Buffalo, New York

Buffalo is the second-largest city in the U.S. state of New York and the seat of Erie County.[6] It is located at the eastern end of Lake Erie, adjacent to the Canadian border with Southern Ontario, and at the head of the Niagara River. With a population estimated at 255,284 in 2019, Buffalo ranks as the 86th-largest city in the United States.[4] The city and nearby Niagara Falls share the two-county Buffalo–Niagara Falls Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA), with an estimated population of 1.1 million residents in 2019, making it the 49th largest in the United States.[7] The city and the surrounding Western New York region is the largest population and economic center between Boston and Cleveland.

Buffalo, New York
City
City of Buffalo
Clockwise from top: Downtown Buffalo, Albright Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo Savings Bank, Richardson Olmsted Complex, Buffalo City Hall, Old County Hall, Peace Bridge
Flag
Seal
Nicknames: 
The Queen City, The City of Good Neighbors, The City of No Illusions, The Nickel City, Queen City of the Lakes, City of Light, City of Trees[1]
Interactive maps of Buffalo
Coordinates: 42°54′17″N 78°50′58″W
Country United States
State New York
RegionWestern New York
MetroBuffalo–Niagara Falls
CountyErie
First settled (village)1789
Founded1801
Incorporated (city)1832
Government
  TypeMayor–council government
  BodyBuffalo Common Council
  MayorByron Brown (D)
Area
  City52.48 sq mi (135.92 km2)
  Land40.38 sq mi (104.58 km2)
  Water12.10 sq mi (31.34 km2)
Elevation600 ft (200 m)
Population
  City261,310
  Estimate 
(2019)[4]
255,244
  RankUS: 86th NY: 2nd
  Density6,322.35/sq mi (2,441.10/km2)
  Urban
935,906 (US: 46th)
  Metro
1,130,152 (US: 50th) [5]
  CSA
1,206,992 (US: 47th)
DemonymsBuffalonian
Time zoneUTC−05:00 (EST)
  Summer (DST)UTC−04:00 (EDT)
ZIP code
142XX
Area code(s)716
FIPS code36-11000
GNIS feature ID0973345[3]
Websitewww.buffalony.gov

Buffalo was incorporated in 1832 as the terminus of the Erie Canal, stimulating its growth as the primary inland port between the Great Lakes and the Atlantic Ocean through transshipment. After railroads superseded the canal's importance, Buffalo became the largest railway hub after Chicago and the city transitioned to manufacturing, which was dominated by steel production. The opening of the Saint Lawrence Seaway and deindustrialization saw the city's economy diversify to service industries such as health care, retail, tourism, logistics, and education, while retaining some manufacturing.[8] The gross domestic product (GDP) of the Buffalo–Niagara Falls MSA was $53 billion in 2019.[9]

Buffalo's cultural icons include the oldest urban parks system in the United States,[10] the Albright–Knox Art Gallery, the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra, Shea's Performing Arts Center, the Buffalo Museum of Science, and year-round festivals. The city is also known for its winter weather,[11] and is home to two major league professional sports teams—the Buffalo Bills and the Buffalo Sabres.

History

Prehistory to European exploration

An early map of the village of Buffalo and outer lots in 1854. Inset is Ellicott's 1804 plan.

Before the arrival of Europeans, nomadic Paleo-Indians inhabited the region from the 8th millennium BC. Around 1000 CE, the Woodland period began, marked by the rise of the Iroquois Confederacy and its tribes throughout the state.[12] During French exploration of the region in 1620, the region was occupied simultaneously by the agrarian Erie people and the Wenro people or Wenrohronon, an offshoot of the large Neutral Nation.[13] The Neutrals made a living by growing tobacco and hemp to trade with the Iroquois.[12] The tribes would use animal and war paths to travel and move goods across New York State; these were later paved and now serve as major roads.[12] War between the Erie and Neutrals in the mid-17th century[14] led to territorial changes, with the Senecas gaining control of the region.[15][16][12]

Louis Hennepin and Sieur de La Salle made the earliest European discoveries of the upper Niagara and Ontario regions in the late 1600s.[17] Baron de Lahontan visited the site of Buffalo in 1687.[18] After the American Revolution, the Province of New York—now a U.S. state—began westward expansion, looking for habitable land by following trends of the Iroquois.[12] Land near fresh water was of considerable importance.[12] New York and Massachusetts were fighting for the territory Buffalo lies on, and Massachusetts had the right to purchase all but a one-mile (1600-meter) wide portion of land. The rights to the Massachusetts' territories were sold to Robert Morris in 1791, and two years later to the Holland Land Company.[19][17]

As a result of the war, in which the Iroquois tribe sided with the British Army,[12] Iroquois territory was gradually reduced in the mid-to-late-1700s by European settlers through successive treaties statewide, such as the Treaty of Fort Stanwix (1784), the First Treaty of Buffalo Creek (1788), and the Treaty of Big Tree (1797). The Iroquois were corralled onto reservations, including Buffalo Creek. By the end of the 18th century, only 338 square miles (216,000 acres; 880 km2; 88,000 ha) of reservation territory remained.[20]

The Erie Canal

The city of Buffalo received its name from a nearby creek called Buffalo Creek.[lower-alpha 1][25] British military engineer Captain John Montresor made reference to "Buffalo Creek" in his 1764 journal, which may be the earliest recorded appearance of the name.[26] The first white settlers along the creek were prisoners captured during the Revolutionary War.[17] The first resident and landowner of Buffalo with a permanent presence was Captain William Johnston,[25] a white Iroquois interpreter who had been in the area since the days after the Revolutionary War and who the Senecas granted creekside land as a gift of appreciation. His house stood at present-day Washington and Seneca streets.[13] Former enslaved man Joseph "Black Joe" Hodges,[17][13] and Cornelius Winney, a Dutch trader from Albany who arrived in 1789, were early settlers along the mouth of Buffalo Creek.[19]

On July 20, 1793, the Holland Land Purchase was completed, containing the land of present-day Buffalo, brokered by Dutch investors from Holland.[27] The Treaty of Big Tree removed Iroquois title to lands west of the Genesee River in 1797.[13] In the fall of 1797, Joseph Ellicott, the architect who helped survey Washington, D.C. with brother Andrew,[28][29] was appointed as the Chief of Survey for the Holland Land Company.[13] Over the next year, he began to survey the tract of land at the mouth of Buffalo Creek. This was completed in 1803,[17] and the new village boundaries extended from the creekside in the south to present-day Chippewa Street in the north and Carolina Street to the west,[30] which is where most settlers remained for the first decade of the 19th century. Although the company named the settlement "New Amsterdam," the name did not catch on, reverting to Buffalo within ten years.[31][30] Buffalo had the first road to Pennsylvania built in 1802 for migrants passing through to the Connecticut Western Reserve in Ohio.[18] In 1804, Ellicott designed a radial grid plan that would branch out from the village forming bicycle-like spokes, interrupted by diagonals, like the system used in the nation's capital.[32] In the middle of the village was the intersection of eight streets, in what would become Niagara Square. Several blocks to the southeast he designed a semicircle fronting Main Street with an elongated park green, formerly his estate.[27][33] This would be known as Shelton Square,[34] at that time the center of the city (which would be dramatically altered in the mid-20th century),[35] with the intersecting streets bearing the names of Dutch Holland Land Company members,[19][lower-alpha 2] today Erie, Church and Niagara streets.[27] Lafayette Square also lies one block to the north, which was then bounded by streets bearing Iroquois names.[17]

