In Depth How Buffalo was named remains a mystery, although the site has never been called anything else. Ironically there have never been buffalo in Buffalo; even the shaggy beasts at the Buffalo Zoo are technically North American bison. One theory blames the misnomer on a mispronunciation of the French beau fleuve, or “beautiful river.” The river in question is the Niagara.

The French explorer Robert La Salle paddled his canoe down the Niagara River in 1628. A small French settlement was established in 1758. It was burned by the British the following year, but the settlers held fast. Joseph Ellicott informed them in 1800 that the Holland Land Co. had bought the land. Ellicott mapped out plans for a town to be called New Amsterdam, patterned after Washington, D.C.

The town was built, but residents insisted on calling it Buffalo. Put to the torch again by the British during the War of 1812, the town was quickly reconstructed.

In 1818 the first Great Lakes steamboat, Walk-on-the-Water, was built, the first of two major events that turned a small village into a major city in only 16 years.

The second event was the opening of the Erie Canal in 1825. By connecting numerous trade and transportation routes, the canal made Buffalo the nucleus of the shipping trade between the Great Lakes region, Canada and the eastern United States. Ten years later the addition of railroads to Buffalo's transportation network boosted the city's growth potential even higher.

Buffalo's major industries include glass, rubber, plastics, electronics, and airplane and automobile manufacturing. High technology has emerged as a viable successor to the city's endangered heavy industries.

Buffalo has produced important people as well. Two of its residents, Millard Fillmore and Grover Cleveland, became president. Fillmore is buried in Forest Lawn Cemetery. Theodore Roosevelt was sworn in at the Wilcox Mansion on Delaware Avenue after President William McKinley's assassination at the city's Pan-American Exposition in 1901.

Samuel Clemens, a resident in the 1870s, was editor of the Buffalo Express. Authors F. Scott Fitzgerald and Joyce Carol Oates; musicians Ani DiFranco, Rick James, and Goo Goo Dolls; and actors Christine Baranski and Wendie Malick also called the Buffalo area home. Other former Buffalo residents include William G. Fargo of the Wells Fargo stagecoach line, as well as the inventors of the windshield wiper, the pacemaker and the electric chair.

Frank Lloyd Wright left his mark on Buffalo with Frank Lloyd Wright's Martin House Complex . Some say it is one of his best examples of prairie architecture. Wright also designed Martin's summer retreat, Graycliff, in nearby Derby, and the Fontana Boathouse at 1 Rotary Row. Although it was designed by Wright in 1910, the boathouse wasn't built until 2007.

Other noteworthy architectural features include several parks designed by landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted; opulent Gilded Age mansions on Delaware Avenue's Millionaires Row; and their polar opposite, enormous grain elevators on the Buffalo River that influenced modern architecture.

Buffalo can aptly be called a college town; its 18 higher educational facilities range in curriculum from liberal arts to business to vocational training. The State University of New York, University at Buffalo is the largest university in the state.

The Buffalo AKG Art Museum, Kleinhans Music Hall, Shea's Performing Arts Center and other cultural centers balance industrial practicality with aesthetic appreciation.

At stadiums and arenas, cheering the local teams is almost a prerequisite for citizenship in a town known for its enthusiasm at sporting events. If you're looking for fun things to do with kids, take them to a game. Buffalo teams cover all the bases: the NHL's Buffalo Sabres and the NFL's Buffalo Bills are the city's major league professional sports teams. Baseball fans can attend games by minor leaguers the Buffalo Bisons, while soccer enthusiasts can cheer on FC Buffalo. There's also a lacrosse team (Buffalo Bandits) and a women's ice hockey team (Buffalo Beauts). Celebrate a win at Anchor Bar & Restaurant with a plateful of Buffalo wings doused in its secret hot sauce.

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Buffalo, NY

Top AAA Diamond Hotels

AAA’s in-person hotel evaluations are unscheduled to ensure the inspector has an experience similar to that of members. To pass inspection, all hotels must meet the same rigorous standards for cleanliness, comfort and hospitality. These hotels receive a AAA Diamond designation that tells members what type of experience to expect.

Members save up to 10% and earn Honors points when booking AAA/CAA rates!

Hilton Garden Inn Buffalo Downtown

10 Lafayette Square. Buffalo, NY 14203

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Hyatt Regency Buffalo Hotel and Conference Center

2 Fountain Plaza. Buffalo, NY 14202

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Members save 5% or more and earn Marriott Bonvoy™ points when booking AAA/CAA rates!

Buffalo Marriott at LECOM Harborcenter

95 Main St. Buffalo, NY 14203

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Save 5% or more when booking AAA/CAA rates plus earn bonus points with the AAA Preferred™ BWR Program

Best Western Plus Galleria Inn & Suites

601 Dingens St. Cheektowaga, NY 14206

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Travel Information

City Population



680 ft.

Sales Tax

The sales tax in Buffalo is 8.75 percent. There also is a 3-5 percent tax levied on lodgings and a 6 percent tax on rental cars.



Police (non-emergency)

(716) 851-4444

Time and Temperature

(716) 844-4444


Buffalo General Medical Center, (716) 859-5600; Erie County Medical Center, (716) 898-3000; Mercy Hospital, (716) 826-7000; Sisters of Charity Hospital-St. Joseph Campus, (716) 891-2400.

Visitor Information

403 Main St. Buffalo, NY 14203. Phone:(716)852-0511 or (800)283-3256

Air Travel

Buffalo Niagara International Airport

Rental Cars

Hertz, (716) 632-4763 or (800) 654-3080, offers discounts to AAA members.

Rail Service

Amtrak has two connecting stations: one at Exchange Street near the junction of Main and Seneca streets and another on Dick Road, in Depew.


Greyhound Lines Inc. operates out of the Ellicott Street Bus Terminal downtown; phone (716) 855-7532 or (800) 231-2222. For New York Trailways information phone (800) 295-5555 or (800) 858-8555.


Cab companies include Airport Taxi Service, (716) 633-8294, and Queen City Taxi, (716) 874-5050. The base rate is $2.30 at flag drop plus $3 per mile.

Public Transportation

The major Metro bus routes operate daily 5 a.m. to midnight. Service varies by route, but buses generally run every 20 minutes on weekdays. The base fare is $2; exact fare is required.

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