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Buffalo (Template:IPAc-en) is the second most populous city in the state of New York, after New York City.[1] Located in Western New York on the eastern shores of Lake Erie and at the head of the Niagara River across from Fort Erie, Ontario, Buffalo is the seat of Erie County[2] and the principal city of the Buffalo-Niagara Falls metropolitan area, the largest in Upstate New York. Downtown Buffalo is located 17 miles (27 km) south of Niagara Falls. Buffalo itself has a population of 261,310 (2010 Census) and the Buffalo–Niagara–Cattaraugus Combined Statistical Area is home to 1,215,826 residents.

Originating around 1789 as a small trading community near the eponymous Buffalo Creek,[3] 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 United States,[4] and went on to become a major railroad hub,[5] and the largest grain-milling center in the country.[6] The latter part of the 20th Century saw a reversal of fortunes: Great Lakes shipping was rerouted by the opening of the St. Lawrence Seaway, and steel mills and other heavy industry relocated to places such as China.[7] With the start of Amtrak in the 1970s, Buffalo Central Terminal was also abandoned, and trains were rerouted to nearby Depew, New York (Buffalo-Depew) and Exchange Street Station. By 1990 the city had fallen back below its 1900 population levels.[8]

Today, the region's largest economic sectors are health care and education,[9] and these continue to grow despite the lagging national and worldwide economies.[10] This growth has been maintained, in part, by major expansions of the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus[11] and The University at Buffalo.[12] The retail sector of the economy is strong with additional revenue from Canadian shoppers who wish to take advantage of the lower prices. A recent study showed that Buffalo's April 2011 unemployment rate of 7.6%[13] In 2010, Forbes rated Buffalo the 10th best place to raise a family in America.[14]

Name originEdit

In 1798, The Holland Land Company hired Theophile Cazenove of Philadelphia as its agent in the newly established hub for the area in nearby Batavia, NY. Cazenove then hired Joseph Ellicott, to survey the area and establish a village next to Buffalo Creek. Ellicott decided to utilize the spoke pattern for his new village, which he called "New Amsterdam", and centered it around Niagara Square. In 1800, residents of the small village decided they did not like the name "New Amsterdam" and decided it would be called "Buffalo". In 1808, the name was officially changed and the Village of Buffalo had 25 residents at the time.

Most popular accounts hold that the name "Buffalo" is a corruption of the French phrase beau fleuve, "beautiful river," a phrase said to have been exclaimed by French explorers upon seeing the Niagara River. This speculation, however, is contradicted by primary sources. French explorers actually referred to Buffalo Creek in print as Rivière aux Chevaux, "Horse River."[15] The earliest name origin theory to appear in print (1825) relates a story about stolen horsemeat being passed off as bison flesh, with the site of the illicit picnic henceforth remembered as "Buffalo," but the author who conveyed this tale expressed his skepticism.[16] What is clear is that there were no bison in the area; that the settlement of Buffalo took its name from Buffalo Creek;[17] and that Buffalo Creek first appeared on a map in 1759–1760.[18] Although the Beau Fleuve theory is the most appealing but least plausible theory among many, it is unlikely that Buffalo's true name origin can be conclusively established.

HistoryEdit

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Main article: History of Buffalo, New York

Prior to the Iroquois occupation of the region, the region was settled by the Neutral Nation. Later, the Senecas of the Iroquois Confederacy conquered the Neutrals. In 1804, Joseph Ellicott, a principal agent of the Holland Land Company, designed a radial street and grid system that branches out from downtown like bicycle spokes,[19] and is one of the few radial street plans in the US.Template:Citation needed During the War of 1812, on December 30, 1813,[20]Template:'[21] Buffalo was burned by British forces. On November 4, 1825 the Erie Canal was completed with Buffalo strategically positioned at the western end of the system. At the time, the population was about 2,400. The Erie Canal brought a surge in population and commerce which led Buffalo to incorporate as a city in 1832, with a population of about 10,000 people.

