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About Buffalo

Buffalo by many local residents, is an American city in western New York. As of the 2000 census, the city had a total population of 292,648.[1] It is the state's second-largest city, after New York City, and is the county seat of Erie County.GR6 It is also the economic and cultural center of the Buffalo-Niagara Falls metropolitan area, with a population of 1.2 million people,[2] as well as being the dominant city of Western New York, a part of the broader Buffalo Niagara Region. The Buffalo area is adjacent to the Golden Horseshoe, an urban region in southern Ontario.

Buffalo lies at the eastern end of Lake Erie, at the southern head of the Niagara River, which connects Lake Erie and Lake Ontario.

Skyline of Buffalo, New York


The City of Buffalo received its name from the creek that flows through it, and likely dates from the mid-18th century, when the area was first settled by Europeans. The area was originally settled by a Neutral Nation tribe, the Ongiara. Later, the Senecas of the Iroquois Confederacy won control over this land from the Neutrals. The then-village was designed in 1804 with a radial street and grid system, centered on where the McKinley Monument now stands. Buffalo is one of only three major US cities with such a street layout.[citation needed]

In the War of 1812, on December 30, 1813, the village, which was considered a military resort, was burned by the British. In 1825, the town became the western end of the Erie Canal and had a population of around 2,400. It was incorporated as a city in 1832.

Buffalo was a terminus of the Underground Railroad and helped many fugitives cross the Niagara River to Fort Erie, Ontario and freedom.

At the start of the 20th century, immigrants from Europe came in to work in the local mills which used hydroelectric power generated from the river. The city got the nickname City of Light at this time due to the widespread electric lighting used. In 1881, Buffalo had deployed the first electric street lights in the United States.

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

The city's economy declined in the later half of the 20th century, due to the opening of the St. Lawrence Seaway in 1957, cutting the city off from the normal trade routes. The city, which boasted over half a million people at its peak in the 1950s, has seen its population decline by almost 50%, as industries shut down and people left the Rust Belt for the employment opportunities of the South and West. However, the suburbs adjacent to Buffalo have grown from 300,000 in the 1950s to over 600,000 in 2007.

The end of 2006 saw an upturn in the city's prospects. Economic development in the city was marked at $3.5 billion in 2006 compared to a $50 million average for the previous ten years.[citation needed] New proposals and renovations were numerous, especially in the downtown area. Buffalo ranked 83rd on the Forbes best cities for jobs list, an increase from the previous year, and beating out cities like New York City, Cleveland, and Detroit. Buffalo is also scheduled to get a new tallest building in 2010; the Buffalo City Tower will rise 600 feet.

City proper Demographics

Like most formerly industrial cities of the Great Lakes region--the so-called "rust belt"--Buffalo has suffered through several decades of population decline brought about by the loss of its industrial base. The city's population peaked in 1950, when it was the 15th largest city in the United States. Its population has declined in every year since, particularly during the late 1970s and early 1980s, when the city lost nearly one-third of its population in only five years.

As of the censusGR2 of 2000, the city had a total population of 292,648 (2006 estimate: 276,059).

At that time of the 2000 census there were 292,648 people, 122,720 households, and 67,005 families residing in the city. The population density is 2,782.4/km² (7,205.8/mi²). There are 145,574 housing units at an average density of 1,384.1/km² (3,584.4/mi²). The racial makeup of the city is 54.43% White, 37.23% African American, 0.77% Native American, 1.40% Asian, 0.04% Pacific Islander, 3.68% from other races, and 2.45% from two or more races. 7.54% of the population are Hispanic or Latino of any race.

There were 122,720 households out of which 28.6% have children under the age of 18 living with them, 27.6% are married couples living together, 22.3% have a female householder with no husband present, and 45.4% are non-families. 37.7% of all households are made up of individuals and 12.1% have someone living alone who is 65 years of age or older. The average household size is 2.29 and the average family size is 3.07.

