Old Bergman Tools Building, Buffalo, NY

I sent this as a private message to KD, but he thought it could warrant a post. This is very much a "work in progress" (sorry, my brain thinks in puns, it's a curse), but if anyone would like to contribute, I can provide some boots on the ground.

This building is located very close to my house. It's right along the Niagara River on Niagara Street, which is a very historic area in Buffalo. The destruction of the Buffalo "community" and Black Rock in the War of 1812 allegedly occurred all along this stretch. The YouTube channel Bushwhacking History in Buffalo has some detail on this stretch, though I'm not completely familiar with all his content. Not enough hours in the day...

Anyway, the property is being renovated:
The current building is a two story, 12,000 sf, brick and block building and our plan is to put a two story 12,000 sf addition alongside of the existing structure. Our plan for the existing façade is to remove all existing paint, expose existing brick, tuck point and repair, as well as seal existing brick. We plan on infilling boarded up window openings and keeping with the colors and integrity of the existing neighborhood. Our addition will be comprised of brick and metal panels to order to complement the existing brick building.

Naturally, when I walked by it, I wanted to snap some pictures. There's been a lot of construction going on lately that seems to reveal subterranean levels underneath existing structures, the Albright-Knox Art Gallery (survivor of the Pan American Exposition) renovation has been interesting to see, with what you can actually make out from the road anyway. That's just one example, there are countless in my area.

Anyway, here's what I got for the Niagara St building:






I'd like to get some more pictures from around the back, but I had to sort of climb up a small knoll by a fence to get these, they're taken from the left hand side of the building from the perspective of the picture I posted from the Buffalo Rising site.. and getting closer would have been trespassing on an active worksite (there were people around). I might go back later in the evening some day. Regardless, it seems like the "basement" half-windows were in fact full windows and possibly there's another level even under that. I also was wondering what exactly is the large cube that they're installing(?) is. As the article says, they're expanding the building and putting in a parking garage, so I assume it has something to do with that, but it's very odd looking (like a vault). My wife suggested it's something with central heating and air that they're putting in, which seems possible, but odd too. It wouldn't be for a parking garage obviously and if you had to do that for the renovation, seems like you're approaching a point where you should just tear the building down and start over (as they did to another one somewhat nearby to put in an urgent care, which is located rather hilariously where the hospital was located on the Pan American exposition map).

I'm going to dig back into some maps of Buffalo (this is a bit north of the city center and might appear on Black Rock maps instead), but so far, I found a couple things on the history of this building, including this picture:


There is not much early information at all on this company. We do know it was located at 1569 Niagara Street, Buffalo NY 14213 in 1908 and prior, before the move to Niagara St.. The picture of the Bergman factory below is from the website Preservation Ready.

We found this article from Domestic Engineering and the Journal of Mechanical Contracting, Volume 47 and dated May, 1909 noting that Bergman has moved from 102 Seneca St. to it's new factory at 1573-75 Niagara St.
So, if you're interested in helping me "dig," please feel free. I probably ought to head down to the history museum at some point... I've been wanting to follow-up on the Exposition construction photos (and whatever else they have) for years. In the meantime, any thoughts on:
  • How many levels are we looking at here?
  • Why do we have full windows that are subterranean? Aside from mud flood theories, is it plausible this is the result of some sort of prefabricated kits?
  • What is the object they are working on?
Just wanted to pop in, been busy with family and other obligations. The construction is still ongoing, and I did attempt to find someone to talk to last week, but it appears I really need to try and hit them up on their lunchbreak. In any event, I have a lot more to say about this but likely won't have time until next week.

Still at a bit of an impasse, I want to get down to City Hall for construction records, but my wife's work schedule, combined with a family visit has not aligned. The maps are interesting as well, but a bit overwhelming. It seems doubtful at this point that they will reveal anything meaningful about this building in particular, and I'm still wrangling with how I can incorporate it into this thread without turning it into an endless rabbit hole. (As an aside, the only thing that remains consistent going back to turn of the 19th century maps is the Niagara Square section of Buffalo... even though allegedly there should be nothing prior to 1812, there are several "plans" depicted, showing the area more or less as it stands today). Buffalo has a truly amazing occulted history, and I've gotten off track on a couple sidequests involving the Erie Canal (which had apparently auxiliary canals running right along this area, which were mostly filled in during the 1920s and 30s).

Taken from a post by the Bushwhacking History in Buffalo:

It just adds to the mystery, because the OP building is located just a couple miles up the road from what I believe is in this photograph. Initially, I thought that this section could have been mislabeled, because the hardware building looked super familiar, but after a boots on the ground trip, I believe this entire stretch of buildings no longer exists (the skyway overpass was constructed where this stands). The other reason I thought this was by the OP building is that the bridge in the distance looks like the railway bridge that passes over Unity Island (plus there is no bridge currently located by this section of Commercial St/Pearl St.)

The whole situation reminds me of the street leveling of Seattle, only using the pretext of the Erie Canal to justify the massive amounts of dirt on the streets.

Anyway, apologies for the delays, now that summer is winding down, I should be able to allot more time to continuing this investigation. The good news is the construction itself has not been proceeding very quickly either, so I should still have ample opportunity to talk to someone down there. (It is amazing to see the amount of work they're putting into this building... I can't imagine it's more cost effective than building a new structure, but I suspect there's some grants involved for urban restoration. Government efficiency at its finest!)
It just adds to the mystery
This is a really.... creepy photo.
Look at that mud (?) And why are the buildings abandoned?

