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Buffalo, New York
City of Buffalo
Buffalo Skyline from Drone 1 (cropped).jpg
Peace Bridge - at Moonrise (cropped).jpg
Hotel Henry - Richardson-Olmsted Complex - 20170607 (cropped).jpg
Buffalo savingsbank.JPG
Erie County Hall 2012.jpg
Buffalo City Hall Buildin.jpg
Hayes Hall, South Campus, State University of New York at Buffalo.jpg
Clockwise from top: Downtown Buffalo, Richardson Olmsted Complex, Erie County Hall, Edmund B. Hayes Hall on the campus of University at Buffalo, Buffalo City Hall, Buffalo Savings Bank, Peace Bridge
Flag of Buffalo, New York Official seal of Buffalo, New York
Queen City, City of Good Neighbors, City of No Illusions, Nickel City, Queen City of the Lakes, City of Light, City of Trees
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|300px|Interactive maps of Buffalo]]
Interactive maps of Buffalo
Country United States
State New York
Region Western New York
Metro Buffalo–Niagara Falls
County Erie
First settled (village) 1789; 234 years ago (1789)
Founded 1801; 222 years ago (1801)
Incorporated (city) 1832; 191 years ago (1832)
 • Type Strong mayor-council
 • Body Buffalo Common Council
 • City 52.48 sq mi (135.92 km2)
 • Land 40.38 sq mi (104.58 km2)
 • Water 12.10 sq mi (31.34 km2)
600 ft (200 m)
 • City 278,349Increase
 • Rank US: 76th NY: 2nd
 • Density 6,322.35/sq mi (2,441.10/km2)
 • Urban
935,906 (US: 46th)
 • Metro
1,125,637 (US: 49th)
 • CSA
1,201,500 (US: 48th)
Demonyms Buffalonian
Time zone UTC−05:00 (EST)
 • Summer (DST) UTC−04:00 (EDT)
ZIP code
Area code(s) 716
FIPS code 36-11000
GNIS feature ID 0973345

Buffalo is the second-largest city in the U.S. state of New York and the seat of Erie County. It is at the eastern end of Lake Erie, at the head of the Niagara River, and is across the Canadian border from Southern Ontario. With a population of 278,349 according to the 2020 census, Buffalo is the 76th-largest city in the United States. The city and nearby Niagara Falls together make up the two-county Buffalo–Niagara Falls Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA), which had an estimated population of 1.1 million in 2020, making it the 49th largest MSA in the United States. Buffalo is in Western New York, which is the largest population and economic center between Boston and Cleveland.

Before the 17th century, the region was inhabited by nomadic Paleo-Indians who were succeeded by the Neutral, Erie, and Iroquois nations. In the early 17th century, the French began to explore the region. In the 18th century, Iroquois land surrounding Buffalo Creek was ceded through the Holland Land Purchase, and a small village was established at its headwaters. In 1825, after its harbor was improved, Buffalo was selected as the terminus of the Erie Canal, which led to its incorporation in 1832. The canal stimulated its growth as the primary inland port between the Great Lakes and the Atlantic Ocean. Transshipment made Buffalo the world's largest grain port of that era. After the coming of railroads reduced the canal's importance, the city became the second-largest railway hub (after Chicago). During the mid-19th century, Buffalo transitioned to manufacturing, which came to be dominated by steel production. Later, deindustrialization and the opening of the St. Lawrence Seaway saw the city's economy decline and diversify. It developed its service industries, such as health care, retail, tourism, logistics, and education, while retaining some manufacturing. In 2019, the gross domestic product of the Buffalo–Niagara Falls MSA was $53 billion.

The city'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 several annual festivals. Its educational institutions include the University at Buffalo, Buffalo State College, Canisius College, D'Youville University and Medaille College. Buffalo is also known for its winter weather, Buffalo wings, and two major-league sports teams: the National Football League's Buffalo Bills and the National Hockey League's 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 journal of 1764, 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 that Buffalo Creek's 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 for the American buffalo, whose historical range may have extended into western New York.


