My visit to the Buffalo Central Terminal in Buffalo, New York was an event many months in the making. The terminal, which once was an active station from 1929 to 1979, is a 17-story Art Deco style station was designed by architects Fellheimer & Wagner for the New York Central Railroad. Currently it is owned by the non-profit preservation group Central Terminal Restoration Corporation, which is working to restore and re-purpose the complex.
In the early afternoon of September 5, 2020, I paid a visit to the terminal itself, located at 495 Paderewski Drive in Buffalo, New York, following months of emails, phone calls, and attempts to obtain permission to photograph the property. I was immediately spotted by a volunteer who was restoring the building and was asked what I was doing. I was simply and harmlessly taking pictures of the historic landmark from a public road, still owned by the City of Buffalo. After introducing myself and stating my purpose for being present, on public property, the volunteer asked me to meet with someone at the front entrance.
A volunteer at the Buffalo Central Terminal asked me a series of questions relating to my position as a published writer and photographer, and also my connections to numerous journalists. By the end of the conversation, he seemed very enthusiastic about me visiting the terminal, suggesting that we immediately go upstairs to photograph and document the old offices on the upper floors. I was immediately brought inside the terminal, on the agreement that I would be escorted upstairs for a brief period of time long enough to obtain the images necessary to publish an article either online and/or in print, for which not only was I going to cover the cost of having the article written professionally, but in addition, I offered to make a donation of $500 on the spot through their official website to help fund restoration efforts.
The volunteer called upon the director of the Central Terminal Restoration Corporation, Monica Pellegrino Faix to speak with me. The corporation is the current owner of the complex, and its goal is to restore the terminal through private donations and volunteer work. Monica knew me from the months of emails and phone calls that had been exchanged in the months prior to me making the trip to Buffalo; again she had asked me for my credentials, and names of people whom I would be working with to get the article published. I reiterated the fact that I had already provided her with this information on several occasions and that she had personally answered the emails I had sent, though never provided a definitive answer. However, I again provided her with the information, this time, in person, while the volunteer looked on with a look of excitement.
The conversation went on for several minutes, as Monica began to ask for things that I would not be able to provide during the interview. Things such as the exact copy of the article that would be published, with the expectation that she would be allowed to change the copy to best suit what she thought should be published. Additionally, she wanted the names and contact information of everyone who would be involved in the publishing of the article, and even before the article would be pitched to various news venues, she demanded to know ahead of time where and when the article would be published. I tried to explain that this is not how journalism works, and that once I had the photographs I needed, I would be more than happy to work with her, not only by donating my time, but also covering any production costs for the article, and to make the time I spent there worthwhile, I would be donating $500 on the spot through their website or by written check.
It is this writers opinion that Monica was not interested in me photographing the property until I went back home, gathered the same information that she requested, and was provided with several times, and brought it to her attention, and only then was she willing to make a rather obvious decision. I have been personally photographing abandoned locations and historic renovation projects such as this for decades, and generally, obtaining access is rather simple. Over the years, there have only been one or two land managers or owners who have cited major safety concerns as a barrier to access to their property. Thorugh her actions, much to the obvious dismay of the kind volunteer who welcomed me into the terminal, Monica Pellegrino Faix has made it blatantly obvious that access to the site will not be granted to me at this time, and likely not at any time in the future. It is with much dismay that I write this article in protest of my time and perseverance being completely and unprofessionally wasted by someone who is completely unwilling to accept the gift of unprecedented media coverage along with a sizable monetary donation for a mere few moments of their time.
The photographs used in this article were taken by the writer of this article and were taken using accessible public streets currently owned by the City of Buffalo, New York, and are presented here for historical and editorial non-commercial use.