Buffalo is the second most populous city in the state of New York, second only to New York City. Located in Western New York on the eastern shores of Lake Erie and at the head of the Niagara River, Buffalo is the principal city of the Buffalo-Niagara Falls metropolitan area and the seat of Erie County. The city itself has a population of 292,648 (2000 Census), and the metropolitan area 1,170,111 (2000 Census), the 47th most populous in the United States. The Buffalo–Niagara–Cattaraugus Combined Statistical Area is home to 1,254,066 residents.
Originating around 1789 as a small trading community near the eponymous Buffalo Creek, Buffalo grew quickly after the opening of the Erie Canal in 1825, with the city as its western terminus. By 1900, Buffalo was the 8th largest city in the country, and went on to become a major railroad hub, the largest grain-milling center in the country, and the home of the largest steel-making operation in the world. The latter part of the 20th Century saw a reversal of fortunes: by the year 1990 the city had fallen back below its 1900 population levels. The rerouting of Great Lakes shipping by the opening of the St. Lawrence Seaway was a factor in the decline of the city. The closing or relocating of many of the steel mills and other heavy industries in the area also contributed to the decline.
Last call is at 4 a.m. in Buffalo, rather than 2 a.m. as in most other areas of the U.S. This is often attributed to the historically high density of industrial facilities and the demand of second and third shift patrons. It is also because New York law allows bars to be open until 4 a.m. (However, local municipalities can override it to an earlier time.) This law was actually designed to accommodate the thriving late nightlife of New York City, but the state's "Second City" has adopted it as well.
Several distinct and thriving nightlife districts have grown around clusters of bars and nightclubs in the city. The most visible nightlife district is West Chippewa Street, located between Main Street and South Elmwood Avenue. The area is home to high-energy dance clubs, crowded bars, trendy coffeehouses, and restaurants. Allentown, where bars are as numerous but the atmosphere is a bit more relaxed, is a several minute walk north to Allen Street. Allen Street near Main Street houses several bars, while Allen near Elmwood has many bars that feature live music. Continuing up Elmwood Avenue from Allentown is the Elmwood Strip, which runs about two miles to Buffalo State College. This strip has numerous small boutiques and restaurants, with few large corporate establishments. Crowds on this strip include everyone from college students to families to the elderly.
The city and surrounding Niagara Region also have an active summer concert schedule, a large portion of which are free and easy to access. The events are well planned and are spaced out through the week. Artpark on Tuesday nights, Buffalo Place hosts 'Thursdays at the Square', The Canal Concert series is on Saturday nights in Lockport and new for 2008 is a Friday night series on the Erie canal in North Tonawanda.
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