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Buffalo, New York
|City of Buffalo|
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
Location within Erie County
|First settled (village)||1789|
|• Type||Mayor–council government|
|• Body||Buffalo Common Council|
|• Mayor||Byron Brown (D)|
|• City||52.48 sq mi (135.92 km2)|
|• Land||40.38 sq mi (104.58 km2)|
|• Water||12.10 sq mi (31.34 km2)|
|Elevation||600 ft (200 m)|
| • Estimate |
|• Rank||US: 86th NY: 2nd|
|• Density||6,322.35/sq mi (2,441.10/km2)|
|• Urban||935,906 (US: 46th)|
|• Metro||1,130,152 (US: 50th) |
|• CSA||1,206,992 (US: 47th)|
|Time zone||UTC−05:00 (EST)|
|• Summer (DST)||UTC−04:00 (EDT)|
|GNIS feature ID||0973345|
|Primary airport||Buffalo Niagara International Airport|
|Rapid transit||Buffalo Metro Rail|
Buffalo is the second-largest city in the U.S. state of New York and the seat of Erie County. 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. 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. The city and the surrounding Western New York region is the largest population and economic center between Boston and Cleveland.
Buffalo was incorporated in 1832 as the terminus of the Erie Canal, stimulating its growth as the primary port between the Great Lakes and the Atlantic Ocean. After railroads superseded the canal's importance, Buffalo became the largest railway hub after Chicago and the city transitioned to manufacturing, which was dominated by steel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 healthcare, life sciences, banking, higher education and logistics, while retaining some manufacturing. The gross domestic product (GDP) of the Buffalo–Niagara Falls MSA was $53 billion in 2019.
Known as "The City of Good Neighbors" among other nicknames, Buffalo's cultural icons include the oldest urban parks system in the United States, the Albright–Knox Art Gallery, the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra, Shea's Performing Arts Center, the Buffalo Museum of Science, and year-round festivals. The city is also known for its winter weather, the Buffalo wing, and is home to two major league professional sports teams—the Buffalo Bills and the Buffalo Sabres.
The city of Buffalo received its name from a nearby creek called Buffalo Creek. 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.
There are several theories regarding how Buffalo Creek received its name. While it is possible its name originated from French fur traders and Native Americans calling the creek Beau Fleuve (French for "Beautiful River"), it is also possible Buffalo Creek was named after the American buffalo, whose historical range may have extended into Western New York.
Prehistory and European exploration
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. 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. The Neutrals made a living by growing tobacco and hemp to trade with the Iroquois. The tribes would use animal and war paths to travel and move goods across the state, which were later paved and now serve as major roads. War between the Erie and Neutrals in the mid 17th century led to territorial changes, with the Senecas gaining control of the region.
Louis Hennepin and Sieur de La Salle made the earliest European discoveries of the upper Niagara and Ontario regions in the late 1600s. 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. Land near fresh water was of considerable importance. 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.
As a result of the war, in which the Iroquois tribe sided with the British Army, Iroquois territory was gradually reduced in the mid-to-late-1700s by European settlers through successive treaties statewide, such as the Treaty of Fort Stanwix (1784), the First Treaty of Buffalo Creek (1788), and the Treaty of Geneseo (1797). The Iroquois were corralled onto reservations, including Buffalo Creek. By the end of the 18th century, only 338 square miles (216,000 acres; 880 km2; 88,000 ha) of reservation territory remained.
Founding, Erie Canal, and railroads
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The first white settlers along the creek were prisoners captured during the Revolutionary War. The first resident and landowner of Buffalo with a permanent presence was Captain William Johnston, 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. Former enslaved man Joseph "Black Joe" Hodges, and Cornelius Winney, a Dutch trader from Albany who arrived in 1789, were early settlers along the mouth of Buffalo Creek.
