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Buffalo ( ) is the second most populous city in the state of New Yorkmarker, second only to New York Citymarker. Located in Western New York on the eastern shores of Lake Eriemarker and at the head of the Niagara Rivermarker, Buffalo is the principal city of the Buffalo-Niagara Falls metropolitan area and the seat of Erie Countymarker. The city itself has a population of 292,648 (2000 Census). The Buffalo–Niagara–Cattaraugus Combined Statistical Area is home to 1,254,066 residents.

Originating around 1789 as a small trading community near the eponymous Buffalo Creek, Buffalo grew quickly after the opening of the Erie Canal in 1825, with the city as its western terminus. By 1900, Buffalo was the 8th largest city in the country, and went on to become a major railroad hub, the largest grain-milling center in the country, and the home of the largest steel-making operation in the world. The latter part of the 20th Century saw a reversal of fortunes: by the year 1990 the city had fallen back below its 1900 population levels. The rerouting of Great Lakes shipping by the opening of the St. Lawrence Seaway was a factor in the decline of the city. The closing or relocating of many of the steel mills and other heavy industries in the area also contributed to the decline.

Name origin

Most popular accounts hold that the name "Buffalo" is a corruption of the French phrase beau fleuve, "beautiful river," a phrase said to have been exclaimed by French explorers upon seeing the Niagara Rivermarker. This speculation, however, is contradicted by primary sources. French explorers actually referred to the Niagara River in print as Rivière aux Chevaux, "River of Horses." The earliest name origin theory to appear in print (1825) relates a story about stolen horsemeat being passed off as bison flesh, with the site of the illicit picnic henceforth remembered as "Buffalo," but the author who conveyed this tale expressed his skepticism. What is clear is that there were no bison in the area; that the settlement of Buffalo took its name from Buffalo Creek; and that Buffalo Creek first appeared on a map in 1759–1760. Although the Beau Fleuve theory is the least plausible theory amongst several theories, it is unlikely that Buffalo's true name origin can be conclusively established.


Buffalo Panorama 1911
Passenger boats at Buffalo 1909

Prior to the Iroquois occupation of the region, the region was settled by the Neutral Nation. Later, the Senecas of the Iroquois Confederacy conquered the Neutrals. In 1804, Joseph Ellicott, a principal agent of the Holland Land Company, designed a radial street and grid system that branches out from downtown like bicycle spokes, and is one of only three radial street plans in the US. During the War of 1812, on December 30, 1813, the village of Buffalo was burned by British forces. On November 4, 1825 the Erie Canal was completed with Buffalo strategically positioned at the western end of the system. At the time, the population was about 2,400. The Erie Canal brought a surge in population and commerce which led Buffalo to incorporate as a city in 1832, with a population of about 10,000 people.

The City of Buffalo has long been home to African-Americans. An example is the 1828 village directory which listed 59 "Names of Coloured" heads of families. In 1845, construction was begun on the Macedonia Baptist Churchmarker (commonly called the Michigan Street Baptist Church). This African-American church was an important meeting place for the abolitionist movement. On February 12, 1974 the church was added to the National Register of Historic Places. Abolitionist leaders such as William Wells Brown made their home in Buffalo. Buffalo was also a terminus point of the Underground Railroad with many fugitives crossing the Niagara Rivermarker from Buffalo to Fort Erie, Ontariomarker and freedom.

During the 1840s, Buffalo's port continued to develop. Both passenger and commercial traffic expanded with some 93,000 passengers heading west from the port of Buffalo. Grain and commercial goods shipments led to repeated expansion of the harbor. In 1843, the world's first steam-powered grain elevator was constructed by local merchant Joseph Dart, Jr. and engineer Robert Dunbar. The "Dart Elevator" enabled faster unloading of lake freighters and the transshipment of grain in bulk from lakers to canal boats (and, later, rail cars).

Abraham Lincoln visited Buffalo on February 16, 1861, on his way to accept the presidency of the United States. He stayed at the American Hotel on Main Street between Eagle Street and Court Street. The Civil War years saw a great increase in the population, increasing from 81,029 to 94,210 in 1865. In addition to sending many soldiers to the Union effort, Buffalo manufacturers supplied important war material. For example, the Niagara Steam Forge Works manufactured turret parts for the ironclad ship USS Monitor.

At the dawn of the 20th Century, local mills were among the first to benefit from hydroelectric power generated via the Niagara River. The city got the nickname City of Light at this time due to the widespread electric lighting. In 1881, Buffalo deployed the first electric street lights in the United States. It was also part of the automobile revolution, hosting the brass era car builders Pierce Arrow and the Seven Little Buffaloes early in the century. City of Light (1999) was the title of Buffalo native Lauren Belfer's historical novel set in 1901, which in turn engendered a listing of real vs. fictional persons and places featured in her pages.

President William McKinley was shot and mortally woundedmarker at the Pan-American Exposition in Buffalo on September 6, 1901. He died in the city eight days later and Theodore Roosevelt was sworn in at the Wilcox Mansionmarker as the 26th President of the United States.

An international bridge, known as the Peace Bridgemarker, linking Buffalo to Fort Erie, Ontariomarker was opened in 1927. The Buffalo Central Terminalmarker, a 17-story Art Deco style station designed by architects Fellheimer & Wagner for the New York Central Railroad, was finished just weeks before the Wall Street Crash of 1929.

During World War II, Buffalo saw a period of prosperity and low unemployment due to its position as a manufacturing center. The American Car and Foundry company, which manufactured railcars, reopened their Buffalo plant in 1940 to manufacture munitions during the war years.

