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Erie County, New York facts for kids

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Erie County
Left to right from top: Erie County Hall, Wendt Beach Park, Akron Falls Park, Chestnut Ridge Park, Canisius College, Gateway Park, Buffalo and Erie County Botanical Gardens
Official seal of Erie County
Map of New York highlighting Erie County
Location within the U.S. state of New York
Map of the United States highlighting New York
New York's location within the U.S.
Country  United States
State  New York
Founded 1821
Named for Eriechronon
Seat Buffalo
Largest city Buffalo
 • Total 1,227 sq mi (3,180 km2)
 • Land 1,043 sq mi (2,700 km2)
 • Water 184 sq mi (480 km2)  15%
 • Total 954,236 Increase
 • Density 914.9/sq mi (353.2/km2)
Time zone UTC−5 (Eastern)
 • Summer (DST) UTC−4 (EDT)
Congressional districts 26th, 27th

Erie County is a county along the shore of Lake Erie in western New York State. As of the 2020 census, the population was 954,236. The county seat is Buffalo, which makes up about 28% of the county's population. Both the county and Lake Erie were named for the regional Iroquoian language-speaking Erie tribe of Native Americans, who lived in the area before 1654. They were later pushed out by the more powerful Iroquoian nations tribes.

Erie County, along with its northern neighbor Niagara County, makes up the Buffalo-Niagara Falls metropolitan area, the second largest in New York State behind New York City. The county's southern part is known as the Southtowns. The county has seen one of the highest growth rates of any county in New York State from the 2010 to 2020 census.


Erie County Courthouse
Old Erie County Courthouse.

When counties were established in New York State in 1683, present-day Erie County was Indian territory and not part of New York. Significant European settlement began ca. 1800 after the Holland Land Company extinguished Indian claims to the land, acquired the title to eight western-most counties of Western New York, surveyed their holdings, established towns, and began selling lots. At this time, all of Western New York was part of Ontario County. In 1802, Genesee County was created out of Ontario County. In 1808, Niagara County was created out of Genesee County. In 1821, Erie County was created out of Niagara County, encompassing all the land between Tonawanda Creek and Cattaraugus Creek.

The first towns formed in present-day Erie County were the Town of Clarence and the Town of Willink. Clarence comprised the northern portion of Erie county, and Willink the southern part. Clarence is still a town, but Willink was quickly subdivided into other towns. When Erie County was established in 1821, it consisted of the towns of Amherst, Aurora, Boston, Clarence, Collins, Concord, Eden, Evans, Hamburg, Holland, Sardinia, and Wales.

The county has a number of properties on the National Register of Historic Places listings in Erie County, New York.

In 1861, the hamlet of Town Line in the Town of Lancaster, voted 85 to 40 to secede from the Union and join the Confederate States of America; it sent five soldiers for the Confederate Army, and did not officially rejoin the Union until January 1946. The Town Line Fire Department supports the slogan "Last of the Rebels" due to their Confederate ties.


According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 1,227 square miles (3,180 km2), of which 1,043 square miles (2,700 km2) is land and 184 square miles (480 km2) (15%) is water.

Erie County is in the western portion of upstate New York, bordering on the lake of the same name. It is the most populous county in upstate New York outside of the New York City metropolitan area. The county also lies on the international border between the United States and Canada, bordering the Province of Ontario.

The northern border of the county is Tonawanda Creek. Part of the southern border is Cattaraugus Creek. Other major streams include Buffalo Creek (Buffalo River), Cayuga Creek, Cazenovia Creek, Scajaquada Creek, Eighteen Mile Creek and Ellicott Creek.

The county's northern half, including Buffalo and its suburbs, is relatively flat and rises gently up from the lake. The southern half, known as the Southtowns, is much hillier and is the northwesternmost foothills of the Appalachian Mountains.

The highest elevation in the county is a hill in the Town of Sardinia that tops out at around 1,940 feet (591 m) above sea level. The lowest ground is about 560 feet (171 m), on Grand Island at the Niagara River.

The Onondaga Escarpment runs through the northern part of Erie County.