Wenro-Territorium um 1630
1630s: The French report the Wenro's territory was north and east of the Erie peoples, East of the Neutral people across the Niagara River and west of the Genesee River valley and the Genesee Gorge across which the Seneca people had their home.
City of Buffalo
Bird's-eye view of Buffalo in 1873
Women workers leaving the Republic Steel plant. 8d17844v
Women workers leave the Republic Steel plant, with open hearth furnaces in the background, 1943.
Steel production at Bethlehem Steel on the shores of Lake Erie, 1973

Early history

Prior to European colonization, French observers report the region's inhabitants were an Iroquoian-speaking tribal offshoot of the large Neutral Nation called the Wenro people or 'Wenrohronon', who lived along the south shore of Lake Ontario and east end of Lake Erie and a bit of its southern shore. Later, during the 1640s–50s Beaver Wars, the combined warriors of the Five Nations of the Iroquois Confederacy conquered the populous Neutrals and their peninsular territory, while the Senecas alone took out their weak neighbors, the Wenrohronon, and their territory, c. 1651–1653.

In 1804, as principal agent opening the area for the Holland Land Company, the architect of Washington D.C., Joseph Ellicott, designed a radial street and grid system that branches out from downtown like bicycle spokes similar to the street system he used in the nation's capital. Although Ellicott named the settlement "New Amsterdam," the name did not catch on.

During the War of 1812, on December 30, 1813, Buffalo was burned by British forces.

The George Coit House 1818 and Samuel Schenck House 1823 are currently the oldest houses within the limits of the City of Buffalo.

On October 26, 1825, the Erie Canal was completed with Buffalo a port-of-call for settlers heading westward. At the time, the population was about 2,400. The Erie Canal brought about a surge in population and commerce, which led Buffalo to incorporate as a city in 1832.

In 1845, construction began on the Macedonia Baptist Church, an important meeting place for the abolitionist movement. 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. 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.

20th century

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 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. President William McKinley was shot and mortally wounded by an anarchist at the Pan-American Exposition in Buffalo on September 6, 1901. McKinley died in the city eight days later and Theodore Roosevelt was sworn in at the Wilcox Mansion as the 26th President of the United States.

The 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.

With the opening of the St. Lawrence Seaway in 1957, which cut the city off from valuable trade routes; 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.

Modern history

Like other rust belt cities such as Pittsburgh and Cleveland, Buffalo has attempted to revitalize its beleaguered economy and crumbling infrastructure. In the first decade of the 21st century, a massive increase in economic development spending has attempted to reverse its dwindling prosperity. In the early 2010s, growth from local colleges and universities continued to spur economic development.

Buffalo from Lake Erie
Buffalo from Lake Erie, c. 1911.

Geography and climate

Buffalo is on Lake Erie's eastern end-- opposite Fort Erie, Ontario.It is located at the origin of the Niagara River, which flows northward over Niagara Falls and into Lake Ontario. The city is 50 miles (80 km) south-southeast from Toronto. According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total 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.


Buffalo Skyline
Skyline of Buffalo, looking east from Lake Erie.
Buffalo skyline 2014
Aerial view of Buffalo's skyline. At center is the Robert H. Jackson United States Courthouse and the Art Deco Buffalo City Hall, with the Buffalo City Court Building to the right. On the far right is One Seneca Tower, formerly the HSBC Building.


Elmwood Village
Elmwood Village
2001 image of the Niagara Peninsula, Niagara Falls and Buffalo from NASA's Terra satellite.

Buffalo's architecture is diverse, with a collection of buildings 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 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 the One Seneca Tower—formerly the HSBC Center, the city's tallest building.

Historic Lake Effect Snow Hits Buffalo New York Area (15668722309)
Winter snow storm, 2014
Cherry blossoms in spring



Buffalo has a continental-type climate, which is common in the Great Lakes region. (Köppen climate classification "Dfb" – uniform precipitation distribution). 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 previously 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 five and a half feet (1.7 metres) of snow. 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 per year, and the Buffalo station of the National Weather Service has never recorded an official temperature of 100 °F (37.8 °C) or more. 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.