With the opening of the St. Lawrence Seaway in 1957, which cut the city off from valuable trade routes; deindustrialization; and the nation-wide trend of suburbanization; the city's economy began to deteriorate. Like much of the Rust Belt, Buffalo, which peaked at more than half a million people in the 1950s, has seen its population decline by almost 50 percent as industries shut down and people left for the suburbs or other cities.

Like many cities across the country, Buffalo is enjoying new investment in the 2000s. Economic development in the city was marked at $4 billion in 2007 compared to a $50 million average for the previous ten years. New proposals and renovations are numerous, especially in the downtown core. Buffalo ranked 83rd on the Forbes best cities for jobs list, an increase from the previous year and a higher ranking than New York City.

Geography and climate

Buffalo average temperatures


Buffalo is located on the eastern end of Lake Eriemarker, opposite Fort Erie, Ontariomarker in Canada, and at the beginning of the Niagara Rivermarker, which flows northward over Niagara Fallsmarker and into Lake Ontariomarker.

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of . of it is land and of it is water. The total area is 22.66% water.


Buffalo has a reputation for snowy winters, but it is rarely the snowiest city in New York State. The region experiences a fairly humid, continental-type climate, but with a definite maritime flavor due to strong modification from the Great Lakesmarker. The transitional seasons are very brief in Buffalo and Western New York.

Winters in Western New York are generally cold and snowy, but are changeable and include frequent thaws and rain as well. Winters can also be quite long in Western New York, usually spanning from mid-November to early April. Snow covers the ground more often than not from late December into early March, but periods of bare ground are not uncommon. Over half of the annual snowfall comes from the lake effect process and is very localized. Lake effect snow occurs when cold air crosses the relatively warm lake waters and becomes saturated, creating clouds and precipitation downwind. Due to the prevailing winds, areas south of Buffalo receive much more lake effect snow than locations to the north. The lake snow machine starts as early as mid-October, peaks in December, then virtually shuts down after Lake Eriemarker freezes in mid to late January. The most well-known snowstorm in Buffalo's history, the Blizzard of '77, was not a lake effect snowstorm in Buffalo in the normal sense of that term (Lake Erie was frozen over at the time), but instead resulted from a combination of high winds and snow previously accumulated both on land and on frozen Lake Erie. Snow does not typically impair the city's operation, but did cause significant damage as with the October 2006 storm.

Buffalo has the sunniest and driest summers of any major city in the Northeast, but still has enough rain to keep vegetation green and lush. Summers are marked by plentiful sunshine and moderate humidity and temperature. It receives, on average, over 65% of possible sunshine in June, July and August. Obscured by the notoriety of Buffalo's winter snow is the fact that Buffalo benefits from other lake effects such as the cooling southwest breezes off Lake Eriemarker in summer that gently temper the warmest days. As a result, the Buffalo station of the National Weather Service has never recorded an official temperature greater than 99 degrees F. Rainfall is moderate but typically occurs at night. The stabilizing effect of Lake Eriemarker continues to inhibit thunderstorms and enhance sunshine in the immediate Buffalo area through most of July. August usually has more showers and is hotter and more humid as the warmer lake loses its temperature-stabilizing influence.


City proper

Like most formerly industrial cities of the Great Lakes region, Buffalo has suffered through several decades of population decline brought about by the loss of its industrial base. The city's population peaked in 1950, when it was the 15th largest city in the United States. Its population has declined in every year since, particularly during the late 1970s and early 1980s, when the city lost nearly one-third of its population in only five years. The demographic change and the impact of such change on the industrial cities of the region, including Buffalo, is significant; based on the 2006 US Census estimate, Buffalo's current population is equivalent to its population in the year 1890, reversing nearly 120 years of demographic change.

Although the trend is inconclusive at this time, current census estimates indicate the rate of population loss may be decelerating to a stable state. The 2006–2007 loss estimate is 50% less than the years prior, and is at less than 1% year-over-year loss. Whether this trend will continue will not be evident until next year's estimate.

At the 2005–2007 American Community Survey Estimates, the city's population was 53.8% White (48.7% non-Hispanic White alone), 41.1% Black or African American, 1.2% American Indian and Alaska Native, 2.0% Asian, 4.5% from some other race and 2.5% from two or more races. 8.3% of the total population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.

At that time of the 2000 census there were 292,648 people, 122,720 households, and 67,005 families residing in the city. The population density is 7,205.8 people per square mile (2,782.4/km²). There are 145,574 housing units at an average density of 3,584.4/sq mi (1,384.1/km²). The racial makeup of the city is 54.43% White, 37.23% African American, 0.77% Native American, 1.40% Asian, 0.04% Pacific Islander, 3.68% from other races, and 2.45% from two or more races. 7.54% of the population are Hispanic or Latino of any race. The top 5 largest ancestries include German (13.6%), Irish (12.2%), Italian (11.7%), Polish (11.7%), and English (4.0%).

There were 122,720 households out of which 28.6% have children under the age of 18 living with them, 27.6% are married couples living together, 22.3% have a female householder with no husband present, and 45.4% are non-families. 37.7% of all households are made up of individuals and 12.1% have someone living alone who is 65 years of age or older. The average household size is 2.29 and the average family size is 3.07.

In the city the population included 26.3% under the age of 18, 11.3% from 18 to 24, 29.3% from 25 to 44, 19.6% from 45 to 64, and 13.4% who are 65 years of age or older. The median age is 34 years. For every 100 females there are 88.6 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there are 83.5 males.

The median income for a household in the city is $24,536, and the median income for a family is $30,614. Males have a median income of $30,938 versus $23,982 for females. The per capita income for the city is $14,991. 26.6% of the population and 23.0% of families are below the poverty line. Out of the total population, 38.4% of those under the age of 18 and 14.0% of those 65 and older are living below the poverty line.