Were you aware that 1,5 mile further on Niagara st. the Nikola Tesla building is?
(I guess so, but still ...)

"The Terminal A building essentially allowed Tesla to win the “War of Currents” over Edison’s DC transmission. By harnessing the hydroelectric power of Niagara Falls, Terminal A supplied the electricity used to power Buffalo’s Pan American Exposition in 1901, which put this city on the map as an electric energy powerhouse."

"Your" building is included :
"Buffalo’s Common Council has adopted a resolution that calls for fourteen blocks of Niagara Street to be dedicated as the Nikola Tesla Heritage Trail."
More info


This is a really.... creepy photo.
Look at that mud (?) And why are the buildings abandoned?

Great question. It always amazes me to see the state of these buildings 100 years ago... looks no different than many today. Makes one wonder, when exactly were these things new?

So, I think I've gone and muddied this thread up (see, I can't stop puns, no point in even trying), so let me try and pull this all back and explain myself. Unfortunately, I'm going to have to go even more off-topic to maybe come back around eventually. To assist, here are some maps!

In this picture, I thought that this area looked like the northern portion of the map, meaning just a bit north of our OP building, looking south to the rail bridge to Canada.

Not the bridge I'm looking for...

However, all evidence seems to point to this area being located at the bottom of the map that I posted. The steel hardware building is the Beals, McCarthy, & Rogers and according to this 1917 flyer, they had a location on Pearl St (which turns into Commercial St, which is mentioned in the picture's caption) and on Terrace St (which is also mentioned in the caption and no longer exists). In fact, I made a mistake in interpreting the picture, and the caption above which I cropped claims authoritatively that this is the Terrace St location looking towards the Evans Street Bridge:
This was all very confusing because most of this area has been completely demolished/filled in. There is no Evans Street anymore, so no Evans Street bridge.
This became clearer when looking at a 1917 map... but also became a lot more confusing, because take a look at the Erie Canal:
The Erie Canal is highlighted, in blue is the path along Niagara St, for reference. Now, as the caption claims "completion of the barge canal system rendered the Erie Canal obsolete"... but wouldn't, you know, the actual river do that? Especially the angle ships right next to a giant river? As you can see, that section of the Canal does not even go past Squall Island, which is the only impediment I could see to traveling the Niagara River directly.

Anyway, like I said, I'm way off the OP now, but I find this section of the Erie Canal to be incredibly odd. There's quite a lot of information on the construction of the Canal on the northern portion from Black Rock to Lockport, but I haven't found any about this small area from Buffalo Creek to the current breakfront before Unity/Squall Island. In any event, even though the picture was a dead-end for Niagara Street shenanigans, I thought it's worth mentioning.

Were you aware that 1,5 mile further on Niagara st. the Nikola Tesla building is?

This is interesting, I was aware of power stations along the river, but I was unaware this particular building was so close. Referring to the map that's labeled with our areas of interest I posted above, and as I mentioned before, that Tesla building is basically where I thought the "muddy road/creepy picture" was before and in fact, when I went trying to find it, I ended up stopping at that very building, to see if it was the Beals, McCarthy, Rogers hardware building and had been mislabeled in the caption (obviously, I was wrong).

However, you piqued my curiosity, so I ran up there tonight to take some pictures of that building:
You can see the old "power station" sign still. Sorry, it was hard to get a better angle, without having a ladder (or a higher zoom camera). The section below/front of the building is obviously a newer construction.

The building is not in great shape and you can tell from the pictures below that it's been repaired several different times (and has been renovated bit more since 2018, the article that Jinxy posted), as there are many different brick styles. I also found the sign amusing (talking about "130 year old bricks").
IMG_20210904_1919237.jpg IMG_20210904_1919352.jpg IMG_20210904_1919538.jpg IMG_20210904_1920318.jpg IMG_20210904_1920460.jpg IMG_20210904_1921068.jpg IMG_20210904_1921190.jpg IMG_20210904_1921466.jpg

Again, like the OP building, it appears that this building was pre-20th century (so Tesla took an existing structure and converted it to his power station) but I'm not finding any information online about when it was constructed. Another one to add to the list of what I need to look at up City Hall.
(Had to add another post, because I had too many attachments, though this will probably automerge. EDIT: lol, Right Arm, you scoundrel! Beat me by mere seconds!)

So, I also thought the knolls that the houses across the street were constructed on were pretty interesting and seem to fit the theme of the area:

Finally, before I go back to the OP building, here's a couple other neat buildings (of many) on Niagara St. I thought the readers here might enjoy these especially though:


The latter building has this sign in front and plaque:
Anyway, I guess all of this is just a lesson in standing on topic, because even staying on a small stretch of road results in massive rabbit holes to dive down. Although, I do think that greater context might help our understanding, but at the moment, I'm struggling to make any of this coherent. My general thinking is though there's something very important about this little stretch of the Niagara River/Erie Canal area, and maybe that had something to do with Tesla/Pan American Exposition and of course, Niagara Falls (which really warrants it's own investigation, in a similar vein to The Grand Canyon).

So, now, to conclude for now, here's a couple other pictures of the recent construction on the OP building. I'm posting so you can see that clearly the section I speculated was an elevator shaft before is not, and appears to just be part of constructing the walls for the new section of the building. They've started to fill in a bit, but I can still see the underground doorway (not visible in the photos, sorry!). Which is good, if I can ever manage to get there while people are working and they're not too busy to chat:

And just across the river we have the Erie Fort, always close by these things.

