1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Buffalo (city)
BUFFALO, a city and port of entry, and the county-seat of Erie county, New York, U.S.A., the second city in population in the state, and the eighth in the United States, at the E. extremity of Lake Erie, and at the upper end of the Niagara river; distant by rail from New York City 423 m., from Boston 499 m., and from Chicago 540 m.
The site of the city, which has an area of 42 sq. m., is a broad, undulating tract, rising gradually from the lake to an elevation of from 50 to 80 ft., its altitude averaging somewhat less than 600 ft. above sea-level. The high land and temperate climate, and the excellent drainage and water-supply systems, make Buffalo one of the most healthy cities in the United States, its death-rate in 1900 being 14.8 per thousand, and in 1907 15.58. As originally platted by Joseph Ellicott, the plan of Buffalo somewhat resembled that of Washington, but the plan was much altered and even then not adhered to. Buffalo to-day has broad and spacious streets, most of which are lined by trees, and many small parks and squares. The municipal park system is one of unusual beauty, consisting of a chain of parks with a total area of about 1030 acres, encircling the city and connected by boulevards and driveways. The largest is Delaware Park, about 365 acres, including a lake of 461 acres, in the north part of the city; the north part of the park was enclosed in the grounds of the Pan-American Exposition of 1901. Adjoining it is the Forest Lawn cemetery, in which are monuments to President Millard Fillmore, and to the famous Seneca chief Red Jacket (1751–1830), a friend of the whites, who was faithful when approached by Tecumseh and the Prophet, and warned the Americans of their danger; by many he has been considered the greatest orator of his race. Among the other parks are Cazenovia Park, Humboldt Park, South Park on the Lake Shore, and “The Front” on a bluff overlooking the source of the Niagara river; in the last is Fort Porter (named in honour of Peter B. Porter), where the United States government maintains a garrison.
Principal Buildings.—Buffalo is widely known for the beauty of its residential sections, the houses being for the most part detached, set well back from the street, and surrounded by attractive lawns. Among the principal buildings are the Federal building, erected at a cost of $2,000,000; the city and county hall, costing $1,500,000, with a clock tower 245 ft. high; the city convention hall, the chamber of commerce, the builders’ exchange, the Masonic temple, two state armouries, the Prudential, Fidelity Trust, White and Mutual Life buildings, the Teck, Star and Shea’s Park theatres, and the Ellicott Square building, one of the largest office structures in the world; and, in Delaware Park, the Albright art gallery, and the Buffalo Historical Society building, which was originally the New York state building erected for the Pan-American Exposition held in 1901. Among the social clubs the Buffalo, the University, the Park, the Saturn and the Country clubs, and among the hotels the Iroquois, Lafayette, Niagara and Genesee, may be especially mentioned. There are many handsome churches, including St Joseph’s (Roman Catholic) and St Paul’s (Protestant Episcopal) cathedrals, and Trinity (Protestant Episcopal), the Westminster Presbyterian, the Delaware Avenue Baptist, and the First Presbyterian churches.
Education.—In addition to the usual high and grammar schools, the city itself supports a city training school for teachers, and a system of night schools and kindergartens. Here, too, is a state normal school. The university of Buffalo (organized in 1845) comprises schools of medicine (1845), law (1887), dentistry (1892), and pharmacy (1886). Canisius College is a Roman Catholic (Jesuit) institution for men (established in 1870 and chartered in 1883), having in 1907 a college department and an academic (or high school) department, and a library of about 26,000 volumes. Martin Luther Seminary, established in 1854, is a theological seminary of the Evangelical Lutheran Church. Among the best-known schools are the Academy of the Sacred Heart, Buffalo Seminary, the Franklin and the Heathcote schools, Holy Angels and St Mary’s academies, St Joseph’s Collegiate Institute, and St Margaret’s school for girls. The Buffalo public library, founded in 1837, is housed in a fine building erected in 1887 (valued at $1,000,000), and contains about 300,000 books and pamphlets. Other important libraries, with the approximate number of their books, are the Grosvenor (founded in 1859), for reference (75,000 volumes and 7000 pamphlets); the John C. Lord, housed in the building of the Historical Society (10,620); the Law (8th judicial district) (17,000); the Catholic Institute (12,000); and the library of the Buffalo Historical Society (founded 1862) (26,600), now in the handsome building in Delaware Park used as the New York state building during the Pan-American Exposition of 1901. The Buffalo Society of Natural Sciences has a museum in the public library building.
Public Institutions.—The hospitals and the charitable and correctional institutions are numerous and are well administered. Many private institutions are richly endowed. Among the hospitals are a state hospital for the insane, the Erie county, the Buffalo general, the Children’s, the United States marine (maintained by the Federal government), the German, the Homeopathic, the Women’s, the German Deaconess and the Riverside hospitals, and the Buffalo hospital of the Sisters of Charity. Nurses’ training schools are connected with most of these. Among the charitable institutions are the Home for the Friendless, the Buffalo, St Vincent’s and St Joseph’s orphan asylums, St John’s orphan home, St Mary’s asylum for widows and foundlings, and the Ingleside home for erring women. One of the most noteworthy institutions in the city is the Charity Organisation Society, with headquarters in Fitch Institute. Founded in 1877, it was the first in the United States, and its manifold activities have not only contributed much to the amelioration of social conditions in Buffalo, but have caused it to be looked to as a model upon which similar institutions have been founded elsewhere.
The first newspaper, the Gazette (a weekly), was established in 1811 and became the Commercial, a daily, in 1835. The first daily was the Courier, established in 1831. There were in 1908 eleven daily papers published, three of which were in German and two in Polish. The weekly papers include several in German, three in Polish, and one in Italian.