Buffalo historical population (1830–2006)

Buffalo has very sizable populations of Irish, Italian, Polish, German, Jewish, Greek, Arab, African, and Indian descent. Major ethnic neighborhoods still exist but they changed significantly in the second half of the twentieth century. Traditionally, Polish-Americans were the predominant occupants of the East Side, while Italian-Americans composed a close-knit neighborhood in the west side. The East Side is now a predominantly African American neighborhood, while the West Side has become a melting pot of many ethnicities, with Latino culture being the strongest influence. Throughout the history of Buffalo, the neighborhoods collectively called the First Ward, as well as much of South Buffalomarker, have comprised almost entirely people of Irish descent. Recently, there has been an influx of inhabitants that are of Arab descent, mainly from Yemenmarker, as the city's Muslim population has increased to approximately 3000 according to an estimate . Since the 1950s and 1960s, the greater portion of the Jewish population has moved to the suburban areas outside of the city.

Metropolitan area

As of 2006, Eriemarker and Niagara Counties had a combined estimated population of 1,154,378. The racial makeup of the area is 82.2% White, 13% African American, 0.6% Native American, 1.32% Asian, 3.3% Hispanic, and 1.4% of all other races. In the metropolitan area, 39.68% of people are under the age of 18 or over the age of 64, and the median age is 38. Of the total population, 82.88% have a high school diploma and 23.2% have obtained a Bachelor's degree. The median income for a household is $48,400 and the per capita income for the area is just under $39,000. Approximately 8% of the population is below the poverty line.


City Honors School

Public schools

Currently, there are 78 public schools in the city including a growing number of charter schools. As of 2006, the total enrollment was 41,089 students with a student-teacher ratio of 13.5 to 1. The graduation rate is up to 52% in 2008, up from 45% in 2007, and 50% in 2006. More than 27% of teachers have a Master's degree or higher and the median amount of experience in the field is 15 years. When considering the entire metropolitan area, there are a total of 292 schools educating 172,854 students. Buffalo has a magnet school system, featuring schools that attract students with special interests, such as science, bilingual studies, and Native American studies. Specialized facilities include the Buffalo Elementary School of Technology; the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Multicultural Institute; the International School; the Dr. Charles R. Drew Science Magnet School; Build Academy; Leonardo da Vinci High School Buffalo; the Buffalo Academy for the Visual and Performing Arts, BAVPA; the Riverside Institute of Technology; Lafayette High School/Buffalo Academy of Financemarker; Hutchinson Central Technical High Schoolmarker; South Park High School and the Emerson School of Hospitality.

Buffalo is currently in the process of a $1 billion city school rebuilding plan.

Private schools

The city is home to 47 private schools while the metropolitan region has 150 institutions. Most private schools have a Roman Catholic affiliation. There are schools affiliated with other religions such as Islam and Judaism. There are also nonsectarian options including The Buffalo Seminary (the only private, nonsectarian, all-girls school in Western New York state), and The Nichols School.

Complementing its standard function, the Buffalo Public Schools Adult and Continuing Education Division provides education and services to adults throughout the community. In addition, the Career and Technical Education Department offers more than 20 academic programs, and is attended by about 6,000 students each year.

Catholic schools

Colleges and universities



Buffalo is home to three State University of New York (SUNY) institutions. Each is the largest institution of its type in the system. Combined, they account for roughly 40,000 students in the area.



Buffalo and the surrounding area were long involved in railroad commerce, steel manufacture, automobile production, aircraft/aerospace design and production, Great Lakes shipping, and grain storage. Most of these industries have left the city through the years. Major steel production no longer exists in the area, although several smaller steel mills remain in operation. For example, Gibraltar Industries, a leading manufacturer, processor, and distributor of steel products for the building, industrial, and vehicular markets is headquartered in Buffalo. As of the 1950 United States Census, Buffalo was the 15th largest city in the country, the nation's largest inland port (twelfth overall), second biggest rail center, sixth largest steel producer, and eighth largest manufacturer.

The regional economy can now best be described as a mix of industrial, light manufacturing, high technology and service-oriented private sector companies. Instead of relying on a single industry or sector for its economic future, the region has taken a diversified approach that has created opportunities for growth and expansion in the 21st century .


Overall, employment in Buffalo has shifted as its population has declined and manufacturing has left. Buffalo's 2005 unemployment rate was 6.6%, contrasted with New York State's 5.0% rate. And from the fourth quarter of 2005 to the fourth quarter of 2006, Erie County had no net job growth, ranking it 271st among the 326 largest counties in the country. Yet the area has recently seen an upswing in job growth as unemployment has dropped to only 4.9% in July 2007 from 5.2% in 2006 and 6.6% in 2005. The area's manufacturing jobs have continued to show the largest losses in jobs with over 17,000 fewer than at the start of 2006. Yet other sectors of the economy have outdistanced manufacturing and are seeing large increases. Educational and health services added over 30,400 jobs in 2006 and over 20,500 jobs have been added in the professional and business (mostly finance) arena.According to the New York State Department of Labor:Buffalo-Niagara Falls: Since October 2007, the number of nonfarm jobs has increased by 200, or less than 0.1 percent, and the number of private sector jobs has decreased by 1,900, or 0.4 percent. The area’s unemployment rate was 5.7 percent in October 2008, compared with 6.1 in September and 4.3 in October 2007.

Life sciences

Buffalo has increasingly become a center for bioinformatics and human genome research, including work by researchers at the University at Buffalo and the Roswell Park Cancer Institutemarker. This consortium is known as the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus. It also includes: Buffalo Hearing & Speech Center, Buffalo Medical Group Foundation, Hauptman-Woodward Medical Research Institute, Kaleida Health, Olmsted Center for the Visually Impaired, Cleveland BioLabs and Upstate New York Transplant Services. The DNA samples used in The Human Genome Project were also collected from anonymous donors from Buffalo.