The City of Buffalo has long been home to African-Americans. An example is the 1828 village directory which listed 59 "Names of Coloured" heads of families.[22] In 1845, construction was begun on the Macedonia Baptist Church (commonly called the Michigan Street Baptist Church). This African-American church was an important meeting place for the abolitionist movement. On February 12, 1974 the church was added to the National Register of Historic Places. Abolitionist leaders such as William Wells Brown made their home in Buffalo.[23] Buffalo was also a terminus point of the Underground Railroad[24] with many fugitives crossing the Niagara River from Buffalo to Fort Erie, Ontario and 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.[25] 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, Jr. and engineer Robert Dunbar. The "Dart Elevator" enabled faster unloading of lake freighters along with the transshipment of grain in bulk from lakers to canal boats and, later on, rail cars.[25]

Abraham Lincoln visited Buffalo on February 16, 1861 on his trip to accept the presidency of the United States. During his visit, he stayed at the American Hotel on Main Street between Eagle Street and Court Street.[26] The Civil War years saw an increase in the population of Buffalo which grew from 81,029 to 94,210 by 1865. In addition to sending many soldiers to the Union effort, Buffalo manufacturers supplied important war material. For example, the Niagara Steam Forge Works manufactured turret parts for the ironclad ship USS Monitor.[26]

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Grover Cleveland served as Sheriff of Erie County (1871–1873), and was Mayor of Buffalo in 1882. He was later Governor of New York (1883–1885), 22nd President of the United States (1885–1889) and 24th President (1893–1897).

In May, 1896, the Ellicott Square Building opened. For the next 16 years, it was the largest office building in the world. It was named after the surveyor Joseph Ellicott.

At the dawn of the 20th Century, local mills were among the first to benefit from hydroelectric power generated via the Niagara River. The city got the nickname City of Light at this time due to the widespread electric lighting.[27] In 1881, Buffalo deployed the first electric street lights in the United States. 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.[28] City of Light (1999) was the title of Buffalo native Lauren Belfer's historical novel set in 1901, which in turn engendered a listing of real versus fictional persons and places[29] featured in her pages.

President William McKinley was shot and mortally wounded at the Pan-American Exposition in Buffalo on September 6, 1901. He 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.

An international bridge, known as the Peace Bridge, linking Buffalo to Fort Erie, Ontario was opened in 1927. The Buffalo Central Terminal, a 17-story Art Deco style station designed by architects Fellheimer & Wagner for the New York Central Railroad, was finished just weeks before the Wall Street Crash of 1929.

During World War II, Buffalo saw a period of prosperity and low unemployment due to its position as a manufacturing center.[30][31] The American Car and Foundry company, which manufactured railcars, reopened their Buffalo plant in 1940 to manufacture munitions during the war years.[32]

With the opening of the St. Lawrence Seaway in 1957, which cut the city off from valuable trade routes; deindustrialization; and the nation-wide trend of suburbanization; the city's economy began to deteriorate. Like much of the Rust Belt, Buffalo, which peaked at more than half a million people in the 1950s, has seen its population decline by almost 50 percent as industries shut down and people left for the suburbs or other cities.

Like other rust belt cities such as Flint, Michigan, 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. $4 billion was spent in 2007 compared to a $50 million average for the previous ten years.[33] New proposals and renovations are numerous, especially in the downtown core. As of 2008, the population has continued to decrease, despite the efforts of city officials. (See demographics section.)

The economy today is stable and the city's prosperity has increased significantly in the 21st century with the opening of several new hotels catering to tourists visiting nearby Niagara Falls and a new entertainment district along Elmwood Avenue, along with the opening of factories manufacturing environmentally conscious products.

Geography and climateEdit

File:BuffaloAvgTemps.png

GeographyEdit

Buffalo is located on the eastern end of Lake Erie, opposite Fort Erie, Ontario in Canada, and at the beginning of the Niagara River, which flows northward over Niagara Falls and into Lake Ontario.

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of Template:Convert. Template:Convert of it is land and Template:Convert of it is water. The total area is 22.66% water.

ClimateEdit

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Buffalo has a reputation for snowy winters, but it is rarely the snowiest city in New York State.[34] The region experiences a fairly humid, continental-type climate, but with a definite maritime flavor due to strong modification from the Great Lakes (Köppen climate classification "Dfb" — uniform precipitation distribution). The transitional seasons are very brief in Buffalo and Western New York.

