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Buffalo, New York
Buffalo, New York
|City of Buffalo|
Queen City, City of Good Neighbors, City of No Illusions, Nickel City, Queen City of the Lakes, City of Light, City of Trees 
|Region||Western New York|
|First settled (village)||1789|
|• Type||Strong mayor-council|
|• Body||Buffalo Common Council|
|• Mayor||Byron Brown (D)|
|• City||52.48 sq mi (135.92 km2)|
|• Land||40.38 sq mi (104.58 km2)|
|• Water||12.10 sq mi (31.34 km2)|
|Elevation||600 ft (200 m)|
|• Rank||US: 76th NY: 2nd|
|• Density||6,322.35/sq mi (2,441.10/km2)|
|• Urban||935,906 (US: 46th)|
|• Metro||1,125,637 (US: 49th)|
|• CSA||1,201,500 (US: 48th)|
|Time zone||UTC−05:00 (EST)|
|• Summer (DST)||UTC−04:00 (EDT)|
|GNIS feature ID||0973345|
Buffalo is the second-largest city in the U.S. state of New York and the seat of Erie County. It is at the eastern end of Lake Erie, adjacent to the Canadian border with Southern Ontario, and is at the head of the Niagara River. With a 2020 census population of 278,349, Buffalo is the 76th-largest city in the United States. The city and nearby Niagara Falls share the two-county Buffalo–Niagara Falls Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA). The MSA had an estimated population of 1.1 million in 2020, making it the 49th largest MSA in the United States. The Western New York region containing Buffalo is the largest population and economic center between Boston, Massachusetts and Cleveland, Ohio.
Before French exploration, the region was inhabited by nomadic Paleo-Indians, and later, the Neutral, Erie, and Iroquois nations. In the 18th century, Iroquois land surrounding Buffalo Creek was ceded through the Holland Land Purchase, and a small village was established at its headwaters. Buffalo was selected as the terminus of the Erie Canal in 1825 after improving its harbor, which led to its incorporation in 1832. The canal stimulated its growth as the primary inland port between the Great Lakes and the Atlantic Ocean. Transshipment made Buffalo the world's largest grain port. After railroads superseded the canal's importance, the city became the largest railway hub after Chicago. Buffalo transitioned to manufacturing during the mid-19th century, later dominated by steel production. Deindustrialization and the opening of the St. Lawrence Seaway saw the city's economy decline, diversifying to service industries such as health care, retail, tourism, logistics, and education while retaining some manufacturing. The gross domestic product of the Buffalo–Niagara Falls MSA was $53 billion in 2019.
The city's cultural icons include the oldest urban parks system in the United States, the Albright–Knox Art Gallery, the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra, Shea's Performing Arts Center, the Buffalo Museum of Science, and several annual festivals. Its educational institutions include the University at Buffalo, Buffalo State College, Canisius College, D'Youville College and Medaille College. Buffalo is also known for its winter weather, Buffalo wings, and two major-league sports teams: the National Football League's Buffalo Bills and the National Hockey League's Buffalo Sabres.
Pre-Columbian era to European exploration
Before the arrival of Europeans, nomadic Paleo-Indians inhabited the Western New York region from the 8th millennium BC. The Woodland period began around 1000 BC, marked by the rise of the Iroquois Confederacy and its tribes throughout the state. Jesuit missionaries were the first Europeans to visit the area, in the 17th century.
During French exploration of the region in 1620, the region was sparsely populated and occupied by the agrarian Erie people in the south and the Wenrohronon (Wenro) of the Neutral Nation in the north. The Neutral grew tobacco and hemp to trade with the Iroquois, who traded furs with the French for European goods. The tribes used animal and war paths to travel and move goods across New York State. Centuries later these were gradually improved, paved and have since been developed as major roads. The Senecas wiped out and absorbed the Erie and Neutrals in the region during the Beaver Wars in the mid-17th century. Native Americans did not settle along Buffalo Creek permanently until 1780, when displaced Senecas were relocated from Fort Niagara.
Louis Hennepin and Sieur de La Salle explored the upper Niagara and Ontario regions in the late 1670s. La Salle's ship, Le Griffon, was the first to sail above Niagara Falls near Cayuga Creek in 1679. Baron de Lahontan visited the site of Buffalo in 1687. A small French settlement along Buffalo Creek lasted for only a year in 1758, and the region was ruled by Britain after the French and Indian War. After the American Revolution, the Province of New York—now a U.S. state—began westward expansion, looking for arable land by following the Iroquois.
New York and Massachusetts were vying for the territory which included Buffalo, 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. Despite objections from Seneca chief Red Jacket, Morris brokered a deal between fellow chief Cornplanter and the Dutch dummy corporation Holland Land Company.[a] The Holland Land Purchase gave the Senecas three reservations, and the Holland Land Company received 4,000,000 acres (16,000 km2) for about thirty-three cents per acre.
Permanent white settlers along the creek were prisoners captured during the Revolutionary War. Early landowners were Iroquois interpreter Captain William Johnston, former enslaved man Joseph "Black Joe" Hodges and Cornelius Winney, a Dutch trader who arrived in 1789. As a result of the war, in which the Iroquois sided with the British Army, Iroquois territory was gradually reduced in the late 1700s by European settlers through successive statewide treaties which included the Treaty of Fort Stanwix (1784) and the First Treaty of Buffalo Creek (1788). The Iroquois were moved 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 reservations remained.
After the Treaty of Big Tree removed Iroquois title to lands west of the Genesee River in 1797, Joseph Ellicott surveyed land at the mouth of Buffalo Creek. In the middle of the village was an intersection of eight streets at present-day Niagara Square. Originally named New Amsterdam, its name was soon changed to Buffalo.