In the city the population included 26.3% under the age of 18, 11.3% from 18 to 24, 29.3% from 25 to 44, 19.6% from 45 to 64, and 13.4% who are 65 years of age or older. The median age is 34 years. For every 100 females there are 88.6 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there are 83.5 males.

The median income for a household in the city is $24,536, and the median income for a family is $30,614. Males have a median income of $30,938 versus $23,982 for females. The per capita income for the city is $14,991. 26.6% of the population and 23.0% of families are below the poverty line. Out of the total population, 38.4% of those under the age of 18 and 14.0% of those 65 and older are living below the poverty line.

Buffalo has very sizable populations of Irish, Italian, Polish, German and African descent. Major ethnic neighborhoods still exist but they changed significantly in the second half of the twentieth century. Traditionally, Polish-Americans were the predominant occupants of the East Side, while Italian-Americans composed a close-knit neighborhood in the west side. The East Side is now a predominantly African American neighborhood, while the West Side has become a melting pot of many ethnicities, with Latino culture being the strongest influence. Throughout the history of Buffalo, the neighborhoods collectively called the First Ward, as well as much of South Buffalo, have been comprised almost entirely of people of Irish descent.



Like the rest of New York, Buffalo is subject to the state’s benchmark evaluation system. The Buffalo Public Schools curriculum is aligned to state standards set by the Education Department. At the high school level, students are required to pass Regents Examinations for each course upon its completion.

Currently, there are 78 public schools in the city including a growing number of charter schools. As of 2006, the total enrollment was 41,089 students with a student-teacher ratio of 13.5 to 1. The dropout rate is just 5.3%, and 83% of students who graduate go on to college. More than 27% of teachers have a Master's degree or higher and the median amount of experience in the field is 15 years. When considering the entire metropolitan area, there are a total of 292 schools educating 172,854 students.[5]

Buffalo is noted [citation needed] for its model magnet school system attracting students with special interests, which include science, bilingual studies, and Native American studies. Specialized facilities include the Buffalo Elementary School of Technology; the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Multicultural Institute; the International School; the Dr. Charles R. Drew Science Magnet School; Build Academy; Leonardo da Vinci High School; the Buffalo Academy for the Visual and Performing Arts BAVPA; the Riverside Institute of Technology; Lafayette High School/Buffalo Academy of Finance; Hutchinson Central Technical High School; and the Emerson School of Hospitality. The City Honors School was recently ranked #8 in the nation by Newsweek magazine. Buffalo is currently in the process of a $1 billion city school rebuilding plan.


The city itself is home to 47 private schools while the metropolitan region has 150 such institutions. Most private schools have a Roman Catholic affiliation, such as St. Joseph's Collegiate Institute, Nardin Academy and Canisius High School; however, there are schools affiliated with other religions, such as Islam and Judaism, and many nonsectarian options, including The Park School of Buffalo and The Nichols School.

Adult and technical

Complementing its standard function, the Buffalo Public Schools Adult and Continuing Education Division provides education and services to adults throughout the community.[6] In addition, the Career and Technical Education Department offers more than 20 academic programs, and is attended by about 6,000 students each year.[7]

Higher education

Buffalo is home to two State University of New York (SUNY) institutions. Buffalo State College, a comprehensive college, and the University at Buffalo, the flagship university center of SUNY, each are the largest institution of its type in the system. Combined, they account for roughly 40,000 students in the area.

Other academic institutions in Buffalo or its suburbs include: Bryant & Stratton College, Canisius College, D'Youville College, Daemen College, Empire State College, Erie Community College, Hilbert College, Houghton College, Medaille College, Trocaire College, Villa Maria College, Niagara County Community College (Niagara Falls, NY and Sanborn, NY).

Buffalo, New York from I-190 North entering downtown.


Buffalo and the surrounding area was long involved in railroad commerce, steel, and automobile production, but most of this activity left the city many years ago. Major steel production no longer exists in the area, although several smaller steel mills remain in operation. For example, Gibraltar Industries, a leading manufacturer, processor, and distributor of steel products for the building, industrial, and vehicular markets is headquartered in Buffalo.