Winters in Western New York are generally cold and snowy, but are changeable and include frequent thaws and rain as well. Winters can also be quite long in Western New York, usually spanning from mid-November to mid-March. Snow covers the ground more often than not from late December into early March, but periods of bare ground are not uncommon. Over half of the annual snowfall comes from the lake effect process and is very localized. Lake effect snow occurs when cold air crosses the relatively warm lake waters and becomes saturated, creating clouds and precipitation downwind. Due to the prevailing winds, areas south of Buffalo receive much more lake effect snow than locations to the north. The lake snow machine starts as early as mid-November, peaks in December, then virtually shuts down after Lake Erie freezes in mid-to-late January. The most well-known snowstorm in Buffalo's history, the Blizzard of '77, was not a lake effect snowstorm in Buffalo in the normal sense of that term (Lake Erie was frozen over at the time), but instead resulted from a combination of high winds and snow previously accumulated both on land and on frozen Lake Erie. Snow does not typically impair the city's operation, but can cause significant damage as with the October 2006 storm.

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.[35] Summers are marked by plentiful sunshine and moderate humidity and temperature. It receives, on average, over 65% of possible sunshine in June, July and August. Obscured by the notoriety of Buffalo's winter snow is the fact that 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, the Buffalo station of the National Weather Service has never recorded an official temperature of Template:Convert or more.[36] Rainfall is moderate but typically occurs at night. The stabilizing effect of Lake Erie 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.

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DemographicsEdit

Template:US Census population

City properEdit

Like most formerly industrial cities of the Great Lakes region, 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 and its population has declined in every year since. 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 current population is equivalent to its population in the year 1890, reversing 120 years of demographic change.

Although the trend is inconclusive at this time, current census estimates indicate the rate of population loss may be decelerating to a stable state. The 2008–2009 loss estimate is 50% less than the years prior, and is at less than 1% year-over-year loss. Whether this trend will continue will not be evident until next year's estimate.

At the 2005–2007 American Community Survey Estimates, the city's population was 53.8% White (48.7% non-Hispanic White alone), 41.1% Black or African American, 1.2% American Indian and Alaska Native, 2.0% Asian, 4.5% from some other race and 2.5% from two or more races. 8.3% of the total population was Hispanic or Latino of any race.[37]

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 7,205.8 people per square mile (2,782.4/km²). There are 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 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. The top 5 largest ancestries include German (13.6%), Irish (12.2%), Italian (11.7%), Polish (11.7%), and English (4.0%).[38]

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.

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Buffalo has very sizable populations of Irish, Italian, Polish, German, Jewish, Greek, Arab, African American, Indian, and Puerto Rican descent. Major ethnic neighborhoods still exist but they changed significantly in the second half of the 20th 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 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.[39] 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 areaEdit

Main article: Buffalo-Niagara Falls metropolitan area

As of 2006, Erie and Niagara Counties had a combined estimated population of 1,154,378.[40] The racial makeup of the area is 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 are under the age of 18 or over the age of 64, and the median age is 38. Of the total population, 82.88% have a high school diploma and 23.2% have obtained a Bachelor's degree. The median income for a household is $48,400 and the per capita income for the area is just under $39,000. Approximately 8% of the population is below the poverty line.

EducationEdit

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Public schoolsEdit

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 graduation rate is up to 52% in 2008, up from 45% in 2007, and 50% in 2006.[41] 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.[40] Buffalo has a magnet school system, featuring schools that attract students with special interests, such as 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 Buffalo; PS 32 Bennett Park Montessori; 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; Burgard Vocational High School; South Park High School and the Emerson School of Hospitality.

Buffalo is currently in the process of a $1 billion city school rebuilding plan.

Private schoolsEdit

The city is home to 47 private schools while the metropolitan region has 150 institutions. Most private schools have a Roman Catholic affiliation. There are schools affiliated with other religions such as Islam and Judaism. There are also nonsectarian options including The Buffalo Seminary (the only private, nonsectarian, all-girls school in Western New York state),[42] and Nichols School.