On July 20, 1793, the Holland Land Purchase was completed, containing the land of present-day Buffalo, brokered by Dutch investors from Holland. The Treaty of Big Tree removed Iroquois title to lands west of the Genesee River in 1797. In the fall of 1797, Joseph Ellicott, the architect who helped survey Washington, D.C. with brother Andrew, was appointed as the Chief of Survey for the Holland Land Company. Over the next year, he began to survey the tract of land at the mouth of Buffalo Creek. This was completed in 1803, 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, 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. Buffalo had the first road to Pennsylvania built in 1802 for migrants passing through to the Connecticut Western Reserve in Ohio.
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. 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. This would be known as Shelton Square, at that time the center of the city (which would be dramatically altered in the mid-20th century), with the intersecting streets bearing the names of Dutch Holland Land Company members,[a] today Erie, Church and Niagara streets. Lafayette Square also lies one block to the north, which was then bounded by streets bearing Iroquois names.
According to an early resident, the village had sixteen residences, a schoolhouse and two stores in 1806, primarily near Main, Swan and Seneca streets. There were also blacksmith shops, a tavern and a drugstore. The streets were small at 40 feet wide, and the village was still surrounded by woods. The first lot sold by the Holland Land Company was on September 11, 1806, to Zerah Phelps. By 1808, lots would sell from $25 to $50.
In 1804, Buffalo's population was estimated at 400, similar to Batavia, but Erie County's growth was behind Chautauqua, Genesee and Wyoming counties. Neighboring village Black Rock to the northwest (today a Buffalo neighborhood) was also an important center. 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. Before the east-to-west turnpike[further explanation needed] was completed, travelling from Albany to Buffalo would take a week, while even a trip from nearby Williamsville to Batavia could take upwards of three days.[b]
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.
In 1810, a courthouse was built. By 1811, the population was 500, with many people farming or doing manual labor. The first newspaper to be published was the Buffalo Gazette in October that same year.
On December 31, 1813, the British burned Buffalo and the village of Black Rock after the Battle of Buffalo. The battle and subsequent fire was in response to the unprovoked destruction of Niagara-on-the-Lake, then known as "Newark," by American forces. 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.
On October 26, 1825, the Erie Canal was completed, formed from part of Buffalo Creek, with Buffalo a port-of-call for settlers heading westward. At the time, the population was about 2,400. By 1826, the 130 sq. mile Buffalo Creek Reservation at the western border of the village was transferred to Buffalo. The Erie Canal brought a surge in population and commerce, which led Buffalo to incorporate as a city in 1832. The canal area was mature by 1847, with passenger and cargo ship activity leading to congestion in the harbor.
The mid-1800s saw a population boom, with the city doubling in size from 1845 to 1855. 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. 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.
Fugitive black slaves began to make their way northward to Buffalo in the 1840s, and many settled on the city's East Side. In 1845, construction began on the Macedonia Baptist Church, a meeting spot in the Michigan and William Street neighborhood where blacks first settled. 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. 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.
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.[better source needed] 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. "Dart's Elevator" enabled faster unloading of lake freighters along with the transshipment of grain in bulk from barges, canal boats, and rail cars. By 1850, the city's population was 81,000.
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). During this time, Buffalonians controlled a quarter of all shipping traffic on Lake Erie, and shipbuilding was a thriving industry for the city.
Later, the Lehigh Valley Railroad would have its line terminate at Buffalo in 1867.
Rise of heavy industry, decline, urban renewal
At the dawn of the 20th century, local mills were among the first to benefit from hydroelectric power generated by the Niagara River. The city got the nickname The City of Light at this time due to the widespread electric lighting. 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. 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.
President William McKinley was shot and mortally wounded by an anarchist at the Pan-American Exposition in Buffalo on September 6, 1901. McKinley died eight days later and Theodore Roosevelt was sworn in at the Wilcox Mansion. 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.
During World War II, Buffalo saw the return of prosperity and full employment due to its position as a manufacturing center. 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. 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. With deindustrialization, and the nationwide trend of suburbanization; the city's economy began to deteriorate. 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.