In 1804, Buffalo's population was estimated at 400, similar to Batavia, but Erie County's growth was behind Chautauqua, Genesee and Wyoming counties.[12] According to an early resident, the village had sixteen residences, a schoolhouse and two stores in 1806, primarily near Main, Swan and Seneca streets.[27] There were also blacksmith shops, a tavern and a drugstore.[17] The streets were small at 40 feet wide, and the village was still surrounded by woods.[17] The first lot sold by the Holland Land Company was on September 11, 1806, to Zerah Phelps.[13] By 1808, lots would sell from $25 to $50.[17] Neighboring village Black Rock to the northwest (today a Buffalo neighborhood) was also an important center.[27] Horatio J. Spafford noted in A Gazetteer of the State of New York that in fact, despite the growth the village of Buffalo had, Black Rock "is deemed a better trading site for a great trading town than that of Buffalo," especially when considering the regional profile of mundane roads extending eastward.[12] Before the east-to-west turnpike was completed, travelling from Albany to Buffalo would take a week,[27] while even a trip from nearby Williamsville to Batavia could take upwards of three days.[27][lower-alpha 3] Although slavery was rare in the state, limited instances of slavery had taken place in Buffalo during the early part of the 19th century. General Peter Buell Porter is said to have had five slaves during his time in Black Rock, and several news ads also advertised slaves for sale.[13] In 1810, a courthouse was built. By 1811, the population was 500, with many people farming or doing manual labor.[17] The first newspaper to be published was the Buffalo Gazette in October that same year.[17]

On December 31, 1813, the British burned Buffalo and the village of Black Rock after the Battle of Buffalo.[36][37] The battle and subsequent fire was in response to the unprovoked destruction of Niagara-on-the-Lake, then known as "Newark," by American forces.[38][17] On August 4, 1814, British forces under Lt. Colonel John Tucker and Lt. Colonel William Drummond, General Gordon Drummond's nephew, attempted to raid Black Rock and Buffalo as part of a diversion to force an early surrender at Fort Erie the next day, but were defeated by a small force of American riflemen under Major Lodwick Morgan at the Battle of Conjocta Creek, and withdrew back into Canada. Consequently, Fort Erie's siege under Gordon Drummond later failed, and British forces withdrew. Though only three buildings remained in the village, rebuilding was swift, finishing in 1815.[39][17]

On October 26, 1825,[40] the Erie Canal was completed, formed from part of Buffalo Creek,[41] with Buffalo a port-of-call for settlers heading westward.[42] At the time, the population was about 2,400.[43] By 1826, the 130 sq. mile Buffalo Creek Reservation at the western border of the village was transferred to Buffalo.[20] The Erie Canal brought a surge in population and commerce, which led Buffalo to incorporate as a city in 1832.[44] The canal area was mature by 1847, with passenger and cargo ship activity leading to congestion in the harbor.[45]

The Pan-American Exposition, 1901

The mid-1800s saw a population boom, with the city doubling in size from 1845 to 1855.[46] The village of Buffalo was part of and the seat of Niagara County until the legislature passed an act separating them on April 2, 1861.[13] In 1855, almost two-thirds of the city's population were foreign-born immigrants, largely a mix of unskilled or educated Irish and German Catholics, who began self-segregating in different parts of the city. The Irish immigrants planted their roots along the railroad-heavy Buffalo River and Erie Canal to the southeast, to which there is still a heavy presence today; German immigrants found their way to the East Side, living a more laid-back, residential life.[46] Some immigrants were apprehensive about the change of environment and left the city for the western region, while others tried to stay behind in the hopes of expanding their native cultures.[46]

Fugitive black slaves began to make their way northward to Buffalo in the 1840s, and many settled on the city's East Side.[46] In 1845, construction began on the Macedonia Baptist Church, a meeting spot in the Michigan and William Street neighborhood where blacks first settled.[47] Political activity surrounding the anti-slavery movement took place in Buffalo during this time, including conventions held by the National Convention of Colored Citizens and the Liberty Party and its offshoots.[48] Buffalo was a terminus point of the Underground Railroad with many fugitive slaves crossing the Niagara River to Fort Erie, Ontario in search of freedom.[49]

During the 1840s, Buffalo's port continued to develop. Both passenger and commercial traffic expanded with some 93,000 passengers heading west from the port of Buffalo.[50] Grain and commercial goods shipments led to repeated expansion of the harbor. In 1843, the world's first steam-powered grain elevator was constructed by local merchant Joseph Dart and engineer Robert Dunbar.[51] "Dart's Elevator" enabled faster unloading of lake freighters along with the transshipment of grain in bulk from barges, canal boats, and rail cars.[52] By 1850, the city's population was 81,000.[44]

In 1860, many railway companies and lines crossed through and terminated in Buffalo. Major ones were the Buffalo, Bradford and Pittsburgh Railroad (1859), Buffalo and Erie Railroad and the New York Central Railroad (1853).[18] During this time, Buffalonians controlled a quarter of all shipping traffic on Lake Erie, and shipbuilding was a thriving industry for the city.[18] Later, the Lehigh Valley Railroad would have its line terminate at Buffalo in 1867.

Industry and modern era

At the dawn of the 20th century, local mills were among the first to benefit from hydroelectric power generated by the Niagara River. The city got the nickname The City of Light at this time due to the widespread electric lighting.[53] It was also part of the automobile revolution, hosting the brass era car builders Pierce Arrow and the Seven Little Buffaloes early in the century.[54] At the same time, an exit of local entrepreneurs and industrial titans brought about a nascent stage that would see the city lose its competitiveness against Pittsburgh, Cleveland and Detroit.[55]

President William McKinley was shot and mortally wounded by an anarchist at the Pan-American Exposition in Buffalo on September 6, 1901.[56] McKinley died eight days later[57] and Theodore Roosevelt was sworn in at the Wilcox Mansion.[57] The Great Depression of 1929–39 saw severe unemployment, especially among working-class men. The New Deal relief programs operated full force. The city became a stronghold of labor unions and the Democratic Party.[58]

During World War II, Buffalo saw the return of prosperity and full employment due to its position as a manufacturing center.[59][60] As one of the most populous cities of the 1950s, Buffalo's economy revolved almost entirely on its manufacturing base. Major companies such as Republic Steel and Lackawanna Steel employed tens of thousands of Buffalonians. Integrated national shipping routes would use the Soo Locks near Lake Superior and a vast network of railroads and yards that crossed the city.

Lobbying by local businesses and interest groups against the St. Lawrence Seaway began in the 1920s, long before its construction in 1957, which cut the city off from valuable trade routes. Its approval was reinforced by legislation shortly before its construction.[46] Shipbuilding in Buffalo, such as the American Ship Building Company, shut down in 1962, ending an industry that had been a sector of the city's economy since 1812, and a direct result of reduced waterfront activity.[46] With deindustrialization, and the nationwide trend of suburbanization; the city's economy began to deteriorate.[61][46] Like much of the Rust Belt, Buffalo, home to more than half a million people in the 1950s, has seen its population decline as heavy industries shut down and people left for the suburbs or other cities.[61][46][62]

Geography

Topography

Satellite image of the Niagara Peninsula and Niagara Frontier; Buffalo is at the lower-right

Buffalo is on the eastern end of Lake Erie, opposite Fort Erie, Ontario.[63] It is at the origin of the Niagara River, which flows northward over Niagara Falls and into Lake Ontario.[64]

