Set your curiosity free with richer, better connected information.

Buffalo, New York

County seat city in Erie County, New York, USA

Top 10 Buffalo, New York related articles

Buffalo, New York
City of Buffalo
Left to right from top: Downtown Buffalo, KeyBank Center, Canalside, Old County Hall, Buffalo Savings Bank, Buffalo City Hall, Edmund B. Hayes Hall at the University at Buffalo, Episcopal Church of the Good Shepherd
The Queen City, The City of Good Neighbors, The City of No Illusions, The Nickel City, Queen City of the Lakes, City of Light
Location within Erie County
Location within the state of New York
Location within the United States
Buffalo (North America)
Coordinates: 42°54′17″N 78°50′58″W / 42.90472°N 78.84944°W / 42.90472; -78.84944Coordinates: 42°54′17″N 78°50′58″W / 42.90472°N 78.84944°W / 42.90472; -78.84944
Country  United States
State  New York
First settled (village)1789
Incorporated (city)1832
 • MayorByron Brown (D)
 • City CouncilBuffalo Common Council
 • City52.5 sq mi (136.0 km2)
 • Land40.6 sq mi (105.2 km2)
 • Water11.9 sq mi (30.8 km2)
Elevation600 ft (200 m)
 • City261,310
 • Estimate 
 • RankUS: 86th
NY: 2nd
 • Density6,436/sq mi (2,568/km2)
 • Urban
935,906 (US: 46th)
 • Metro
1,130,152 (US: 50th)
 • CSA
1,206,992 (US: 47th)
Time zoneUTC−05:00 (EST)
 • Summer (DST)UTC−04:00 (EDT)
ZIP code
Area code(s)716
FIPS code36-11000
GNIS feature ID0973345[1]
Primary airportBuffalo Niagara International Airport
U.S. routes
Rapid transitBuffalo Metro Rail

Buffalo is the second largest city in the U.S. state of New York and the largest city in Western New York. As of 2019's census estimates, the population was 255,284.[3] The city is the county seat of Erie County and serves as a major gateway for commerce and travel across the Canadian border, forming part of the bi-national Buffalo Niagara Region and Buffalo–Niagara Falls metropolitan area. As of 2018, the Buffalo–Niagara Falls metropolitan area had a population of 1,130,152; the combined statistical area, which adds Cattaraugus County, had a population of 1,215,826 inhabitants.

The Buffalo area was inhabited before the 17th century by the Native American Iroquois tribe and later by French colonizers. The city grew significantly in the 19th and 20th centuries as a result of immigration, the construction of the Erie Canal and rail transportation, and its close proximity to Lake Erie. This growth provided an abundance of fresh water and an ample trade route to the Midwestern United States while grooming its economy for the grain, steel and automobile industries that dominated the city's economy in the 20th century. Since the city's economy relied heavily on manufacturing, deindustrialization in the latter half of the 20th century led to a steady decline in population. While some manufacturing activity remained following the Great Recession, Buffalo's economy has transitioned to service industries with a greater emphasis on healthcare, research and higher education including being home to a top research college in the University at Buffalo.

Buffalo is on the eastern shore of Lake Erie, at the head of the Niagara River, 16 miles (26 km) south of Niagara Falls. Its early embrace of electric power led to the nickname "The City of Light". The city is also famous for its urban planning and layout by Joseph Ellicott, an extensive system of parks designed by Frederick Law Olmsted, as well as significant architectural works. Its culture blends Northeastern and Midwestern traditions, with annual festivals including Taste of Buffalo and Allentown Art Festival, two professional sports teams and a Division I college team (Buffalo Bills, Buffalo Sabres and Buffalo Bulls), and a thriving and progressive music and arts scene.

Buffalo, New York Intro articles: 22


The city of Buffalo received its name from a nearby creek called Buffalo Creek.[4] British military engineer Captain John Montresor made reference to "Buffalo Creek" in his 1764 journal, which may be the earliest recorded appearance of the name.[5]

There are several theories regarding how Buffalo Creek received its name.[6][7][8] While it is possible its name originated from French fur traders and Native Americans calling the creek Beau Fleuve (French for "Beautiful River"),[6][7] it is also possible Buffalo Creek was named after the American buffalo, whose historical range may have extended into Western New York.[8][9][10]

Buffalo, New York Etymology articles: 4


Prehistory and European exploration

An early map of the village of Buffalo and outer lots in 1854. Inset is Ellicott's 1804 plan.
The village of Buffalo, 1813
Walk-in-the-Water was the first steamboat to sail Lake Erie in 1818; by the 1840s there were about 30 steamboats and 300 schooners and other craft navigating Lake Erie and connected lakes.