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

The traditional reputation of Buffalo as "blue collar" industrial town really no longer applies however, as many of this industry has left the area. The regional economy can now best be described as a mix of industrial, light manufacturing, high technology and service-oriented private sector companies[citation needed]. Instead of relying on a single industry or sector for its economic future, the region has taken a diversified approach that has created opportunities for growth and expansion in the 21st century[citation needed].

Overall, employment in Buffalo has suffered as its population has declined. Buffalo's 2005 unemployment rate of 6.6% was 32% higher than New York State's 5.0% rate.[8]From the fourth quarter of 2005 to the fourth quarter of 2006, Erie County had no net job growth, ranking it 271st among the 326 largest counties in the country.[9]

It is claimed that Buffalo has increasingly become a center for bioinformatics and human genome research, including work by researchers at the University at Buffalo and the Roswell Park Cancer Institute. This consortium is known as the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus. It also includes: Buffalo Hearing & Speech Center, Buffalo Medical Group Foundation, Hauptman-Woodward Medical Research Institute, Kaleida Health, Olmsted Center for the Visually Impaired and Upstate New York Transplant Services.

Buffalo is the headquarters of M&T Bank, a large commercial bank with assets of $57B as of 2006. HSBC Bank USA also has major operations in Buffalo (The sports arena, which hosts the Buffalo Sabres NHL franchise, is named HSBC Arena). Other banks, such as Bank of America and KeyBank, have corporate operations in Buffalo, and Citigroup has recently announced it will soon follow in Amherst, New York Buffalo's largest suburb. Geico also has a regional office in the inner-ring suburb of Amherst.

Another successful industry in Buffalo is debt collection. There are 6 major firms located in Buffalo and the surrounding area.

New Era Cap Company, the largest sports-licensed headwear company in the United States, is based in Buffalo. They opened new headquarters in 2007 in the former Federal Reserve Building in downtown Buffalo.

When it comes to food and beverage industry, Buffalo is home to both Rich Products, one of the world's largest family-owned food manufacturers, and the American headquarters of InBev, the world's largest producer of beer. Labatt moved its US headquarters to Buffalo in May 2007. This is in large part due to Buffalo's location directly in the middle of the Northeastern Trade Corridor. The city is the heart of the Canadian-American corridor. Over 80% of all U.S.-Canada trade occurs via border crossings in the eastern United States and with 5 bridges to Canada, the Buffalo area is one of the key eastern border crossing locations.


Buffalo was first settled by New Englanders and a small but influential number of African Americans. The first wave of European immigrants was a large influx of Germans. The city was further populated by Irish immigrants escaping famine, and infused by Polish, Italian and Sicilian, Jewish, and more recently Latino populations, all of which have made it a melting pot of ethnic cultures. The newest immigrants are from Somalia, Asia, and the Arab world.

The old First Ward in South Buffalo retains a strong Irish identity, and Kaisertown reflects a German heritage. The city's East Side was once home of Buffalo's Polonia centered around the Broadway Market, a microcosm of Polish traditions and food delicacies. The East Side is now home to African Americans who came north during the Great Migration. The Juneteenth Festival of Buffalo, NY is an important component for Black-Americans of summertime events in the Buffalo-Niagara region.[16]

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

Buffalo is also home to a sizable Jewish community. German Jews immigrants originally settled on Buffalo's West Side in the mid-1800s. Less well-off Russian Jews and Polish Jews immigrating to the Niagara Frontier in the early 1900s initially settled on the lower East Side, near William Street and Jefferson Avenue. The community migrated to the Masten Park neighborhood on the East Side, and then to North Buffalo between the 1940s and the 1960s. Although many still live in the city, particularly in North Buffalo and the Delaware District on the city's West Side, the majority of Buffalo's approximately 26,000 Jews[citation needed] now live in the northeastern suburbs of Amherst and Williamsville. Buffalo's Jewish Community centers are located in the Delaware District and Amherst.