Rivers, streams, and lakes

Adjacent counties and municipality

Major highways

  • I-90.svgNYS Thruway Sign.svg Interstate 90 (New York State Thruway)
  • I-190.svg Interstate 190 (Niagara Thruway)
  • I-290.svg Interstate 290 (Youngmann Expressway)
  • I-990.svg Interstate 990 (Lockport Expressway)
  • US 20.svg U.S. Route 20
  • US 20A.svg U.S. Route 20A
  • US 62.svg U.S. Route 62
  • US 219.svg U.S. Route 219 (Southern Expressway)
  • NY-5.svg New York State Route 5 (Buffalo Skyway/Hamburg Turnpike)
  • NY-16.svg New York State Route 16
  • NY-33.svg New York State Route 33 (Kensington Expressway/Genesee Street)
  • NY-39.svg New York State Route 39
  • NY-78.svg New York State Route 78 (Transit Road)
  • NY-179.svg New York State Route 179 (Milestrip Expressway/Road)
  • NY-198.svg New York State Route 198 (Scajaquada Expressway)
  • NY-263.svg New York State Route 263 (Millersport Highway)
  • NY-240.svg New York State Route 240
  • NY-277.svg New York State Route 277
  • NY-324.svg New York State Route 324 (Grand Island Blvd./Sheridan Drive)
  • NY-354.svg New York State Route 354 (Clinton Street)
  • NY-400.svg New York State Route 400 (Aurora Expressway)

Erie County routes

National protected area

State protected areas


Historical population
Census Pop.
1830 35,719
1840 62,465 74.9%
1850 100,993 61.7%
1860 141,971 40.6%
1870 178,699 25.9%
1880 219,884 23.0%
1890 322,981 46.9%
1900 433,686 34.3%
1910 528,985 22.0%
1920 634,688 20.0%
1930 762,408 20.1%
1940 798,377 4.7%
1950 899,238 12.6%
1960 1,064,688 18.4%
1970 1,113,491 4.6%
1980 1,015,472 −8.8%
1990 968,532 −4.6%
2000 950,265 −1.9%
2010 919,040 −3.3%
2020 954,236 3.8%
U.S. Decennial Census
1790-1960 1900-1990
1990-2000 2010-2014

As of the 2020, there were 954,236 people living in the county. The population density was 915 people per square mile (353/km2). There were 438,747 housing units at an average density of 421 per square mile (162/km2). The racial makeup of the county was 72.6% White, 14.1% Black or African American, 0.6% Native American, 4.9% Asian, 0.03% Pacific Islander, 2.3% from other races and 5.4% from two or more races. 6.3% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race. 19.6% were of German, 17.2% Polish, 14.9% Italian, 11.7% Irish and 5.0% English ancestry according to Census 2000. 91.1% spoke English, 3% Spanish and 1.6% Polish as their first language.

ErieCountyPopulation 2
Erie County, NY Population

There were 380,873 households, out of which 29.6% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 46.5% were married couples living together, 13.7% had a female householder with no husband present and 36.1% were non-families. 30.5% of all households were made up of individuals, and 12.5% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.41 and the average family size was 3.04. In the county, the population was spread out, with 24.3% under 18, 8.7% from 18 to 24, 28.4% from 25 to 44, 22.7% from 45 to 64 and 15.9% older than 65. The median age was 38 years. For every 100 females, there were 91.6 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 87.8 males.

The median income for a household in the county was $38,567 and the median income for a family was $49,490. Males had a median income of $38,703 versus $26,510 for females. The per capita income for the county was $20,357. About 9.2% of families and 12.2% of the population were below the poverty line, including 17.3% of those under 18 and 7.8% of those older than 65.

Information about Erie County

Erie County is home to the Buffalo Bills football team, the Buffalo Sabres hockey team, the Buffalo Bandits lacrosse team, and the Buffalo Bisons minor league baseball team. The city also features a zoo, a botanical garden, a science museum, an historical museum, and the famous Albright-Knox Art Gallery.

The Erie County Fair held every August in the Town of Hamburg, is one of the largest county fairs in the country.

Plans to merge Erie County with the City of Buffalo have been suggested, which proponents say would eliminate much of the extensive bureaucracy and political and municipal subdivisions among the various towns, cities, and villages in the county. The result would be a consolidated city-county controlled by a single government, effectively making Buffalo's borders and population contiguous with Erie County's. These plans have proven very controversial; opposition has come from residents of the rural villages on the borders of Erie County, who feel the plan would not benefit them, and the suburbs, which want to avoid the financial troubles of Buffalo and Erie County while simultaneously benefiting from the amenities of close proximity to a large population base.


