).

In the picture above, we see the Electric as it was between 1897 and 1912, when it was only equipped with seven grain-tanks made of steel and set down upon a foundation of reinforced concrete. Note well the rather self-conscious pun on visual resemblances between the elevator's two marine towers, one of which (the one on our right) is "stiff" or fixed in position, while the other (the one on our left) is "loose" and capable of movement along a short set of rail-tracks.

In the picture below, we see the Electric as it was after 1912, when another 12 tanks made of steel were constructed.

Except for the Electric's Annex, which was built out of reinforced concrete in 1942, the entire facility was demolished in 1984.

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