Erie Canal, grain and commerce
The village of Buffalo was named for Buffalo Creek.[b] British military engineer John Montresor referred to "Buffalo Creek" in his 1764 journal, the earliest recorded appearance of the name. A road to Pennsylvania from Buffalo was built in 1802 for migrants traveling to the Connecticut Western Reserve in Ohio. Before an east-west turnpike across the state was completed, traveling from Albany to Buffalo would take a week; a trip from nearby Williamsville to Batavia could take over three days.[c]
British forces burned Buffalo and the northwestern village of Black Rock in 1813. The battle and subsequent fire was in response to the destruction of Niagara-on-the-Lake by American forces and other skirmishes during the War of 1812. Rebuilding was swift, completed in 1815. As a remote outpost, village residents hoped that the proposed Erie Canal would bring prosperity to the area. To accomplish this, Buffalo's harbor was expanded with the help of Samuel Wilkeson; it was selected as the canal's terminus over the rival Black Rock. It opened in 1825, ushering in commerce, manufacturing and hydropower. By the following year, the 130-square-mile (340 km2) Buffalo Creek Reservation (at the western border of the village) was transferred to Buffalo. Buffalo was incorporated as a city in 1832. During the 1830s, businessman Benjamin Rathbun significantly expanded its business district. The city doubled in size from 1845 to 1855. Almost two-thirds of the city's population was foreign-born, largely a mix of unskilled (or educated) Irish and German Catholics.
Fugitive slaves made their way north to Buffalo during the 1840s. Buffalo was a terminus of the Underground Railroad, with many free blacks crossing the Niagara River to Fort Erie, Ontario; others remained in Buffalo. During this time, Buffalo's port continued to develop. Passenger and commercial traffic expanded, leading to the creation of feeder canals and the expansion of the city's harbor. Unloading grain in Buffalo was a laborious job, and grain handlers working on lake freighters would make $1.50 a day in a six-day work week. Local inventor Joseph Dart and engineer Robert Dunbar created the grain elevator in 1843, adapting the steam-powered elevator. Dart's Elevator initially processed one thousand bushels per hour, speeding global distribution to consumers. Buffalo was the transshipment hub of the Great Lakes, and weather, maritime and political events in other Great Lakes cities had a direct impact on the city's economy. In addition to grain, Buffalo's primary imports included agricultural products from the Midwest (meat, whiskey, lumber, and tobacco), and its exports included leather, ships, and iron products. The mid-19th century saw the rise of new manufacturing capabilities, particularly with iron.
By the 1860s, many railroads terminated in Buffalo; they included the Buffalo, Bradford and Pittsburgh Railroad, Buffalo and Erie Railroad, the New York Central Railroad, and the Lehigh Valley Railroad. During this time, Buffalo controlled one-quarter of all shipping traffic on Lake Erie. After the Civil War, canal traffic began to drop as railroads expanded into Buffalo. Unionization began to take hold in the late 19th century, highlighted by railroad strikes in 1877 and 1892.
Steel, challenges and the modern era
At the start of the 20th century, Buffalo was the world's leading grain port and a national flour-milling hub. Local mills were among the first to benefit from hydroelectricity generated by the Niagara River. Buffalo hosted the 1901 Pan-American Exposition after the Spanish–American War, showcasing the nation's advances in art, architecture, and electricity. Its centerpiece was the Electric Tower, with over two million light bulbs, but some exhibits were jingoistic and racially charged. At the exposition, President William McKinley was assassinated by anarchist Leon Czolgosz. When McKinley died, Theodore Roosevelt was sworn in at the Wilcox Mansion in Buffalo.
Attorney John Milburn and local industrialists and convinced the Lackawanna Iron and Steel Company to relocate from Scranton, Pennsylvania to the town of West Seneca in 1904. Employment was competitive, with many Eastern Europeans and Scrantonians vying for jobs. From the late 19th century to the 1920s, mergers and acquisitions led to distant ownership of local companies; this had a negative effect on the city's economy. Examples include the acquisition of Lackawanna Steel by Bethlehem Steel and, later, the relocation of Curtiss-Wright in the 1940s. The Great Depression saw severe unemployment, especially among the working class. New Deal relief programs operated in full force, and the city became a stronghold of labor unions and the Democratic Party.
During World War II, Buffalo regained its manufacturing strength as military contracts enabled the city to manufacture steel, chemicals, aircraft, trucks, and ammunition. The 15th-most-populous US city in 1950, Buffalo's economy relied almost entirely on manufacturing; eighty percent of area jobs were in the sector. The city also had over a dozen railway terminals, as railroads remained a significant industry.
The St. Lawrence Seaway was proposed in the 19th century as a faster shipping route to Europe, and later as part of a bi-national hydroelectric project with Canada. Its combination with an expanded Welland Canal led to a grim outlook for Buffalo's economy. After its 1959 opening, the city's port and barge canal became largely irrelevant. Shipbuilding in Buffalo wound down in the 1960s due to reduced waterfront activity, ending an industry which had been part of the city's economy since 1812. Downsizing of the steel mills was attributed to the threat of higher wages and unionization efforts. Racial tensions culminated in riots in 1967. Suburbanization led to the selection of the town of Amherst for the new University at Buffalo campus by 1970. Unwilling to modernize its plant, Bethlehem Steel began cutting thousands of jobs in Lackawanna during the mid-1970s before closing it in 1983. The region lost at least 70,000 jobs between 1970 and 1984. Like much of the Rust Belt, Buffalo has focused on recovering from the effects of late-20th-century deindustrialization.