The Buffalo metropolitan area lies in the Erie/Ontario Lake Plain of the Eastern Great Lakes Lowlands, a narrow plain extending east to Utica.[12] Relative to downtown, the city is generally flat with the exception of areas surrounding North and High streets, where a hill of 90 feet (27 m) gradually develops approaching from the south and north. The Southtowns become hillier leading to the Cattaraugus Hills in the Appalachian Upland.[12][65] Various types of shale, limestone and lagerstätten are prevalent in the geographic makeup of Buffalo and surrounding areas, which line the waterbeds within and bordering the city.[66] Although there have not been any recent or significant earthquakes, Buffalo sits atop of the Southern Great Lakes Seismic Zone, which is part of the Great Lakes tectonic zone.[67] Buffalo has four channels that flow through its boundaries: the Niagara River, Buffalo River and Creek, Scajaquada Creek, and the Black Rock Canal, which is adjacent to the Niagara River.[68] The city's Bureau of Forestry maintains a database with an inventory of over seventy thousand trees.[69]

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has an area of 52.5 square miles (136 km2), of which 40.38 square miles (104.6 km2) is land and the rest water.[70] The total area is 22.66% water. In 2010, the city of Buffalo had a population of 6,470.6 per square mile.[70]

Cityscape

Skyline of Buffalo, looking east from Lake Erie

Buffalo's architecture is diverse, with a collection of buildings from the 19th and 20th centuries.[71] Prominent landmarks in Downtown Buffalo include the Guaranty Building constructed by Louis Sullivan, an early high-rise skyscraper;[72][73] the Ellicott Square Building, once one of the largest of its kind in the world;[74] the Art Deco-style Buffalo City Hall and the McKinley Monument, and the Electric Tower. Outside of downtown, the Buffalo Central Terminal was built in the Broadway-Fillmore neighborhood in 1929, and the Richardson Olmsted Complex from 1881 served as an insane asylum,[75] closing in the 1970s.[76] Urban renewal from the 1950s–1970s gave way to the construction of include the Brutalist-style Buffalo City Court Building and Seneca One Tower, the city's tallest building.[77] In the city's Parkside neighborhood, the Darwin D. Martin House was designed by Frank Lloyd Wright in his Prairie School style.[78]

Neighborhoods

Grant and West Ferry streets, 2019

The boundaries of Buffalo's neighborhoods have changed over time. The city is divided into five districts with each containing several neighborhoods; in total, there are thirty-five of them in the city.[79] Main Street divides the city's east and west sides, where the West Side was fully developed before the East Side was. This division is seen in terms of architectural styles, street names, neighborhood and district boundaries, and socioeconomic conditions—generally, the West Side of the city is more affluent than the East Side.[80][81]

Several neighborhoods in Buffalo have seen increased investment since the 1990s, beginning with the Elmwood Village.[82] The redevelopment of the Larkin Terminal Warehouse in 2002 led to the creation of the Larkin District, home to several mixed-use projects and anchored by corporate offices.[83] Downtown Buffalo and the central business district (CBD) saw a 10.6% increase in residents from 2010–2017 as over 1,061 units of housing came online,[84] continuing into 2020 with the redevelopment of the Seneca One Tower.[85] Other revitalized areas include Chandler Street in the Grant-Amherst neighborhood and Hertel Avenue in Parkside.[82][86]

In 2017, the Buffalo Common Council adopted its Green Code, replacing zoning regulations that were over sixty years old. Its emphasis on regulations promoting pedestrian safety and mixed usage of land earned an award at the Congress for New Urbanism conference in 2019.[87]

Climate

Buffalo during winter, 2019
Buffalo
Climate chart (explanation)
J
F
M
A
M
J
J
A
S
O
N
D
 
 
3.2
 
 
31
19
 
 
2.5
 
 
33
19
 
 
2.9
 
 
42
26
 
 
3
 
 
55
37
 
 
3.5
 
 
67
47
 
 
3.7
 
 
75
57
 
 
3.2
 
 
80
62
 
 
3.3
 
 
78
61
 
 
3.9
 
 
71
53
 
 
3.5
 
 
59
43
 
 
4
 
 
48
34
 
 
3.9
 
 
36
24
Average max. and min. temperatures in °F
Precipitation totals in inches
Source: [88]

Buffalo has a humid continental climate (Köppen Dfa bordering on Dfb), which is common in the Great Lakes region,[89][90] and temperatures have been warming overall with the rest of the country.[91] Lake-effect snow is a defining characteristic of Buffalo's winters, with snow bands producing intense effects on the city and surrounding area, depending on the direction of the winds relative to Lake Erie.[92] However, Buffalo is rarely the snowiest city in the state.[93][94] The Blizzard of 1977 resulted from a combination of high winds and snow that accumulated on land and on frozen Lake Erie.[95] Snow does not typically impair the city's operation, but can cause significant damage in autumn, as with the October 2006 storm.[96] In November 2014, the region had a record-breaking storm dubbed "Snowvember", producing over 5+12 ft (66 in; 170 cm) of snow.[97] Buffalo's lowest recorded temperature was −20 °F (−29 °C), which occurred twice, on February 9, 1934 and February 2, 1961.[98]

Buffalo's summers are drier and sunnier than other cities in the Northeastern United States, but its vegetation receives enough precipitation to remain hydrated.[90] Summers are marked by abundant sunshine with moderate humidity and temperatures.[90] Buffalo benefits from cool, southwestern Lake Erie breezes during the summer that temper warmer days.[90][65] As a result, temperatures only rise above 90 °F (32.2 °C) three times in the average year,[90] No official recording of 100 °F (37.8 °C) or more has occurred to date, with a maximum of 99 °F on August 27, 1948.[98] Rainfall is moderate, but typically occurs at night. Cooler lake temperatures hinder storm development throughout July.[90][99] August is usually rainier and muggier as the warm lake loses its temperature-controlling abilities.[90]

Climate data for Buffalo (Buffalo Niagara International Airport), 1991–2020 normals,[lower-alpha 4] extremes 1871–present[lower-alpha 5]
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °F (°C) 72
(22)
71
(22)
82
(28)
94
(34)
94
(34)
97
(36)
98
(37)
99
(37)
98
(37)
92
(33)
80
(27)
74
(23)
99
(37)
Mean maximum °F (°C) 56
(13)
55
(13)
66
(19)
78
(26)
84
(29)
88
(31)
89
(32)
88
(31)
86
(30)
78
(26)
67
(19)
57
(14)
91
(33)
Average high °F (°C) 32.1
(0.1)
33.3
(0.7)
41.8
(5.4)
54.7
(12.6)
67.4
(19.7)
75.6
(24.2)
80.2
(26.8)
79.0
(26.1)
72.3
(22.4)
59.6
(15.3)
47.8
(8.8)
37.2
(2.9)
56.8
(13.8)
Daily mean °F (°C) 25.5
(−3.6)
26.4
(−3.1)
34.1
(1.2)
45.6
(7.6)
57.9
(14.4)
66.9
(19.4)
71.7
(22.1)
70.4
(21.3)
63.4
(17.4)
51.7
(10.9)
41.0
(5.0)
31.4
(−0.3)
48.8
(9.3)
Average low °F (°C) 19.0
(−7.2)
19.5
(−6.9)
26.4
(−3.1)
36.5
(2.5)
48.3
(9.1)
58.1
(14.5)
63.1
(17.3)
61.7
(16.5)
54.5
(12.5)
43.9
(6.6)
34.2
(1.2)
25.6
(−3.6)
40.9
(4.9)
Mean minimum °F (°C) 1
(−17)
2
(−17)
9
(−13)
25
(−4)
36
(2)
46
(8)
53
(12)
51
(11)
41
(5)
31
(−1)
20
(−7)
9
(−13)
−3
(−19)
Record low °F (°C) −16
(−27)
−20
(−29)
−7
(−22)
5
(−15)
25
(−4)
35
(2)
43
(6)
38
(3)
32
(0)
20
(−7)
2
(−17)
−10
(−23)
−20
(−29)
Average precipitation inches (mm) 3.35
(85)
2.49
(63)
2.89
(73)
3.37
(86)
3.37
(86)
3.37
(86)
3.23
(82)
3.23
(82)
4.10
(104)
4.03
(102)
3.50
(89)
3.75
(95)
40.68
(1,033)
Average snowfall inches (cm) 26.7
(68)
18.1
(46)
14.1
(36)
2.5
(6.4)
0.0
(0.0)
0.0
(0.0)
0.0
(0.0)
0.0
(0.0)
0.0
(0.0)
0.9
(2.3)
7.8
(20)
25.3
(64)
95.4
(242)
Average precipitation days (≥ 0.01 in) 19.2 15.8 14.8 13.4 12.8 11.9 10.8 10.0 10.9 14.1 14.4 17.7 165.8
Average snowy days (≥ 0.1 in) 16.4 13.5 9.1 3.2 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.4 4.7 12.2 59.5
Average relative humidity (%) 76.0 75.9 73.3 67.8 67.2 68.6 68.1 72.1 74.0 72.9 75.8 77.6 72.4
Average dew point °F (°C) 16.9
(−8.4)
17.6
(−8.0)
25.2
(−3.8)
33.4
(0.8)
44.2
(6.8)
54.1
(12.3)
59.0
(15.0)
58.8
(14.9)
52.5
(11.4)
41.7
(5.4)
32.7
(0.4)
22.6
(−5.2)
38.2
(3.5)
Mean monthly sunshine hours 91.3 108.0 163.7 204.7 258.3 287.1 306.7 266.4 207.6 159.4 84.4 69.0 2,206.6
Percent possible sunshine 31 37 44 51 57 63 66 62 55 47 29 25 49
Average ultraviolet index 1 2 4 6 7 8 8 8 6 4 2 1 5
Source 1: NOAA (relative humidity and sun 1961–1990)[100][101][102]
Source 2: Weather Atlas [103]