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 include the Boston Hills, while the Appalachian Mountains sit in the Southern Tier below them. To the north and east, the region maintains a flatter profile descending to Lake Ontario. Various types of shale, limestone and lagerstätten are prevalent in the geographic makeup of Buffalo and surrounding areas, which line the waterbeds within and bordering the city. 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. 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.
Buffalo was once known as the "City of Trees". In 1939, there were avenues of elms, and over 300,000 street and park trees, maintained by the city's forestry division, which had 30 full-time foresters. The elms, which made up 60 per cent of the trees, were nearly all wiped out by Dutch elm disease in the 1950s. From 1974 onwards, efforts were made to increase the tree cover, and since 2001 the city has maintained an inventory of its urban forest.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has an area of 52.5 square miles (136 km2), of which 40.6 square miles (105 km2) is land and the rest water. The total area is 22.66% water. In 2010, the city of Buffalo had a population of 6,470.6 per square mile.
Neighborhoods and architecture
The city consists of 31 different neighborhoods. Buffalo's most prominent neighborhoods (J. N. Adam–AM&A Historic District, Canalside, Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus, University Heights) are in or near the downtown area. The J. N. Adam–AM&A Historic District is a national historic district. Its main department store was designed by Starrett & van Vleck and built in 1935. Canalside originally began as an Italian-dominated area, and the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus was established in 2001. Canalside and University Heights are predominantly mix-used districts. Buffalo and its suburbs have been redeveloping neighborhoods and districts since the early 2000s in efforts to mitigate a declining population and attract businesses. In June 2020, the Buffalo-based Green Organization acquired an apartment complex with the intent to remodel it and bring new residents.
Buffalo's architecture is diverse, with a collection of buildings from the 19th and 20th centuries. Most structures and works are still standing, such as the country's largest intact parks system designed by Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux. At the end of the 19th century, the Guaranty Building—constructed by Louis Sullivan—was a prominent example of an early high-rise skyscraper. The Darwin D. Martin House designed by Frank Lloyd Wright and built between 1903 and 1905, is considered to be one of the most important projects from Wright's Prairie School era. The Larkin Administration Building, now demolished, was Frank Lloyd Wright's first commercial commission. The 20th century saw works such as the Art Deco-style Buffalo City Hall and Buffalo Central Terminal, Electric Tower, the Richardson Olmsted Complex, and the Rand Building. Urban renewal from the 1950s–1970s gave way to the construction of the Brutalist-style Buffalo City Court Building and One Seneca Tower—formerly the HSBC Center, the city's tallest building.
In 2017, the Buffalo Common Council adopted its Green Code, which was the first overhaul of the city's zoning code since 1953. Its emphasis on regulations which promote pedestrian safety and mixed usage of land earned an award at the Congress for New Urbanism conference in 2019.
Buffalo has a humid continental climate (Köppen Dfa bordering on Dfb), which is common in the Great Lakes region. Buffalo has snowy winters, but it is rarely the snowiest city in New York state. The Blizzard of 1977 resulted from a combination of high winds and snow accumulated on land and on frozen Lake Erie. Snow does not typically impair the city's operation, but can cause significant damage during the autumn as with the October 2006 storm. In November 2014, the region had a record-breaking storm, producing over 5+1⁄2 ft (66 in; 170 cm) of snow; this storm was named "Snowvember".
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. Obscured by the notoriety of Buffalo's winter snow is the fact Buffalo benefits from other lake effects such as the cooling southwest breezes off Lake Erie in summer that gently temper the warmest days. As a result, temperatures only rise above 90 °F (32.2 °C) three times in the average year, and the Buffalo station of the National Weather Service has never recorded an official temperature of 100 °F (37.8 °C) or more, with a maximum of 99 °F on August 27, 1948. Rainfall is moderate, but typically occurs at night. Lake Erie's stabilizing effect continues to inhibit thunderstorms and enhance sunshine in the immediate Buffalo area through most of July. August usually has more showers and is hotter and more humid as the warmer lake loses its temperature-stabilizing influence.