Entrepreneurial resources and life science business consultants accelerate the growth and development of emerging companies found within the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus and Upstate New York Region. For example, Buffalo BioSciences is a technology commercialization partner to the New York State Center of Excellence in Bioinformatics & Life Sciences and contributed to the launch and early success of Empire Genomics –- a firm based on research conducted at Roswell Park Cancer Institute by Dr. Norma Nowak enabling the delivery of personalized medicine.


Buffalo is the headquarters of M&T Bank, a Fortune 500 company with assets over $65B as of December 31, 2007. HSBC Bank USA also has major operations in Buffalo (The sports arena, which hosts the Buffalo Sabres NHL franchise, is named HSBC Arenamarker). Other banks, such as Bank of America and KeyBank have corporate operations in Buffalo. Citigroup also has regional offices in Amherstmarker, Buffalo's largest suburb.

Nearby Lockportmarker is the home to First Niagara Bank, which has branches from Buffalo to Albany, New Yorkmarker, and in September 2009 will have branches as far south as Pittsburghmarker. On September 10, 2009, First Niagara announced it was relocating their corporate headquarters from Lockport to downtown Buffalo. The company says its facilities in Lockport will remain open and fully staffed. First Niagara, which had been considering expanding into Western Pennsylvania for some time, benefited from PNC Financial Services being required by the United States Department of Justicemarker to sell off 50 National City branches in the Pittsburghmarker area and 11 more branches in and around Eriemarker to competitors, since the two banks had significant overlap in Western Pennsylvania and had potential antitrust issues in that area. First Niagara took advantage by buying 57 of the 61 National City branches from PNC that had to be divested after PNC acquired National City with funds from the $700 billion bailout plan after National City became a victim of the subprime mortgage crisis. The move affected the area by giving the Buffalo area some rare good economic news by announcing the creation of 200 more jobs, with some being in the Buffalo area.


Buffalo is home to Rich Products, one of the world's largest family-owned food manufacturers. Labatt moved its US headquarters to Buffalo in May 2007. This is in large part due to Buffalo's location directly in the middle of the Northeastern Trade Corridor. The city is the heart of the Canadian-American corridor. Over 80% of all U.S.-Canada trade occurs via border crossings in the eastern United States and with five bridges to Canada, the Buffalo area is one of the key eastern border crossing locations.

New Era Cap Company, the largest sports-licensed headwear company in the United States, is based in Buffalo. They opened new headquarters in 2007 in the former Federal Reserve Building in downtown Buffalo.

Ford still maintains operation of its Buffalo Stamping Plant south of the city, and Chevrolet has two plants, a production plant in Tonawandamarker near the city line, and had a tool and die plant in the city until it was closed in 2008. The windshield wiper was invented in Buffalo, and the Trico company operated 3 major manufacturing facilities but has since closed all of them and moved operations to Mexicomarker. For many years, Buffalo was the nation's second largest rail center, with Chicagomarker being the first.

Merchants Insurance Group, a property & casualty insurance company, has maintained its headquarters in Buffalo, New York, has been offering financial protection to individuals and businessowners since 1918. The company provides commercial and personal property and casualty insurance throughout the Northeast and North Central United Statesmarker.

Delaware North Companies are headquartered in Buffalo.

Largest private sector employers

Top 10 Private Sector Employers in Western New York - 2008
Company Industry Fulltime Employees
Kaleida Health Health Care 10,000
Catholic Health System Health Care 8,400
HSBC Bank USA N.A. Commercial Bank 5,848
Employer Services Corp. Employment-related services 4,880
M&T Bank Commercial Bank 4,820
Tops Markets LLC Supermarket Retailer 4,673
Seneca Gaming Corp. Entertainment 4,020
Catholic Diocese of Buffalo Parishes, schools, and institutions 3,700
Wegmans Food Markets Inc. Supermarket Retailer 3,288
Roswell Park Cancer Institutemarker Hospital 2,699
Note: Delphi is no longer included in the list as it employs 2,600 as of June, 2008 Buffalo Business First

A large number of people in Western New York are employed in by Government and public entities. Large numbers of state employees are due to large state universities like State University of New York at Buffalo, State University of New York College at Buffalo and Erie Community College's three campuses. The table below shows Government employment in Western New York, an area significantly larger than the City of Buffalo (2006 figures)

Largest public sector employers

Employer Employees
State of New York 16,508
United States of America 10,000
City of Buffalo (includes schools) 8,218
County of Erie 4,610


At the municipal level, the City of Buffalo has a council made up of the mayor and nine councilmen. Buffalo also serves as the seat of Erie Countymarker with 6 of the 15 county legislators representing at least a portion of Buffalo. At the state level, there are three state assemblymen and two state senators representing parts of the city proper. At the federal level, Buffalo is represented by three members of the House of Representatives.

In a trend common to Northern "Rust Belt" regions, political life in Buffalo has been dominated by the Democratic Party for the last half-century, and has been roiled by racial division and social issues. The last time anyone other than a Democrat held the position of Mayor in Buffalo was 1954. Democratic Mayor James D. Griffin, was first elected to office as a nominee of two marginal parties, the Conservative party and the Right-to-Life Party in 1977 when he lost the Democratic primary for Mayor to then Deputy State Assembly Speaker Arthur Eve. Griffin switched political allegiance several times during his 14 years as Mayor, generally hewing to socially conservative platforms. His successor, Democrat Anthony M. Masiello (elected in 1993) continued to campaign on social conservatism, often crossing party lines in his endorsements and alliances. In 2005, however, Democrat Byron Brown was elected the city's first African-American mayor in a landslide (64%-27%) over Republican Kevin Helfer, who ran on a conservative platform.

