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Demographics of Buffalo, New York facts for kids

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Buffalo, New York is the second most populous city in the state of New York, after New York City. The city has a population of 278,349 as of the 2020 Census and the Buffalo–Cheektowaga–Olean Combined Statistical Area is home to 1,215,826 residents.


Buffalo was first settled primarily by New Englanders. The first wave of European immigrants was a large influx of Germans. The city was further populated by Irish immigrants first, Erie Canal builders and then escaping famine, and infused by Polish, Italian, Jewish, and more recently Latino populations, all of which have made it a melting pot of ethnic cultures. The newest immigrants are from Somalia, Sudan and Asia.

The Old First Ward retains a strong Irish identity, and Kaisertown reflects a German heritage. Buffalo's Polonia was centered at the Broadway Market on the East Side. The market serves as a microcosm of Polish/Slavic traditions and delicacies. The East Side is now home to African Americans, many of whom came north during the Great Migration. The annual Juneteenth Festival is a large cultural celebration organized by African Americans in Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Park.

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

Buffalo is also home to a large Jewish community. German Jewish immigrants originally settled on Buffalo's Westside in the mid-19th century. Lower income Russian Jews and Polish Jews immigrating to the Niagara Frontier in the early 20th century 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 Westside, the majority of the Buffalo area's Jews now live in the northeastern suburbs. Buffalo's Jewish Community Centers are located in the Delaware District, North Buffalo and Amherst.

Distancing itself from its industrial past, Buffalo is redefining itself as a cultural, banking, educational, medical center and architectural tourism destination. In 2001, USA Today named Buffalo the winner of its "City with a Heart" contest. proclaiming it the nation's "friendliest city." Buffalo is also a two-time winner of the All-America City Award.


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 47.1% 50.4% 64.7% 78.7% 96.8%
—Non-Hispanic 43.1% 45.8% 63.1% 77.4% 96.8%
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% (X)
Asian 5.9% 3.2% 1.0% 0.2%

City proper

Like most formerly industrial cities of the Great Lakes region in the USA, Buffalo has experienced an economic depression 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, before entering a long trend of losing population. The demographic change and the impact of such change on the industrial cities of the region, including Buffalo, is significant; based on the 2006 US Census estimate, Buffalo's population was equivalent to its population in the year 1890, reversing 120 years of demographic change. The 2020 Census was the first census in 70 years that saw Buffalo and Erie County gain population.

At the 2010 Census, the city's population was 50.4% White (45.8% non-Hispanic White alone), 38.6% Black or African American, 0.8% American Indian and Alaska Native, 3.2% Asian, 3.9% from some other race and 3.1% from two or more races. 10.5% of the total population was Hispanic or Latino of any race.

At the time of the 2000 census there were 292,648 people, 122,720 households, and 67,005 families residing in the city. The population density was 7,205.8 people per square mile (2,782.4/km2). There were 145,574 housing units at an average density of 3,584.4 per square mile (1,384.1/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 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 were Hispanic or Latino of any race. The top 5 largest ancestries include German (13.6%), Irish (12.2%), Italian (11.7%), Polish (11.7%), and English (4.0%).

There were 122,720 households, out of which 28.6% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 27.6% were married couples living together, 22.3% had a female householder with no husband present, and 45.4% were non-families. 37.7% of all households were made up of individuals, and 12.1% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.29 and the average family size was 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 were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 34 years. For every 100 females, there were 88.6 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 83.5 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $24,536, and the median income for a family was $30,614. Males had a median income of $30,938 versus $23,982 for females. The per capita income for the city was $14,991. 26.6% of the population and 23.0% of families were 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 were living below the poverty line.

Buffalo NY historical population
Population of Buffalo, 1830–2006

Buffalo has very sizable populations of Bosnian, Irish, Italian, Polish, German, Hungarian, Jewish, Greek, Arab, African American, Indian, Macedonian, and Puerto Rican descent. Major ethnic neighborhoods still exist but they changed significantly in the second half of the 20th century. In 1940, non-Hispanic Whites were 96.8% of the city's population. In the early 1900s, Polish-American immigrants were the predominant occupants of the East Side, while Italian-Americans composed a close-knit neighborhood in the west side. The East Side has long since become a predominantly African American area, 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 comprised almost entirely people of Irish descent. Recently, there has been an influx of inhabitants that are of Arab descent, mainly from Yemen, as the city's Muslim population has increased to approximately 3000 according to an estimate. Since the 1950s and 1960s, the greater portion of the Jewish population has moved to the suburban areas outside of the city, or to the city's upper West Side.

Metropolitan area

As of 2006, Erie and Niagara Counties had a combined estimated population of 1,154,378. The racial makeup of the area was 82.2% White, 13% African American, 0.6% Native American, 1.32% Asian, 3.3% Hispanic, and 1.4% of all other races. In the metropolitan area, 39.68% of people were under the age of 18 or over the age of 64, and the median age was 38. Of the total population, 82.88% had a high school diploma and 23.2% had obtained a Bachelor's degree. The median income for a household was $48,400 and the per capita income for the area was just under $39,000. Approximately 8% of the population was below the poverty line.

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