The Buffalo metropolitan area is on the Erie/Ontario Lake Plain of the Eastern Great Lakes Lowlands, a narrow plain extending east to Utica, New York. The city is generally flat, except for elevation changes in the University Heights and Fruit Belt neighborhoods. The Southtowns are hillier, leading to the Cattaraugus Hills in the Appalachian Upland. Several types of shale, limestone and lagerstätten are prevalent in Buffalo and its surrounding area, lining their stream beds. Although the city has not experienced any recent or significant earthquakes, Buffalo is in the Southern Great Lakes Seismic Zone (part of the Great Lakes tectonic zone). Buffalo has four channels within its boundaries: the Niagara River, Buffalo River (and Creek), Scajaquada Creek, and the Black Rock Canal, adjacent to the Niagara River. The city's Bureau of Forestry maintains a database of over seventy thousand trees.
According to the United States Census Bureau, Buffalo has an area of 52.5 square miles (136 km2); 40.38 square miles (104.6 km2) is land, and the rest is water. The city's total area is 22.66 percent water. In 2010, its population density was 6,470.6 per square mile.
Buffalo's architecture is diverse, with a collection of 19th- and 20th-century buildings. Downtown Buffalo landmarks include Louis Sullivan's Guaranty Building, an early skyscraper; the Ellicott Square Building, once one of the largest of its kind in the world; the Art Deco Buffalo City Hall and the McKinley Monument, and the Electric Tower. Beyond downtown, the Buffalo Central Terminal was built in the Broadway-Fillmore neighborhood in 1929; the Richardson Olmsted Complex, built in 1881, was an insane asylum until its closure in the 1970s. Urban renewal from the 1950s to the 1970s spawned the Brutalist-style Buffalo City Court Building and Seneca One Tower, the city's tallest building. In the city's Parkside neighborhood, the Darwin D. Martin House was designed by Frank Lloyd Wright in his Prairie School style.
According to Mark Goldman, the city has a "tradition of separate and independent settlements." The boundaries of Buffalo's neighborhoods have changed over time. The city is divided into five districts, each containing several neighborhoods, for a total of thirty-five neighborhoods. Main Street divides Buffalo's east and west sides, and the west side was fully developed earlier. This division is seen in architectural styles, street names, neighborhood and district boundaries, demographics, and socioeconomic conditions; Buffalo's West Side is generally more affluent than its East Side.
Several neighborhoods in Buffalo have had increased investment since the 1990s, beginning with the Elmwood Village. The 2002 redevelopment of the Larkin Terminal Warehouse led to the creation of Larkinville, home to several mixed-use projects and anchored by corporate offices. Downtown Buffalo and its central business district (CBD) had a 10.6-percent increase in residents from 2010 to 2017, as over 1,061 housing units became available; the Seneca One Tower was redeveloped in 2020. Other revitalized areas include Chandler Street, in the Grant-Amherst neighborhood, and Hertel Avenue in Parkside.
The Buffalo Common Council adopted its Green Code in 2017, replacing zoning regulations which were over sixty years old. Its emphasis on regulations promoting pedestrian safety and mixed land use received an award at the 2019 Congress for the New Urbanism conference.
Buffalo has a humid continental climate (Köppen Dfa bordering on Dfb, common in the Great Lakes region), and temperatures have been warming with the rest of the US. Lake-effect snow is characteristic of Buffalo winters, with snow bands (producing intense snowfall in the city and surrounding area) depending on wind direction off Lake Erie. However, Buffalo is rarely the snowiest city in the state. The Blizzard of 1977 resulted from a combination of high winds and snow which accumulated on land and on the frozen Lake Erie. Although snow does not typically impair the city's operation, it can cause significant damage in autumn (as the October 2006 storm did). In November 2014 (called "Snowvember"), the region had a record-breaking storm which producing over 5+1⁄2 ft (66 in; 170 cm) of snow. Buffalo's lowest recorded temperature was −20 °F (−29 °C), which occurred twice: on February 9, 1934, and February 2, 1961.
Although the city's summers are drier and sunnier than other cities in the northeastern United States, its vegetation receives enough precipitation to remain hydrated. Buffalo summers are characterized by abundant sunshine, with moderate humidity and temperatures; the city benefits from cool, southwestern Lake Erie summer breezes which temper warmer temperatures. Temperatures rise above 90 °F (32.2 °C) an average of three times a year. No official recording of 100 °F (37.8 °C) or more has occurred to date, with a maximum temperature of 99 °F reached on August 27, 1948. Rainfall is moderate, typically falling at night, and cooler lake temperatures hinder storm development in July. August is usually rainier and muggier, as the warmer lake loses its temperature-controlling ability.
|Historical Population Figures
U.S. Decennial Census
|Hispanic or Latino (of any race)||12.3%||10.5%||4.9%||1.6%[f]||n/a|
Several hundred Seneca, Tuscarora and other Iroquois tribal peoples were the primary residents of the Buffalo area before 1800, concentrated along Buffalo Creek. After the Revolutionary War, settlers from New England and eastern New York began to move into the area.
From the 1830s to the 1850s, they were joined by Irish and German immigrants from Europe, both peasants and working class, who settled in enclaves on the city's south and east sides. At the turn of the 20th century, Polish immigrants replaced Germans on the East Side, who moved to newer housing; Italian immigrant families settled throughout the city, primarily on the lower West Side.
During the 1830s, Buffalo residents were generally intolerant of the small groups of Black Americans who began settling on the city's East Side.[g] In the 20th century, wartime and manufacturing jobs attracted Black Americans from the South during the First and Second Great Migrations. In the World War II and postwar years from 1940 to 1970, the city's Black population rose by 433 percent. They replaced most of the Polish community on the East Side, who were moving out to suburbs. However, the effects of redlining, steering, social inequality, blockbusting, white flight, and other racial policies resulted in the city (and region) becoming one of the most segregated in the U.S.