This change in local politics was preceded by a fiscal crisis in 2003 when years of economic decline, a diminishing tax-base, and civic mismanagement left the city deep in debt and teetering on the edge of bankruptcy. At the urging of New York State Comptroller Alan Hevesi, the state took over the management of Buffalo's finances, appointing the Buffalo Fiscal Stability Authority. Conversations about merging the city with the larger Erie County government were initiated the following year by Mayor Tony Masiello, but came to naught.


Buffalo, New York's skyline


Buffalo consists of 32 different neighborhoods: ( A map and listing of the neighborhoods from the University at Buffalo) Allentownmarker, Bailey-Lovejoy, Black Rock, Central Park, Clinton-Bailey, Cold Springs, Delaware District, Downtown, East Side, Elmwood Village, Fillmore-Leroy, First Ward, Fruit Belt, Hamlin Park, Hospital Hill, Humboldt Park, Kaisertown, Kensington, Kensington Heights, Lower West Side, Masten Park, North Buffalo, North Park, Parkside, Polonia/Broadway Fillmore, Riverside, Schiller Park, South Buffalomarker, University District, University Heights, Vernon Triangle, Upper West Side, and Willert Park.

According to the American Planning Association the Elmwood Village neighborhood in Buffalo is ranked the third best neighborhood in America. Elmwood Village is a pedestrian-oriented, mixed use neighborhood with hundreds of small, locally owned boutiques, shops, restaurants, and cafes.

There are currently 9 common council districts in The City of Buffalo. They are: Delaware, Ellicott, Fillmore, Lovejoy, Masten, Niagara, North, South, and University.


One of Buffalo's many monikers is the City of Trees, which describes the abundance of green in the city. In fact, Buffalo has more than 20 parks with multiple ones being accessible from any part of the city.

The Olmsted Park and Parkway System is the hallmark of Buffalo's many green spaces. Three-fourths of city park land is part of the system, which comprises six major parks, eight connecting parkways, nine circles and seven smaller spaces. Begun in 1868 by Frederick Law Olmsted and his partner Calvert Vaux, the system was integrated into the city and marks the first attempt in America to lay out a coordinated system of public parks and parkways. The Olmsted designed portions of the Buffalo park system are listed on the National Register of Historic Places and are maintained by the Buffalo Olmsted Parks Conservancy.


Situated at the confluence of Lake Eriemarker and the Buffalo and Niagara Riversmarker, Buffalo is a waterfront city. The city's rise to economic power came through its waterways in the form of transshipment, manufacturing, and an endless source of energy. Buffalo's waterfront remains, though to a lesser degree, a hub of commerce, trade, and industry. These economic entities, however, no longer hold the answer to future, long-term prosperity. This hope of the populace lies in the burgeoning medical and service industries. .

As of 2009, a significant portion of Buffalo's waterfront is being transformed from its industrial past into a focal point for social and recreational activity. Recently excavated and rewatered is the Erie Canal Commercial Slip, which is the original western terminus of the Erie Canal System. This will soon join an entire revitalization of the original Erie Canal Harbor, with shops, eateries, a massive Bass Pro sporting goods outlet, and high-rise condominiums planned. Buffalo's intent is to stress its relatively unknown yet rich architectural and historical heritage, thereby creating a worthy tourism destination.

Standard of living

The loss of traditional jobs in manufacturing, rapid suburbanization and high costs of labor have led to economic decline, making Buffalo one of the poorest amongst U.S. cities with populations of more than 250,000 people. An estimated 28.7% of Buffalo residents live below the poverty line; only Detroitmarker and Clevelandmarker have higher rates. Buffalo's median household income of $27,850 is third-lowest among large cities, behind only Miami and Cleveland; however the median household income for the metropolitan area is $57,000.

This, in part, has led to the Buffalo-Niagara Falls metropolitan area having the most affordable housing market in the U.S. today. The quarterly NAHB/Wells Fargo Housing Opportunity Index (HOI) noted that nearly 90% of the new and existing homes sold in the metropolitan area during the second quarter were affordable to families making the area's median income of $57,000. The area median price of homes was $75,000.

Buffalo faces issues with vacant and abandoned houses, as the city ranks second only to St. Louismarker on the list of American cities with the most vacant properties per capita. Since 2000, the city has torn down 2,000 vacant homes but as many as 10,000 still remain. Mayor Byron W. Brown recently unveiled a $100 million, five-year plan to demolish 5,000 more houses. The city's move away from heavy industry and toward a service and bioinformatics economy has brought improved air and water quality, which benefit not only residents and tourists but the bioregion as a whole. In July 2005, Reader's Digest ranked Buffalo as the third cleanest large city in the nation.



The most common of its monikers The Queen City first appeared in print in the 1840s, referring to the city's status as the second largest city in New York State after New York City. The Queen City was also used during the 1800s to describe Buffalo as the second largest American city on the Great Lakesmarker after Chicagomarker. Buffalo has also been called The Nickel City due to the appearance of a bison on the back of Indian Head nickel in the early part of the 20th century. The City of Good Neighbors refers to the helpful, friendly spirit of its inhabitants. In the early 20th century, the city began calling itself the City of Light both because of the plentiful hydroelectric power made possible by nearby Niagara Fallsmarker and because it was the first city in America to have electric street lights.


Buffalo was first settled primarily by New Englandersmarker. The first wave of European immigrants was a large influx of Germans. The city was further populated by Irish immigrants first, Erie Canal builders and then escaping famine, and infused by Polish, Italian and Sicilian, Jewish, and more recently Latino populations, all of which have made it a melting pot of ethnic cultures. The newest immigrants are from Somaliamarker, Sudanmarker and Asia.