Demographics

Map of racial distribution in Buffalo, 2010 U.S. Census. Each dot is 25 people: White, Black, Asian, Hispanic (of any race), or Other (yellow)
Racial composition2019[70]2010[104]1990[105]1970[105]1940[105]
White47.1%50.4%64.7%78.7%96.8%
 —Non-Hispanic43.1%45.8%63.1%n/an/a
Black or African American36.5%38.6%30.7%20.4%3.1%
Hispanic or Latino (of any race)12.3%10.5%4.9%1.6%[106]n/a
Asian5.9%3.2%1.0%0.2%n/a
Other race4.0%3.1%2.8%0.2%n/a
Historical population
YearPop.±%
1810 1,508    
1820 2,095+38.9%
1830 8,668+313.7%
1840 18,213+110.1%
1850 42,261+132.0%
1860 81,129+92.0%
1870 117,714+45.1%
1880 155,134+31.8%
1890 255,664+64.8%
1900 352,387+37.8%
1910 423,715+20.2%
1920 506,775+19.6%
1930 573,076+13.1%
1940 575,901+0.5%
1950 580,132+0.7%
1960 532,759−8.2%
1970 462,768−13.1%
1980 357,870−22.7%
1990 328,123−8.3%
2000 292,648−10.8%
2010 261,310−10.7%
2019* 255,244−2.3%
* = Population estimate
Source: United States Census records and Population Estimates Program data.[107]

Prior to 1800, several hundred Senecas and other Iroquois tribes were the primary residents in the Buffalo area, concentrated along Buffalo Creek.[108] The 1830s–1850s saw multitudes of working-class Irish and Germans from Europe, across rural New York and New England settle in the south and east sides of the city, respectively, forming enclaves.[46] At the turn of the 20th century, Polish immigrants replaced Germans on the East Side, while Italian communities and families settled throughout the city, primarily on the lower west side.[46] Puerto Ricans arrived en masse during the 1940s–1950s, settling on the East Side and shifting westward, where they are to date.[109]

Since the 1970s, Buffalo has been mitigating the effects of urban decay, including populations losses to the suburbs and Sun Belt states, and job losses from its declining industrial base.[110] The city's population grew until it peaked at 580,132 residents in 1950. At the time, Buffalo was the 15th largest city in the United States, down from the 8th largest in 1900 as the rate of growth slowed in the 1920s.[46] The city's population started declining in the second half of 20th century due to suburbanization but began stabilizing in the 2010s. Buffalo had a population of 261,310 at the 2010 census and an estimated 255,284 residents in 2019, making it the 86th-largest city in the United States.[4] The metropolitan area had 1.1 million residents in 2019, ranking as the 49th-largest in the country.[7]

Buffalo residents were generally intolerant of the small groups of Black Americans who began settling on the city's East Side around the 1830s.[46][lower-alpha 6] Over one hundred years later, wartime and manufacturing jobs during the First and Second Great Migrations would attract many more Black Americans living in the South, and the city's black population rose by 433% from 1940 to 1970, replacing most of the Polish community[111] on the East Side.[112] However, the combined effects of redlining, steering,[46] social inequality, blockbusting, white flight[46] and other racialized policies have resulted in the city and region ranking as one of the most segregated in the country.[112][113][114] Today, Buffalo is a majority minority city whose residents are predominately Black and Latino Americans.

Compared to other major metropolitan areas in the country, the number of foreign-born immigrants to the city is low, but new immigrants have been disproportionately resettled refugees—especially those from war or disaster-afflicted nations, as well as those who previously settled in other U.S. cities.[115] In the early 2000s, most immigrants came from Canada and Yemen, which shifted in the 2010s with Burmese (Karen) refugees and Indians immigrants.[115] Burmese, Somali, Bhutanese, and Iraqi Americans were the four largest ethnic immigrant groups in Erie County from 2008–2016.[115]

Poverty has remained a considerable issue for the city. In 2019, it was estimated that 30.1% of individuals and 24.8% of families were below the federal poverty line.[70] Per capita income was measured at $24,400, and household income was $37,354, much less than the national average.[116][70] A 2008 report noted that while food deserts are seen in larger cities and not in Buffalo, the city's neighborhoods of color have access to smaller grocery stores while lacking the supermarkets seen in white neighborhoods.[117] A 2018 report revealed that over fifty city blocks on Buffalo's East Side lack adequate access to a supermarket.[112] Compared to the rest of the state, Erie County ranked three years lower in average lifespan at 78.4 years old in 2019, with 17% smoking and 30% obesity rates, slightly higher than the state average.[118] According to the Partnership for the Public Good, educational attainment in the city is lower than the surrounding area; city residents are almost twice as likely as adults in the metro area to lack a high school diploma.[119]

Religion

In the early 19th century, Presbyterian missionaries tried to convert the native Seneca people at the Buffalo Creek Reservation to Christianity. Initially resistant, some tribal members set aside their traditions and practices to form their own branch of the sect.[120][108] Later, European immigrants added other faiths. Today, Christianity is the predominant religion in Buffalo and Western New York. Catholicism, specifically the Latin Church has a large presence in the region, with 161 parishes and over 570,000 adherents in the Diocese of Buffalo.[121] Major Protestant denominations in the area include Lutheranism, Baptism, Methodism, and Pentecostalism, with approximately 20,000 non-denominational adherents.[122] The Jewish community has had a presence in the city since the mid-1800s; approximately one thousand German and Lithuanian Jews settled in Buffalo prior to 1880. The first synagogue, Temple Beth El, was established in 1847;[123] the city's Temple Beth Zion is the largest synagogue in the region.[124] With the changing demographics and increase in the number of refugees on the city's East Side,[125] religions such as Islam and Buddhism have expanded their presence, with former churches converted into mosques and temples.[126] Hinduism maintains a small but active presence in the area, including in the town of Amherst.[127] A 2016 American Bible Society survey claimed that Buffalo is the fifth-least "Bible-minded" city in the United States, with 13% of residents associating themselves with the Bible.[128]