The first inhabitants of the New York State are believed to have been nomadic Paleo-Indians, who migrated after the disappearance of Pleistocene glaciers during or before 7000 BCE.[11]

Around 1000 CE, the Woodland period began, marked by the rise of the Iroquois Confederacy and its tribes throughout the state.[11]

During French exploration of the region in 1620, the region was occupied simultaneously by the agrarian Erie people, a tribe outside of the Five Nations of the Iroquois southwest of Buffalo Creek,[12] and the Wenro people or Wenrohronon, an Iroquoian-speaking tribal offshoot of the large Neutral Nation who lived along the inland south shore of Lake Ontario and at the east end of Lake Erie and a bit of its northern shore.[13] For trading, the Neutral people made a living by growing tobacco and hemp to trade with the Iroquois,[14] using animal paths or warpaths to travel and move goods across the state. These paths were later paved, and now function as major roads.[15]

Later, during the Beaver Wars of the 1640s-1650s, the combined warriors of the Five Nations of the Iroquois conquered the populous Neutrals and their peninsular territory, while the Senecas alone took out the Wenro and their territory, c. 1651–1653.[a][16][17][18] Soon after, the Iroquois destroyed Erie nation and territory[19] over their assistance to Huron people during the Beaver Wars.[20]

Louis Hennepin and Sieur de La Salle made the earliest European discoveries of the upper Niagara and Ontario regions in the late 1600s.[21] On August 7, 1679, La Salle launched a vessel, Le Griffon, that became the first full-sized ship to sail across the Great Lakes before it disappeared in Green Bay, Wisconsin.[22]

After the American Revolution, the Province of New York—now a U.S. state—began westward expansion, looking for habitable land by following trends of the Iroquois.[23] Land near fresh water was of considerable importance.[24] New York and Massachusetts were fighting for the territory Buffalo lies on, and Massachusetts had the right to purchase all but a one-mile (1600-meter) wide portion of land. The rights to the Massachusetts' territories were sold to Robert Morris in 1791, and two years later to the Holland Land Company.[25][26]

As a result of the war, in which the Iroquois tribe sided with the British Army,[27] Iroquois territory was gradually reduced in the mid-to-late-1700s by European settlers through successive treaties statewide, such as the Treaty of Fort Stanwix (1784), the First Treaty of Buffalo Creek (1788), and the Treaty of Geneseo (1797). The Iroquois were corralled onto reservations, including Buffalo Creek. By the end of the 18th century, only 338 square miles (216,000 acres; 880 km2; 88,000 ha) of reservation territory remained.[28]

Founding, Erie Canal, and railroads

1872 engraving of Buffalo
Buffalo harbor from the foot of Porter Avenue, 1871

Former slave Joseph "Black Joe" Hodges,[29][30] and Cornelius Winney, a Dutch trader from Albany who arrived in 1789, were early settlers along the mouth of Buffalo Creek.[31] The first white settlers along the creek were prisoners captured during the Revolutionary War.[32] The first resident and landowner of Buffalo with a permanent presence was Captain William Johnston,[33] a white Iroquois interpreter who had been in the area since the days after the Revolutionary War and who the Senecas granted creekside land as a gift of appreciation. His house stood at present-day Washington and Seneca streets.[34]

On July 20, 1793, the Holland Land Purchase was completed, containing the land of present-day Buffalo, brokered by Dutch investors from Holland.[35] The Treaty of Big Tree removed Iroquois title to lands west of the Genesee River in 1797.[36] In the fall of 1797, Joseph Ellicott, the architect who helped survey Washington, D.C. with brother Andrew,[37][38] was appointed as the Chief of Survey for the Holland Land Company.[39] Over the next year, he began to survey the tract of land at the mouth of Buffalo Creek. This was completed in 1803,[40] and the new village boundaries extended from the creekside in the south to present-day Chippewa Street in the north and Carolina Street to the west,[41] which is where most settlers remained for the first decade of the 19th century. Although the company named the settlement "New Amsterdam," the name did not catch on, reverting to Buffalo within ten years.[42][41] Buffalo had the first road to Pennsylvania built in 1802 for migrants passing through to the Connecticut Western Reserve in Ohio.[43]