During the 1940s and 1950s, Puerto Rican migrants arrived en masse, also seeking industrial jobs, settling on the East Side and moving westward. In the 21st century, Buffalo is classified as a majority minority city, with a plurality of residents who are Black and Latino.
Buffalo has mitigated the effects of urban decay since the 1970s, including population losses to the suburbs and Sun Belt states, and job losses from deindustrialization. The city's population peaked at 580,132 in 1950, when Buffalo was the 15th-largest city in the United States – down from the eighth-largest city in 1900, after its growth rate slowed during the 1920s. Buffalo's population began declining in the second half of the 20th century due to suburbanization and loss of industrial jobs, and began stabilizing during the 2010s. The city had a population of 261,310 in the 2010 census which increased to 278,349 residents in the 2020 census, making it the 76th-largest city in the United States. Its metropolitan area had 1.1 million residents in 2020, the country's 49th largest.
Compared to other major US metropolitan areas, the number of foreign-born immigrants to Buffalo is low. New immigrants are primarily resettled refugees (especially from war- or disaster-afflicted nations) and refugees who had previously settled in other U.S. cities. During the early 2000s, most immigrants came from Canada and Yemen; this shifted in the 2010s to Burmese (Karen) refugees and Indian immigrants. Between 2008 and 2016, Burmese, Somali, Bhutanese, and Iraqi Americans were the four largest ethnic immigrant groups in Erie County.
Poverty has remained an issue for the city; in 2019, it was estimated that 30.1 percent of individuals and 24.8 percent of families lived below the federal poverty line. Per capita income was $24,400 and household income was $37,354, much less than the national average. A 2008 report noted that although food deserts were seen in larger cities and not in Buffalo, the city's neighborhoods of color have access only to smaller grocery stores and lack the supermarkets more typical of newer, white neighborhoods. A 2018 report noted that over fifty city blocks on Buffalo's East Side lacked adequate access to a supermarket.
Health disparities exist compared to the rest of the state: Erie County's average 2019 lifespan was three years lower (78.4 years); its 17-percent smoking and 30-percent obesity rates were slightly higher than the state average. According to the Partnership for the Public Good, educational achievement in the city is lower than in the surrounding area; city residents are almost twice as likely as adults in the metropolitan area to lack a high-school diploma.
During the early 19th century, Presbyterian missionaries tried to convert the Seneca people on the Buffalo Creek Reservation to Christianity. Initially resistant, some tribal members set aside their traditions and practices to form their own sect. Later, European immigrants added other faiths. Christianity is the predominant religion in Buffalo and Western New York. Catholicism (primarily the Latin Church) has a significant presence in the region, with 161 parishes and over 570,000 adherents in the Diocese of Buffalo. Major Protestant denominations in the area include Lutheran, Baptist, and Methodist. Pentecostals are also significant, and approximately 20,000 persons are non-denominational adherents.
A Jewish community began developing in the city with immigrants from the mid-1800s; about one thousand German and Lithuanian Jews settled in Buffalo before 1880. Buffalo's first synagogue, Temple Beth El, was established in 1847. The city's Temple Beth Zion is the region's largest synagogue.
With changing demographics and an increased number of refugees from other areas on the city's East Side, Islam and Buddhism have expanded their presence. In this area, new residents have converted empty churches into mosques and temples. Hinduism maintains a small, active presence in the area, including the town of Amherst.
The Erie Canal was the impetus for Buffalo's economic growth as a transshipment hub for grain and other agricultural products headed east from the Midwest. Later, manufacturing of steel and automotive parts became central to the city's economy. When these industries downsized in the region, Buffalo's economy became service-based. Its primary sectors include health care, business services (banking, accounting, and insurance), retail, tourism and logistics, especially with Canada. Despite the loss of large-scale manufacturing, some manufacturing of metals, chemicals, machinery, food products, and electronics remains in the region. Advanced manufacturing has increased, with an emphasis on research and development (R&D) and automation. In 2019, the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis valued the gross domestic product (GDP) of the Buffalo–Niagara Falls MSA at $53 billion.
The civic sector is a major source of employment in the Buffalo area, and includes public, non-profit, healthcare and educational institutions. New York State, with over 19,000 employees, is the region's largest employer. In the private sector, top employers include the Kaleida Health and Catholic Health hospital networks and M&T Bank, the sole Fortune 500 company headquartered in the city. Most have been the top employers in the region for several decades. Buffalo is home to the headquarters of Rich Products, Delaware North and New Era Cap Company; the aerospace manufacturer Moog Inc. is based in nearby East Aurora.
Buffalo weathered the Great Recession of 2006–09 well in comparison with other U.S. cities, exemplified by increased home prices during this time. The region's economy began to improve in the early 2010s, adding over 25,000 jobs from 2009 to 2017. With state aid, Tesla, Inc.'s Giga New York plant opened in South Buffalo in 2017. The effects of the COVID-19 pandemic in the United States, however, increased the local unemployment rate to 7.5 percent by December 2020. The local unemployment rate had been 4.2 percent in 2019, higher than the national average of 3.5 percent.
The Buffalo area has a larger-than-average pay disparity than the rest of the U.S. The average salary ($43,580) was six percent less than the national average in 2017, with the pay gap increasing to ten percent with increased career specialization. Workforce productivity is higher and turnover lower than other regions.
