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Liberty Bank Building (ckowalik@Flickr)

I enjoy learning about the history of Buffalo and Western New York and it was just yesterday that Clay and I learned something new about a building we see everyday when we look across Lafayette Square. It’s the Liberty Building – Buffalo’s fifth tallest building completed in 1925. It served as the main headquarters of Liberty Bank which was originally called the German American Bank.

Buffalo was a melting pot of immigrants in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s from Italy, Poland, Ireland and Germany. The German American Bank appealed to German immigrants. Many of its employees spoke German. But after the brutality of World War One with Germany the bank wanted to cut any association with their former enemies so they changed the name to Liberty Bank in 1918.

Liberty Bank also wanted to change its image, so when the new bank headquarters was being designed it featured two replicas of the Statue of Liberty, one facing east and one facing west to symbolize Buffalo’s strategic location on the Great Lakes. Each one is 36 feet high compared to the one in New York harbor that’s 305 feet tall.

Two years ago (2010) tightrope walker Didier Pasquette made the 150 feet walk across a wire strung between the two statues in just under three minutes. Not quite the spectacle that a walk across Niagara Falls was.

In addition to the two on the top of the building there was originally a third Liberty statue over the Main Street entrance of what at that time was the largest office building in Buffalo.


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