Buffalo, located at the eastern end of Erie Lake and the southern head of the Niagara River, is a major connection between the United States and Canada. With a city population of 232,648 and a metropolitan population of 1.2 million people, it is the second largest city in New York state. Buffalo was incorporated in 1832 shortly after the completion of the Erie Canal that connected the city to the western territories and Great Lakes shipping. With the opening of the St. Lawrence Seaway in 1957, cutting off traditional trade routes, Buffalo's fortunes changed. Local industrial development slowed, jobs were lost that prompted an almost 50% decrease in population.
In recent years, Buffalo has been transitioning from industrial to a cultural, banking, education and medical research city. A few smaller steel mills remain in operation and Ford Motor and Chevrolet both maintain operations in the area. Buffalo is known for the invention of the windshield wiper by the Trico Company, which still operates there. With the establishment of a consortium known as the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus, biotech development in the area has become a major employer. Members of the consortium include the Buffalo Hearing & Speech Center, Buffalo Medical Group Foundation, Hauptman-Woodward Medical Research Institute, Kaleida Health, the Olmsted Center for the Visually Impaired and Upstate New York Transplant Services.
Along with economic development the city has worked to expand social and recreational opportunities in the area. Starting with the premier Olmsted Park and Parkway System that is the hallmark of Buffalo’s many green spaces, the city boasts 8 connecting parkways, 6 major parks, and 7 smaller spaces. The Buffalo park system is maintained by the Buffalo Olmsted Parks Conservancy and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
The Buffalo area's cuisine reflects its diverse population of Italian, Jewish, German, Polish, and Greek immigrants who first came to the city to find work. Some of the locally-known dishes are Beef on Weck, Wardynski's kielbasa, Sahlen's hot dogs, sponge candy, pierogi, haddock fish fries, a loganberry-flavored beverage, and of course the now-widespread Buffalo Chicken Wings, first served at the Anchor Bar in 1963. Buffalo's many ethnic neighborhoods also contain an eclectic collection of cafes and restaurants that serve adventurous cosmopolitan fare.
Buffalo is home to over 50 private and public art galleries like Hallwalls Contemporary Arts Center, Albright-Knox Art Gallery and the Burchfield-Penney Art Center. Street fairs take place through the spring and summer months, such as the Allentown Art Festival and the Elmwood Festival of the Arts, that bring thousands of people to the city to browse and purchase original crafts. Innovative and timely architecture can be found throughout the city, most notably the designs of Frank Lloyd Wright. Some of these are the George Barton House, the William Heath House, and Graycliff Estate. Other city attractions include the Buffalo Zoo, Buffalo Museum of Science, and the Buffalo and Erie County Botanical Gardens.