Performing arts and music
Buffalo is home to over 20 theater companies, with many centered in the downtown Theatre District. Shea's Performing Arts Center is the city's largest theater. Designed by Louis Comfort Tiffany and built in 1926, the theater presents Broadway musicals and concerts. Other venues include Shea's 710 Theatre, Alleyway Theatre, Theater of Youth and Canalside, where major acts draw about seven thousand concertgoers. The Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra was formed in 1935 and performs at Kleinhans Music Hall, whose acoustics have been praised. Although the orchestra nearly disbanded during the late 1990s due to a lack of funding, philanthropic contributions and state aid stabilized it. Under the direction of JoAnn Falletta, the orchestra has received a number of Grammy Award nominations and won the Grammy Award for Best Contemporary Classical Composition in 2009.
Rick James was born and raised in Buffalo and later lived on a ranch in the nearby Town of Aurora. James formed his Stone City Band in Buffalo, and had national appeal with several crossover singles in the R&B, disco and funk genres in the late 1970s and early 1980s. Around the same time, the jazz fusion band Spyro Gyra and jazz saxophonist Grover Washington Jr. also got their start in the city. Buffalo's Colored Musicians Club, an extension of what was a separate musicians'-union chapter, maintains jazz history. The Goo Goo Dolls, an alternative rock group which formed in 1986, had 19 top-ten singles. Singer-songwriter and activist Ani DiFranco has released over 20 folk and indie rock albums on Righteous Babe Records, her Buffalo-based label. Underground hip-hop acts in the city partner with Buffalo-based Griselda Records, whose artists include Westside Gunn and Conway the Machine and occasionally refer to Buffalo culture in their lyrics.
The city's cuisine encompasses a variety of cultures and ethnicities. In 2015, the National Geographic Society ranked Buffalo third on its "World's Top Ten Food Cities" list. Teressa Bellissimo first prepared Buffalo wings (seasoned chicken wings) at the Anchor Bar in 1964. The Anchor Bar has a crosstown rivalry with Duff's Famous Wings, but Buffalo wings are served at many bars and restaurants throughout the city (some with unique cooking styles and flavor profiles). Buffalo wings are traditionally served with blue cheese and celery. In 2003, the Anchor Bar received a James Beard Foundation Award in the America's Classics category.
Buffalo-style pizza has elements of Chicago-style pizza and New York-style pizza. The Buffalo area has over 600 pizzerias, estimated at more per capita than New York City. Several craft breweries began opening in the 1990s, and the city's last call is 4 am. Other mainstays of Buffalo cuisine include beef on weck and Polish butter lambs, kielbasa and pierogis; sponge candy, and the fish fry (popular during Lent). With an influx of refugees and other immigrants to Buffalo, its number of ethnic restaurants (including the West Side Bazaar kitchen incubator) has increased. Some restaurants use food trucks to serve customers, and nearly fifty food trucks appeared at Larkin Square in 2019.
Museums and tourism
Buffalo was ranked the seventh-best city in the United States to visit in 2021 by Travel + Leisure, which noted the growth and potential of the city's cultural institutions. The Albright–Knox Art Gallery is a modern and contemporary art museum with a collection of more than 8,000 works, of which only two percent are on display. With a donation from Jeffrey Gundlach, a three-story addition designed by the Dutch architectural firm OMA is under construction and scheduled to open in 2022. Across the street, the Burchfield Penney Art Center contains paintings by Charles E. Burchfield and is operated by Buffalo State College. Buffalo is home to the Freedom Wall, a 2017 art installation commemorating civil-rights activists throughout history. Near both museums is the Buffalo History Museum, featuring artwork, literature and exhibits related to the city's history and major events, and the Buffalo Museum of Science is on the city's East Side.
Canalside, Buffalo's historic business district and harbor, attracts more than 1.5 million visitors annually. It includes the Explore & More Children's Museum, the Buffalo and Erie County Naval & Military Park, LECOM Harborcenter, and a number of shops and restaurants. A restored 1924 carousel (now solar-powered) and a replica boathouse were added to Canalside in 2021. Other city attractions include the Theodore Roosevelt Inaugural National Historic Site, the Michigan Street Baptist Church, Buffalo RiverWorks, Seneca Buffalo Creek Casino, Buffalo Transportation Pierce-Arrow Museum, and the Nash House Museum.
The National Buffalo Wing Festival is held every Labor Day at Sahlen Field. Since 2002, it has served over 4.8 million Buffalo wings and has had a total attendance of 865,000. The Taste of Buffalo is a two-day food festival held in July at Niagara Square, attracting 450,000 visitors annually. Other events include the Allentown Art Festival, the Polish-American Dyngus Day, the Elmwood Avenue Festival of the Arts, Juneteenth in Martin Luther King Jr. Park, and the World's Largest Disco in October.
|Buffalo Bandits||Lacrosse||National Lacrosse League||1991||KeyBank Center (19,070)||1992, 1993, 1996, 2008|
|Buffalo Bills||American football||National Football League||1959||Highmark Stadium (71,608)||1964 and 1965[h]|
|Buffalo Bisons||Baseball||Triple-A East||1979||Sahlen Field (16,600)||1997, 1998, 2004|
|Buffalo Sabres||Ice hockey||National Hockey League||1970||KeyBank Center (19,070)|
Buffalo has two major professional sports teams: the Buffalo Sabres (National Hockey League) and the Buffalo Bills (National Football League). The Bills were a founding member of the American Football League in 1960, and have played at Highmark Stadium in Orchard Park since they moved from War Memorial Stadium in 1973. They are the only NFL team based in New York State.[i] Before the Super Bowl era, the Bills won the American Football League Championship in 1964 and 1965. With mixed success throughout their history, the Bills had a close loss in Super Bowl XXV and returned to consecutive Super Bowls after the 1991, 1992, and 1993 seasons (losing each time). The Sabres, an expansion team in 1970, share KeyBank Center with the Buffalo Bandits of the National Lacrosse League. The Bandits are the most successful of the city's three major-league teams, with four championships. The Bills, Sabres and Bandits are owned by Pegula Sports and Entertainment.