Climate data for Buffalo Niagara International Airport, New York (1981–2010 normals, extremes 1871–present )
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °F (°C) 72
Average high °F (°C) 31.2
Average low °F (°C) 18.5
Record low °F (°C) −16
Precipitation inches (mm) 3.18
Snowfall inches (cm) 25.3
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
Avg. precipitation days (≥ 0.01 in) 19.2 16.0 15.1 13.1 12.7 12.1 10.6 10.1 11.4 12.9 15.0 18.3 166.5
Avg. snowy days (≥ 0.1 in) 16.3 13.1 9.2 3.1 0 0 0 0 0 0.4 4.9 14.0 61.0
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
Source: NOAA (relative humidity and sun 1961–1990)


Historical population
Census Pop.
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%
2020 278,349 6.5%
Historical Population Figures
U.S. Decennial Census
Racial composition 2020 2010 1990 1970 1940
White 41.9% 50.4% 64.7% 78.7% 96.8%
—Non-Hispanic 39.0% 45.8% 63.1% n/a n/a
African Americans 36.9% 38.6% 30.7% 20.4% 3.1%
Hispanic or Latino (of any race) 12.8% 10.5% 4.9% 1.6% n/a
Asian Americans 7.6% 3.2% 1.0% 0.2% n/a
Other race 5.3% 3.1% 2.8% 0.2% n/a

Several hundred Seneca, Tuscarora and other Iroquois tribal peoples were the primary residents of the Buffalo area before 1800, concentrated along Buffalo Creek. After the Revolutionary War, settlers from New England and eastern New York began to move into the area.

From the 1830s to the 1850s, they were joined by Irish and German immigrants from Europe, both peasants and working class, who settled in enclaves on the city's south and east sides. At the turn of the 20th century, Polish immigrants replaced Germans on the East Side, who moved to newer housing; Italian immigrant families settled throughout the city, primarily on the lower West Side.

During the 1830s, Buffalo residents were generally intolerant of the small groups of Black Americans who began settling on the city's East Side. In the 20th century, wartime and manufacturing jobs attracted Black Americans from the South during the First and Second Great Migrations. In the World War II and postwar years from 1940 to 1970, the city's Black population rose by 433 percent. They replaced most of the Polish community on the East Side, who were moving out to suburbs. However, the effects of redlining, steering, social inequality, blockbusting, white flight and other racial policies resulted in the city (and region) becoming one of the most segregated in the U.S.

During the 1940s and 1950s, Puerto Rican migrants arrived en masse, also seeking industrial jobs, settling on the East Side and moving westward. In the 21st century, Buffalo is classified as a majority minority city, with a plurality of residents who are Black and Latino.

Buffalo has mitigated the effects of urban decay since the 1970s, including population losses to the suburbs and Sun Belt states, and job losses from deindustrialization. The city's population peaked at 580,132 in 1950, when Buffalo was the 15th-largest city in the United States – down from the eighth-largest city in 1900, after its growth rate slowed during the 1920s. Buffalo's population began declining in the second half of the 20th century, due to suburbanization and loss of industrial jobs, and began stabilizing during the 2010s. The city had a population of 261,310 in the 2010 census which increased to 278,349 residents in the 2020 census, making it the 76th-largest city in the United States. Its metropolitan area had 1.1 million residents in 2020, the country's 49th-largest.

Race and ethnicity 2010- Buffalo (5559869161) (cropped)
Racial distribution in Buffalo in 2010: red dots indicate white Americans, blue dots for African Americans, green for Asian Americans, orange for Hispanic Americans, yellow for other races. Each dot represents 25 residents.

Compared to other major US metropolitan areas, the number of foreign-born immigrants to Buffalo is low. New immigrants are primarily resettled refugees (especially from war- or disaster-afflicted nations) and refugees who had previously settled in other U.S. cities. During the early 2000s, most immigrants came from Canada and Yemen; this shifted in the 2010s to Burmese (Karen) refugees and Bangladeshi people immigrants. Between 2008 and 2016, Burmese, Somali, Bhutanese, and Iraqi Americans were the four largest ethnic immigrant groups in Erie County.

Poverty has remained an issue for the city; in 2019, it was estimated that 30.1 percent of individuals and 24.8 percent of families lived below the federal poverty line. Per capita income was $24,400 and household income was $37,354: much less than the national average. A 2008 report noted that although food deserts were seen in larger cities and not in Buffalo, the city's neighborhoods of color have access only to smaller grocery stores and lack the supermarkets more typical of newer, white neighborhoods. A 2018 report noted that over fifty city blocks on Buffalo's East Side lacked adequate access to a supermarket.