Erie County Department of Parks, Recreation and Forestry

The Erie County Department of Parks, Recreation and Forestry was established in 1925 with four parks spanning 2,280 acres (9.2 km2). As of 2003, the county managed 38 properties, totaling approximately 11,000 acres (45 km2) of land. Management objectives include providing and maintaining recreational space and the conservation of the county's natural and historic resources.

A 2003 Master Plan identified several broad categories of parks operated by the county, including heritage parks, waterfront parks, conservation parks, special purpose parks and forest management areas.

Heritage parks

2013 July 3 Akron Falls Park Akron NY
View of Akron Falls at Akron Falls Park.
Eternal flame falls 7252
Eternal Flame Falls in Chestnut Ridge Park.

Erie County's heritage parks include the five original county parks that were established during the 1920s and 1930s. These parks are examples of multiple-use sites with significant scenic, natural and historic features. Each park has unique man-made structures of historical character, many constructed as part of the Works Progress Administration movement in the 1930s.

  • Akron Falls Park (Established in 1933, acquired by Erie County in 1947)
  • Chestnut Ridge Park (Established by Erie County in 1926)
  • Como Lake Park (Established in 1923, acquired by Erie County in 1926)
  • Ellicott Creek Park (Established by Erie County in 1926)
  • Emery Park (Established by Erie County in 1925)

Waterfront parks

Wendt Beach March 2007
View of Wendt Beach in March 2007.

Waterfront parks include the significant scenic sites and recreational trail systems along the county’s Lake Erie shoreline.

  • Bennett Beach Park
  • Isle View Park
  • Riverwalk Park
  • Wendt Beach Park

Conservation parks

Scobey Power Plant and Dam 1
View of the Scoby Dam at Scoby Dam Park.

These largely-undeveloped parks are managed primarily for conservation of the natural environment and passive nature-based outdoor recreation activities. These lands are intended to generally remain in a natural state.

Special purpose parks

Special purpose parks have unique characteristics that provide specific recreational functions within the county's park system.

Forest management areas

Forest management areas are managed by the Erie County Bureau of Forestry, which was established in 1927. These areas include several thousand acres of mostly-coniferous plantation style forest, much of which was planted on abandoned farmland by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930s. These areas are located mostly in the rural southern portion of the county.

These lands have limited recreation potential, mostly in the form of trails. Management of these lands is focused on natural resource conservation, in addition to potential commercial resource extraction of timber products or maple syrup.


Erie County NY map labeled
Map showing the municipalities of Erie County




Census-designated places


Indian reservations


School districts

  • Akron Central School District
  • Alden Central School District
  • Amherst Central School District
  • Buffalo City School District
  • Cheektowaga Central School District
  • Cheektowaga-Maryvale Union Free School District
  • Cheektowaga-Sloan Union Free School District
  • Clarence Central School District
  • Cleveland Hill Union Free School District
  • Depew Union Free School District
  • East Aurora Union Free School District
  • Eden Central School District
  • Frontier Central School District
  • Grand Island Central School District
  • Gowanda Central School District
  • Hamburg Central School District
  • Holland Central School District
  • Hopevale Union Free School District At Hamburg
  • Iroquois Central School District
  • Kenmore-Tonawanda Union Free School District
  • Lackawanna City School District
  • Lake Shore Central School District
  • Lancaster Central School District
  • North Collins Central School District
  • Orchard Park Central School District
  • Springville-Griffith Institute Central School District
  • Sweet Home Central School District
  • Tonawanda City School District
  • West Seneca Central School District
  • Williamsville Central School District

Higher education

  • Buffalo State College
  • Canisius College
  • Daemen College
  • D'Youville College
  • Erie Community College
  • Hilbert College
  • Medaille College
  • Trocaire College
  • University at Buffalo
  • Villa Maria College
  • Bryant & Stratton College

Images for kids

See also

Kids robot.svg In Spanish: Condado de Erie (Nueva York) para niños

National Hispanic Heritage Month on Kiddle
Famous Hispanic activists
Rodolfo Gonzales
Ernesto Galarza
César Chávez
Oscar Zeta Acosta
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