The old First Ward in South Buffalomarker retains a strong Irish identity, and Kaisertown reflects a German heritage. Buffalo's Polonia centered on the Broadway Market on the East Side, a microcosm of Polish/Slavic traditions and delicacies. The East Side is now home to African Americans, many of whom came north during the Great Migration. The annual Juneteenth Festival is a large cultural celebration organized by African Americans in Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Park.

The West Side is home to the city's Hispanic community, predominantly of Puerto Rican descent. The West Side was once Buffalo's "Little Italy," but in the 1980s much of Buffalo's Italian American community moved to North Buffalo. There is also a small Italian-American enclave in the East Side neighborhood of Lovejoy. Many Buffalo households, churches, and restaurants continue to observe the Sicilian custom of preparing St. Joseph's Day (March 19) tables, at which various meatless Lenten courses are laid out for the poor.

Buffalo is also home to a relatively small Jewish community. German Jewish immigrants originally settled on Buffalo's West Side in the mid-1800s. Lower income Russian Jews and Polish Jews immigrating to the Niagara Frontier in the early 1900s initially settled on the lower East Side, near William Street and Jefferson Avenue. The community migrated to the Masten Park neighborhood on the East Side, and then to North Buffalo between the 1940s and the 1960s. Although many still live in the city, particularly in North Buffalo and the Delaware District on the city's West Side, the majority of the Buffalo area's Jews now live in the northeastern suburbs. Buffalo's Jewish Community centers are located in the Delaware District and Amherst.

Distancing itself from its industrial past, Buffalo is redefining itself as a cultural, banking, educational, medical center and architectural tourism destination. In 2001 USA Today named Buffalo the winner of its "City with a Heart" contest. proclaiming it the nation's "friendliest city." Buffalo is also a two-time winner of the All-America City Award.


Rib dinner

As a melting pot of cultures, cuisine in the Buffalo area reflects a variety of influences. These include Italian, Irish, Jewish, German, Polish, African American, Greek, Indian and American influences. Beef on weck sandwich, Wardynski's kielbasa, Sahlen's hot dogs, sponge candy, pastry hearts, pierogi, and haddock fish fries are among the local favorites, as is a loganberry-flavored beverage that remains relatively obscure outside of the Western New Yorkmarker and Southern Ontariomarker area. Weber's mustard is a well known local producer of horseradish mustard which is popular in the Western NY area. Teressa Bellissimo, the chef/owner of the city's Anchor Bar, first prepared the now-widespread chicken wings here on October 3, 1964. Thousands of Western New Yorkers descend into the city for food festivals during the summer months, such as the Taste of Buffalo and the National Buffalo Wing Festival. There are also festivals themed around ethnic cuisines such as the Italian, Hellenic and Lebanese festivals.

Local or regional chains with a significant presence in the Buffalo area include Louie's Hot Dogs, Ted's Hot Dogs, Anderson's Frozen Custard,John and Mary's Submarines, Duff's Famous Wings, Jim's Steakout, Just Pizza, Spot Coffee, Tim Hortons, Mighty Taco, Bocce Club and LaNova Pizzeria. Buffalo's pizza is unique, perhaps because Buffalo is geographically located halfway between New York Citymarker and Chicago, Illinoismarker, the pizza made is likewise about halfway between thin-crust New York-style pizza and deep-dish Chicago-style pizza.

The city is also home to the Pearl Street Brewery and Flying Bison Brewing Company, who continue Buffalo's brewing traditions. Labatt USA, the US operation for Labatt Beer, a Torontomarker-based brewer, is also headquartered in Buffalo.

Buffalo also has several specialty import/grocery stores in old ethnic neighborhoods, and is home to an eclectic collection of cafes and restaurants that serve adventurous, cosmopolitan fare. Locally-owned restaurants offer Chinese, German, Japanese, Korean, Vietnamese, Thai, Mexican, Italian, Greek, Arab, Indian, Caribbean, Soul Food, and French.

Several well-known food companies are based in Buffalo. Non-dairy whipped topping, later imitated by Cool Whip, was invented in Buffalo in 1945 by Robert E. Rich, Sr. His company, Rich Products, is one of the city's largest private employers. General Mills was organized in Buffalo, and Gold Medal brand flour, Wheaties, Cheerios and other General Mills brand cereals are manufactured here. One of the country's largest cheese manufacturers, Sorrento, has been here since 1947. Archer Daniels Midland also operates its largest flour mill in the city. Buffalo is also home to one of the largest privately held food companies in the world, Delaware North Companies, which operates concessions in sports arenas, stadiums, resorts, and many state & federal parks.


Buffalo is home to over 50 private and public art galleries, most notably the Albright-Knox Art Gallerymarker, home to a world-class collection of modern and contemporary art. The local art scene is also enhanced by the Burchfield-Penney Art Center, Hallwalls Contemporary Arts Center, CEPA, and many small galleries and studios. AmericanStyle ranked Buffalo fourth in its list of America's top art destinations.

Two street festivals – the Allentown Art Festival and the Elmwood Festival of the Arts – bring thousands of people to the city to browse and purchase original crafts. The Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra, which performs at Kleinhans Music Hallmarker, is one of the city's most prominent performing arts institutions. Shea's Performing Arts Centermarker, long known as Shea's Buffalo, is an old-style large theatre that continues to show productions and concerts. Buffalo is also home to the second largest free outdoor Shakespeare festival in the United States, Shakespeare in Delaware Park. Filmmaker, Writer, Painter and Musician Vincent Gallo was born in Buffalo in 1962 and lived in Buffalo until 1978 when he moved out on his own to New York City.