Health disparities exist compared to the rest of the state: Erie County's average 2019 lifespan was three years lower (78.4 years); its 17-percent smoking and 30-percent obesity rates were slightly higher than the state average. According to the Partnership for the Public Good, educational achievement in the city is lower than in the surrounding area; city residents are almost twice as likely as adults in the metropolitan area to lack a high-school diploma.


Temple Beth Zion 2
Temple Beth Zion

During the early 19th century, Presbyterian missionaries tried to convert the Seneca people on the Buffalo Creek Reservation to Christianity. Initially resistant, some tribal members set aside their traditions and practices to form their own sect. Later, European immigrants added other faiths. Christianity is the predominant religion in Buffalo and Western New York. Catholicism (primarily the Latin Church) has a significant presence in the region, with 161 parishes and over 570,000 adherents in the Diocese of Buffalo.

A Jewish community began developing in the city with immigrants from the mid-1800s; about one thousand German and Lithuanian Jews settled in Buffalo before 1880. Buffalo's first synagogue, Temple Beth El, was established in 1847. The city's Temple Beth Zion is the region's largest synagogue.

With changing demographics and an increased number of refugees from other areas on the city's East Side, Islam and Buddhism have expanded their presence. In this area, new residents have converted empty churches into mosques and temples. Hinduism maintains a small, active presence in the area, including the town of Amherst.

A 2016 American Bible Society survey reported that Buffalo is the fifth-least "Bible-minded" city in the United States; 13 percent of its residents associate with the Bible.


Buffalo wings
A bowl of chicken (Buffalo) wings and celery.


The Buffalo area's varied cuisine is the result of variety of cultural contributions, including Italian, Irish, Jewish, German, Polish, African-American, Greek, Indian and American influences. In 2015, the National Geographic Society ranked Buffalo third on their list of "The World's Top Ten Food Cities". Locally owned restaurants offer Chinese, German, Japanese, Korean, Vietnamese, Thai, Mexican, Italian, Arab, Indian, Caribbean, soul food, and French cuisine. Buffalo's local pizzerias differ from that of the thin-crust New York-style pizzerias and deep-dish Chicago-style pizzerias, and is locally known for being a midpoint between the two. The Beef on weck sandwich, kielbasa, sponge candy, pastry hearts, pierogi and haddock fish fries are local favorites, as is a loganberry-flavored beverage that remains relatively obscure outside of the Western New York and Southern Ontario. Teressa Bellissimo first prepared the now widespread Buffalo wing at the Anchor Bar on October 3, 1964.

Buffalo has several well-known food companies. Non-dairy whipped topping 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. Archer Daniels Midland operates its largest flour mill in the city. Buffalo is 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 and federal parks.

Fine and performing arts

Kleinhans buffalo
Kleinhans Music Hall is home to the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra.

Buffalo is home to over 50 private and public art galleries, most notably the Albright-Knox Art Gallery, home to a collection of modern and contemporary art, and the Burchfield-Penney Art Center. In 2012, AmericanStyle ranked Buffalo twenty-fifth in its list of top mid-sized cities for art. It is also home to many independent media and literary arts organizations like Squeaky Wheel Film and Media Arts Center. The Buffalo area's largest theater is Shea's Performing Arts Center, designed to accommodate 4,000 people with interiors by Louis Comfort Tiffany. Built in 1926, the theater presents Broadway musicals and concerts. The theater community in the Buffalo Theater District includes over 20 professional companies.


The Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra, which performs at Kleinhans Music Hall, is one of the city's most prominent performing arts institutions. During the 1960s and 1970s, under the musical leadership of Lukas Foss and Michael Tilson Thomas, the Philharmonic collaborated with Grateful Dead and toured with the Boston Pops Orchestra.

Goo goo dolls slide
The Goo Goo Dolls began their career in Buffalo.

Buffalo has the roots of many jazz and classical musicians, and it is also the founding city for several mainstream bands and musicians,


Festivals have become part of the Buffalo's culture and tradition. Though most occur during the summer, the city has winter festivals that reflect its snowy reputation. Popular summer festivals include the Allentown Art Festival (since 1957), Taste of Buffalo (since 1984), National Buffalo Wing Festival (since 2002), Thursday at the Square (since 1987; moved to Canalside in 2011) and the Juneteenth Festival (since 1976). Winter festivals include the Buffalo Ball Drop (since 1988), Buffalo Powder Keg Festival and Labatt Blue Pond Hockey.