In 1804, Ellicott designed a radial grid plan that would branch out from the village forming bicycle-like spokes, interrupted by diagonals, like the system used in the nation's capital.[44] In the middle of the village was the intersection of eight streets, in what would become Niagara Square. Several blocks to the southeast he designed a semicircle fronting Main Street with an elongated park green, formerly his estate.[45][46] This would be known as Shelton Square,[47] at that time the center of the city (which would be dramatically altered in the mid-20th century),[48] with the intersecting streets bearing the names of Dutch Holland Land Company members,[49][b] today Erie, Church and Niagara streets.[45] Lafayette Square also lies one block to the north, which was then bounded by streets bearing Iroquois names.[40]

According to an early resident, the village had sixteen residences, a schoolhouse and two stores in 1806, primarily near Main, Swan and Seneca streets.[50] There were also blacksmith shops, a tavern and a drugstore.[51] The streets were small at 40 feet wide, and the village was still surrounded by woods.[52] The first lot sold by the Holland Land Company was on September 11, 1806, to Zerah Phelps.[53] By 1808, lots would sell from $25 to $50.[54]

In 1804, Buffalo's population was estimated at 400, similar to Batavia, but Erie County's growth was behind Chautauqua, Genesee and Wyoming counties.[55] Neighboring village Black Rock to the northwest (today a Buffalo neighborhood) was also an important center.[45] Horatio J. Spafford noted in A Gazetteer of the State of New York that in fact, despite the growth the village of Buffalo had, Black Rock "is deemed a better trading site for a great trading town than that of Buffalo," especially when considering the regional profile of mundane roads extending eastward.[55] Before the east-to-west turnpike was completed, travelling from Albany to Buffalo would take a week,[56] while even a trip from nearby Williamsville to Batavia could take upwards of three days.[57][c]

Although slavery was rare in the state, limited instances of slavery had taken place in Buffalo during the early part of the 19th century. General Peter Buell Porter is said to have had five slaves during his time in Black Rock, and several news ads also advertised slaves for sale.[58]

In 1810, a courthouse was built. By 1811, the population was 500, with many people farming or doing manual labor.[59] The first newspaper to be published was the Buffalo Gazette in October that same year.[54]

On December 31, 1813, Buffalo and the village of Black Rock were burned by the British after the Battle of Buffalo.[60][61] The battle and subsequent fire was in response to the unprovoked destruction of Niagara-on-the-Lake, then known as "Newark," by American forces.[62][63] On August 4, 1814, British forces under Lt. Colonel John Tucker and Lt. Colonel William Drummond, General Gordon Drummond's nephew, attempted to raid Black Rock and Buffalo as part of a diversion to force an early surrender at Fort Erie the next day, but were defeated by a small force of American riflemen under Major Lodwick Morgan at the Battle of Conjocta Creek, and withdrew back into Canada. Consequently, Fort Erie's siege under Gordon Drummond later failed, and British forces withdrew. Though only three buildings remained in the village, rebuilding was swift, finishing in 1815.[64][65]

The population in 1840 was 18,213.[66] The village of Buffalo was part of and the seat of Niagara County until the legislature passed an act separating the two on April 2, 1861.[67]

On October 26, 1825,[68] the Erie Canal was completed, formed from part of Buffalo Creek,[69] with Buffalo a port-of-call for settlers heading westward.[70] At the time, the population was about 2,400.[71] By 1826, the 130 sq. mile Buffalo Creek Reservation at the western border of the village was transferred to Buffalo.[28] The Erie Canal brought a surge in population and commerce, which led Buffalo to incorporate as a city in 1832.[72] The canal area was mature by 1847, with passenger and cargo ship activity leading to congestion in the harbor.[73]

Assassination of William McKinley at the Temple of Music, 1901

The mid-1800s saw a population boom, with the city doubling in size from 1845 to 1855.[74] In 1855, almost two-thirds of the city's population were foreign-born immigrants, largely a mix of unskilled or educated Irish and German Catholics, who began self-segregating in different parts of the city. The Irish immigrants planted their roots along the railroad-heavy Buffalo River and Erie Canal to the southeast, to which there is still a heavy presence today; German immigrants found their way to the East Side, living a more laid-back, residential life.[75] Some immigrants were apprehensive about the change of environment and left the city for the western region, while others tried to stay behind in the hopes of expanding their native cultures.[76]