42°53'36.11"N 78°55'26.47"W

View attachment 12152
And Fort Niagara, up past the Falls.

This photo:

Does not really look like a previous canal for boats.
It reminds me more of this:

This map (1835) has a hydraulic canal that leads via Buffalo Creek to Erie Canal:

In my opinion a bullsh*t story over here about that canal (for mills).

I think they found an already operating power system in this whole area and they just bought/ stole/ ? it.

At the moment it is too much to collect and post here, but the Rockefeller, Astor, Vanderbilt were all involved here with electricity, trains, etc.
PDF about Tesla and his power plant in Buffalo.
A story how Rockefeller just missed a train to Buffalo that got a terrible accident.

The fact that all those buildings look the same or similar to that Tesla building and are all built about te same time and the city was busy and all, and suddenly abandoned (?) makes me wonder 🤔
Cough, cough, move along, move along.

Star fort central.

View attachment 12160
In my opinion a bullsh*t story over here about that canal (for mills).

I think they found an already operating power system in this whole area and they just bought/ stole/ ? it.

At the moment it is too much to collect and post here, but the Rockefeller, Astor, Vanderbilt were all involved here with electricity, trains, etc.
PDF about Tesla and his power plant in Buffalo.
A story how Rockefeller just missed a train to Buffalo that got a terrible accident.

Darn it, you guys, I wasn't gonna post this here in this thread, but it's relevant to your comments. Basically, I'm inclined to agree with Jinxy's premise about the area being an operating power station... I'm not willing to concede (yet) that it was all functional or anything. Maybe all was left were foundations and canals that had to be dug out a bit... but even aside from that hydraulic canal segment, was perhaps this entire section of the canal part of an old world power system? (Makes more sense than funneling ship traffic through that lane, in my opinion). Or maybe, it was a buried road, like Pompeii (or Pompeii's road wasn't a road primarily either? Many possibilities.

Anyway, now I have a point here relate about star forts and the Great Lakes themselves possibly being recent phenomenon... but it's going to take some work to get to it. Ultimately, this doesn't really belong in this thread, but again, I think this can contextualize some of what I'm starting to think about the roll-out of electricity and the subsequent historical narrative that's been produced (both in the mainstream and alternative communities). First, let's look at Tesla's "work" and this notion of the Niagara Falls project being historical with the selecting Buffalo to become "the first city in the world to receive long-distance alternating current (AC) electricity which led eventually to the electrification of the globe [sic]."

Marker at Tesla dedication site in Buffalo, NY

Tesla gets a lot of play, what about George Westinghouse? He was the boss here. The wiki reminds me of a few other geniuses we know:
George Westinghouse was born in 1846 in Central Bridge, New York (see George Westinghouse Jr. Birthplace and Boyhood Home), the son of Emeline (Vedder) and George Westinghouse Sr., a machine shop owner. His ancestors came from Westphalia in Germany, who first moved to England and then emigrated to the US. The name had been Anglicized from Westinghausen....
...Westinghouse was 19 years old when he created his first invention, the rotary steam engine. He also devised the Westinghouse Farm Engine. At age 21 he invented a "car replacer", a device to guide derailed railroad cars back onto the tracks, and a reversible frog, a device used with a railroad switch to guide trains onto one of two tracks....
At about this time, he witnessed a train wreck where two engineers saw one another, but were unable to stop their trains in time using the existing brakes. Brakemen had to run from car to car, on catwalks atop the cars, applying the brakes manually on each car.[citation needed] <----Left that for emphasis.

In 1869, at age 22, Westinghouse invented a railroad braking system using compressed air. The Westinghouse system used a compressor on the locomotive, a reservoir and a special valve on each car, and a single pipe running the length of the train (with flexible connections) which both refilled the reservoirs and controlled the brakes, allowing the engineer to apply and release the brakes simultaneously on all cars. It is a failsafe system, in that any rupture or disconnection in the train pipe will apply the brakes throughout the train. It was patented by Westinghouse on October 28, 1873...

Clever boy. Again, we tend to hear a lot about Tesla nowadays, but all this happened before Tesla even joined Westinghouse (remember, Buffalo gets illuminated in 1896):

The Westinghouse company installed 30 more AC-lighting systems within a year and by the end of 1887 it had 68 alternating current power stations to Edison's 121 DC-based stations.

So, Tesla just figured out how to get it to go further, his engine was more ideal. You know, actually, the entire history of alternating current is sort of interesting, bearing in mind that Westinghouse had installed 38 power stations by the end of 1886:
Alternating current technology was rooted in Michael Faraday's and Joseph Henry's 1830–31 discovery that a changing magnetic field can induce an electric current in a circuit. Faraday is usually given credit for this discovery since he published his findings first.