The highest recorded temperature in Buffalo was 99 °F (37 °C) on August 27, 1948 and the lowest recorded temperature was −20 °F (−29 °C), which occurred twice, on February 9, 1934 and February 2, 1961.
|Record high °F (°C)||72
|Mean maximum °F (°C)||56
|Average high °F (°C)||32.1
|Daily mean °F (°C)||25.5
|Average low °F (°C)||19.0
|Mean minimum °F (°C)||1
|Record low °F (°C)||−16
|Average precipitation inches (mm)||3.35
|Average snowfall inches (cm)||26.7
|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
|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)|
|Source 2: Weather Atlas |
|Black or African American||36.5%||38.6%||30.7%||20.4%||3.1%|
|Hispanic or Latino (of any race)||12.3%||10.5%||4.9%||1.6%||n/a|
|US Decennial Census|
Similar to other industrial cities of the Rust Belt, Buffalo is mitigating the effects of urban decay, including populations losses to the suburbs and Sun Belt states, and job losses from its declining industrial base. 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. The city's population continued 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.
For two-thirds of the 20th century, Buffalo's job market became a major draw for black migrants living in the South. Wartime and manufacturing jobs during the First and Second Great Migrations would see the black population rise by 433% from 1940 to 1970, especially on the city's East Side. However, the combined effects of redlining, restrictive covenants, social inequality, blockbusting, white flight and other racialized policies have led to a segregated city and metropolitan area. Today, Buffalo is a majority minority city whose residents are predominately Black and Latino Americans. Since 2003, there has been an ever-growing number of Burmese refugees, mostly of the Karen ethnicity, with an estimated 4,665 residing in Buffalo as of 2016.
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. 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. A 2018 report revealed that over fifty city blocks on Buffalo's East Side lack adequate access to a supermarket.
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. Later, European immigrants added other faiths. Today, Christianity is the predominant religion in Buffalo and Western New York.
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Buffalo's economic sectors include industrial, light manufacturing, high technology and services. The State of New York, with over 15,000 employees, is the city's largest employer. Other major employers include the United States government, Kaleida Health, M&T Bank (which is headquartered in Buffalo), the University at Buffalo, General Motors, Time Warner Cable and Tops Friendly Markets. Buffalo is home to Rich Products, Canadian brewer Labatt, cheese company Sorrento Lactalis, Delaware North Companies and New Era Cap Company. The law firm Goldberg Segalla is also headquartered in the city. More recently, the Tesla Gigafactory 2 opened in South Buffalo in summer 2017.
Buffalo's economy has begun to see significant improvements since the early 2010s. Money from New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo through a program known locally as "Buffalo Billion" has brought new construction, increased economic development, and hundreds of new jobs to the area. As of March 2015, Buffalo's unemployment rate was 5.9%, slightly above the national average of 5.5%. In 2016, the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis valued the Buffalo area's economy at $54.9 billion.
Performing arts and music
Along Main Street in downtown Buffalo is the Theatre District, home to several theaters and over a dozen professional companies. 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. Other venues within the district include Shea's 710 Theatre, Alleyway Theatre and Road Less Traveled Productions, among others.
The Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra formed in 1935 and performs at Kleinhans Music Hall, which was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1989. 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. 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.
Rick James was born and raised in Buffalo and later lived on a ranch in nearby Aurora. He formed his Stone City Band in the city and became a pioneer of R&B and funk music in the late '70s and into the '80s. Around the same time period, jazz fusion band Spyro Gyra and jazz saxophonist Grover Washington Jr. also got their starts in the city. 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. 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. 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.
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.
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". Teressa Bellissimo first prepared Buffalo wings, or "chicken wings", at the Anchor Bar in 1964. While the Anchor Bar shares a crosstown rivalry with Duff's Famous Wings, Buffalo wings are served at many bars and restaurants throughout the city, with many developing their own unique cooking styles and flavor profiles.