Economy

Top private-sector Buffalo area employers, 2020
Source: Invest Buffalo Niagara[129]
RankEmployer# of Employees
1Kaleida Health8,359
2Catholic Health7,623
3M&T Bank7,400
4Tops Friendly Markets5,374
5Seneca Gaming Corp.3,402
6Roswell Park Cancer Institute3,328
7GEICO3,250
8Wegmans3,102
9HSBC Bank USA3,000
10General Motors2,981

The Erie Canal was the impetus for economic growth in Buffalo, as the city became a transshipment hub for grain and other agricultural materials headed eastbound from the Midwest. Later, manufacturing of steel and automotive parts became central to the city's economy.[130] When these industries downsized in the region, new industries took their place. As a region, Buffalo's economy is service-based. Its primary sectors include health care, business services (banking, accounting, insurance), retail, tourism and logistics, especially with Canada.[130] Despite the loss of traditional manufacturing on a large scale, some remains in the region, producing metals, chemicals, machinery, food products, and electronics.[8] Advanced manufacturing has grown in the region, with an emphasis on research and development (R&D) and automation.[8] In 2019, the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis valued the gross domestic product (GDP) of the Buffalo–Niagara Falls MSA at $53 billion.[9]

The civic sector is a major source of employment in the Buffalo area, and this includes public, non-profit, healthcare and educational institutions.[131] The State of New York, with over 19,000 employees, is the region's largest employer.[132] 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.[133] Most of these have been the top employers in the region for several decades.[134] Buffalo is also home to the headquarters of Rich Products, Delaware North and New Era Cap Company, as well as aerospace manufacturer Moog Inc. in East Aurora.

Buffalo weathered the Great Recession of 2006–09 well when compared to other cities across the country; increased home prices during this time are an example.[135] The region's economy began to improve in the early 2010s; from 2009–2017, the region added over 25,000 jobs.[8] With state aid, Tesla, Inc.'s Giga New York plant opened in south Buffalo in 2017.[136] The effects of the COVID-19 pandemic in the United States have caused the local unemployment rate to rise to 7.5 percent as of December 2020.[137] Prior to this, the local unemployment was 4.2 percent in 2019, [138] higher than the national average of 3.5 percent.[139]

The Buffalo area has a larger-than-average pay disparity when compared to the rest of the country. In 2017, the average salary was six percent less than the national average at $43,580, and this gap increases to ten percent with an increase in career specialization.[8] Workforce productivity is also higher and turnover lower than other regions.[8]

Culture

Performing arts and music

The Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra performs at Kleinhans Music Hall in 2019

Buffalo is home to over 20 theater companies, with many centered in the Theatre District downtown.[140] Shea's Performing Arts Center is the largest theater in the city. Designed by Louis Comfort Tiffany and built in 1926, the theater presents Broadway musicals and concerts.[141] Other venues include Shea's 710 Theatre, Alleyway Theatre, Theater of Youth, and Kavinoky Theatre of D'Youville College,[142] among others.[143] The Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra formed in 1935 and performs at Kleinhans Music Hall, praised for its acoustics.[144] The orchestra nearly came to an end in the late 1990s due to a lack of funding, but philanthropic contributions and state aid succeeded in stabilizing it.[145] Under the direction of JoAnn Falletta, the orchestra has earned numerous Grammy Award nominations and won the Grammy Award for Best Contemporary Classical Composition in 2009.[146]

Rick James was born and raised in Buffalo and later lived on a ranch in nearby Aurora.[147] He formed his Stone City Band in the city and would gain national appeal with several crossover singles in the R&B, disco and funk genres in the late 1970s and into the 1980s.[148] Around the same time period, jazz fusion band Spyro Gyra and jazz saxophonist Grover Washington Jr. also got their starts in the city.[149][150] Buffalo's Colored Musicians Club, an extension of what was long ago a separate musicians' union local, maintains a history of jazz within its walls.[151] The Goo Goo Dolls, an alternative rock group that formed in 1986, achieved 19 top-ten singles on various charts and received RIAA Platinum certification for their live concert album, recorded in front on 60,000 fans in Niagara Square during a torrential downpour.[152] Singer-songwriter and activist Ani DiFranco has released more than 20 folk and indie rock albums with her Buffalo-based record label, Righteous Babe Records.[153]

Some underground hip hop acts in the city partner with Buffalo-based Griselda Records, whose artists include Westside Gunn and Conway the Machine and occasionally reference Buffalo culture in their song lyrics.[154]

Cuisine

Buffalo wings served with celery and Blue cheese

Buffalo's cuisine encompasses a variety of cultural and ethnic contributions. In 2015, the National Geographic Society ranked Buffalo third on their list of "The World's Top Ten Food Cities".[155] Teressa Bellissimo first prepared Buffalo wings, or "chicken wings", at the Anchor Bar in 1964.[156] While the Anchor Bar shares a crosstown rivalry with Duff's Famous Wings,[157] Buffalo wings are served at many bars and restaurants throughout the city, with many developing their own unique cooking styles and flavor profiles.[158] Traditionally, Buffalo wings are served with Blue cheese and celery.[159] In 2003, the Anchor Bar won a James Beard Foundation Award in the "America's Classics" category.[160]

Other local mainstays of Buffalo's cuisine include the beef on weck sandwich, the Polish contributions of butter lambs,[161] kielbasa and pierogis; sponge candy,[162] and fish fries, popular during the Catholic season of Lent.[163] With an influx of refugees and immigrants to the city, more ethnic restaurants have opened, exemplified by institutions such as the West Side Bazaar business incubator.[164] Some restaurants use food trucks to serve customers; 48 food trucks appeared at Larkin Square in 2019.[165]

Museums and tourism

The Albright–Knox Art Gallery as seen from Hoyt Lake in Delaware Park

Buffalo was rated as the seventh-best city in the United States to visit in 2021 by Travel + Leisure Magazine, noting the growth, presence, and potential of its cultural institutions.[166]

The Albright-Knox Art Gallery is a major modern and contemporary art museum, with a collection that includes more than 8,000 works, of which only 2% are on display.[167] With a donation from Jeffrey Gundlach, a three-story addition designed by architecture firm OMA is under construction and set to open in 2022.[168] Across the street, the smaller Burchfield-Penney Art Center contains the works of painter Charles E. Burchfield and is operated by Buffalo State College.[169] Buffalo is also home to the Freedom Wall, a 2017 art installation commemorating civil rights figures and activists throughout history.[170] Near both art museums is the Buffalo History Museum, featuring artwork, literature and exhibits related to the city's history and major events,[171] and on the city's East Side is the Buffalo Museum of Science.[172]

The historic business district and harbor of Buffalo, Canalside attracts more than 1.5 million visitors annually.[173] Within the district is Explore & More Children's Museum, the Buffalo and Erie County Naval & Military Park featuring USS The Sullivans, USS Little Rock, and USS Croaker, LECOM Harborcenter, and various shops and restaurants. A restored, solar-powered Allan Herschell Company carousel from 1924 and a replica boathouse were added to the site in 2021.[174][175] Other tourism destinations and attractions include KeyBank Center, Seneca Buffalo Creek Casino, Theodore Roosevelt Inaugural National Historic Site and Erie Basin Marina.[176]