Complementing its standard function, the Buffalo Public Schools Adult and Continuing Education Division provides education and services to adults throughout the community.[43] In addition, the Career and Technical Education Department offers more than 20 academic programs, and is attended by about 6,000 students each year.[44]


Catholic schoolsEdit


Jewish schoolsEdit

Kadimah Jewish Day School

Islamic schoolsEdit

Post secondary educationEdit

Colleges and universitiesEdit

Listed below are institutions that have campuses in the city of Buffalo. Here is a complete list of all the colleges and universities in Western New York.

PrivateEdit

SUNYEdit

Buffalo is home to four State University of New York (SUNY) institutions. UB and Buffalo State are the largest institutions of their type in the system. The total enrollment of these 4 SUNY institutions combined is approximately 54,000 students in the area.

EconomyEdit

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HistoryEdit

Buffalo and the surrounding area were long involved in railroad commerce, steel manufacture, automobile production, aircraft/aerospace design and production, Great Lakes shipping, and grain storage. Most of these industries have left the city through the years. 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. As of the 1950 United States Census, Buffalo was the 15th largest city in the country, the nation's largest inland port (twelfth overall), second biggest rail center, sixth largest steel producer, and eighth largest manufacturer.[45]

The regional economy can now best be described as a mix of industrial, light manufacturing, high technology and service-oriented private sector companies. Instead of relying on a single industry or sector for its economic future, the region has taken a diversified approach that have the potential to create opportunities for growth and expansion in the 21st century.[46]

RaceEdit

On October 25, 2008 the United Nations released a report entitled "State of the World's Cities" in which the Buffalo-Niagara Falls area was specifically cited as having one of the worst rates of economic inequality in the world and that it was racially based. The report specifically stated "the report cited figures from western New York state, where 40 per cent of black, Hispanic and ethnically-mixed households earned less than $15,000 in 1999, as compared to 15 per cent of white households." [47] In addition, the United States Census department also released information placing the Buffalo-Niagara metro area, as the 8th most segregated area in America.[48]

EmploymentEdit

Overall, employment in Buffalo has shifted as its population has declined and manufacturing has left. Buffalo's 2005 unemployment rate was 6.6%, contrasted with New York State's 5.0% rate.[49] And 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.[50] Yet the area has recently seen an upswing in job growth as unemployment has dropped to only 4.9% in July 2007 from 5.2% in 2006 and 6.6% in 2005.[51] The area's manufacturing jobs have continued to show the largest losses in jobs with over 17,000 fewer than at the start of 2006. Yet other sectors of the economy have outdistanced manufacturing and are seeing large increases. Educational and health services added over 30,400 jobs in 2006 and over 20,500 jobs have been added in the professional and business (mostly finance) arena.[52]

Life sciencesEdit

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, Cleveland BioLabs and Upstate New York Transplant Services. The DNA samples used in The Human Genome Project were also collected from anonymous donors from Buffalo.

Entrepreneurial resources and life science business consultants accelerate the growth and development of emerging companies found within the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus and Upstate New York Region. For example, Buffalo BioSciences is a technology commercialization partner to the New York State Center of Excellence in Bioinformatics & Life Sciences and contributed to the launch and early success of Empire Genomics –- a firm based on research conducted at Roswell Park Cancer Institute by Dr. Norma Nowak enabling Template:Citation needed the delivery of personalized medicine.

BankingEdit

Buffalo is the headquarters of M&T Bank, a large regional bank with assets over $69B.[53] 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. Citigroup also has regional offices in Amherst, Buffalo's largest suburb. Buffalo has also become a hub of the debt collection industry.[54]

First Niagara Bank recently moved its headquarters to downtown Buffalo from nearby Lockport. First Niagara has branches from Buffalo to Albany, New York, and since September 2009 has had branches as far south as Pittsburgh. On September 10, 2009, First Niagara announced the relocation of its corporate headquarters from Lockport to downtown Buffalo. The company says facilities in Lockport will remain open and fully staffed.[55] First Niagara, which had been considering expanding into Western Pennsylvania for some time,[56] benefited from PNC Financial Services being required by the United States Department of Justice to sell off 50 National City branches in the Pittsburgh area and 11 more branches in and around Erie to competitors,[57] since the two banks had significant overlap in Western Pennsylvania and had potential antitrust issues in that area. First Niagara took advantage by buying 57 of the 61 National City branches from PNC that had to be divested after PNC acquired National City with funds from the $700 billion bailout plan after National City became a victim of the subprime mortgage crisis. The move affected the area by creating 200 more jobs, some in the Buffalo area.[58]

OtherEdit

Buffalo is home to Rich Products, one of the world's largest family-owned food manufacturers.[59] Labatt moved its US headquarters to Buffalo in May 2007.[60] 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 five bridges to Canada, the Buffalo area is one of the key eastern border crossing locations. Cheese company Sorrento Lactalis is also based in Buffalo.