Other local mainstays of Buffalo's cuisine include the beef on weck sandwich, the Polish creations of kielbasa and pierogis, sponge candy, and fish fries, popular during the Catholic season of Lent. With an influx of refugees and immigrants to the city, more ethnic restaurants have opened, exemplified by institutions such as the West Side Bazaar restaurant incubator.
Museums and tourism
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. The smaller Burchfield-Penney Art Center nearby is dedicated to the works of painter Charles E. Burchfield and is the art education institute operated by Buffalo State College. A three-story addition to the Albright Knox, designed by architecture firm OMA, was announced in 2019 and is set to open in 2022. Buffalo is also home to the Freedom Wall, a 2017 art installation commemorating civil rights figures and activists throughout history. The Albright-Knox Art Gallery Public Art Initiative commissioned the Freedom Wall with support from the Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority. Near both art museums is the Buffalo History Museum, featuring artwork, literature and exhibits related to the city's history and major events, and on the city's east side is the Buffalo Museum of Science.
The historic business district and harbor of Buffalo, Canalside attracts more than 1.5 million visitors yearly. 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. Recent additions include the restored Buffalo Heritage Carousel, designed in 1924 by the Allan Herschell Company, and the Longshed, a replica boathouse which opened in 2021. Other nearby attractions include the Edward M. Cotter, considered the world's oldest active fireboat, KeyBank Center, Seneca Buffalo Creek Casino and Erie Basin Marina.
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, it has since served over 4.8 million Buffalo wings and has drawn a cumulative attendance of 865,000 attendees. Other notable year-round events include the Allentown Art Festival, the Polish American celebration of Dyngus Day, the Elmwood Avenue Festival of the Arts, Juneteenth in Martin Luther King Jr. Park, the Taste of Buffalo Festival held at Niagara Square in July, Thursday at the Square, and the World's Largest Disco in October.
|Buffalo Bandits||Lacrosse||National Lacrosse League||1991||KeyBank Center (19,070)||1992, 1993, 1996, 2008|
|Buffalo Bills||American football||National Football League||1959||Highmark Stadium (71,608)|
|Buffalo Sabres||Ice hockey||National Hockey League||1970||KeyBank Center (19,070)|
Buffalo has two major professional sports teams: the Buffalo Sabres (National Hockey League) and the Buffalo Bills (National Football League). The Bills were founded as an expansion team in 1959 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.[e] 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 heartbreaking loss in Super Bowl XXV and would return to consecutive Super Bowls following the 1991, 1992, and 1993 seasons, losing all three games. 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. 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), 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). The Bulls participate at the highest level of college football, the Football Bowl Subdivision.
The flying disc game of KanJam was created in Buffalo by school gym instructor Paul Swisher and Charles Sciandra in the 1980s. Initially called "Trash Can Frisbee", it was later popularized in the area and is now offered at thousands of schools in the United States.
Parks and recreation
The Buffalo parks system has over 20 parks with several parks 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 parkland is part of the system, which comprises six major parks, eight connecting parkways, nine circles and seven smaller spaces. Constructed 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 (BOPC), a non-profit, for public benefit corporation which serves as the city's parks department. It is the first non-governmental organization of its kind to serve in such a capacity in the United States. Other attractions include Buffalo and Erie County Botanical Gardens, the Buffalo Zoo—the third oldest in the United States  and -- Forest Lawn Cemetery.
Buffalo's waterfront began redevelopment in the early 2000s with Canalside, a district with historically-aligned canals on the site of the former Buffalo Memorial Auditorium. Under mayor Byron Brown, the transformation was cited by the Brookings Institution as an example for other cities throughout the United States. The success of Canalside spurred the state to create the Buffalo Harbor State Park on the city's outer harbor in 2014. It features several trails and open recreation area, bicycle paths and piers. 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.
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. Some agencies, including those for utilities, urban renewal and public housing are state-and-federally funded public benefit-corporations, semi-independent from city government. With its nine districts, the Buffalo Common Council enacts laws, levies taxes, and approves mayoral appointees and the city budget. Darius Pridgen, a pastor, has served as Common Council President since 2014. 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.
