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In the post War decade, Tonawanda entered into another era of industrial prosperity. As industrial growth continued, the area saw a tremendous increase in middle-class housing development. Many remaining farm tracts were transformed into residential neighborhoods seemingly overnight. In the decade of 1950 through 1960, the population almost doubled with a final figure of over 100,000 people. If for no other reason, this influx of suburbia was attributed to the continued success local industries experienced. The GM Tonawanda Engine Plant enlarged its facilities in the late 1940s and continued to do so into the 1950s and beyond.

This 1986 topographical map shows the Farrel-Birmingham Plant highlighted in green. Vulcan Street is immediately below the plant location, and Kenmore Avenue is to the upper right. The GM Tonawanda Engine Plant can be seen to the left of the Farrel-Birmingham facility. The map also shows the neighborhoods that developed during the late 1940s and early 1950s as a result of continued industrial growth. As the major source of employment in the area prospered, so did those who lived in the neighborhoods.

However, by the end of the 1950s, local properity began to dwindle. Residential development had slowed tremendously and a few local factories began to struggle just to remain open. In as early as 1954, the local Dunlop plant closed one of its facilities. The post World War II years were not prosperous for Farrell-Birmingham. In 1949, it sold the facility at 344 Vulcan Street to American Brake Shoe Company, a manufacturer of railroad frogs and switches. Later, American Brake Shoe became the AMBEX Company.

Plant 5 - Ambex facility Farrel-Birmingham's Plant 5 facility when it was owned by the American Brake Shoe Company - AMBEX.
By 1962, Farrel-Birmingham had reached the end of its line and closed its remaining Vulcan Street facility. It continued operations in Rochester, New York, and Connecticut. Its original 1917 facility was abandoned and lay vacant until the end of the 1960s. At that time, an industrial foam producing company took over the facilities at 280 and 344 Vulcan Street.

Farrel-Birmingham was not the only major industry in the Tonawanda area to feel the strains of economic hardship during the 1960s. In 1963, Niagara Mohawk , the area's major supplier of power, announced that it was going to significantly cut its 25-cycle service to reduce tax load. Over seventy industries of the Niagara Frontier would be effected by this cut in service and they lobbied against the proposal claiming that it could drastically effect local industry. The Public Service Commision agreed and refused Niagara Mohawk's request.

Other factors contributed to the hardships that local industry was facing. Labor disagreements were another major issue with several strikes taking place due to proposed wage cuts. Companies such as Dunlop Tire and Rubber suggested a reduction in wages to ensure a future for the plant. Many other plants either reduced production or simply closed down.

One by one, many of the original industries that made a home for themselves in Buffalo and Tonawanda halted production and abandoned their facilities. Even the industries that took over the original Farrel-Birmingham plant also ceased operations. However, the General Motors Tonawanda Engine Plant always saw a need for expansion. In 1971, GM purchased the Farrel-Birmingham facility and initially used it for storage but later began using the facility to manufacture and finish pistons and connecting rods for several engine lines.

344 Vulcan Street is destroyed by fire in 1986
Farrel-Birmingham's facility at 344 Vulcan Street just after the destructive fire of 1986.
Sadly, the original 1917 Farrel-Birmingham plant at 344 Vulcan Street was destroyed by fire in 1983. Three structures remained after the blaze was extinguished: the former office building (344A Vulcan Street), the former personnel building (344B Vulcan Street), and a garage (344C Vulcan Street). Of course, the original Plant 5 at 208 Vulcan Street also remained and was later deemed eligible for listing in the New york State and National Registers of Historic Places due to the important contributions that Farrel-Birmingham made the efforts of World War II. When Farrel-Birmingham won the prestigious Navy "E" Burgee award, they were the first company in the Buffalo area to win the Navy's highest honor.

Additionally, the one story Plant 5 building, completed by Farrel-Birmingham in 1942, is a representative example of World War II era industrial design. By order of the U.S. Government, the building was constructed to expedite production of Farrel-Birmingham's rapid reversal gear engine. The legacy the building and its parent company leave behind is a constant reminder that World War II was also won on the home front due to the dedicated contributions by local industries. Despite significant alterations the building's interior, it retained its integrity of location, materials, feeling and association.

344-A and 344-B Vulcan Street
This view shows the two story building at 344-A Vulcan Street, and the single story wooden structure at 344-B Vulcan Street. 344-A was originally used as an office building for Farrel-Birmingham while 344-B was originally the personel office.

344-C Vulcan Street
This is a former three-bay garage located at 344-C Vulcan Street. Plant 5, at 280 Vulcan Street can bee seen in the background.
344-D Vulcan Street
This image shows a more modern garage facilty that Farrel-Birmingham constructed in the early 1950s.