A Monthly Column on Historic Structures of New York's Southern Tier
The Greyhound Runs Again
First Impressions at a Streamline Bus Station

“Millicent Barnes, age twenty-five, young woman waiting for a bus on a rainy November night…” so begins Rod Serling’s introduction to the 1960 Twilight Zone episode titled “Mirror Image.” Set in a lonely bus station at night, it is said that Serling wrote the story in reference to the bus terminal he remembered from his hometown of Binghamton.

The Binghamton bus terminal at night.

Serling was not alone with his fond memories of the Chenango Street bus station. For over 70 years travelers to the Binghamton area have been impressed by its unique character.

Streamline Moderne is the technical term describing the building’s architectural style, a form of Art Deco design evident in many Greyhound bus terminals built between 1937 and the mid 1940’s.

Intended to depict aerodynamics and a sense of speed, the design is attributed to Louisville architect William S. Arrasmith, who designed over sixty moderne Greyhound terminals in his career, of which only a half-dozen exist today.

In his book “The Streamline Era of Greyhound Terminals: the architecture of W.S.Arrasmith,” author Frank Wrennick wrote of the Binghamton terminal: “the façade featured cast stone details including scalloped cornice window reveals, the block-lettered word ‘Greyhound,’ and a running greyhound. Glass block was employed over the main street entrance and in a wing wall which concealed the bus docks from the street.” Without a doubt, it is the running neon greyhound high above the entrance that is remembered by most.

Constructed in 1938, the Binghamton terminal has been in continuous operation since that time. In 1986 a Metropolitan Transportation feasibility report recommended Broome County establish a transportation center in the City of Binghamton to accommodate major bus lines as well as the county transit system, and also include a waiting area for local taxi cabs.

According to Gail Domin, Chief Planner of Broome County Department of Planning and Economic Development, two decades after the feasibility report buy-outs of adjacent property began, and in 2009 construction of the Greater Binghamton Transportation Center started. Throughout the construction, great care was taken to preserve and reuse the original Streamline Moderne façade of the 1938 structure.

Animated neon running greyhound.

“The County Executive and Planning Department were adamant that the (original features) be saved and incorporated into the new design,” said Domin. “The classic details of this structure are still clearly visible in its streamline design with vertical neon sign, relief moldings, glass block and rounded corners.”

Today, high above Chenango Street, the greyhound runs again.

As George H. Bagnetto, Broome County Public Transportation Facility commissioner said at the opening of the new terminal on November 9, "It gives a good first impression to people who come to our city."

Next to a park bench at the southeast corner of the terminal, something else gives visitors a good first impression of our community.

It was March 2005, while researching a New York State Hospital, that I met Harvey, a long-time former employee of the facility. His health failing, Harvey relayed many fond memories in the months before his death. One of the most intriguing was of a patient he attended to in the early 1950’s who went on to write a book about his stay at the hospital.

An internet search produced the man’s name, and surprisingly, a copy of his long out-of-print book. The patient was William Moore, born in Binghamton in 1927. While in his twenties, the death of Moore’s close friend, teacher and mentor had a profound influence on him, and ultimately resulted in Moore’s brief hospitalization.

Following his release, Moore wrote prophetically about his destiny, concluding to his readers: “I go forward in hope... my whole future is in your hands, at your mercy. I can only give my life, and you must make it or break it for me.”

Memorial plaque to humanitarian William L. Moore.
In the years that followed Moore spoke out peacefully against racial segregation and social injustice, and in 1963, one year before the murder of civil rights workers James Chaney, Andrew Goodman, and Michael Schwerner, and five years before the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr., Moore embarked on a lone civil rights walk through Alabama and Mississippi.

While walking a remote stretch of road in Alabama, Bill Moore was murdered – shot twice in the head at close range with a .22 caliber rifle. The murder weapon was reportedly traced to an Alabama Ku Klux Klan member who was never indicted for the crime.

On the 47th anniversary of his murder, April 23, 2010, a memorial plaque in tribute to Moore was unveiled. The plaque, which concludes with the statement “walk on Bill Moore, walk on...” is now permanently displayed at the Greater Binghamton Transportation Center.

The character of a community is well defined by the beauty of its structures, the humanitarian achievements of its people, and the respect for and preservation of its history. Today there is a bus station in Binghamton that embodies all three of these attributes – a place not only of sight and sound, but of mind… where once again the greyhound runs, Bill Moore walks, and visitors get their first impressions of a remarkable community.