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Buffalo Basics


As New York State’s second largest city, Buffalo boasts a metropolitan area population of nearly 1.2 million and is considered the cultural and economic center of the Western New York region. Situated on the eastern shores of Lake Erie at the head of the Niagara River (and just 17 miles from Niagara Falls), Buffalo was once a bustling city famous for its steel and grain mills, automotive plants and status as a Great Lakes shipping hub.

Founded in 1789, this once-small trading post prospered with the opening of the Erie Canal. Serving as the western terminus, Buffalo was a quintessential 19th century boomtown. Its prime positioning made it the gateway to the West for both western-bound goods and immigrants searching for the heartland. Around 1900, Buffalo was the eighth largest city in the United States. With the bustle of East Coast canal boats and railroads meeting Great Lakes cargo, Buffalo and its citizens became very rich.

It was during this time that the dynamic architecture Buffalo is now known for began to take shape. Those who brought their diverse architectural visions to the Buffalo area, and sprinkled their modern designs among Victorian houses and lavish mansions, include early twentieth century visionaries such as Frank Lloyd Wright, Louis Sullivan, H. H. Richardson and Frederick Law Olmsted. Today, residents are tireless in their efforts to preserve the architectural collection, which includes six houses by Wright.

The Buffalo of today is best known for world-famous architecture and art galleries. It offers visitors a wide range of engaging activities and experiences—from athletics (the locals love their professional sports teams—the NFL’s Buffalo Bills and the NHL’s Sabers) to modern art, big city–caliber dining (it’s the birthplace of the namesake chicken wing), and, of course, architectural ogling. If you can swing it, try to visit Buffalo in the summer, when three months of glorious, mostly sunny, dry days offer a much needed respite from its cold and snowy winters.

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