buffalo plaid

Buffalo, New York

Buffalo is the second largest city in New York State. Located in Western New York on the eastern shores of Lake Erie and at the head of the Niagara River, Buffalo is the principal city of the Buffalo-Niagara Falls metropolitan area and the seat of Erie County. The city itself has a population of 292,648 (2000 Census), and the metropolitan area 1,170,111 (2000 Census), the 46th largest in the United States.

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 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 2000 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.


The name "Buffalo" may be derived from the French phrase beau fleuve, "beautiful river", a description of Buffalo Creek and the Niagara River; the matter is uncertain, but it is clear that there were no bison in the area. It likely dates from the mid-18th century, when the area was first settled by Europeans. The area was originally settled by a Neutral Nation tribe, the Ongiara. Later, the Senecas of the Iroquois Confederacy won control over this land from 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 patterns 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 being at the western end of the system. The population at the time 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 been a long time home to the African-American community. 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 Church (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 like William Wells Brown also made their home in Buffalo. Buffalo was also a terminus point of the Underground Railroad with many fugitives crossing the Niagara River from Buffalo to Fort Erie, Ontario and freedom.

During the 1840s, Buffalo continued its growth as a port city. 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. The one of the first steam powered grain elevators was constructed which led to faster unloading of lake freighters.

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 of Buffalo it increased from 81,029 to 94,210 in 1865. The Niagara Steam Forge Works manufactured turret parts for the ironclad ship USS Monitor.

At the start of the 20th Century, immigrants from Europe came in to work in the local mills which used hydroelectric power generated from the river. The city got the nickname City of Light at this time due to the widespread electric lighting used. In 1881, Buffalo had deployed the first electric street lights in the United States. It was also part of the automobile revolution, hosting the brass era car builder Seven Little Buffaloes early in the century. City of Light was the title of Buffalo native Lauren Belfer's 1999 historical novel set in 1901, which in turn engendered a listing of real vs fictional persons and places

President William McKinley was shot and mortally wounded 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 Mansion as the 26th President of the United States.

The link to Fort Erie, known as the Peace Bridge, was opened in 1927.

With the opening of the St. Lawrence Seaway in 1957, which cut the city off from the normal trade routes, loss of manufacturing jobs, and the nation-wide trend of suburbanization, the city's economy and capital began to slide like much of the Rust Belt. The city, 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 either left for the suburbs or to other cities.

Like many cities across the country, Buffalo is experiencing new development 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 were numerous, especially in the downtown area. 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 is located on the eastern end of Lake Erie, opposite Fort Erie, Ontario in Canada, and at the beginning of the Niagara River, which flows northward over Niagara Falls and into Lake Ontario.

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 52.5 square miles (136.0 km²). 105.2 km² (40.6 sq mi) of it is land and 30.8 km² (11.9 sq mi) of it is water. The total area is 22.66% water.

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 Erie 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 Erie 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.

Buffalo has a reputation for snowy winters. The region experiences a fairly humid, continental-type climate, but with a definite maritime flavor due to strong modification from the Great Lakes. 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 Erie 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.


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 improvement will continue will not be evident until next year's estimate.

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 has very sizable populations of Irish, Italian, Polish, German, Jewish, Greek, Arab American and African 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 Buffalo, have been comprised almost entirely of people of Irish descent. Recently, there has been an influx of inhabitants that are of Arab descent, mainly from Yemen, as the city's Muslim population has increased to approximately 8,000 to 10,000 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, Erie 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.


Public Schools

Like the rest of New York, Buffalo is subject to the state's benchmark evaluation system. The Buffalo Public Schools curriculum is aligned to state standards set by the Education Department. At the high school level, students are required to pass Regents Examinations for each course upon its completion. 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 dropout rate is just 5.3%, and 83% of students who graduate go on to college. 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 is noted for its model magnet school system attracting students with special interests, which include 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 Finance; Hutchinson Central Technical High School; South Park High School and the Emerson School of Hospitality. The City Honors School was recently ranked #8 in the nation by Newsweek magazine. 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, however, there are schools affiliated with other religions such as Islam and Judaism. There are also many nonsectarian options including The Park School of Buffalo, The Buffalo Seminary (the only private, nonsectarian, all-girls school in WNY), 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.

The Buffalo area is also home to the The Gow School,The Gow School is a college prep boarding school for boys, grades 7 to 12, with dyslexia and similar language-based learning disabilities including: central auditory processing disorder, dyscalculia and LD written expression

Catholic Schools

Colleges and Universities


Buffalo is home to four State University of New York (SUNY) institutions. Buffalo State College, a comprehensive college, and the University at Buffalo, one of the four University Centers in the SUNY system. Each is the largest institution of its type in the system. Combined, they account for roughly 40,000 students in the area. Two smaller SUNY institutions are Niagara County Community College, and Erie Community College, both of which share the #1 and #2 transfer rate of students moving on to larger schools.