The city of Buffalo's points of interest include the Edward M. Cotter fireboat, considered the world's oldest active fireboat and is a United States National Historic Landmark, Buffalo and Erie County Botanical Gardens, the Buffalo and Erie County Historical Society, Buffalo Museum of Science, the Buffalo Zoo—the third oldest in the United States— Forest Lawn Cemetery, Buffalo and Erie County Naval & Military Park, the Anchor Bar and Darwin D. Martin House.

Parks and recreation

Delaware Park lake
Hoyt Lake at Delaware Park.

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 park land 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 cities parks department. It is the first non-governmental organization of its kind to serve in such a capacity in the United States.

Situated at the confluence of Lake Erie and the Buffalo River and Niagara Rivers, Buffalo is a waterfront city. The city's rise to economic power came through its waterways in the form of transshipment, manufacturing, and an endless source of energy. Buffalo's waterfront remains, though to a lesser degree, a hub of commerce, trade and industry. Beginning in 2009, a significant portion of Buffalo's waterfront began to be transformed into a focal point for social and recreational activity. To this end, Buffalo Harbor State Park, nicknamed "Outer Harbor," was opened in 2014. Buffalo's intent was to stress its architectural and historical heritage to create a tourism destination, and early data indicates that they were successful.

Dyngus Day

Buffalo is one of the largest Polish-American centers in the United States. As a result, many aspects of Polish culture have found a home within the city from food to festivals. One of the best example's is the yearly celebration of Easter Monday, known to many Eastern Europeans as Dyngus Day.

Twin towns – Sister cities

Buffalo has a number of sister cities as designated by Sister Cities International (SCI):

  • Israel Kiryat Gat, Israel (1977)
  • Russia Tver, Russia (1989)
  • Ukraine Drohobych, Ukraine (2000)
  • France Lille, Nord, Hauts-de-France, France (2000)
  • Italy Torremaggiore, Italy (2004)
  • Nigeria Abuja, Nigeria (2004)
  • Jamaica Saint Ann's Bay, Jamaica (2007)
  • Ukraine Horlivka, Ukraine (2007)
  • Turkey Bursa, Turkey (2010)
  • Dominican Republic Baní, Dominican Republic (2011)
  • Rwanda Muhanga District, Rwanda (2011)
  • South Korea Yeongcheon, South Korea (2011)
  • People's Republic of China Changzhou, China


Top private-sector Buffalo area employers, 2020
Source: Invest Buffalo Niagara
Rank Employer Employees
1 Kaleida Health 8,359
2 Catholic Health 7,623
3 M&T Bank 7,400
4 Tops Friendly Markets 5,374
5 Seneca Gaming Corp. 3,402
6 Roswell Park Cancer Institute 3,328
7 GEICO 3,250
8 Wegmans 3,102
9 HSBC Bank USA 3,000
10 General Motors 2,981

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

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

Buffalo weathered the Great Recession of 2006–09 well in comparison with other U.S. cities, exemplified by increased home prices during this time. The region's economy began to improve in the early 2010s, adding over 25,000 jobs from 2009 to 2017. With state aid, Tesla, Inc.'s Giga New York plant opened in South Buffalo in 2017. The effects of the COVID-19 pandemic in the United States, however, increased the local unemployment rate to 7.5 percent by December 2020. The local unemployment rate had been 4.2 percent in 2019, higher than the national average of 3.5 percent.

The Buffalo area has a larger-than-average pay disparity than the rest of the U.S. The average salary ($43,580) was six percent less than the national average in 2017, with the pay gap increasing to ten percent with increased career specialization. Workforce productivity is higher and turnover lower than other regions.


Professional sports teams in Buffalo
Team Sport League Began Venue (capacity) Championships
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) 1964 and 1965
Buffalo Bisons Baseball International League 1979 Sahlen Field (16,600) 1997, 1998, 2004
Buffalo Sabres Ice hockey National Hockey League 1970 KeyBank Center (19,070)
Buffalo Beauts Ice hockey Premier Hockey Federation 2015 Northtown Center (1,800) 2017

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 they moved from War Memorial Stadium in 1973. They are the only NFL team based in New York State. Before the Super Bowl era, the Bills won the American Football League Championship in 1964 and 1965. With mixed success throughout their history, the Bills had a close loss in Super Bowl XXV and returned to consecutive Super Bowls after the 1991, 1992, and 1993 seasons (losing each time). The Sabres, an expansion team in 1970, share KeyBank Center with the Buffalo Bandits of the National Lacrosse League. The Bandits are the most successful of the city's three major-league teams, with four championships. The Bills, Sabres and Bandits are owned by Pegula Sports and Entertainment.