The National Buffalo Wing Festival began in 2002 and is held every Labor Day at Sahlen Field. Featuring national vendors and a chicken wing-eating contest,[177] it has since served over 4.8 million Buffalo wings and has drawn a cumulative attendance of 865,000 attendees.[178] Other notable year-round events include the Allentown Art Festival,[179] the Polish American celebration of Dyngus Day,[161] the Elmwood Avenue Festival of the Arts, Juneteenth in Martin Luther King Jr. Park,[180] the Taste of Buffalo Festival held at Niagara Square in July, Thursday at the Square, and the World's Largest Disco in October.[181][182]

Sports

Professional sports teams in Buffalo
TeamSportLeagueSinceVenue (capacity)Championships
Buffalo BanditsLacrosseNational Lacrosse League1991KeyBank Center (19,070)1992, 1993, 1996, 2008
Buffalo BillsAmerican footballNational Football League1959Highmark Stadium (71,608)1964 and 1965[lower-alpha 7]
Buffalo SabresIce hockeyNational Hockey League1970KeyBank Center (19,070)
Highmark Stadium
KeyBank Center

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 relocating from War Memorial Stadium in 1973. They are the only NFL team based in the state of New York.[lower-alpha 8] Prior to the Super Bowl era, the Bills won the American Football League Championship in 1964 and 1965. With mixed success over its history, the Bills suffered a close loss in Super Bowl XXV and would return to consecutive Super Bowls following the 1991, 1992, and 1993 seasons, losing all three games.[183] The Sabres were formed as an expansion team in 1970 and share KeyBank Center with the Buffalo Bandits of the National Lacrosse League. Of the three professional sports teams in the city, the Bandits have been the most successful with four championships.[184] The Bills, Sabres and Bandits are owned by Pegula Sports and Entertainment.

Several colleges and universities in the area participate in intercollegiate athletics. Both the Buffalo Bulls and the Canisius Golden Griffins compete in NCAA Division I athletics. The Bulls have 16 varsity sports in the Mid-American Conference (MAC),[185] and the Golden Griffins field 15 teams that compete in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC), while men's hockey competes in the Atlantic Hockey Association (AHA).[186] The Bulls participate at the highest level of college football, the Football Bowl Subdivision.

Minor league teams in Buffalo include the Buffalo Bisons (Triple-A baseball), who play at Sahlen Field, and the Buffalo Beauts (National Women's Hockey League).

Parks and recreation

Tifft Nature Preserve

Frederick Law Olmsted described Buffalo as being "the best planned city [...] in the United States, if not the world".[187]:49 With encouragement from city stakeholders, he and Calvert Vaux created an augmentation of the city's grid plan by drawing inspiration from Paris, introducing landscape architecture while embracing aspects of the countryside.[187]:52–53 Their plan would introduce a system of interconnected parks, parkways and trails, unlike the singular Central Park in New York City.[187] The largest of them would be Delaware Park, situated across the large Forest Lawn Cemetery to amplify the amount of open land planned.[187]:53 With construction of the system finishing in 1876, it is regarded as being the oldest in the country,[10] although some of his plans were never fully realized. Later, some parks would diminish and succumb to diseases, highway construction, and weather events such as Lake Storm Aphid in 2006.[96][187] The non-profit Buffalo Olmsted Park Conservancy was created in 2004 to assist with protecting the 850 acres of parkland.[188] Olmsted's work in Buffalo inspired similar efforts in cities such as San Francisco, Chicago, and Boston.[187]

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.[189] The 350 acres (140 ha) Delaware Park features the Buffalo Zoo, Hoyt Lake, a golf course, and playing fields. Buffalo collaborated with sister city Kanazawa to create the park's Japanese Garden in 1970, where cherry blossoms bloom in the spring.[190] Shakespeare in Delaware Park has run every year since 1976, attracting over forty thousand visitors nationwide.[191] Opening in 1976, Tifft Nature Preserve in South Buffalo sits on 264 acres (107 ha) of remediated industrial land. The preserve is an Important Bird Area, offering a meadow with trails for hiking and cross-country skiing, as well as marshland with fishing permitted.[192] Also in South Buffalo is the Olmsted-designed Cazenovia and South Parks, the latter home to the Buffalo and Erie County Botanical Gardens.[193] According to the Trust For Public Land, Buffalo's 2021 ParkScore ranking showed high marks in access to parks, with 89% of city residents living within a ten-minute walk of a park. However, the city ranked lower for acreage; nine percent of city land is devoted to parks, compared to about fifteen percent for the national median.[194]

Efforts to convert Buffalo's formerly industrial waterfront into recreational spaces have attracted national attention, with some writers comparing its appeal to Niagara Falls.[195] 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 block's popularity in lieu of permanent buildings and attractions.[196] Under Mayor Byron Brown, the transformation became Canalside, cited by the Brookings Institution as an example for other cities throughout the country.[197] At Canalside, summer events have included paddle-boating and fitness classes, while the canals are frozen in the winter to accommodate ice skating, curling, and ice cycling.[195] Its success spurred the state to create the Buffalo Harbor State Park in 2014. It features several trails and open recreation areas, bicycle paths and piers.[198] The park's Gallagher Beach is the only public beach in the city, however swimming has been prohibited due to bacteria and other environmental concerns.[199]

The Shoreline Trail passes through Buffalo near the Outer Harbor, Centennial Park, and the Black Rock Canal. The Buffalo-to-Tonawanda rail trail begins at Shoshone Park near LaSalle station in North Buffalo.[200]

Government

Robert H. Jackson United States Courthouse at Niagara Square

Buffalo has a 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 serves as the liaison between the city and local cultural institutions.[201] Some agencies, including those for utilities, urban renewal and public housing are state-and-federally funded public benefit-corporations, semi-independent from city government.[202] Byron Brown, the city's first African American mayor and a Democrat, has held the office since 2006 and is running in the 2021 mayoral election. No Republican has served as mayor since Chester A. Kowal in 1965.[203] With its nine districts, the Buffalo Common Council enacts laws, levies taxes, and approves mayoral appointees and the city budget.[204] Darius Pridgen, a pastor, has served as Common Council President since 2014.[205] Generally reflecting the politics of the city's electorate, all nine councilmen are members of the Democratic Party. Buffalo also serves as the seat of Erie County and is within five of the county's eleven legislative districts.[206]

At the state level, Buffalo is within 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.[207] Portions of Buffalo are represented by members of the New York State Assembly and New York State Senate. At the federal level, the city comprises the majority 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 Investigations,[208] and the United States District Court for the Western District of New York.

In 2020, the city spent $519 million as it handled the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.[209] The 2021–22 city budget has been proposed at $534.5 million, a 2.3% increase over 2020, supplemented by about $50 million in federal stimulus money. The proposal includes a slight raise for the commercial tax, with a slight decrease in the residential tax to compensate for the pandemic.[210][211]

Public safety and crime

Buffalo, New York
Crime rates* (2019[212])
Violent crimes
Homicide47
Rape121
Robbery802
Aggravated assault1,563
Total violent crime2,533
Property crimes
Burglary1,609
Larceny-theft6,008
Motor vehicle theft678
Total property crime8,295
Notes

*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 and the Commissioner of Police is Byron Lockwood, appointed by Mayor Byron Brown in 2018.[213] While certain segments of criminal activity in the city remain higher than the national average, total crimes generally have gone down since the 1990s. One reason for this may be the gun buyback program that the Brown administration implemented in the mid-2000s.[214] Prior to this, the city faced the crack epidemic of the 1980s–90s that occurred across the country, and with this came record-high crime levels.[214] In 2018, city police began operating 300 body-worn cameras.[215] A Partnership for the Public Good report in 2021 noted that the department, which had a budget of approximately $145.7 million in the 2020–21 fiscal year, maintained an above-average police-to-citizen ratio of 28.9 officers per ten thousand residents in 2020, higher than peer cities Minneapolis and Toledo, Ohio.[216] The force had a roster of 740 officers during the year, of which about two-thirds handled emergency requests, road patrol and other non-office assignments.[216] The police department has received criticism for misconduct and brutality, including the 2004 wrongful termination of officer Cariol Horne for dissuading police brutality against a suspect,[217] and a 2020 protest shoving incident.[218]