Buffalo and the surrounding area were long involved in railroad commerce, steel manufacture, automobile 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. The loss in industries is in line with other Rust Belt cities such as Cleveland, Detroit, Pittsburgh, and Youngstown that have had to adjust to changing economic conditions. While some cities such as Pittsburgh have made adjustments with mixed results, Buffalo is more in line with Cleveland and is faced with continual economic problems and declining populations.

In addition, Ford maintains operation of its Buffalo Stamping Plant south of the city, and Chevrolet has two plants, a production plant in Tonawanda near the city line, and a tool and die plant in the city. The windshield wiper was invented in Buffalo, and the Trico company still operates some facilities there. For many years, Buffalo was the nation's second largest rail center, with Chicago being the first.

The traditional reputation of Buffalo as "blue collar" industrial town really no longer applies however, as much of this industry has left the area. 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 of 6.6% was 32% higher than 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:

Private sector employment in the Buffalo-Niagara Falls metro area increased by 1,700, or 0.4 percent, to 447,800, over the 12 months ending April 2008. Job gains were centered in professional and business services (+2,000), leisure and hospitality (+1,300), financial activities (+1,100), and trade, transportation and utilities (+700). Losses occurred in natural resources, mining and construction (-1,800) and manufacturing (-1,700).

Buffalo has also increasingly become a center for bioinformatics and human genome research, including work by researchers at the University at Buffalo and the Roswell Park Cancer Institute. 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.

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 Arena). Other banks, such as Bank of America and KeyBank have corporate operations in Buffalo.Citigroup and Geico also has a regional offices in Amherst, Buffalo's largest suburb.

Another successful industry in Buffalo is debt collection. There are six major firms located in Buffalo and the surrounding area. 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.

When it comes to food and beverage industry, Buffalo is home to both Rich Products, one of the world's largest family-owned food manufacturers, and the American headquarters of InBev, the world's largest producer of beer. 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.

Largest Private Sector Employers

Top 10 Private Sector Employers in Western New York - 2008
Company Industry Fulltime Employees
Kaleida Health Health Care 10,000
HSBC Bank USA N.A. Commercial Bank 5,848
Catholic Health System Health Care 4,949
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 Institute Hospital 2,699
Note: Delphi is no longer included in the list as it employs 2,600 as of June, 2008 Buffalo Business First


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 County with 27 county representatives. At the state level, there are three state assemblymen and two state senators in the Buffalo area. 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 activities in Buffalo have been dominated by The Democratic Party for the last half-century, though its longest serving mayor of the past half-century, James Griffin, switched political affiliations several times and most frequently attained electoral victory from socially conservative platforms. In 2005, Kevin Helfer, the city's first major conservative mayoral candidate in over 40 years, defeated Byron Brown by a 2-1 margin in the Conservative Party primary. Despite this, voters ultimately chose Brown, making him the city's first African-American mayor. Union support bolstered Brown's campaign, ultimately providing a substantial fundraising and volunteer effort.



Buffalo consists of 32 different neighborhoods: (A map and listing of the neighborhoods from the University at Buffalo) Allentown, Bailey-Lovejoy, Black Rock, Central Park, 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 Buffalo, 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 mixed use neighborhood with hundreds of small, home grown stores and restaurants.


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 Erie and the Buffalo and Niagara Rivers, 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 is still a hub of commerce, trade, and industry that is essential to its economic prosperity.

Buffalo's waterfront is being transformed from its industrial past into a focal point for social and recreational activity. A literal focal point, viewed from above, is a marina taking the shape of a buffalo (located near the junction of the Buffalo Skyway NY 5 and the New York State Thruway I-190.

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 30% of Buffalo residents live below the poverty line, second only to Detroit. 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. This high affordability within the housing market combined with the metropolitan area's short commute time and cultural offerings such as the Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra or professional sports teams such as the Buffalo Sabres or Buffalo Bills offer area residents a good quality of life.

Buffalo faces issues with vacant and abandoned houses, as the city ranks second only to St. Louis 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 rip down 5,000 more houses. The city's move away from hard industry and toward a service and bioinformatics industry has led to an improving environment which has allowed area residents to further enjoy the area's natural offerings that include two Great Lakes, the Niagara River, and Alleghany Mountains. 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 being the second largest city in New York State behind New York City. The Queen City had also been used during the 1800s to describe Buffalo as the second largest American city on the Great Lakes after Chicago. 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. Buffalo was also known in the 1980s as The City of No Illusions, due in part to a t-shirt campaign by local stores. 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 Falls and because it was the first city in America to have electric street lights.


Buffalo was first settled by New Englanders and a small but influential number of African Americans. The first wave of European immigrants was a large influx of Germans. The city was further populated by Irish immigrants 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 Somalia, Asia, and the Arab world.