Fugitive black slaves began to make their way northward to Buffalo in the 1840s, and many of them settled on the city's East Side.[77] In 1845, construction began on the Macedonia Baptist Church, a meeting spot in the Michigan and William Street neighborhood where blacks first settled.[78] Political activity surrounding the anti-slavery movement took place in Buffalo during this time, including conventions held by the National Convention of Colored Citizens and the Liberty Party and its offshoots.[79] Buffalo was a terminus point of the Underground Railroad with many fugitive slaves crossing the Niagara River to Fort Erie, Ontario in search of freedom.[80]

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.[81] 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 and engineer Robert Dunbar.[82] "Dart's Elevator" enabled faster unloading of lake freighters along with the transshipment of grain in bulk from barges, canal boats, and rail cars.[83] By 1850, the city's population was 81,000.[72]

In 1860, many railway companies and lines crossed through and terminated in Buffalo. Major ones were the Buffalo, Bradford and Pittsburgh Railroad (1859), Buffalo and Erie Railroad and the New York Central Railroad (1853).[84] During this time, Buffalonians controlled a quarter of all shipping traffic on Lake Erie, and shipbuilding was a thriving industry for the city.[85]

Later, the Lehigh Valley Railroad would have its line terminate at Buffalo in 1867.

Rise of heavy industry, decline, urban renewal

At the dawn of the 20th century, local mills were among the first to benefit from hydroelectric power generated by the Niagara River. The city got the nickname The City of Light at this time due to the widespread electric lighting.[86] 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.[87] At the same time, an exit of local entrepreneurs and industrial titans brought about a nascent stage that would see the city lose its competitiveness against Pittsburgh, Cleveland and Detroit.[88]

President William McKinley was shot and mortally wounded by an anarchist at the Pan-American Exposition in Buffalo on September 6, 1901.[89] McKinley died in the city eight days later,[90] and Theodore Roosevelt was sworn in at the Wilcox Mansion.[90] The Great Depression of 1929–39 saw severe unemployment, especially among working-class men. The New Deal relief programs operated full force. The city became a stronghold of labor unions and the Democratic Party.[91]

During World War II, Buffalo saw the return of prosperity and full employment due to its position as a manufacturing center.[92][93] As one of the most populous cities of the 1950s, Buffalo's economy revolved almost entirely on its manufacturing base. Major companies such as Republic Steel and Lackawanna Steel employed tens of thousands of Buffalonians. Integrated national shipping routes would use the Soo Locks near Lake Superior and a vast network of railroads and yards that crossed the city.

Lobbying by local businesses and interest groups against the St. Lawrence Seaway began in the 1920s, long before its construction in 1957, which cut the city off from valuable trade routes. Its approval was reinforced by legislation shortly before its construction.[94] Shipbuilding in Buffalo, such as the American Ship Building Company, shut down in 1962, ending an industry that had been a sector of the city's economy since 1812, and a direct result of reduced waterfront activity.[95] With deindustrialization, and the nationwide trend of suburbanization; the city's economy began to deteriorate.[96][97] Like much of the Rust Belt, Buffalo, home to more than half a million people in the 1950s, has seen its population decline as heavy industries shut down and people left for the suburbs or other cities.[96][97][98]

Buffalo, New York History articles: 96


2001 image of the Niagara Peninsula from NASA's Terra satellite

Buffalo is on Lake Erie's eastern end, opposite Fort Erie, Ontario, Canada.[99] It is at the origin of the Niagara River, which flows northward over Niagara Falls and into Lake Ontario.[100] The city is 90 miles (140 km) south-southeast from Toronto.[101] Buffalo is 74 miles (119 km) from Rochester,[102] 150 miles (240 km) from Syracuse,[103] 288 miles (463 km) from the New York State capital of Albany,[104] and 375 miles (604 km) from New York City.[105] Interstate 90 connects Buffalo to Cleveland, Ohio, and Detroit, Michigan. Cleveland and Detroit are the largest populated areas in the United States closer than the New York metropolitan area or Albany.[106][107]