Several colleges and universities in the area field intercollegiate sports teams; the Buffalo Bulls and the Canisius Golden Griffins compete in NCAA Division I. The Bulls have 16 varsity sports in the Mid-American Conference (MAC); the Golden Griffins field 15 teams in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC), with the men's hockey team part of the Atlantic Hockey Association (AHA). The Bulls participate in the Football Bowl Subdivision, the highest level of college football. Buffalo's minor-league teams include the Buffalo Bisons (Triple-A baseball), who play at Sahlen Field, and the Buffalo Beauts (National Women's Hockey League).

Sahlen Field, home of the Buffalo Bisons since 1988


Primary and secondary education

City Honors frontview
City Honors School

The Buffalo Public Schools have about thirty-four thousand students enrolled in their 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 a total of about 3,500 teachers. Its board of education, authorized by the state, has nine elected members who select the superintendent and oversee the budget, curriculum, personnel, and facilities. In 2020, the graduation rate was seventy-six 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 twenty charter schools in Buffalo, with some oversight by the district. The city has over a dozen private schools, including Bishop Timon – St. Jude High School, Canisius High School, Mount Mercy Academy, and Nardin Academy—all Roman Catholic, and Darul Uloom Al-Madania and Universal School of Buffalo (both Islamic schools); nonsectarian options include Buffalo Seminary and the Nichols School.

Colleges and universities

The quad at Buffalo State College

Founded by Millard Fillmore, the University at Buffalo (UB) is one of the State University of New York's two flagship universities and the state's largest public university. A Research I university, over 32,000 undergraduate, graduate and professional students attend its thirteen schools and colleges. Two of UB's three campuses (the South and Downtown Campuses) are in the city, but most university functions take place at the large North Campus in Amherst. In 2020, U.S. News and World Report ranked UB the 34th-best public university and 88th in national universities. Buffalo State College, founded as a normal school, is one of SUNY's thirteen comprehensive colleges. The city's four-year private institutions include Canisius College, Medaille College and D'Youville University. SUNY Erie, the county's two-year public higher-education institution, and the for-profit Bryant & Stratton College have small downtown campuses.


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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. Rebuilt in 1964, it contains an auditorium, the original manuscript of the Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (donated by Mark Twain), and a collection of about two million books. Its Grosvenor Room maintains a special-collections listing of nearly five hundred thousand resources for researchers. A pocket park funded by Southwest Airlines opened in 2020, and brought landscaping improvements and seating to Lafayette Square. The system's free library cards are valid at the city's eight branch libraries and at member libraries throughout Erie County.



Nine hospitals are operated in the city: Oishei Children's Hospital and Buffalo General Medical Center by Kaleida Health, Mercy Hospital and Sisters of Charity Hospital (Catholic Health), Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center, the county-run Erie County Medical Center (ECMC), Buffalo VA Medical Center, BryLin (Psychiatric) Hospital and the state-operated Buffalo Psychiatric Center. John R. Oishei Children's Hospital, built in 2017, is adjacent to Buffalo General Medical Center on the 120-acre (49 ha) Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus north of downtown; its Gates Vascular Institute specializes in acute stroke recovery. The medical campus includes the University at Buffalo Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, the Hauptman-Woodward Medical Research Institute and Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center, ranked the 14th-best cancer-treatment center in the United States by U.S. News and World Report.