Several colleges and universities in the area field intercollegiate sports teams; the Buffalo Bulls and the Canisius Golden Griffins compete in NCAA Division I. The Bulls have 16 varsity sports in the Mid-American Conference (MAC); the Golden Griffins field 15 teams in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC), with the men's hockey team part of the Atlantic Hockey Association (AHA). The Bulls participate in the Football Bowl Subdivision, the highest level of college football. Buffalo's minor-league teams include the Buffalo Bisons (Triple-A baseball), who play at Sahlen Field, and the Buffalo Beauts (National Women's Hockey League).
Parks and recreation
Frederick Law Olmsted described Buffalo as being "the best planned city [...] in the United States, if not the world". With encouragement from city stakeholders, he and Calvert Vaux augmented the city's grid plan by drawing inspiration from Paris and introducing landscape architecture with aspects of the countryside. Their plan would introduce a system of interconnected parks, parkways and trails, unlike the singular Central Park in New York City. The largest would be Delaware Park, across Forest Lawn Cemetery to amplify the amount of open space. With construction of the system finishing in 1876, it is regarded as the country's oldest; however, some of Olmstead's plans were never fully realized. Some parks later diminished and succumbed to diseases, highway construction, and weather events such as Lake Storm Aphid in 2006. The non-profit Buffalo Olmsted Park Conservancy was created in 2004 to help preserve the 850 acres (340 ha) of parkland. Olmsted's work in Buffalo inspired similar efforts in cities such as San Francisco, Chicago, and Boston.
The city's Division of Parks and Recreation manages over 180 parks and facilities, seven recreational centers, twenty-one pools and splash pads, and three ice rinks. The 350-acre (140 ha) Delaware Park features the Buffalo Zoo, Hoyt Lake, a golf course, and playing fields. Buffalo collaborated with its sister city Kanazawa to create the park's Japanese Garden in 1970, where cherry blossoms bloom in the spring. Shakespeare in Delaware Park has been held every year since 1976, attracting over forty thousand visitors from across the U.S. Opening in 1976, Tifft Nature Preserve in South Buffalo is on 264 acres (107 ha) of remediated industrial land. The preserve is an Important Bird Area, including a meadow with trails for hiking and cross-country skiing, marshland and fishing. The Olmsted-designed Cazenovia and South Parks, the latter home to the Buffalo and Erie County Botanical Gardens, are also in South Buffalo. According to the Trust for Public Land, Buffalo's 2021 ParkScore ranking had high marks for access to parks, with 89 percent of city residents living within a ten-minute walk of a park. The city ranked lower in acreage, however; nine percent of city land is devoted to parks, compared with the national median of about fifteen percent.
Efforts to convert Buffalo's former industrial waterfront into recreational space have attracted national attention, with some writers comparing its appeal to that of Niagara Falls. Redevelopment of the waterfront began in the early 2000s, with the reconstruction of historically-aligned canals on the site of the former Buffalo Memorial Auditorium. Placemaking initiatives would lead to the area's popularity, rather than permanent buildings and attractions. Under Mayor Byron Brown, Canalside was cited by the Brookings Institution as an example of waterfront revitalization for other U.S. cities to follow. Summer events have included paddle-boating and fitness classes, and the frozen canals permit ice skating, curling, and ice cycling in winter. Its success spurred the state to create Buffalo Harbor State Park in 2014; the park has trails, open recreation areas, bicycle paths and piers. The park's Gallagher Beach, the city's only public beach, has prohibited swimming due to high bacteria levels and other environmental concerns.
The Shoreline Trail passes through Buffalo near the Outer Harbor, Centennial Park, and the Black Rock Canal. The North Buffalo-Tonawanda rail trail begins in Shoshone Park, near the LaSalle metro station in North Buffalo.
Buffalo has a Strong mayor–council government. As the chief executive of city government, the mayor oversees the heads of the city's departments, participates in ceremonies, boards and commissions, and is as the liaison between the city and local cultural institutions. Some agencies, including utilities, urban renewal and public housing, are state- and federally-funded public benefit-corporations semi-independent of city government. Byron Brown, the city's first African American mayor, has held the office since 2006. Brown, defeated by India Walton in the 2021 mayoral primary election, has begun a write-in campaign for the general election. If elected, Walton would be the first socialist and female mayor of Buffalo. No Republican has been mayor of Buffalo since Chester A. Kowal in 1965.
With its nine districts, the Buffalo Common Council enacts laws, levies taxes, and approves mayoral appointees and the city budget. Pastor Darius Pridgen has been the Common Council president since 2014. Generally reflecting the city's electorate, all nine councilmen are members of the Democratic Party. Buffalo is the Erie County seat, and is within five of the county's eleven legislative districts.
The city is part of the Eighth Judicial District. Court cases handled at the city level include misdemeanors, violations, housing matters, and claims under $15,000; more severe cases are handled at the county level. Buffalo is represented by members of the New York State Assembly and New York State Senate. At the federal level, the city includes most of New York's 26th congressional district and has been represented by Democrat Brian Higgins since 2005.
Federal offices in the city include the Buffalo District of the United States Army Corps of Engineers' Great Lakes and Ohio River Division, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the United States District Court for the Western District of New York.
