The mural located in the main entrance to our new home, Northland Central, located at 683 Northland Avenue, is a visual representation of the railway belt line circling Buffalo, a key to Buffalo’s industrial growth and the beginning of our central role in logistics nationwide. The Belt Line was completed by the New York Central Railroad in 1883 to transport goods produced in Buffalo’s booming industries to the national railroads.
The Belt Line passed through Buffalo’s downtown and industrial clusters, including the Larkin District, Central Terminal, Black Rock Yards, and the Niagara Industrial Corridor. Key companies served by the Belt Line included Houdaille Industries, Milkbone, Curtiss Malting Company, Otis Elevator, Mentholatum, Garrett Leather, Pierce Arrow, Sealtest, Ford Motor Company (at the Tri Main Building), Wonder Bread, Niagara Machine and Tool Works, and the Northland Rubber Company. Many of these companies are still served by the Belt Line.
The Belt Line also served as a passenger rail line transporting workers to the industries where they worked. The passenger side of the business had 19 commuter stations spaced 1 mile apart from 1883 until the end of WW 1. At that time other forms of transportation, buses and streetcars, took over much of the commuter business. One of these passenger stations can still be seen at the corner of Amherst and Starin Avenues in Buffalo.
Today the Belt Line continues to transport products made by Buffalo manufacturers to the national railroads. As you travel the streets of Buffalo notice the bridges above the roadways. As Buffalo’s residential areas grew in the late 1800s and early 1900s, road-grade crossings were converted to these bridges and the roads lowered to accommodate the bridges.
Just as the Belt Line influenced our industries and neighborhoods, Northland Central, which is home to the Northland Workforce Training Center, Buffalo Niagara Manufacturing Alliance, Buffalo Manufacturing Works, and Insyte Consulting, will help revitalize Buffalo’s East Side in the future.