Buffalo Metro Rail train at the Amherst Street station

Growth and changing transportation needs altered Buffalo's grid plan, which was developed by Joseph Ellicott in 1804. His plan laid out streets like the spokes of a wheel, naming them after Dutch landowners and Native American tribes. City streets expanded outward, denser in the west and spreading out east of Main Street. Buffalo is a port of entry with Canada; the Peace Bridge crosses the Niagara River and links the Niagara Thruway (I-190) and Queen Elizabeth Way. I-190, NY 5 and NY 33 are the primary expressways serving the city, carrying a total of over 245,000 vehicles daily. NY 5 carries traffic to the Southtowns, and NY 33 carries traffic to the eastern suburbs and the Buffalo Airport. The east-west Scajacquada Expressway (NY 198) bisects Delaware Park, connecting I-190 with the Kensington Expressway (NY 33) on the city's East Side to form a partial beltway around the city center. The Scajacquada and Kensington Expressways and the Buffalo Skyway (NY 5) have been targeted for redesign or removal. Other major highways include US 62 on the city's East Side; NY 354 and a portion of NY 130, both east-west routes; and NY 265, NY 266 and NY 384, all north-south routes on the city's West Side. Buffalo has a higher-than-average percentage of households without a car: 30 percent in 2015, decreasing to 28.2 percent in 2016; the 2016 national average was 8.7 percent. Buffalo averaged 1.03 cars per household in 2016, compared to the national average of 1.8.

Reddy Bikeshare at 250 Delaware Avenue

The Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority (NFTA) operates the region's public transit, including its airport, light-rail system, buses, and harbors. The NFTA operates 323 buses on 61 lines throughout Western New York. Buffalo Metro Rail is a 6.4-mile-long (10.3 km) line which runs from Canalside to the University Heights district. The line's downtown section, south of the Fountain Plaza station, runs at grade and is free of charge. The Buffalo area ranks twenty-third nationwide in transit ridership, with thirty trips per capita per year. Expansions have been proposed since Buffalo Metro Rail's inception in the 1980s, with the latest plan (in the late 2010s) reaching the town of Amherst. Buffalo Niagara International Airport in Cheektowaga has daily scheduled flights by domestic, charter and regional carriers. The airport handled nearly five million passengers in 2019. It received a J.D. Power award in 2018 for customer satisfaction at a mid-sized airport, and underwent a $50 million expansion in 2020–21. The airport, light rail, small-boat harbor and buses are monitored by the NFTA's transit police.

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

Since Buffalo adopted a complete streets policy in 2008, efforts have been made to accommodate cyclists and pedestrians into new infrastructure projects. Improved corridors have bike lanes, and Niagara Street received separate bike lanes in 2020. Walk Score gave Buffalo a "somewhat walkable" rating of 68 out of 100, with Allentown and downtown considered more walkable than other areas of the city.


Buffalo's water system is operated by Veolia Water, and water treatment begins at the Colonel Francis G. Ward Pumping Station. When it opened in 1915, the station's capacity was second only to Paris. Wastewater is treated by the Buffalo Sewer Authority, its coverage extending to the eastern suburbs. National Grid and New York State Electric & Gas (NYSEG) provide electricity, and National Fuel Gas provides natural gas. The city's primary telecommunications provider is Spectrum; Verizon Fios serves the North Park neighborhood. A 2018 report by Ookla noted that Buffalo was one of the bottom five U.S. cities in average download speeds at 66 megabits per second.

The city's Department of Public Works manages Buffalo's snow and trash removal and street cleaning. Snow removal generally operates from November 15 to April 1. A snow emergency is declared by the National Weather Service after a snowstorm, and the city's roads, major sidewalks and bridges are cleared by over seventy snowplows within 24 hours. Rock salt is the principal agent for preventing snow accumulation and melting ice. Snow removal may coincide with driving bans and parking restrictions. The area along the Outer Harbor is the most dangerous driving area during a snowstorm; when weather conditions dictate, the Buffalo Skyway is closed by the city's police department.

To prevent ice jams which may impact hydroelectric plants in Niagara Falls, the New York Power Authority and Ontario Power Generation began installing an ice boom annually in 1964. The boom's installation date is temperature-dependent, and it is removed on April 1 unless there is more than 650 square kilometres (250 sq mi) of ice remaining on eastern Lake Erie. It stretches 2,680 metres (8,790 ft) from the outer breakwall at the Buffalo Outer Harbor to the Canadian shore near Fort Erie. Originally made of wood, the boom now consists of steel pontoons.

Steel Winds, a local wind farm, with city of Buffalo seen in background across Lake Erie

Notable residents

Images for kids

See also

Kids robot.svg In Spanish: Búfalo (Nueva York) para niños

National Hispanic Heritage Month on Kiddle
Distinguished Hispanic diplomats
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Horacio Rivero Jr
Julissa Reynoso Pantaleón
Edward C. Prado
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