Distancing itself from its industrial past, Buffalo is redefining itself as a cultural, banking, educational, and medical center and the city was named by Reader's Digest as the third cleanest city (environmentally) in the United States in 2005.[13] In 2001 USA Today named Buffalo the winner of its "City with a Heart" contest,[17] proclaiming it the nation's "friendliest city." Also, in 1996 and 2002, Buffalo won the All-America City Award.[18]


The Buffalo area's cuisine reflects Italian, Jewish, German, Polish, Greek and American influences. Beef on Weck, Wardynski's kielbasa, Sahlen's hot dogs, sponge candy, pierogi, and haddock fish fries are among the local favorites, as is a loganberry-flavored beverage that remains relatively obscure outside of Western New York and Southern Ontario. Teressa Bellissimo, the chef/owner of the city's Anchor Bar, first prepared the now-widespread Chicken Wings here on October 3, 1964. Local or regional chains with a significant presence in the Buffalo area include Ted's Hot Dogs, Anderson's Frozen Custard, Duff's Wings, John & Mary's, Jim's SteakOut, Just Pizza, SPoT Coffee, Tim Horton's, Mighty Taco an absolute local favorite, GiGi's and Bocce's Pizza on Adams St. near Clinton. Buffalo's pizza is also of unique design; perhaps because Buffalo is geographically located halfway between New York City and Chicago, Illinois, the pizza made here is likewise about halfway between thin-crust New York-style pizza and deep-dish Chicago-style pizza. The city is also home to the Pearl Street Brewery and Flying Bison Brewing Company, who continue Buffalo's brewing traditions. Labatt USA, the US operation for Labatt Beer, a Toronto-based brewer, is also headquartered in Buffalo. Twice a summer thousands of Western New Yorkers descend into the city for two food festivals, the Taste of Buffalo and the National Buffalo Wing Festival.[19]

Buffalo also has several specialty import/grocery stores in old ethnic neighborhoods, and is home to an eclectic collection of cafes and restaurants that serve adventurous, cosmopolitan fare. Locally-owned restaurants offer soul food, Chinese, Japanese, Vietnamese, Thai, Mexican, Italian, Greek, Arab, Indian, Caribbean, and French.

Several well-known food companies are based in Buffalo. Non-dairy whipped topping, later imitated by Cool Whip, was invented in Buffalo in 1945 by Robert E. Rich, Sr. His company, Rich Products, is one of the city's largest private employers. General Mills was organized in Buffalo, and Gold Medal brand flour, Wheaties, Cheerios and other General Mills brand cereals are manufactured here. One of the country's largest cheese manufacturers, Sorrento, has been here since 1947. Archer Daniels Midland also operates its largest flour mill in the city.

Buffalo is also home to one of the largest privately held food companies in the world, Delaware North Companies, which operates concessions in sports arenas, stadiums, resorts, and many state & federal parks.


Last call is at 4 a.m. in Buffalo, rather than 2 a.m. as in most other areas of the U.S. This is often attributed to the historically high density of industrial facilities and the demand of second and third shift patrons. It is also because New York law allows bars to be open until 4 a.m. (However, local municipalities can override it to an earlier time.) This law was actually designed to accommodate the thriving late nightlife of New York City, but the state's "Second City" has adopted it as well.

Several distinct and thriving nightlife districts have grown around clusters of bars and nightclubs in the city. The most visible nightlife district is West Chippewa Street, located between Main Street and South Elmwood Avenue. The area is home to high-energy dance clubs, crowded bars, trendy coffeehouses, and restaurants. Allentown, where bars are as numerous but the atmosphere is a bit more relaxed, is a 20-minute walk north to Allen Street. Allen Street near Main Street houses several gay bars, while Allen near Elmwood has many bars that feature live music. Continuing up Elmwood Avenue from Allentown is the Elmwood Strip, which runs several miles to Buffalo State College. This strip has numerous small boutiques and restaurants, with few large corporate establishments. Crowds on this strip include everyone from college students to families to the elderly.

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