The old tower is owned by the Coast Guard but licensed to the Buffalo Lighthouse Association for restoration. The lighthouse, dark for many years, was re-lighted to open the first international Friendship Festival in 1987. The original third order Fresnel lens from 1905 is displayed at the Buffalo and Erie County Historical Society; the lens currently in the tower is a fourth order bivalve or "clamshell" Fresnel lens that once beamed an identifying signal of one bright and two lesser flashes from the South Buffalo Light, built in 1903.
The old tower's lens now is lit cosmetically, kept intentionally weak to avoid confusing mariners. The tower itself is highlighted at night using lighting technology developed for the Statue of Liberty centennial restoration.
The 1833 Buffalo Light is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. It is also a designated City of Buffalo, Niagara Frontier and American Civil Engineering landmark. The tower is open during waterfront festivals and for group tours. The 1,400-foot South Pier Promenade and the Lighthouse Point grounds near the tower are open daily, with displays and interpretive signs, and the tower is easily viewed from the Erie Basin Marina.
Restoration is an ongoing effort, and several projects still await funding. Donations are tax-deductable, and gratefully accepted by the not-for-profit Buffalo Lighthouse Association.
Since 1985, the group has raised and spent nearly $200,000 on the lighthouse preservation project, and the City of Buffalo has added a $100,000 shoreline promenade at Lighthouse Point. The area is a focus of the city's Outer Harbor redevelopment plans over the next few decades.
Signage along the promenade details the history of the site and aspects of Buffalo's maritime legacy. Included are descriptions of the long-vanished first and third Buffalo lighthouses, and the tragic story of a Buffalo lightship, L.V. 82, lost with all hands in the Great Storm of 1913.
Parkland near the lighthouse also features the restored 1903 Buffalo North Entrance "bottle light," a 1920s bell buoy, a fog bell, and Great Lakes freighter anchors. Other lighthouses visible from the point include the South Buffalo Lighthouse, the modern Buffalo Lighthouse on the western breakwater, the framework of the old Horseshoe Reef Light, and Canada's Point Abino Lighthouse.