In 1832, French instrument maker Hippolyte Pixii generated a crude form of alternating current when he designed and built the first alternator. It consisted of a revolving horseshoe magnet passing over two wound-wire coils.
Then a long gap?
Because of AC's advantages in long-distance high voltage transmission, there were many inventors in the United States and Europe during the late 19th century trying to develop workable AC motors. The first person to conceive of a rotating magnetic field was Walter Baily, who gave a workable demonstration of his battery-operated polyphase motor aided by a commutator on June 28, 1879, to the Physical Society of London. Describing an apparatus nearly identical to Baily's, French electrical engineer Marcel Deprez published a paper in 1880 that identified the rotating magnetic field principle and that of a two-phase AC system of currents to produce it. Never practically demonstrated, the design was flawed, as one of the two currents was “furnished by the machine itself.”...
In the autumn of 1884, Károly Zipernowsky, Ottó Bláthy and Miksa Déri (ZBD), three engineers associated with the Ganz Works of Budapest, determined that open-core devices were impractical, as they were incapable of reliably regulating voltage. In their joint 1885 patent applications for novel transformers (later called ZBD transformers), they described two designs with closed magnetic circuits where copper windings were either wound around a ring core of iron wires or else surrounded by a core of iron wires. In both designs, the magnetic flux linking the primary and secondary windings traveled almost entirely within the confines of the iron core, with no intentional path through air (see toroidal cores). The new transformers were 3.4 times more efficient than the open-core bipolar devices of Gaulard and Gibbs. The Ganz factory in 1884 shipped the world's first five high-efficiency AC transformers. This first unit had been manufactured to the following specifications: 1,400 W, 40 Hz, 120:72 V, 11.6:19.4 A, ratio 1.67:1, one-phase, shell form...
...The other essential milestone was the introduction of 'voltage source, voltage intensive' (VSVI) systems' by the invention of constant voltage generators in 1885. In early 1885, the three engineers also eliminated the problem of eddy current losses with the invention of the lamination of electromagnetic cores. Ottó Bláthy also invented the first AC electricity meter.
...In 1886, English engineer Elihu Thomson built an AC motor by expanding upon the induction-repulsion principle and his wattmeter. In 1887, American inventor Charles Schenk Bradley was the first to patent a two-phase AC power transmission with four wires.

"Commutatorless" alternating current induction motors seem to have been independently invented by Galileo Ferraris and Nikola Tesla. Ferraris demonstrated a working model of his single-phase induction motor in 1885, and Tesla built his working two-phase induction motor in 1887 and demonstrated it at the American Institute of Electrical Engineers in 1888 (although Tesla claimed that he conceived the rotating magnetic field in 1882). In 1888, Ferraris published his research to the Royal Academy of Sciences in Turin, where he detailed the foundations of motor operation; Tesla, in the same year, was granted a United States patent for his own motor. Working from Ferraris's experiments, Mikhail Dolivo-Dobrovolsky introduced the first three-phase induction motor in 1890, a much more capable design that became the prototype used in Europe and the U.S. He also invented the first three-phase generator and transformer and combined them into the first complete AC three-phase system in 1891. The three-phase motor design was also worked on by the Swiss engineer Charles Eugene Lancelot Brown, and other three-phase AC systems were developed by German technician Friedrich August Haselwander and Swedish engineer Jonas Wenström.
Whither Galileo Ferraris, eh? (Pretty sad looking wiki for him, too.) I thought the only thing better than a Ferrari is Ferraris, and a Galileo to boot, but I'd never heard of him.
The AC power system was developed and adopted rapidly after 1886 due to its ability to distribute electricity efficiently over long distances, overcoming the limitations of the direct current system. In 1886, the ZBD engineers designed the world's first power station that used AC generators to power a parallel-connected common electrical network, the steam-powered Rome-Cerchi power plant. The reliability of the AC technology received impetus after the Ganz Works electrified a large European metropolis: Rome in 1886.
Adopted rapidly, indeed. Almost inevitable, it seems, so I'm not actually sure what all the fuss is about this Tesla guy. Westinghouse (and Tesla) look like they were just one of the many "selected" to do this. The question is what the full context of "selected" means.
At the beginning of 1893 Westinghouse engineer Benjamin Lamme had made great progress developing an efficient version of Tesla's induction motor and Westinghouse Electric started branding their complete polyphase AC system as the "Tesla Polyphase System", announcing Tesla's patents gave them patent priority over other AC systems and their intentions to sue patent infringers.
In 1893, George Westinghouse won the bid to light the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago with alternating current, slightly underbidding General Electric to get the contract. This World's Fair devoted a building to electrical exhibits. It was a key event in the history of AC power, as Westinghouse demonstrated the safety, reliability, and efficiency of a fully integrated alternating current system to the American public.

Westinghouse's demonstration that they could build a complete AC system at the Columbian Exposition was instrumental in them getting the contract for building a two-phase AC generating system, the Adams Power Plant, at Niagara Falls in 1895. At the same time, a contract to build the three-phase AC distribution system the project needed was awarded to General Electric.
So, all that wiki-ing is supposed to at least give me the idea that Tesla and Westinghouse perfected the long distance A/C model. But, uh... they kinda didn't? It seems it's more that they took advantage of their (contractually awarded) environment.

The Folsom Hydroelectric Power System was the second system in the U.S. to provide long-distance, high voltage, three-phase transmission for significant municipal and industrial multi-purpose power use. (The first was Mill Creek No. 1, near Redlands, CA, which was completed two years earlier, but the original generators no longer exist)...

