Part III:
Cycling Electricity to Buffalo

Section C
A Proliferation



Part III: Cycling Electricity to Buffalo (Section A)

An Electrifying Revolution


Electric trolley at Shelton Square
Collection of the Buffalo and Erie County Historical Society

(Click on image for larger view)

Various electric bulbs (no larger view)

Visionary power players dreamed of supplying limitless power to Buffalo. The burgeoning metropolis offered a market for electrified transportation, outdoor illumination, and business, industrial, and domestic applications. On November 16,1896, a high voltage line carried electric power over twenty-six miles from the Falls to Buffalo. Dreams became reality and the lives of ordinary Buffalonians were changed forever.

Many local businesses benefitted from electrical power. Browse through the interactive slide show below to see how some familiar businesses used the new resource.

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Wiring the Home

Electricity was promoted as clean, invisible, odorless, and tireless. By 1900, electric service was available in most cities. Use spread rapidly after World War I and by 1920, almost half of the urban dwellings in the United States were wired for electric service. Many rural homes did not enjoy the benefits of electricity until the Rural Electrification Act in 1936.

For a Home Valued at $4,999


For a Home Valued at $10,000


Electricity Consumption and Costs


Will bring to a boil two quarts of water.

Will run the electric broiler for six minutes.

Will operate a twelve-inch fan for two hours.

Will operate an electric griddle for eight minutes.

Will operate a luminous radiator for eight minutes.

Will make a Welsh rarebit in an electric chafing dish.

Will operate a sewing machine motor for three hours.

Will keep a four-inch disk stove hot for fifteen minutes.

Will operate a seven-inch frying pan for twelve minutes.

Will make four cups of coffee in an electric coffee percolator.

Will keep the foot-warmer hot for a quarter of an hour.

Will keep a six-pound electric flatiron hot for fifteen minutes.

Will heat an electric curling iron once a day for two weeks.

Will raise two hundred and fifty gallons of water one hundred feet.

Will keep the dentist’s electric hammer and drill running for ninety minutes.


One Cent's Worth of Electricity
Electric Heating and Cooking by General Electric
Advertising piece
Reproduced from Collection of the Buffalo and Erie County Historical Society




Continue to the next page of Part III Section A