Relative to downtown, the city is generally flat with the exception of areas surrounding North and High streets, where a hill of 90 feet gradually develops approaching from the south and north. The Southtowns include the Boston Hills, while the Appalachian Mountains sit in the Southern Tier below them. To the north and east, the region maintains a flatter profile descending to Lake Ontario. Various types of shale, limestone and lagerstätten are prevalent in the geographic makeup of Buffalo and surrounding areas, which line the waterbeds within and bordering the city.[108] Although there have not been any recent or significant earthquakes, Buffalo sits atop of the Southern Great Lakes Seismic Zone, which is part of the Great Lakes tectonic zone.[109] Buffalo has four channels that flow through its boundaries: the Niagara River, Buffalo River and Creek, Scajaquada Creek, and the Black Rock Canal, which is adjacent to the Niagara River.[110]

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 52.5 square miles (136 km2), of which 40.6 square miles (105 km2) is land and the rest water. The total area is 22.66% water. In 2010, the city of Buffalo had a population of 6,470.6 per square mile.


Skyline of Buffalo, looking east from Lake Erie


The city consists of 31 different neighborhoods.[111] Buffalo's most prominent neighborhoods (J. N. Adam–AM&A Historic District, Canalside, Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus, University Heights) are located in or near the downtown area. The J. N. Adam–AM&A Historic District is a national historic district.[112] Its main department store was designed by Starrett & van Vleck and built in 1935. Canalside originally began as an Italian-dominated area, and the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus was established in 2001. Canalside and University Heights are predominantly mix-used districts. Buffalo and its suburbs have been redeveloping neighborhoods and districts since the early 2000s in efforts to mitigate a declining population and attract businesses.[113][114][115][116] In June 2020, the Buffalo-based Green Organization acquired an apartment complex with the intent to remodel it and bring new residents.[117]


Elmwood Village, 2011

Buffalo's architecture is diverse, with a collection of buildings from the 19th and 20th centuries.[118] Most structures and works are still standing, such as the country's largest intact parks system designed by Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux.[119][120] At the end of the 19th century, the Guaranty Building—constructed by Louis Sullivan—was a prominent example of an early high-rise skyscraper.[121][122] The Darwin D. Martin House designed by Frank Lloyd Wright and built between 1903 and 1905, is considered to be one of the most important projects from Wright's Prairie School era. The Larkin Administration Building, now demolished, was Frank Lloyd Wright's first commercial commission. The 20th century saw works such as the Art Deco-style Buffalo City Hall and Buffalo Central Terminal, Electric Tower, the Richardson Olmsted Complex, and the Rand Building. Urban renewal from the 1950s–1970s gave way to the construction of the Brutalist-style Buffalo City Court Building and One Seneca Tower—formerly the HSBC Center, the city's tallest building.[123]


Buffalo during winter, 2011

Buffalo has a humid continental climate (Köppen Dfb bordering on Dfa), which is common in the Great Lakes region.[124][125] Buffalo has snowy winters, but it is rarely the snowiest city in New York state.[126][127] The Blizzard of 1977 resulted from a combination of high winds and snow accumulated on land and on frozen Lake Erie.[128] Snow does not typically impair the city's operation, but can cause significant damage during the autumn as with the October 2006 storm.[129][130] In November 2014, the region had a record-breaking storm, producing over 5 12 feet (66 inches; 170 centimetres) of snow; this storm was named "Snowvember".[131]

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.[125] Summers are marked by plentiful sunshine and moderate humidity and temperature.[125] Obscured by the notoriety of Buffalo's winter snow is the fact Buffalo benefits from other lake effects such as the cooling southwest breezes off Lake Erie in summer that gently temper the warmest days.[125] As a result, temperatures only rise above 90 °F (32.2 °C) three times in the average year,[125] and the Buffalo station of the National Weather Service has never recorded an official temperature of 100 °F (37.8 °C) or more.[132] Rainfall is moderate but typically occurs at night. Lake Erie's stabilizing effect continues to inhibit thunderstorms and enhance sunshine in the immediate Buffalo area through most of July.[125] August usually has more showers and is hotter and more humid as the warmer lake loses its temperature-stabilizing influence.[125] The highest recorded temperature in Buffalo was 99 °F (37 °C) on August 27, 1948[133] and the lowest recorded temperature was −20 °F (−29 °C), which occurred twice, on February 9, 1934 and February 2, 1961.[134]

In his 2019 State of the City address,[135] Mayor Byron Brown dubbed Buffalo a "Climate Refuge City" because the city is unusually well-insulated against climate change. Experts say the region's cool climate and ample fresh water could make it an attractive destination as the planet heats up.[136]

Buffalo, New York Geography articles: 65