U.S. President Grover Cleveland's short stint as mayor in 1881 grew his stature statewide for opposing local political machines. This would culminate with his party nomination and election as governor in 1883. During the late 1970s, Jimmy Griffin presided over the decline of the city's economy and population while also developing the plans that would later evolve into the city's medical campus, theater district and revitalized waterfront. After Griffin, Anthony Masiello was elected in the early 1990s and faced layoffs, budget cuts, and the state-operated Buffalo Fiscal Stability Authority, formed to prevent a potential bankruptcy in the early 2000s. Byron Brown, the city's first African American mayor and a Democrat, has held the office since 2006. No Republican has served as mayor since Chester A. Kowal in 1965.
At the state level, portions of Buffalo are represented by assembly members and state senators. 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, 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. 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.
Buffalo is served by the Buffalo Police Department and the Buffalo Fire Department. The city police department began operating 300 body-worn cameras in 2018. During the George Floyd protests in 2020, Buffalo gained national attention when local activist Martin Gugino was shoved to the ground by police in front of City Hall.
Buffalo's major daily newspaper is The Buffalo News. Established in 1880 as the Buffalo Evening News, the newspaper has about 87,000 in daily circulation and 125,000 on Sundays, down from 300,000 historically. Other newspapers in the Buffalo area include The Public, The Challenger Community News, The Record at Buffalo State, and Buffalo Business First.
There are eighteen radio stations licensed to Buffalo including one from Buffalo State College. Over 90 FM and AM radio signals can be received throughout the city. There are eight full power television serving the city. Major stations include WKBW-TV (ABC), WIVB-TV (CBS), WGRZ (NBC), WUTV (Fox), WNED-TV (PBS, also serves Southern Ontario), WNLO (The CW), WNYO-TV (MyNetworkTV), WBBZ-TV (MeTV), and WPXJ-TV (Ion). According to Nielsen Media Research, the Buffalo television market is the 51st largest in the United States as of 2020[update].
Movies shot with significant footage of Buffalo include: Hide in Plain Sight (1980), Tuck Everlasting (1981), Best Friends (1982), The Natural (1984), Vamping (1984), Lady in White (1988), Canadian Bacon (1995), Buffalo '66 (1998), Manna from Heaven (2002), Bruce Almighty (2003), The Savages (2007), Henry's Crime (2011), Sharknado 2: The Second One (2014), Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of The Shadows (2016), Marshall (2016), Accidental Switch (2016), The American Side (2017), The First Purge (2018), A Quiet Place Part II (2020), Cold Brook (2018),  and The True Adventures of Wolfboy (2019).  Although additional movies, such as Promised Land (2012), have used Buffalo as a setting, filming often takes place in other locations such as Pittsburgh or Canada. High production costs are blamed for filmmakers shooting all or most of their Buffalo-based scenes elsewhere. The Buffalo History Museum has compiled a lengthy and comprehensive filmography of feature films, documentary films, and television productions filmed or set in the Buffalo area.
Primary and secondary education
Buffalo Public Schools enroll approximately 34,000 students in public primary and secondary schools. The district administers about sixty public schools, including thirty-six primary schools, five middle high schools, fourteen high schools and three alternative schools, with about 3,500 teachers throughout. 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. In 2020, the graduation rate was 76 percent. The public City Honors School was ranked the top high school in the city and 178th nationwide by U.S. News & World Report in 2021. There are also twenty charter schools in the city, with some oversight from the district. 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.
Colleges and universities
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, over 32,000 undergraduate, graduate and professional students attend its thirteen schools and colleges. 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. In 2020, U.S. News and World Report ranked UB as the 34th best public university, and 88th in national universities. Buffalo State College was founded as a normal school and is one of thirteen comprehensive colleges in SUNY. 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.
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. Its Grosvenor Room maintains a special collections listing of nearly 500,000 items and resources for researchers. Library cards are free and usable at the eight branch libraries within the city.