In 1895, Folsom Powerhouse transmitted 11,000 volts of electricity over a 22-mile stretch to power the streetcars of the Sacramento Electric Gas and Railway Company. Folsom also provided the long-distance, high voltage, three-phase transmission service for municipal and industrial power needs.
The distance of Niagara Falls to Buffalo is recorded as 20 miles in 1896. And to be clear, they're both alternating current systems:


This PDF is very interesting about the Folsom Powerhouse. One key section, with the Westinghouse connection:
Convinced then, that he was on the right course, Livermore incorporated the Sacramento Electric Power and Light Company, November 5, 1892, to build the powerhouse and construct the long-distance power line and a distribution station in the capital city. He also assigned to the new corporation the street railway franchise. He renewed his correspondence with Eastern manufacturers who had been lukewarm to his proposal that they plan a transmission system from Folsom to Sacramento and a method for conversion of alternating current to direct for delivery to the streetcars. Finally, the Westinghouse Company sent Engineer L. B. Stillwell to California to investigate. Armed with all the data, he returned to Pittsburgh and eventually his company submitted a plan, explaining meanwhile that the whole problem was theoretical and their suggested solution experimental. When General Electric heard of the Westinghouse activities, it also developed a new interest in the Folsom project and sent Engineer F. O. Blackwell and Professor Louis Bell to study the problem. G. E., on the basis of its experts' reports, followed its competitor with an offer to build the Folsom system. Livermore had won his point. He had in hand two sets of plans and specifications for construction of the Folsom plant and transmission system. The new Sacramento Electric Power and Light Company was to build and operate the system, taking its water on lease from the Folsom Water Power Company.
This quote from the Sacramento Bee is worth chopping out too, because boy howdy, could newspapers wax poetic with the best of them, back then!
With the advent of the power of lightening [sic] sent to us by the Giant of the Waters, comes possibilities not dreamed of a few years ago. A grand future is opened before us of which our quick witted and intelligent citizens will not be slow to avail themselves. From the condition of a small town, the end of a railroad division, dependent on the Southern Pacific Company and the Legislature for its existence, Sacramento will become a manufacturing center to which the rest of the state must pay tribute. . . This is the birth for us of Power, of Growth, of Greatness. It is right that we should rejoice and celebrate it in this Grand Electric Carnival, September 9, 1895.
9/9 if you're into that sort of thing. Well, the Southern Pacific would appreciate it anyway:
On September 2, the Bee estimated that there would be at least 10,000 people from San Francisco alone, since the Southern Pacific had already sold 7,000 tickets for the excursion and had ordered 3,000 more printed. A final estimate of the number of visitors made after the event and based on tickets sold, concluded that no less than 30,000 persons had come to Sacramento on Sunday and Monday, September 8 and 9. Special rates had been arranged from all valley towns, based on the regular one-way fare plus one-third for a round trip. The usual fare to San Francisco was $2.50 each way, making the special holiday excursion $3.33 for the round trip.
Ugh. Numerology always make me feel a bit dirty, but it tends to rear it's ugly head eventually. It's all mind games though... the plant actually opened on July 13th! But I guess at limited capacity or something... like releasing hardware to tech critics ahead of time! Or beta testing. Some combination.

Anyway, though, to summarize the rest of the PDF and to finally get to the god damn point of this diversion, the tech that was floating around at the time, was only as good as the water pushing it, it seems. The Folsom Power Plant isn't as fondly remembered today as the one at Niagara Falls because it didn't have the power of the largest, by volume, water fall in the world.
Livermore had always figured that the American River could forever be relied upon for an unusually large flow during the dry season. Its numerous branches all have their rise in the Sierra Nevada mountains within a few miles of Lake Tahoe (see enclosed map). The heavy snowfall on the ridges there and the late melting of this snow would furnish abundant water late in the season when the effect of the rains had long since waned in other districts. The theory was all right, but the practice did not work out just that way. From 1896 to 1898 the waterflow in the river fell to unexpected lows during the dry season; with the acute need for more electric power resources, it was necessary to construct an additional powerhouse in 1897 to produce more electricity. This was done by taking advantage of the 26-foot drop between the original powerhouse and the river.

So my incredibly belabored point here is... if we suspect that Star Forts were originally a part of some energy generation system, and we take into account energy cannot be either created or destroyed (both premises could be argued against, however), then when we look at the proximity of Star Forts in the area of the Great Lakes and specifically Niagara Falls, do we have a situation where their very existence is some sort of a consequence of a transmutation of energy, so to speak? Were Star Forts simply pulling from the "waters of the deep" (or being fed by a canal system) and converting into other forms of useable energy? What would happen if one malfunctioned (think nuclear meltdown)?

I just don't really think any of this is very tricky, ultimately. There are some basic mechanics at work that just require development. The end result might not always look like incandescent light bulbs and eventually iPhones, but given enough people and enough time, it doesn't seem hard to take advantage of whatever your environment is giving you to produce work.


"It was the journey of God's own lightning to the benefit of all mankind."

When KD returns, perhaps he should break this out into a separate thread on electricity or the Erie Canal... not really sure, but I again apologize for getting way off track from the OP.
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Quick reply (have to make dinner)
Olmstedian Scajaquada: The Scajaquada that Was and Wasn’t

It is about the artificial lakes too.
Really strange article about parks in Buffalo in 1850.
They built Walden Mall on top of Scajacuada Creek.