Buffalo is also the founding city for several mainstream bands and musicians, most famously Rick James, and The Goo Goo Dolls, who wrote a playoff song for the Buffalo Sabres in 2007. , Vincent Gallo Buffalo Born filmmaker musician played in several local bands before moving to New York City where he released six LP's including three on Warp records. Jazz fusion band Spyro Gyra also got its start in Buffalo. Other bands include death metal band Cannibal Corpse, Every Time I Die, Snapcase, Cute is What We Aim For, Mandy K, which hail from Hamburg, a suburb of Buffalo. Malevolent Creation and moe. also both started off in Buffalo. Well-known indie artist Ani DiFranco hails from Buffalo, and it is the home of her "Righteous Babe" record label. 10,000 Maniacs are from nearby Jamestown, but got their start in Buffalo, which led to lead singer Natalie Merchant launching a successful solo career. Up and coming British indie act Fox Elipsus is also based in Buffalo. Cannibal Corpse reached national fame in 1994 when they appeared in the movie Ace Ventura: Pet Detective, at the request of lead actor Jim Carrey. The director agreed and decided to actually have Jim jump on stage with the band and start singing a song of theirs in the film to escape two pursuing goons.


Buffalo Japanese Garden
Many architectural treasures exist in Buffalo, including:

The country's largest intact parks system designed by Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux, including Delaware Parkmarker. Buffalo was the first city for which Olmsted designed (in 1869) an interconnected park and parkway system rather than stand-alone parks.

The Guaranty Buildingmarker, by Louis Sullivan, was one of the first steel-supported, curtain-walled buildings in the world, and its thirteen stories made it, at the time it was built (1895), the tallest building in Buffalo and one of the world's first true skyscrapers. It is a National Historic Landmark.

The Hotel Buffalo (originally the Statler Hotel) by August Esenwein and James A. Johnson was the first hotel in the world to feature a private bath in each room.

The H.marker H.marker Richardson Complexmarker, originally the New York State Asylum for the Insane, is Richardsonian Romanesque in style and was the largest commission designed by prominent architect Henry Hobson Richardson. The grounds of this hospital were designed by Olmsted. Though currently in a state of disrepair, New York State has allocated funds to restore this treasure.

There are several buildings by Frank Lloyd Wright, including the Darwin D.marker Martin Housemarker, George Barton Housemarker, William R.marker Heath Housemarker, Walter V.marker Davidson Housemarker, The Graycliff Estatemarker, as well as the now demolished Larkin Administration Building. Constructed in 2007 on Buffalo's Black Rock Canal is a Wright-designed boathouse originally intended, but never built, for the University of Wisconsin–Madison rowing team. Along as a tourist destination, it functionally serves many Buffalo-area rowing clubs. Buffalo has more Frank Lloyd Wright buildings than any other city except Chicagomarker.

The Buffalo City Hallmarker building by George Dietel and John J. Wade is a spectacular art deco skyscraper and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Other notable buildings:

Image:Buffalo_City_Hall.jpg|Buffalo City Hallmarker building's art decoImage:Darwin D. Martin House.jpg|Darwin D.marker Martin Housemarker by Frank Lloyd WrightImage:Kleinhans Music Hall.jpg|Kleinhans Music Hallmarker by Eliel and Eero SaarinenImage:Buffalo and Erie County Historical Society.jpg|Buffalo and Erie County Historical SocietymarkerImage:Erie County Courthouse.jpg|Erie County HallImage:Asbury Delaware Church, Buffalo 1.jpg|Asbury Delaware ChurchImage:Buffalo Central Terminal 2.jpg|Buffalo Central TerminalmarkerImage:Electric Building - Buffalo.jpg|Electric Building


Shea's Performing Arts Center
Last call is at 4 a.m. in Buffalo, rather than 2 a.m. as in most other areas of the U.S. This is often attributed to the historically high density of industrial facilities and the demand of second and third shift patrons. It is also because New Yorkmarker law allows bars to be open until 4 a.m. (However, local municipalities can override it to an earlier time.) This law was actually designed to accommodate the thriving late nightlife of New York City, but the state's "Second City" has adopted it as well.

Several distinct and thriving nightlife districts have grown around clusters of bars and nightclubs in the city. The most visible nightlife district is West Chippewa Street, located between Main Street and South Elmwood Avenue. The area is home to high-energy dance clubs, crowded bars, trendy coffeehouses, and restaurants. Allentownmarker, where bars are as numerous but the atmosphere is a bit more relaxed, is a several minute walk north to Allen Street. Allen Street near Main Street houses several bars, while Allen near Elmwood has many bars that feature live music. Continuing up Elmwood Avenue from Allentown is the Elmwood Strip, which runs about two miles to Buffalo State Collegemarker. This strip has numerous small boutiques and restaurants, with few large corporate establishments. Crowds on this strip include everyone from college students to families to the elderly.

The city and surrounding Niagara Region also have an active summer concert schedule, a large portion of which are free and easy to access. The events are well planned and are spaced out through the week. Artpark on Tuesday nights, Buffalo Place hosts 'Thursdays at the Square', The Canal Concert series is on Saturday nights in Lockport and new for 2008 is a Friday night series on the Erie canal in North Tonawanda.

Other points of interest



Buffalo is served by the Buffalo Niagara International Airportmarker, located in Cheektowagamarker. The airport, recently re-constructed, serves over 5 million passengers a year and is still growing. Buffalo Niagara International Airportmarker ranks among the five cheapest airports from which to fly in the country, according to the U.S. Bureau of Transportation Statistics. The average round trip flight cost is $295.58. In the last few years there has been a surge in Canadians flying out of Buffalo, mainly due to much cheaper tax and airline surcharges, as compared with Canadian airports and the ability to fly on some US based discount carriers not available in Canada. As of 2006, plans are in the works by U.S. Senator Charles Schumer to make the under-used Niagara Falls International Airportmarker into an international cargo hub for New York and Torontomarker, as well as Canada as a whole.