In 2020, the city spent $519 million on the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. [needs update], supplemented by about $50 million in federal stimulus money. The proposed budget includes a slight increase in the commercial tax and a slight decrease in the residential tax to compensate for the pandemic.
|Buffalo, New York|
|Crime rates* (2019)|
|Total violent crime||2,533|
|Motor vehicle theft||678|
|Total property crime||8,295|
*Number of reported crimes per 100,000 population.
Arson data not provided; 2019 est. population: 255,244
Source: Buffalo City Police Department
Buffalo is served by the Buffalo Police Department. The police commissioner is Byron Lockwood, who was appointed by Mayor Byron Brown in 2018. Although some criminal activity in the city remains higher than the national average, total crimes have decreased since the 1990s; one reason may be the gun buyback program implemented by the Brown administration in the mid-2000s. Before this, the city was part of the nationwide crack epidemic of the 1980s and 1990s and its accompanying record-high crime levels. In 2018, city police began wearing 300 body cameras. A 2021 Partnership for the Public Good report noted that the BPD, which had a 2020–21 budget of about $145.7 million, had an above-average police-to-citizen ratio of 28.9 officers per 10,000 residents in 2020 – higher than peer cities Minneapolis and Toledo, Ohio. The force had a roster of 740 officers during the year, about two-thirds of whom handled emergency requests, road patrol and other non-office assignments. The department has been criticized for misconduct and brutality, including the 2004 wrongful termination of officer Cariol Horne for opposing police brutality toward a suspect and a 2020 protest-shoving incident.
The Buffalo Fire Department and American Medical Response (AMR) handle fire-protection and emergency medical services (EMS) calls in the city. The fire department has about 710 firefighters and thirty-five stations, including twenty-three engine companies and twelve ladder companies. The department also operates the Edward M. Cotter, considered the world's oldest active fireboat.
With vacant and abandoned homes prone to arson, squatting, prostitution and other criminal activities, the fire and police department's resources were overburdened before the 2010s. Buffalo ranked second nationwide to St. Louis for vacant homes per capita in 2007, and the city began a five-year program to demolish five thousand vacant, damaged and abandoned homes.
Buffalo's major daily newspaper is The Buffalo News. Established in 1880 as the Buffalo Evening News, the newspaper is estimated to have a daily circulation of 87,000 and 125,000 on Sundays (down from a high of 300,000). Other newspapers in the Buffalo area include The Public, the Black-focused Challenger Community News, The Record of Buffalo State College, The Spectrum of the University at Buffalo, and Buffalo Business First.
Eighteen radio stations are licensed in Buffalo, including an FM station at Buffalo State College. Over ninety FM and AM radio signals can be received throughout the city. Eight full-power television outlets serve the city. Major stations include WKBW-TV (ABC), WIVB-TV (CBS), WGRZ (NBC), WUTV (Fox, received in parts of Southern Ontario), and WNED-TV (PBS); WNED reported that most of the station's members live in the Toronto area. According to Nielsen Media Research, the Buffalo television market was the 51st largest in the United States as of 2020[update].
Movies shooting significant footage in Buffalo include Hide in Plain Sight (1980), Tuck Everlasting (1981), Best Friends (1982), The Natural (1984), Vamping (1984), Canadian Bacon (1995), Buffalo '66 (1998), Manna from Heaven (2002), Bruce Almighty (2003), The Savages (2007), Henry's Crime (2011), Sharknado 2: The Second One (2014), Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of The Shadows (2016), Marshall (2016), The American Side (2017), The First Purge (2018), The True Adventures of Wolfboy (2019), and A Quiet Place Part II (2021). Although higher Buffalo production costs led to some films being finished elsewhere, tax credits and other economic incentives have enabled new film studios and production facilities to open. In 2021, several studio projects were in the planning stages.
Primary and secondary education
The Buffalo Public Schools have about thirty-four thousand students enrolled in their primary and secondary schools. The district administers about sixty public schools, including thirty-six primary schools, five middle high schools, fourteen high schools and three alternative schools, with a total of about 3,500 teachers. Its board of education, authorized by the state, has nine elected members who select the superintendent and oversee the budget, curriculum, personnel, and facilities. In 2020, the graduation rate was seventy-six percent. The public City Honors School was ranked the top high school in the city and 178th nationwide by U.S. News & World Report in 2021. There are twenty charter schools in Buffalo, with some oversight by the district. The city has over a dozen private schools, including Bishop Timon – St. Jude High School, Canisius High School, Mount Mercy Academy, and Nardin Academy—all Roman Catholic, and Darul Uloom Al-Madania and Universal School of Buffalo (both Islamic schools); nonsectarian options include Buffalo Seminary and the Nichols School.
Colleges and universities
Founded by Millard Fillmore, the University at Buffalo (UB) is one of the State University of New York's four university centers and the state's largest public university. A Research I university, over 32,000 undergraduate, graduate and professional students attend its thirteen schools and colleges. Two of UB's three campuses (the South and Downtown Campuses) are in the city, but most university functions take place at the large North Campus in Amherst. In 2020, U.S. News and World Report ranked UB the 34th-best public university and 88th in national universities. Buffalo State College, founded as a normal school, is one of SUNY's thirteen comprehensive colleges. The city's four-year private institutions include Canisius College, Medaille College and D'Youville College. SUNY Erie, the county's two-year public higher-education institution, and the for-profit Bryant & Stratton College have small downtown campuses.
Established in 1835, Buffalo's main library is the Central Library of the Buffalo & Erie County Public Library system. Rebuilt in 1964, it contains an auditorium, the original manuscript of the Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (donated by Mark Twain), and a collection of about two million books. Its Grosvenor Room maintains a special-collections listing of nearly five hundred thousand resources for researchers. A pocket park funded by Southwest Airlines opened in 2020, and brought landscaping improvements and seating to Lafayette Square. The system's free library cards are valid at the city's eight branch libraries and at member libraries throughout Erie County.