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The city is home to two private healthcare systems, which combined operate eight hospitals and countless clinics in the greater metropolitan area, as well as three public hospitals operated by Erie County and the State of New York. Oishei Children's Hospital opened in November 2017 and is the one of the only free-standing children's hospital in New York. Buffalo General Medical Center and the Gates Vascular Institute have earned top rankings in the US for their cutting-edge research and treatment into the stroke and neurological care. Erie County Medical Center has been accredited as a Level One Trauma Center and serves as the trauma and burn care center for Western New York, much of the Southern Tier, and portions of Northwestern Pennsylvania and Ontario, Canada. Roswell Park has also become recognized as one of the United States' leading cancer treatment and research centers, and it recruits physicians and researchers from around the world to come live and work in the Buffalo area.
The Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority (NFTA) operates Buffalo Niagara International Airport, reconstructed in 1997, in the suburb of Cheektowaga. The airport serves Western New York and much of the Finger Lakes and Southern Tier Regions.
The Buffalo Metro Rail, also operated by the NFTA, is a 6.4 miles (10.3 km) long, single line light rail system that extends from Erie Canal Harbor in downtown Buffalo to the University Heights district (specifically, the South Campus of University at Buffalo) in the city's northeastern part. The line's downtown section runs above ground and is free of charge to passengers. North of Fountain Plaza Station, at the northern end of downtown, the line moves underground until it reaches its northern terminus at University Heights. Passengers pay a fare to ride this section of the rail.
Two train stations, Buffalo-Depew and Buffalo-Exchange Street, serve the city and are operated by Amtrak. 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.
Buffalo is at the Lake Erie's eastern end and serves as a playground for many personal yachts, sailboats, power boats and watercraft. The city's extensive breakwall system protects its inner and outer 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 and Buffalo Creek.
Eight New York State highways, one three-digit Interstate Highway, and one U.S. Highway traverse the city of Buffalo. New York State Route 5 (Main Street) enters through Lackawanna as a limited-access highway and intersects with Interstate 190, a north–south highway connecting Interstate 90 in the southeastern suburb of Cheektowaga with Niagara Falls. NY 354 (Clinton Street) and NY 130 (Broadway) are east to west highways connecting south and downtown Buffalo to the eastern suburbs of West Seneca and Depew. NY 265 (Delaware Avenue) and NY 266 (Niagara Street and River Road) both start in downtown Buffalo and end in the city of Tonawanda. One of three U.S. highways in Erie County, the other two being U.S. 20 (Transit Road) and U.S. 219 (Southern Expressway), U.S. 62 (Bailey Avenue) is a north to south trunk road that enters the city through Lackawanna and exits at the Amherst town border at a junction with NY 5. Within the city, the route passes by light industrial developments and high-density areas of the city. Bailey Avenue has major intersections with Interstate 190 and the Kensington Expressway.
Three major expressways serve Buffalo. The Scajaquada Expressway (NY 198) is primarily a limited access highway connecting Interstate 190 near Unity Island to New York State Route 33, which starts at the edge of downtown and the city's East Side, continues through heavily populated areas of the city, intersects with Interstate 90 in Cheektowaga and ends at the airport. The Peace Bridge is a major international crossing near the city's Black Rock district that connects Buffalo with Fort Erie and Toronto via the Queen Elizabeth Way.
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.
Buffalo's water system is operated by Veolia Water. To reduce large-scale ice blockage in the Niagara River—with resultant flooding, ice damage to docks and other waterfront structures, as well as blockage of the water intakes for the hydro-electric power plants at 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 is installed on December 16, or when the water temperature reaches 4 °C (39 °F), whichever happens first. The boom is opened on April 1 unless there is more than 650 square kilometres (250 sq mi) of ice remaining in Eastern Lake Erie. When in place, the boom stretches 2,680 metres (8,790 ft) from the outer breakwall at Buffalo Harbor almost to the Canadian shore near the ruins of the pier at Erie Beach in Fort Erie. The boom was originally made of wooden timbers, but these have been replaced by steel pontoons.
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