Public transit

The Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority (NFTA) operates Buffalo Niagara International Airportmarker and Niagara Falls International Airportmarker, and the public transit system throughout the Buffalo area. The NFTA operates bus lines throughout the city and suburbs, as well as the Metro Rail transit system in the city.

The Metro Rail is a long, single line rail that extends from downtown Buffalo to the University Heights district in north Buffalo. The downtown section of the line is operated above ground and is free of charge to passengers. Outside the downtown area the line transitions to an underground system until it reaches the end of the line at University Heights. Passengers pay a fee to ride this section of the rail.

A new NFTA project is underway, often called "Cars on Main Street", that will substantially revise the downtown portion of the Metro Rail. It will allow vehicular traffic and Metro Rail cars to share Main St. in a manner similar to that of the trolleys of San Francisco. The design includes newly designed stations and pedestrian-friendly improvements. The first phase of the project is underway, and will be completed by spring 2009. When the entire project is complete in the next few years, the downtown portion of Main St. will be re-opened to vehicular traffic for the first time in almost 30 years. This is expected to have a significant impact on the quality of life and business in the city center.

Intercity rail

Two train stations, Buffalo-Depewmarker and Buffalo-Exchange Streetmarker serve the city and are operated by Amtrak. VIA Rail also serves these stations for travel into Canada.

Freight service for Buffalo is served by CSX Transportation and Norfolk Southern (NS), as well as Canadian National (CN) and Canadian Pacific (CP) railroads from across the Border. The area has 4 large rail yards: Frontier (CSX), Bison (NS), SK (NS / CP) and Buffalo Creek (NS / CSX). A large amount of hazardous cargo also crosses through the Buffalo area, such as liquid propane and anhydrous ammonia.


Buffalo is at the eastern end of Lake Eriemarker, one of the Great Lakesmarker, which boasts the greatest variety of freshwater sportfish in the country. The Lake serves as a playground for numerous personal yachts, sailboats, power boats and watercraft, and provides a short water route to excellent sand beaches on the nearby Ontariomarker (Canada) shore. The city has an extensive breakwall system protecting its inner and outer Lake Erie harbors, which are maintained at commercial navigation depths for Great Lakesmarker freighters.

A Lake Erie tributary that flows through south Buffalo is the Buffalo River, for which the city is named. Buffalo is historically linked to the fabled Erie Canal, which ends where the Black Rock Channel enters Lake Eriemarker. When the Canal was dedicated in 1825, its conceiver, New York State governor DeWitt Clinton took waters from Lake Erie at Buffalo's Western Terminus of the Canal (now the Commercial Slip). He sailed to New York City on the Canal packet Seneca Chief, which later returned to Buffalo with Atlantic Ocean water. The seawater was poured into the Lake by Judge and future Buffalo Mayor Samuel Wilkeson. Once a major route for passengers and cargo, the Canal is now used primarily for pleasure craft and some light local freight, and in Buffalo it bypasses the swift upper reach of the Niagara Rivermarker. A tributary of the Niagara River is Scajaquada Creek, which flows though Buffalo, via the Frederick Law Olmsted-designed Delaware Lake and Park.

National and state highway access

Major highways that serve the Greater Buffalo area

Federal offices

US Army Corps of Engineers

The offices of the Buffalo District, US Army Corps of Engineers are located adjacent to the Black Rock Lock in the Black Rock channel of the Erie Canal. In addition to maintaining and operating the lock, the District is responsible for planning, design, construction and maintenance of water resources projects in an area extending from Toledo, Ohiomarker to Massena, New York. These include the flood-control dammarker at Mount Morris, New York, oversight of the lower Great Lakesmarker (Eriemarker and Ontariomarker), review and permitting of wetlands construction, and remedial action for hazardous waste sites.

Buffalo is also the home of a major office of the National Weather Service (NOAA), which serves all of western and much of central New York State.

Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI)

Buffalo is home to one of the 56 national FBI field offices. The field office covers all of Western New York and parts of the Southern Tier and Central New York. The field office operates several task forces in conjunction with local agencies to help combat issues such as gang violence, terrorism threats and health care fraud.

Federal courts

Buffalo is also the location of the chief judge, United States Attorney, and administrative offices for the United States District Court for the Western District of New York.

Sports teams

Current teams

Sport League Club Founded Venue League championships Championship years
Football NFL Buffalo Bills 1960 Ralph Wilson Stadiummarker 2* 1964,1965*
Hockey NHL Buffalo Sabres 1970 HSBC Arenamarker 0
Baseball IL Buffalo Bisons 1979 Coca-Cola Fieldmarker 3 1997, 1998, 2004
Lacrosse NLL Buffalo Bandits 1992 HSBC Arenamarker 4 1992, 1993, 1996, 2008
Basketball PBL Buffalo Stampede 2008 Koessler Athletic Centermarker 0 N/A
Soccer NPSL Buffalo City FC 2008 Nichols School 0 N/A
Arena Football AF2 TBD 2009 HSBC Arenamarker 0 N/A
Soccer USL W-League Buffalo Flash 2009 Orchard Park High School 0 N/A

Former teams


Sister cities

Buffalo has a number of sister cities as designated by Sister Cities International (SCI):

Honorary consulates in Buffalo

See also


Further reading

External links

Northwest: Grand Islandmarker North: Kenmoremarker, Tonawandamarker Northeast: Amherstmarker
West: Fort Eriemarker, Niagara Rivermarker Buffalo East: Sloanmarker, Cheektowagamarker
Southwest: Lake Eriemarker South: Lackawannamarker Southeast: West Senecamarker

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