Appropriately named The Tewksbury because on January 21, 1959 an unthinkable marine disaster happened adjacent to this very site. After days of extreme cold and heavy snow packed the Buffalo River and Cazenovia Creek with ice, a sudden thaw and wind-driven rain on that January day broke up the ice, and around 10 PM the pressure of the shifting floes snapped the mooring lines of the freighter MacGilvray Shiras, which was tied up for the winter beside the Concrete Central Elevator at the foot of Smith Street before ramming the Michael K. Tewksbury, which was tied up at the Standard Elevator, near the foot of St. Clair Street. Both boats passed beneath the Ohio Street Bridge, which was raised for construction, but the bridge crew, taking a break in the Swannie House, could not raise the Michigan Avenue Bridge in time. The Tewksbury smashed into the bridge at 11:17 PM, demolishing it, and wedging itself across the river causing an ice dam. The flow of frigid water and ice spilled into the neighborhood, flooding an 18-block area.
Today the Tewksbury disaster is being recognized for its dramatic role in shaping the history and the future of the Buffalo River. Much of what helped to shape our waterfront has come in the form of good and bad news – the fact that we are able to embrace it all, and tell the stories (good and bad) is what makes Buffalo a more intriguing and more resilient place to live. This city has made it through countless incidents and disasters, making it a bit more rough and tumble than others. ~ Buffalo Rising