New Era Cap Company, the largest sports-licensed headwear company in the United States, is based in Buffalo. It opened new headquarters in 2007 in the former Federal Reserve Building in downtown Buffalo.[61]

The Trico company operated three major manufacturing facilities but has since closed all of them and moved operations to Mexico. For many years, Buffalo was the nation's second largest rail center, after Chicago. Milk Bone dog biscuits are still manufactured in a small factory on the city's East Side.

Regionally based insurance companies also have maintained their headquarters in Buffalo, New York. There’s Merchants Insurance Group and Lawley Insurance. Merchants Insurance Group is a property and casualty insurance company that provides commercial, personal property and casualty insurance throughout the Northeast and North Central United States. Lawley Insurance provides commercial insurance, employee benefits, risk management and personal insurance.

Delaware North Companies are headquartered in Buffalo.[62]

Habasit, the global leader in conveyor belts has a manufacturing facility in Buffalo.[63]

Principal employersEdit

According to the City's 2010 Comprehensive Annual Financial Report,[64] the principal employers in the Buffalo Metropolitan Area as of June 30, 2010 are:

# Employer # of Employees
1 State of New York 16,755
2 University at Buffalo 10,010
3 Kaleida Health 10,000
4 United States of America 10,000
5 HSBC Bank USA 5,848
6 Buffalo Public Schools 5,389
7 Employer Services Corp. 5,380
8 Catholic Health System 5,191
9 County of Erie 4,775
10 M&T Bank 4,640

Largest private sector employers in Western New YorkEdit

The Buffalo Niagara Enterprise (BNE), "a nonprofit, private business development and regional marketing organization" has released a table containing the largest Private sector employers for Western New York - 2011. The list can be found on the BNE website HERE. This information is obtained from the Business First 2011 Book of Lists.

GovernmentEdit

Main article: Politics and Government of Buffalo, New York
File:Buffalo City Hall - 001.jpg

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At the municipal level, the City of Buffalo has a council made up of the mayor and nine councilmen. Buffalo also serves as the seat of Erie County with 6 of the 15 county legislators representing at least a portion of Buffalo. At the state level, there are three state assemblymen and two state senators representing parts of the city proper. At the federal level, Buffalo is represented by three members of the House of Representatives.

In a trend common to Northern "Rust Belt" regions, political life in Buffalo has been dominated by the Democratic Party for the last half-century, and has been roiled by racial division and social issues. The last time anyone other than a Democrat held the position of Mayor in Buffalo was 1954.[65] In 1977, Democratic Mayor James D. Griffin was first elected as the nominee of two minor parties, the Conservative Party and the Right to Life Party, after he lost the Democratic primary for Mayor to then Deputy State Assembly Speaker Arthur Eve. Griffin switched political allegiance several times during his 14 years as Mayor, generally hewing to socially conservative platforms. His successor, Democrat Anthony M. Masiello (elected in 1993) continued to campaign on social conservatism, often crossing party lines in his endorsements and alliances. In 2005, however, Democrat Byron Brown was elected the city's first African-American mayor in a landslide (64%-27%) over Republican Kevin Helfer, who ran on a conservative platform.

This change in local politics was preceded by a fiscal crisis in 2003 when years of economic decline, a diminishing tax-base, and civic mismanagement left the city deep in debt and teetering on the edge of bankruptcy. At the urging of New York State Comptroller Alan Hevesi, the state took over the management of Buffalo's finances, appointing the Buffalo Fiscal Stability Authority. Conversations about merging the city with the larger Erie County government were initiated the following year by Mayor Tony Masiello, but came to naught.