The old First Ward in South Buffalo retains a strong Irish identity, and Kaisertown reflects a German heritage. The city's East Side was once home of Buffalo's Polonia centered around the Broadway Market, a microcosm of Polish/Slavic traditions and food delicacies. The East Side is now home to African Americans who came north during the Great Migration. The Juneteenth Festival of Buffalo, NY is an important component for Black-Americans of summertime events in the Buffalo-Niagara region.

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

Buffalo is also home to a sizable Jewish community. German Jews immigrants originally settled on Buffalo's West Side in the mid-1800s. Less well-off 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 approximately 26,400 Jews now live in the northeastern suburbs of Amherst and Williamsville where the two Jewish Day Schools are located, Kadima Hebrew Day School and Jewish Heritage/Torah U'Masorah Day School. 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, and medical center and the city was named by Reader's Digest as the third cleanest city (environmentally) in the United States in 2005. In 2001 USA Today named Buffalo the winner of its "City with a Heart" contest, proclaiming it the nation's "friendliest city." Also, in 1996 and 2002, Buffalo won the All-America City Award.


As a melting pot of cultures, cuisine in the Buffalo area reflects a variety of cultures. These include Italian, Jewish, German, Polish, African American, Greek and American influences. Beef on Weck, Wardynski's kielbasa, Sahlen's hot dogs, sponge candy, 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 York and Southern Ontario 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. Local or regional chains with a significant presence in the Buffalo area include Louies Hot Dogs(two separate companies with the same name), Ted's Hot Dogs, Anderson's Frozen Custard, Duff's Famous Wings, John & Mary's, Jim's SteakOut, Just Pizza, SPoT Coffee, Tim Hortons, Mighty Taco, Bocce Club and LaNova Pizzeria. Buffalo's pizza is also unique, perhaps because Buffalo is geographically located halfway between New York City and Chicago, Illinois, 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 Toronto-based brewer, is also headquartered in Buffalo. Twice a summer thousands of Western New Yorkers descend into the city for two food festivals, the Taste of Buffalo and the National Buffalo Wing Festival.

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, 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 Gallery, 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 Hall, is one of the city's most prominent performing arts institutions. Shea's Performing Arts Center, long known as Shea's Buffalo, is an old-style large theatre that continues to show productions and concerts.


Many architectural treasures exist in Buffalo, including:

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

The Guaranty Building, 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, 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 Stafford 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. H. Richardson Complex, originally the 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 also 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 Martin House, George Barton House, William Heath House, The Graycliff Estate, as well as the now demolished Larkin Administration Building. Currently under construction is the never built boathouse designed by Wright, on Buffalo's Black Rock Canal. Buffalo has more Frank Lloyd Wright buildings than any other city except Chicago.

The Buffalo City Hall 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:


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 York 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. Allentown, 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 gay 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 College. 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 Airport, located in Cheektowaga. The airport, recently re-constructed, serves over 5 million passengers a year and is still growing. Buffalo Niagara International Airport 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 $295.58. As of 2006, plans are in the works by U.S. Senator Charles Schumer to make the under-used Niagara Falls International Airport into an international cargo hub for New York and Toronto, as well as Canada as a whole.

Public transit

The Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority (NFTA) operates Buffalo Niagara International Airport and Niagara Falls International Airport, 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 6.4 mile (10.3 km) 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-Depew and Buffalo-Exchange Street 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 Erie, one of the Great Lakes, 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 Ontario (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 Lakes 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 Erie. When the Canal was dedicated, New York State governor DeWitt Clinton poured waters from the Atlantic ocean into the Lake at Buffalo's western terminus of the Canal. 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 River. 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

See Google Map of Buffalo, NY road system.

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, Ohio to Massena, New York. These include the flood-control dam at Mount Morris, New York, oversight of the lower Great Lakes (Erie and Ontario), 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 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.

Federal Reserve Bank of New York

"As the upstate regional presence of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, the Buffalo Branch promotes regional vitality by providing economic intelligence and analysis to inform and enable decisionmakers to advance better outcomes for the upstate New York economy."

Sports teams

Current teams

Sport League Club Founded Venue League championships Championship years
Football NFL Buffalo Bills 1960 Ralph Wilson Stadium 2 1964,1965
Hockey NHL Buffalo Sabres 1970 HSBC Arena 0 N/A
Baseball IL Buffalo Bisons 1979 Dunn Tire Park 10 1998, 2002, 2004
Lacrosse NLL Buffalo Bandits 1992 HSBC Arena 4 1992, 1993, 1996, 2008
Basketball PBL Buffalo Stampede 2008 Koessler Athletic Center 0 N/A
Soccer NPSL Queen City FC 2007 All-High Stadium 0 N/A
Arena Football AF2 TBD 2009 TBD 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 Island North: Kenmore, Tonawanda Northeast: Amherst
West: Fort Erie, Niagara River Buffalo East: Sloan, Cheektowaga
Southwest: Lake Erie South: Lackawanna Southeast: West Seneca

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