Six hospitals are operated in the city: Oishei Children's Hospital and Buffalo General Medical Center by Kaleida Health, Mercy Hospital and Sisters of Charity Hospital (Catholic Health), the county-run Erie County Medical Center (ECMC), and the state-operated Buffalo Psychiatric Center. John R. Oishei Children's Hospital, built in 2017, is adjacent to Buffalo General Medical Center on the 120-acre (49 ha) Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus north of downtown; its Gates Vascular Institute specializes in acute stroke recovery. The medical campus includes the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, the Hauptman-Woodward Medical Research Institute and Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center, ranked the 14th-best cancer-treatment center in the United States by U.S. News and World Report.
Growth and changing transportation needs altered Buffalo's grid plan, which was developed by Joseph Ellicott in 1804. His plan laid out streets like the spokes of a wheel, naming them after Dutch landowners and Native American tribes. City streets expanded outward, denser in the west and spreading out east of Main Street. Buffalo is a port of entry with Canada; the Peace Bridge crosses the Niagara River and links the Niagara Thruway (I-190) and Queen Elizabeth Way. I-190, NY 5 and NY 33 are the primary expressways serving the city, carrying a total of over 245,000 vehicles daily.[j] NY 5 carries traffic to the Southtowns, and NY 33 carries traffic to the eastern suburbs and the Buffalo Airport. The east-west Scajacquada Expressway (NY 198) bisects Delaware Park, connecting I-190 with the Kensington Expressway (NY 33) on the city's East Side to form a partial beltway around the city center. The Scajacquada and Kensington Expressways and the Buffalo Skyway (NY 5) have been targeted for redesign or removal. Other major highways include US 62 on the city's East Side; NY 354 and a portion of NY 130, both east-west routes; and NY 265, NY 266 and NY 384, all north-south routes on the city's West Side. Buffalo has a higher-than-average percentage of households without a car: 30 percent in 2015, decreasing to 28.2 percent in 2016; the 2016 national average was 8.7 percent. Buffalo averaged 1.03 cars per household in 2016, compared to the national average of 1.8.
The Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority (NFTA) operates the region's public transit, including its airport, light-rail system, buses, and harbors. The NFTA operates 323 buses on 61 lines throughout Western New York. Buffalo Metro Rail is a 6.4-mile-long (10.3 km) line which runs from Canalside to the University Heights district. The line's downtown section, south of the Fountain Plaza station, runs at grade and is free of charge. The Buffalo area ranks twenty-third nationwide in transit ridership, with thirty trips per capita per year. Expansions have been proposed since Buffalo Metro Rail's inception in the 1980s, with the latest plan (in the late 2010s) reaching the town of Amherst. Buffalo Niagara International Airport in Cheektowaga has daily scheduled flights by domestic, charter and regional carriers. The airport handled nearly five million passengers in 2019. It received a J.D. Power award in 2018 for customer satisfaction at a mid-sized airport, and underwent a $50 million expansion in 2020–21. The airport, light rail, small-boat harbor and buses are monitored by the NFTA's transit police.
Buffalo has an Amtrak intercity train station, Buffalo–Exchange Street station, which was rebuilt in 2020. The city's eastern suburbs are served by Amtrak's Buffalo–Depew station in Depew, which was built in 1979. Buffalo was a major stop on through routes between Chicago and New York City through the lower Ontario Peninsula; trains stopped at Buffalo Central Terminal, which operated from 1929 to 1979. Intercity buses depart and arrive from the NFTA's Metropolitan Transportation Center on Ellicott Street.
Since Buffalo adopted a complete streets policy in 2008, efforts have been made to accommodate cyclists and pedestrians into new infrastructure projects. Improved corridors have bike lanes, and Niagara Street received separate bike lanes in 2020. Walk Score gave Buffalo a "somewhat walkable" rating of 68 out of 100, with Allentown and downtown considered more walkable than other areas of the city.
Buffalo's water system is operated by Veolia Water, and water treatment begins at the Colonel Francis G. Ward Pumping Station. When it opened in 1915, the station's capacity was second only to Paris. Wastewater is treated by the Buffalo Sewer Authority, its coverage extending to the eastern suburbs. National Grid and New York State Electric & Gas (NYSEG) provide electricity, and National Fuel Gas provides natural gas. The city's primary telecommunications provider is Spectrum; Verizon Fios serves the North Park neighborhood. A 2018 report by Ookla noted that Buffalo was one of the bottom five U.S. cities in average download speeds at 66 megabits per second.
The city's Department of Public Works manages Buffalo's snow and trash removal and street cleaning. Snow removal generally operates from November 15 to April 1. A snow emergency is declared by the National Weather Service after a snowstorm, and the city's roads, major sidewalks and bridges are cleared by over seventy snowplows within 24 hours. Rock salt is the principal agent for preventing snow accumulation and melting ice. Snow removal may coincide with driving bans and parking restrictions. The area along the Outer Harbor is the most dangerous driving area during a snowstorm; when weather conditions dictate, the Buffalo Skyway is closed by the city's police department.
To prevent ice jams which may impact hydroelectric plants in Niagara Falls, the New York Power Authority and Ontario Power Generation began installing an ice boom annually in 1964. The boom's installation date is temperature-dependent, and it is removed on April 1 unless there is more than 650 square kilometres (250 sq mi) of ice remaining on eastern Lake Erie. It stretches 2,680 metres (8,790 ft) from the outer breakwall at the Buffalo Outer Harbor to the Canadian shore near Fort Erie. Originally made of wood, the boom now consists of steel pontoons.
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