CityscapeEdit

NeighborhoodsEdit

Buffalo consists of 33 different neighborhoods: (A map and listing of the neighborhoods from the University at Buffalo) Allentown, Bailey-Lovejoy, Black Rock, Central Park, Clinton-Bailey, Cold Springs, Delaware District, Downtown, East Side, Elmwood Village, Fillmore-Leroy, First Ward, Fruit Belt, Hamlin Park, Hospital Hill, Humboldt Park, Kaisertown, Kenmore, Kensington, Kensington Heights, Lower West Side, Masten Park, North Buffalo, North Park, Parkside, Polonia/Broadway Fillmore, Riverside, Schiller Park, South Buffalo, the Tonawandas (North, City and Town), University District, University Heights, Vernon Triangle, Upper West Side, and Willert Park.

According to the American Planning Association the Elmwood Village neighborhood in Buffalo is ranked the third best neighborhood in America.[66] Elmwood Village[67] is a pedestrian-oriented, mixed use neighborhood with hundreds of small, locally owned boutiques, shops, restaurants, and cafes.

There are currently 9 common council districts in The City of Buffalo. They are: Delaware, Ellicott, Fillmore, Lovejoy, Masten, Niagara, North, South, and University.

ParksEdit

Main article: Buffalo, New York parks system
File:Buffalo Botanical Gardens.jpg

One of Buffalo's many monikers is the City of Trees, which describes the abundance of green in the city. In fact, Buffalo has more than 20 parks with multiple ones being 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. Begun 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.

WaterfrontEdit

File:Buffalo New York aerial view.jpg

Situated at the confluence of Lake Erie and the Buffalo 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.

As of 2009, a significant portion of Buffalo's waterfront is being transformed into a focal point for social and recreational activity. Recently excavated and rewatered is the Erie Canal Commercial Slip, which is the original western terminus of the Erie Canal System. This is intended to revitalize the original Erie Canal Harbor, with shops, eateries,and high-rise condominiums planned. Buffalo's intent is to stress its relatively architectural and historical heritage, creating a tourism destination.

Standard of livingEdit

The loss of traditional jobs in manufacturing, rapid suburbanization and high costs of labor have led to economic decline, making Buffalo one of the poorest amongst U.S. cities with populations of more than 250,000 people. An estimated 28.7-29.9% of Buffalo residents live below the poverty line, behind either only Detroit[68], or only Detroit and Cleveland.[69] Buffalo's median household income of $27,850 is third-lowest among large cities, behind only Miami and Cleveland; however the median household income for the metropolitan area is $57,000.[70]

This, in part, has led to the Buffalo-Niagara Falls metropolitan area having the most affordable housing market in the U.S. today. The quarterly NAHB/Wells Fargo Housing Opportunity Index (HOI) noted that nearly 90% of the new and existing homes sold in the metropolitan area during the second quarter were affordable to families making the area's median income of $57,000. The area median price of homes was $75,000.Template:Citation needed

Buffalo faces issues with vacant and abandoned houses, as the city ranks second only to St. Louis on the list of American cities with the most vacant properties per capita. Since 2000, the city has torn down 2,000 vacant homes but as many as 10,000 still remain. Mayor Byron W. Brown recently unveiled a $100 million, five-year plan to demolish 5,000 more houses.[71] The city's move away from heavy industry and toward a service and bioinformatics economy Template:Citation needed has brought improved air and water quality, which benefit not only residents and tourists but the bioregion as a whole. In July 2005, Reader's Digest ranked Buffalo as the third cleanest large city in the nation.[72]

File:Buffalo City Scene.jpg

CultureEdit

NicknamesEdit

"The Queen City", Buffalo's most common moniker, first appeared in print in the 1840s, referring to the city's status as the second largest city in New York State after New York City. "The Queen City" was also used during the 19th century to describe Buffalo as the second largest American city on the Great Lakes after Chicago. Buffalo has also been called The Nickel City due to the appearance of a bison on the back of Indian Head nickel in the early part of the 20th century. The City of Good Neighbors refers to the helpful, friendly spirit of its inhabitants.[73] In the early 20th century, the city began calling itself the City of Light'


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