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 Buffalo North Breakwater South Side, NY    
Lighthouse accessible by car and a short, easy walk.
Description: In 1902, a new breakwater was being finished just north of the entrance to the Buffalo River. As a temporary measure, the Lighthouse Board established a red post lantern on the southerly end of the breakwater to mark the northern side of the northern entrance to Buffalo Harbor while a permanent beacon was being designed and constructed. The permanent light, known as the “bottle light” due to its resemblance to an old glass milk bottle, was installed on the breakwater in 1903.

North Breakwater South Side Lighthouse
Photograph courtesy U.S. Coast Guard
The structure was made of 3/8" boiler plate and had a diameter of 10' 3/4" at its base. Four circular windows provided light for the interior, which was accessed by a curved iron door. The tower tapered to a diameter of 2' 8" and then extended upward to the lantern. A cable, pulley, and hoisting winch were used inside the base to raise a lens lantern to the top of the tower, while an exterior ladder allowed the keeper to climb up to the light. An egg-shaped ventilator ball, supported by four iron posts, topped off the tower and brought its total height to 23' 3/4".

In 1909, a Barbier, Benard & Turenne lens lantern was being used in the tower to produce a fixed red light, which was maintained by the keeper of Buffalo Main Lighthouse. A ruby chimney was used in the oil lamp to produce the red light.

In 1960, a battery-operated, twelve-volt lamp, covered by a green plastic lens, was installed atop the tower, and the ventilator ball was removed.

The bottle light served until 1985, when it was removed from the breakwater and given a new home next to the original 1833 Buffalo Main Lighthouse. Fully restored and capped with a reproduction of its ventilator ball, the bottle light is now part of the 1,400-foot promenade featuring detailed signage documenting Buffalo’s historic waterfront.


  1. Annual Report of the Lighthouse Board, various years.
  2. “Buffalo North Breakwater South End Light,” Carol Poh Miller, HAER Inventory, 1979.

Location: Located next to Buffalo Main Lighthouse at the Coast Guard Station on the south side of the entrance to the Buffalo River.
Latitude: 42.87765
Longitude: -78.89007

For a larger map of Buffalo North Breakwater South Side Lighthouse, click the lighthouse in the above map or get a map from: Mapquest.

Travel Instructions: From Highway 5, a mile or so south of its intersection with Interstate 190 exit onto Fuhrmann Boulevard and follow the signs to the Coast Guard Station. Fuhrmann Boulevard is one-way going south on the west side of Highway 5 and one-way going north on the east side of Highway 5. If you exit going south make a u-turn under Highway 5 and go north on Fuhrmann for just over a half mile then turn left under Highway 5, and right on Fuhrmann which will take you to the Coast Guard Station and the lighthouse. If you exit going north, continue north on Fuhrmann for just over a half mile then turn left under Highway 5, and right on Fuhrmann which will take you to the Coast Guard Station and the lighthouse.

After 9/11, security at the Coast Guard station was increased, and public access was only permitted by escort. A deal was worked out in 2010 for the Coast Guard to relinquish land around the lighthouse, and access was restored in late 2011.

The lighthouse is owned by the Buffalo Lighthouse Association. Grounds open with Coast Guard escort, tower closed.

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Pictures on this page copyright Kraig Anderson, used by permission.