Buffalo, New York

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Buffalo, New York, located on the eastern end of Lake Erie, has a population of 300,717 (1998). It is at the beginning of the Niagara River which flows northward, over the Niagara Falls and into Lake Ontario. The Buffalo-Niagara Falls Metropolitan Statistical Area has a population of 1,152,541 (1998), which makes it the second largest city in New York state after New York City itself.

The first European settlement in what is now Erie County was in 1758 by the French at the mouth of Buffalo Creek. It was destroyed a year later because of an impending English attack.

The first American to settle in Buffalo was Cornelius Winney in 1796. By 1811, 500 people were living in the village of Buffalo.

Upon the completion of the Erie Canal in 1825, Buffalo became the western end of the 524-mile waterway starting at New York City, and the population of the city boomed. Buffalo became a city in 1832.

Several U.S. presidents are connected to Buffalo history. Millard Fillmore took up permanent residence in Buffalo in 1822 before he became president. Grover Cleveland lived in Buffalo from 1854 until 1882, and became mayor of the city. William McKinley was shot on Sept. 5, 1901 at the Pan-American Exposition in Buffalo, and died in Buffalo on Sept. 14. With over half a million people, and many immigrants from Ireland, Italy, Germany and Poland, Buffalo was one of the major cities of the United States at the time.

Buffalo was one of the ends of the Underground Railway, an informal series of safe houses for runaway slaves from the South. After hiding at the Michigan Avenue Baptist Church, the slaves would take a ferry to Fort Erie, Canada, and to their freedom.

A good way to see Buffalo is from the observation deck at the top of the 30-story City Hall. Buffalo has the third-oldest zoo in the United States, the Albright-Knox Art Gallery, and Kleinhans Music Hall, known for its acoustical qualities.

The heavy snowfalls of the region are caused by below-freezing winds blowing over the warmer water of Lake Erie. Often the meandering "snow belts" are only ten or fifteen miles wide, with sun shining in one spot, and a raging blizzard occurring only a mile or two away.

The world-famous Buffalo chicken wings were invented in a Buffalo bar (The Anchor Bar) in 1964.