And Scajacuada Creek starts just above our OP building. From your link:

But not the west end, which the reporter aptly dubbed, “the business end of the Scajaquada.” And indeed, at the time of the story the west end of the creek had been doing business for over a century, beginning with a sawmill near its mouth in the 1780s. The sawmill plus the safe haven from the swift-flowing Niagara River made the creek mouth a natural location for ship building, and the shipyard there not only famously built or refitted some of the ships Commodore Perry used to win the pivotal Battle of Lake Erie, but also built the first steamship on the upper Great Lakes, the Walk-in-the-Water.
There's a plaque dedicating this shipyard essentially right across the street from the OP building. The (awful) photo allegedly from 1896 (get better cameras, guys!) in the article shows the area (the OP building would have been somewhere in the back left section):

Again, the whole of Buffalo is steeped in pseudohistory which weaves together a host of topics: War of 1812, Erie Canal, the "birth" of "modern" electricity, and the Pan American Exposition (of which Olmstead's Delaware Park was the southern end). It's a lot to unpack, frankly, there could be a whole subforum on Buffalo alone. Unlike some topics, there's almost too much information available. The last Buffalo Rising link has enough material to fuel several investigations. Without getting too far off topic again (especially now since we've wrapped back around to at least the exact area of the OP), look at the top half of this photo:

That's allegedly a ten year old bridge (built in 1896, or so they say). (Edit: Now, I think I'm wrong about the age of the bridge now, it may have been about 40 or so years old... I mistook a photo of them allegedly filling in Delaware Park lake, which is basically supposed to be an expanding pool fed by Scajaquada creek, designed for the Pan American Expo, for the construction of the bridge).
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I'm still trying to get through your previous comment but I think this Bergman building is just one building of some larger system, not a stand-alone building.
I'm still trying to get through your previous comment but I think this Bergman building is just one building of some larger system, not a stand-alone building.

I want to thank you for your participation, you've really helped push me to try and coherently explain what I think is going on here (and why I needed a detour into the history of alternating current).

Now, I obviously could be wrong, but it's my feeling (that I hope to confirm soon) that the OP building (and the Tesla building) were, on paper anyway, actually built sometime in the 19th century (circa 1850, as seems to be the case with lots of the buildings along the stretch)... but on what?

Look at these again of the two buildings:

It's far more dramatic in the OP building, but you can see it in the Tesla building too. Some heavier stone foundation and then sort of crappy bricks which are in much worse shape.

Now, one might say "duh, it's a foundation" and maybe that's the right answer. Or maybe there's a reason behind the "found" in foundation.

This appeals to me for a couple reasons. First of all, the history of this area being destroyed in 1812. (I know we can point to suspect destruction of other American cities, but those tend to be in the second half of the 19th century onward.) When evaluating historical events, I like to look at what the general message is (not even really the truth of it), as all records are written by people who may or may not have other agendas than faithfully reporting for posterity or some other weighty goal. Here, it seems that it wants to be recognized that "at one point, everything was destroyed." And, as with the Erie Canal, the next chapter of the story is "... and then we started to dig out."

The other reason is more difficult to explain (and thankfully because I'm a moron, I deleted this entire post once so this is my second attempt), but I sort of think the Tesla angle/lighting of Buffalo is sort of a distraction. It feels more like a corporate press conference, than a genuine historical achievement. As I tried to establish with my post on alternating current, a lot is made out of the development of Tesla's dynamo, but really, the concept behind it is fairly simple. Electricity itself has a bit of an unwarranted mystique, and I sometimes wonder if that's by design (protecting the power, literally). Waxing poetic about it's origin or greater meaning might be some sort of esoteric concept, but at it's core it is utilizing the kinetic energy of nature to do something "productive." And when thinking in terms of the 19th century, there were lots of ways to do that, especially in terms of lighting. Without being too crass, what Tesla designed (and apparently a host of others, all around the same time) it's a watermill with a magnet, both concepts that have likely been known since time immemorial. Both watermills and the discovery of magnetism are attributed to the ancient Greeks and the stories are apocryphal. For magnetism, you get stories like this:

According to Greek legend, magnetism was first discovered by a shepherd named Megnes, who lived in Megnesia, Greece. Megnes was herding his sheep through the mountains. Suddenly he noticed the ferrule of his stick and nails in his sandals got stuck to a rock. The iron in his stick and nails had become attracted to the magnetic rock. The stone was named magnetite, after the name of the shepherd or the country it was found in. It was also known as a loadstone because of its attractive properties.

Or attribution to some supposed "Father of Science" Thales of Miletus, whose wiki has so many qualifers, it should run for public office:

The dates of Thales' life are not exactly known,...Thales was probably born in the city of Miletus around the mid-620s BC....However, the probability is...However, his supposed mother...It has been claimed that he was roughly the professional equivalent of a contemporary option trader....It is assumed that Thales, at one point in his life, visited Egypt, where he learned about geometry.

This is a funny coincidence/inside joke though, given the topic at hand:

Tim Whitmarsh noted that Thales regarded water as the primal matter, and because thal is the Phoenician word for moisture, his name may have derived from this circumstance...

So, it just doesn't seem like it would take thousands of years to realize that playing around with metals in a magnetic field produces a result. Watch this video where the concept of hydroelectric power is explained in two minutes:

And now watch at least the first couple minutes of this (it's only three minutes long, but the last minute just basically fawns all over Tesla's dynamos, which were only two-phase, unlike the Folsom plant units I discussed previously):

We can see the nearly 170 foot drop... that's the same drop as the Niagara Falls themselves but we're over a mile away from the falls and the water flowing through here right now is awesome

So, what's the real feat of engineering here? The dynamo or the subterrean tunnels?