The Buffalo Fire Department and American Medical Response (AMR) handle calls for fire protection and emergency medical services (EMS) calls in the city.[219] The fire department has about 714 firefighters[220] and thirty-five stations, including twenty-three engine companies and twelve ladder companies.[221] In addition, the department also operates the Edward M. Cotter, considered the world's oldest active fireboat.[222]

With vacant and abandoned homes prone to arson, squatting, prostitution and other criminal activities, both the fire and police department's resources were overburdened prior to the 2010s. In 2007, Buffalo ranked second only to St. Louis for vacant homes per capita, and the city launched a program to demolish five thousand vacant, damaged and abandoned homes in five years.[223][224]

Media

Buffalo's major daily newspaper is The Buffalo News. Established in 1880 as the Buffalo Evening News, the newspaper is estimated to have 87,000 in daily circulation and 125,000 on Sundays, down from 300,000 historically.[225] Other newspapers in the Buffalo area include The Public, the Black-focused Challenger Community News,[226] The Record of Buffalo State College[227] and The Spectrum of the University at Buffalo,[228] and Buffalo Business First.[229]

There are eighteen radio stations licensed to Buffalo including one from Buffalo State College.[230] Over ninety FM and AM radio signals can be received throughout the city.[231] There are eight full power television serving the city. Major stations include WKBW-TV (ABC), WIVB-TV (CBS), WGRZ (NBC), WUTV (Fox), which broadcasts in parts of Southern Ontario, and WNED-TV (PBS), where the majority of its members are in the Toronto area.[232] According to Nielsen Media Research, the Buffalo television market is the 51st largest in the United States as of 2020.[233]

Movies shot with significant footage in Buffalo include: Hide in Plain Sight (1980),[234] Tuck Everlasting (1981),[234] Best Friends (1982),[234] The Natural (1984),[234] Vamping (1984),[234] Canadian Bacon (1995),[234] Buffalo '66 (1998),[234] Manna from Heaven (2002),[234] Bruce Almighty (2003),[235] The Savages (2007),[234] Henry's Crime (2011),[234] Sharknado 2: The Second One (2014),[235] Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of The Shadows (2016),[236] Marshall (2016),[235] The American Side (2017),[237] The First Purge (2018),[238] The True Adventures of Wolfboy (2019),[239] and A Quiet Place Part II (2020).[240] While high production costs have led to some films being finished in other locations,[241] tax credits and economic incentives have allowed new film studios and production facilities to open, while other studio projects are in the planning stages.[242] The Buffalo History Museum has compiled a comprehensive filmography of feature films, documentary films, and television productions filmed or set in the Buffalo area.[243]

Education

Primary and secondary education

George F. Rand Sr. & Jr. House, Canisius High School

Buffalo Public Schools enroll approximately thirty-four thousand students in public primary and secondary schools.[244] The district administers about sixty public schools, including thirty-six primary schools, five middle high schools, fourteen high schools and three alternative schools, with about 3,500 teachers throughout.[245] The district's board of education, with authority from the state, comprises nine elected members who select the superintendent, oversee the budget, curriculum, personnel, and facilities.[246][247] In 2020, the graduation rate was seventy-six percent.[248] 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.[249] There are also twenty charter schools in the city, with some oversight from the district.[250] The city is home to over a dozen private schools, including Bishop Timon – St. Jude High School, Canisius High School, Mount Mercy Academy, and Nardin Academy—all Roman Catholic, Darul Uloom Al-Madania and Universal School of Buffalo, both Islamic schools, and nonsectarian options including Buffalo Seminary and Nichols School.[251]

Colleges and universities

Bulger Communication Center at Buffalo State College

Founded by Millard Fillmore, the University at Buffalo (UB) is one of the four university centers in the State University of New York (SUNY) system and the largest public university in New York. As a Research I university,[252] over 32,000 undergraduate, graduate and professional students attend its thirteen schools and colleges.[253][254] Two of three campuses are in the city—the South Campus and the Downtown Campus, while most university functions take place on the large North Campus in Amherst.[255] In 2020, U.S. News and World Report ranked UB as the 34th best public university, and 88th in national universities.[256] Buffalo State College was founded as a normal school and is one of thirteen comprehensive colleges in SUNY.[257] The city's four-year private institutions include Canisius College, Medaille College and D'Youville College. Additionally, SUNY Erie, the county's two-year public higher education institution, and for-profit Bryant and Stratton College both maintain small downtown campuses.[258]

Libraries

Reading Park at Buffalo's Central Library

Established in 1835, Buffalo's main library is the Central Library of the Buffalo & Erie County Public Library system. The Central Library was reconstructed in 1964 and features an auditorium, the original manuscript of Adventures of Huckleberry Finn donated by Mark Twain, and a collection of about two million volumes.[259] Its Grosvenor Room maintains a special collections listing of nearly five hundred thousand resources for researchers.[260] A pocket park funded by Southwest Airlines opened in 2020 and brought landscaping improvements and seating to Lafayette Square.[261] Library cards are free and usable at the eight branch libraries within the city.[262]

Infrastructure

Healthcare

The Erie County Medical Center and Buffalo General Medical Center are two major hospitals in Buffalo.

Six hospitals operate within the city—Oishei Children's Hospital and Buffalo General Medical Center by Kaleida Health, Mercy Hospital, and Sisters of Charity Hospital with Catholic Health, the county-run Erie County Medical Center (ECMC), and the state-operated Buffalo Psychiatric Center.[263]

The John R. Oishei Children's Hospital was constructed in 2017 and is adjacent to the Buffalo General Medical Center on the 120 acres (49 ha) Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus north of downtown;[264] its Gates Vascular Institute specializes in acute stroke recovery.[265] Co-located on the campus is the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, Hauptman-Woodward Medical Research Institute, and Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center, ranked as the 14th-best cancer treatment center in the United States by U.S. News and World Report.[266]

Transportation

Buffalo Metro Rail at Summer-Best station

Continuous growth and changing transportation needs altered Buffalo's grid plan, which was developed by Joseph Ellicott in 1804. His plan laid out city streets in a spoke, naming them after Dutch landowners and Native American tribes.[267] City streets would continue to expand outward, denser in the western areas and spreading out east of Main Street.[268] Buffalo is a port-of-entry with Canada for the United States; the Peace Bridge crosses over the Niagara River and links the Niagara Thruway (I-190) and Queen Elizabeth Way.[269] I-190, NY 5 and NY 33 are the primary expressways serving the city, and combined carry over 245,000 vehicles daily.[lower-alpha 9][270] NY 5 carries traffic to the southern suburbs, while NY 33 carries traffic to the eastern suburbs and the Buffalo Airport.[271] The east-to-west Scajacquada Expressway (NY 198) bisects Delaware Park, connecting I-190 with the Kensington Expressway (NY 33) on the city's East Side, forming a partial beltway around the city center.[272] Both the Scajacuada and Kensington expressways along with the Buffalo Skyway (NY 5) have been targeted for redesign or removal.[273] Other major highways include US 62 on the city's East Side;[274] NY 354 and a portion of NY 130, both east-to-west routes;[275] and NY 265, NY 266 and NY 384, all north-to-south routes on the city's west side.[276] The city of Buffalo has a higher than average percentage of households without a car. In 2015, 30 percent of Buffalo households lacked a car, and decreased slightly to 28.2 percent in 2016. The national average was 8.7 percent in 2016. Buffalo averaged 1.03 cars per household in 2016, compared to a national average of 1.8.[277]

Reddy Bikeshare at 250 Delaware Avenue

The Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority (NFTA) operates the region's public transit, including the airport, light rail system, buses, and harbors. The NFTA operates a total of 323 buses and 61 lines throughout Western New York.[278] The Buffalo Metro Rail system is a 6.4 miles (10.3 km) long single line that extends from Canalside to the University Heights district. The line's downtown section south of Fountain Plaza station runs above ground and is free of charge to passengers.[279] The Buffalo area ranks twenty-third nationwide for transit ridership, with thirty trips per capita per year.[280] Expansions have been proposed since its inception in the 1980s, with the latest plan in the late 2010s for the town of Amherst.[281] The Buffalo Niagara International Airport in Cheektowaga offers daily scheduled flights from domestic, charter and regional carriers.[282] It handled nearly five million passengers in 2019.[283] The airport won a J.D. Power Award in 2018 for customer satisfaction at a mid-sized airport.[284] The airport underwent an $80 million expansion in 2020, which is set for completion in 2022.[285] The airport, light rail, small boat harbor and buses are monitored by the NFTA's transit police.[286]

Since Buffalo adopted a "Complete Streets" policy in 2008, efforts have been made to accommodate bicycling and pedestrian activity into new infrastructure projects. Improved corridors have received bike lanes;[287] Niagara Street received separated bike lanes in 2020.[288] According to Walk Score, Buffalo has a rating of 68 out of 100, meaning the city is "somewhat walkable," with Allentown and downtown considered more walkable than other areas of the city.[289]

The city has a single Amtrak intercity train station, Buffalo–Exchange Street station, rebuilt in 2020.[290] The city's eastern suburbs are also served by the Buffalo–Depew station in Depew, New York, built in 1979. Historically, the city was a major stop on through routes between Chicago and New York City through the lower Ontario peninsula, where the trains stopped at Buffalo Central Terminal, which operated 1929 to 1979.[291] Intercity buses depart and arrive from the NFTA's Metropolitan Transportation Center on Ellicott Street.[292]

Utilities

Colonel Francis G. Ward Pumping Station

Buffalo's water system is operated by Veolia Water; water treatment begins at the Colonel Francis G. Ward Pumping Station.[293] Upon opening in 1915, it had the second-highest capacity globally after Paris.[294] Wastewater is treated by the Buffalo Sewer Authority, and coverage extends to the eastern suburbs.[295] National Grid and New York State Electric and Gas (NYSEG) provide electricity, while National Fuel Gas provides natural gas.[296] The city's primary telecommunications provider is Spectrum,[296] while Verizon Fios serves the North Park neighborhood. A 2018 report by Ookla determined that Buffalo ranked in the bottom five U.S. cities for average download speeds, at 66 megabits per second.[297]

The city's Department of Public Works manages snow removal, trash removal and street cleaning services.[298] Snow removal generally operates from November 15 to April 1. After a snow storm, a snow emergency is declared by the National Weather Service, and the city's roads, major sidewalks and bridges are cleared by over seventy snow plows within 24 hours.[299] Rock salt is the principal agent for preventing snow accumulation. Snow removal may coincide with driving bans and parking restrictions.[300][301] The areas along the Outer Harbor are the most dangerous to drive in during a snowstorm.[299] When weather conditions warrant, the Buffalo Skyway is closed by the city's police department.[302]

To prevent damaging ice jams in the Niagara River that can cause flow issues with hydroelectric plants in Niagara Falls, the New York Power Authority and Ontario Power Generation have jointly operated the Lake Erie–Niagara River Ice Boom since 1964. The boom's installation date is temperature dependent,[303] and its removal occurs on April 1 unless there is more than 650 square kilometres (250 sq mi) of ice remaining in eastern Lake Erie.[304] When in place, the boom stretches 2,680 metres (8,790 ft) from the outer breakwall at the Buffalo Outer Harbor to the Canadian shore near Fort Erie.[305] The boom was originally made of wooden timbers, but these have been replaced by steel pontoons.[306]

Sister cities

Buffalo has fifteen sister cities:[307][308]

  • Aboadze, Ghana
  • Bursa, Turkey (2010)
  • Cape Coast, Ghana (1976)
  • Changzhou, China
  • Dortmund, Germany (1972)
  • Drohobych, Ukraine (2000)
  • Horlivka, Ukraine (2007)
  • Kanazawa, Japan (1962)
  • Kiryat Gat, Israel (1977)
  • Lille, France (2000)
  • Rzeszów, Poland (1975)
  • Saint Ann Parish, Jamaica (2007)
  • Siena, Italy (1961)
  • Torremaggiore, Italy (2004)
  • Tver, Russia (1989)

Notes and references

Notes

  1. Sources disagree on the creek's etymology.[21][22][23] While it is possible its name originated from French fur traders and Native Americans calling the creek Beau Fleuve (French for "Beautiful River"),[21][22] it is also possible Buffalo Creek was named after the American buffalo, whose historical range may have extended into Western New York.[23][24][19]
  2. Formerly known as Stadtnitski, Vollenhoven and Schimmelpennick Avenues, removed after backlash by village residents.
  3. When travelling with an ox and wagon team.
  4. Mean monthly maxima and minima (i.e. the expected highest and lowest temperature readings at any point during the year or given month) calculated based on data at said location from 1991 to 2020.
  5. Official records for Buffalo kept January 1871 to June 1943 at downtown and at Buffalo Niagara Int'l since July 1943. For more information, see Threadex
  6. An exception prior to the mid-20th century would be Jewish residents of the East Side during the 1920s, however they would dissipate from the neighborhood through the 1960s. See Goldman 1983, p. 215
  7. The Buffalo Bills' championships in 1964 and 1965 were with the American Football League, prior to the AFL-NFL Merger
  8. The New York Jets and the New York Giants play at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey.
  9. Average annual daily traffic, 2019

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Further reading

  • Kowsky, Francis R. (1985). Buffalo Architecture: a guide. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press. ISBN 9780262520638. OCLC 637993088.
  • Bohen, Timothy (2012). Against the Grain: The History of Buffalo's First Ward. Buffalo, N.Y.: Petit Printing. ISBN 9780615620527. OCLC 815395883.
  • Williams, Lillian Serence (1999). Strangers in the land of paradise: the creation of an African American community, Buffalo, New York, 1900–1940. Indiana University Press. ISBN 9780253335524.
  • Leary, Thomas E; Sholes, Elizabeth C. (1997). Buffalo's waterfront. Charleston, SC: Arcadia Publishing. ISBN 978-0752408293. OCLC 38087547.
  • Myers, Stephen G (2012). Buffalo. ISBN 9780738591650. OCLC 835592368.
  • Smyczynski, Christine A. (2018). Explorer's guide Buffalo & Niagara Falls (First ed.). New York, NY: Countryman Press. ISBN 978-1581574463.
  • Severance, Frank H. (1879). "Papers relating to the Burning of Buffalo". Publications of the Buffalo Historical Society. Harold B. Lee Library. Buffalo : Bigelow Bros.
  • Builders' Association Exchange of Buffalo; National Association of Builders (1896). Queen of the lakes, Buffalo, the electric city of the future. Buffalo, N.Y.: The Courier Co. Printers. OCLC 17204632.
  • Reitano, Joanne R. (2016). New York State : peoples, places, and priorities: a concise history with sources. New York: Routledge. ISBN 978-0415819985.
  • Gerber, David A. (1989). The making of an American pluralism : Buffalo, New York, 1825-60. Urbana: University of Illinois Press. ISBN 9780252015953.
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