To conclude for now, in some cases, it seems possible that full buildings have survived some sort of historical reset and have had their construction jammed into our timeline through fraud, However, in the case of the OP building (and others on Niagara Street), I suspect it's like your mother always said, "it's what's under the surface that counts."
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To get some idea of the transitory nature of canals once the use they were built for disappears have a read of this page. It's long and chock full of photographs of the Bridgewater Canal in Birmingham UK but will give anyone a better insight into what canals used to be like rather than what they look like today. Source

Second edit
Not to detract but this image from right at the end of that long page supports the evidence of the disused Erie canal portion in that black and white photograph being just what the caption describes it too be.
Castlefield Breach.jpg

In short an empty or drained canal looks very different to one in use or maintained.

The brick erosion in the big brick photo is all at the base which is frost damage blowing the brick surface. As iit is all at or near the ground level I would suggest this is where the cold lingers longest, where the damp lingers longest and bingo the magic of expanding ice does its work. Higher up the bricks are warmer and drier so they maintain their outer surface.
As you can see the doorway has been infilled and those bricks have not been there long enough to be subject to the same process.

Edit to add
As you can see though even up the wall the missing pointing is giving water easy access to get in ice up and blow. Unless the pointing is repaired the whole wall will take on the same look as the lower portion.
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Thanks, jd. To clarify my position, I have little doubt that the canal stretch that was covered up was in fact an artificial passageway for water... I do speculate heavily on what it's original purpose was and when exactly it may have served it.
We can see the nearly 170 foot drop... that's the same drop as the Niagara Falls themselves but we're over a mile away from the falls and the water flowing through here right now is awesome

You would not see more than a couple of tens of feet tops down that hole due to the way light works when entering through a small opening. I only know this because I have actually been down holes in the ground/in metal tanks specifically a floating dock at a depth of twenty to thirty feet and it is pitch black, Without artificial lighting you see nothing. It may be 170 feet down to where the water hits the bottom but you sure as hell would not see it. Where does the water tip out at? Where is its outlet?
I appreciate its just a short video clip.

Just to throw another hat into the ring simply because I am highly sceptical about the achievements/discoveries/technology attributed to the name Tesla. Having looked into in Nikola Tesla to the extent of reading all sorts articles pdf's and the odd book about him it seems to me he lived a longish life but beyond that all bets are off.
What if the 170 foot drop was nothing to do with generating power but was instead to do with compressing air as they did at Ragged Chute.
Dry compressed air of the kind produced by a trompe can be put to far more uses than electricity can. Indeed it can and often has driven turbines to generate electricity. Ragged Chute Trompe
Would make more sense to me as the distribution of the compressed air would only require a pipe from the trompe to the point of use no matter what that use was and no need for cabling or transformers or other gubbins cluttering the place up or vast machinery halls. Cannot think why dry compressed air is no longer with us.
Apologies if this has gone too far from the building investigation.

Edit to add
I remembered an image I had seen of Ragged Chute blowing off and on that page is this schematic.
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Apologies if this has gone too far from the building investigation.

Heh, no, at least not at this point. Part of my conjecture is that there's something special under the ground around here, and figuring out what that is could be useful. I was a bit put off at first on incorporating this into this thread, but the myths surrounding Tesla and the Niagara Falls to Buffalo project are hard to avoid (and that's hardly our fault).

What if the 170 foot drop was nothing to do with generating power but was instead to do with compressing air as they did at Ragged Chute.

I'm going to need to do some more digging (eh, hopefully not literally), but your speculation has merit:

Nikola Tesla - The Adams plant was based on Tesla's 25 Hz AC power system. The Tesla Society falsely states: "Nikola Tesla and George Westinghouse built the first hydroelectric power plant in 1895 in Niagara Falls and started the electrification of the world".

This internet myth has gained enormous strength. It is well documented that efforts at Niagara Falls were a result of a larger team. Strangely Westinghouse himself had suggested transporting power to Buffalo using compressed air in 1890 despite past successes in experimental AC systems. Another testament to the need for teamwork was the fact that Tesla's initial generator designs for Niagara were burning up on test, it took Lamme and his team to fix the design and make the generators usable. C.P. Steinmetz working as independent contractor was also involved in fixing this thermal/electrical issue.
Site also says:
1892 - Construction started on a 21 ft. high 18 ft. wide tunnel to capture Niagara waters for the power plant. The tunnel took 3 years to build and cost 28 lives

One of their linked resources to University at Buffalo appears to be defunct and the other link doesn't provide a lot of additional detail:

From 1892 to 1894, the Niagara Falls Power Company built a 6,700 foot (2042m) long, 21 foot (6m) high and 18 foot (5m) wide horseshoe shaped tunnel which was 160 feet (49m) underground. Twenty-eight workers died in construction related accidents during this project. The tunnel extended from the Niagara Power Company Powerhouse. The tunnel displaced 300,000 tons of rock and required 20 million bricks and 2.5 million feet of lumber to line and shore the interior.
I have to say the general details of the story make it sound plausible, from timeframe to human cost, especially in comparison to some other projects. This PDF is interesting too, but it yada yadas the construction of the tunnel, while providing detail on the earlier hydraulic canal project (note, not the canals discussed in this thread):
This document also provides me a good segue directly back to the OP building, in the form of Augustus Porter:

This is relevant because his aforementioned brother, Peter Porter (whose resume includes lawyer, soldier and politician who served as United States Secretary of War from 1828 to 1829) happens to have drawn this map sometime around 1813:

I sort of can't believe I missed this map earlier, I only stumbled across it last night. The red circle (that I added) is the approximate location of our OP building. 5 in particular, designated "U.S. Store House" (maybe 7, "Officer House") is very close to the precise location. The overall point is that there is a record of buildings in the area predating the War of 1812.

The map is interesting in itself, for a couple reasons. Given the labeling, it's obvious that it was drafted AFTER the Battle of Buffalo, which didn't even (allegedly) occur until December 1813. I've touched on it a couple times in this thread, but here's a brief synopsis:

As soon as Fort Niagara had been captured, the British under the command of Maj. Gen. Phineas Riall, marched down the American side of the Niagara River. They were till seeking revenge for the burning of Newark.

Riall had 500 regulars and 500 Indian warriors with him. They marched through Lewiston, Manchester, and Youngstown burning every farm building for several miles inland from the river.

Meanwhile, a company of British troops approached Fort Schlosser, a little ways before the fort. They captured a blockhouse and took 8 Americans prisoner. The Niagara Frontier on the U.S. side of the Niagara River was now in flames.

There was almost no resistance, although the Canadian Volunteers destroyed the bridge over the Tonawanda Creek, but Wilcox and his men could at best only delay the inevitable.

The Americans were surprised again on December 30 when Riall came back. His objective was to capture any supplies that could be moved and destroy the rest, including any American ships wintering in Buffalo or Black Rock, and any other buildings that might shelter the American army were to be burned.

Lt. Gen. Sir Gordon Drummond was a man of action and a strict disciplinarian. He wished to avoid the ransacking of American property that had been the trademark of the American occupation on the Niagara peninsula. His orders for the raid on Buffalo and Black Rock were that any men caught looting would be put to death as punishment.

The British forces crossed the captured bridge over the Scajaquada Creek. The cannons were booming at Black Rock. The American Gen. Amos Hall had 1,200 men with him. They put up a fight for awhile, but the militia gave way and retreated through Buffalo.

Riall burned both towns of Black Rock and Buffalo and all the buildings that he had missed on his first raid.

One serious loss to the Americans was the destruction of 3 of Commodore Oliver H. Perry's small schooners, which were at Black Rock for the winter.

The British departed and left a garrison at Fort Niagara. The Buffalo citizens slowly returned to their village. The British had burned the frontier from Buffalo through Black Rock to Eighteen Mile Creek. They destroyed 333 buildings in all, and in Buffalo, only 3 were left standing.
(Pay no attention to the prevalence of the number 3...)
Anyway, details seem to slightly vary, but sounds like the British whipped the American's asses. Which makes the second page of Porter's map, which explains the remaining numbered labels, quite curious:
Boy, if that was a British defeat, I'd hate to see the aftermath of a victory...

Edit: As usual, right after I post, I realize my mistake. The notation is likely referring to this July 1813 skirmish, not the December battle:

War hawk and Brig. Gen. Peter B. Porter, who barely escaped capture in the initial surprise, gathered a force of regulars, militia, and Seneca Indian volunteers. They attacked as the British were trying to reach their boats.
The sharp skirmish lasted for about 20 minutes. This forced the british to quickly withdraw across the river. Bisshopp was mortally wounded in this otherwise successful raid.
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want to thank you for your participation
Thanks, I am totally new on this whole subject but I ran into a jon Levi video and my interest was born.

artificial passageway for water
I do think too that it was a passway for water just like the old Roman streets were. But not a canal for big ships:

But if you look at this photo the Erie Canal goes to the sea, like as if it was, or became a dump for waste, that seems legit when they blamed that canal for outbreak of deseases and drained it.

But in my knowledge it is very Amsterdam-ish to use canals like this so I believe it is older than the alleged 1820something and it also fits the strange thing that (...) nobody learned in school that Buffalo once was Dutch, in contrary to the New York- New Amsterdam story.

Look at this

It is almost Perfect medieval for an accidental new city in the 1800's.

I think the whole Tesla electricity and it's all invented by the Americans-story is stolen by the bankers, because since then, let's say end of 1800 they agressively pushed Europe into buying energy from them.

The Niagara Falls are so incredible perfect that I almost think that it was made by a previous civilisation...

--> in the meantime you posted a commend that I have to read yet <--

I have no source closeby but I remember the following sentences in different books:

"Peter the great was impressed by the lights and illuminations of the canals of Amsterdam"
- that does not fit the official narrative of Amsterdam being unilluminated for a long time.

" I went to Constantinople (mid 1700) and I was impressed by the illuminations and lights there"
(From a book named something like "my travels to the Oriënt")
- I never second thought that that part of the world was so developed (sorry...)

Edit: I forgot to clarify that when I read the story of Rockefeller I feel that that was the similar great reset as we are now in, again. Shift of power.
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But in my knowledge it is very Amsterdam-ish to use canals like this so I believe it is older than the alleged 1820something and it also fits the strange thing that (...) nobody learned in school that Buffalo once was Dutch, in contrary to the New York- New Amsterdam story.

Yup. I have to leave this for the moment, but just wanted to say that the "plans" for New Amsterdam (as Buffalo was called at the turn of the 19th century) all seem to include the canals initially (the ones from the Holland Land Company) but then later ones do not, up until the point that they start getting dug out in the 1820s. The early plans match the eventual design pretty accurately. For whatever any of that is worth, perhaps I'll post a map progression later, but there's a couple other aspects more closely related to the OP building area that I want to follow up on first.

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