Government and Population.—Buffalo is governed under an amended city charter of 1896 by which the government is vested in a bicameral city council, and a mayor elected for a term of four years. The mayor appoints the heads of the principal executive departments (health, civil service, parks, police and fire). The city clerk is elected by the city council. The municipality maintains several well-equipped public baths, and owns its water-supply system, the water being obtained from Lake Erie. The city is lighted by electricity generated by the water power of Niagara Falls, and by manufactured gas. Gas, obtained by pipe lines from the Ohio-Pennsylvania and the Canadian (Welland) natural gas fields, is also used extensively for lighting and heating purposes.
From the first census enumeration in 1820 the population has steadily and rapidly increased from about 2000 till it reached 352,387 inhabitants in 1900, and 423,715 (20% increase) in 1910. In 1900 there were 248,135 native-born and 104,252 foreign-born; 350,586 were white and only 1801 coloured, of whom 1698 were negroes. Of the native-born whites, 155,716 had either one or both parents foreign-born; and of the total population 93,256 were of unmixed German parentage. Of the foreign-born population 36,720 were German, the other large elements in their order of importance being Polish, Canadian, Irish, the British (other than Irish). Various sections of the poorer part of the city are occupied almost exclusively by the immigrants from Poland, Hungary and Italy.
Communications and Commerce.—Situated almost equidistant from Chicago, Boston and New York, Buffalo, by reason of its favourable location in respect to lake transportation and its position on the principal northern trade route between the East and West, has become one of the most important commercial and industrial centres in the Union. Some fourteen trunk lines have terminals at, or pass through, Buffalo. Tracks of a belt line transfer company encircle the city, and altogether there are more than 500 m. of track within the limits of Buffalo. Of great importance also is the lake commerce. Almost all the great steamship transportation lines of the Great Lakes have an eastern terminus at Buffalo, which thus has direct passenger and freight connexion with Cleveland, Detroit, Chicago, Milwaukee and the “Head of the Lakes” (Duluth-Superior). With the latter port it is connected by the Great Northern Steamship Company, a subsidiary line of the Great Northern railway, the passenger service of which is carried on by what are probably the largest and finest inland passenger steamships in existence. The tonnage of the port of Buffalo is considerably more than 5,000,000 tons annually. With a water front of approximately 20 m. and with 8 to 10 m. of wharfs, the shipping facilities have been greatly increased by the extensive harbour improvements undertaken by the Federal government. These improvements comprise a series of inner breakwaters and piers and an outer breakwater of stone and cement, 4 m. in length, constructed at a cost of more than $2,000,000. Another artery of trade of great importance is the Erie Canal, which here has its western terminus, and whose completion (1825) gave the first impetus to Buffalo’s commercial growth. With the Canadian shore Buffalo is connected by ferry, and by the International bridge (from Squaw Island), which cost $1,500,000 and was completed in 1873.
It is as a distributing centre for the manufactured products of the East to the West, and for the raw products of the West to the East, and for the trans-shipment from lake to rail and vice versa, that Buffalo occupies a position of greatest importance. It is one of the principal grain and flour markets in the world. Here in 1843 Joseph Dart erected the first grain elevator ever constructed. In 1906 the grain elevators had a capacity of between twenty and thirty millions of bushels, and annual receipts of more than 200,000,000 bushels. The receipts of flour approximate 10,000,000 barrels yearly. More than 10,000,000 head of live stock are handled in a year in extensive stock-yards (75 acres) at East Buffalo; and the horse market is the largest in America. Other important articles of commerce are lumber, the receipts of which average 200,000,000 ft. per annum; fish (15,000,000 ℔ annually); and iron ore and coal, part of which, however, is handled at Tonawanda, really a part of the port of Buffalo. Buffalo is the port of entry of Buffalo Creek customs district; in 1908 its imports were valued at $6,708,919, and its exports at $26,192,563.
Manufactures.—As a manufacturing centre Buffalo ranks next to New York among the cities of the state. The manufactures were valued in 1900 at $122,230,061 (of which $105,627,182 was the value of the factory product), an increase of 22.2% over 1890; value of factory product in 1905, $147,377,873. The value of the principal products in 1900 was as follows: slaughtering and meat packing, $9,631,187 (in 1905 slaughtering and meat-packing $12,216,433, and slaughtering, not including meat-packing, $3,919,940); foundry and machine shop products, $6,816,057 (1905, $11,402,855); linseed oil, $6,271,170; cars and shop construction, $4,513,333 (1905, $3,609,471); malt liquors, $4,269,973 (1905, $5,187,216); soap and candles, $3,818,571 (in 1905, soap $4,792,915); flour and grist mill products, $3,263,697 (1905, $9,807,906); lumber and planing mill products, $3,095,760 (1905, $4,186,668); clothing, $3,246,723 (1905, $4,231,126); iron and steel products, $2,624,547. Other industrial establishments of importance include petroleum refineries, ship-yards, brick, stone and lime works, saddlery and harness factories, lithographing establishments, patent medicine works, chemical works, and copper smelters and refineries. Some of the plants are among the largest in existence, notably the Union and the Wagner Palace car works, the Union dry docks, the steel plants of the Lackawanna Iron and Steel Company, and the Larkin soap factory.
History.—The first white men to visit the site of Buffalo were undoubtedly the adventurous French trappers and various Jesuit missionaries. Near here, on the east bank of the Niagara river at the mouth of Cayuga Creek, La Salle in 1679 built his ship the “Griffin,” and at the mouth of the river built Fort Conti, which, however, was burned in the same year. In 1687 marquis de Denonville built at the mouth of the river a fort which was named in his honour and was the predecessor of the fortifications on or near the same site successively called Fort Niagara; and the neighbourhood was the scene of military operations up to the close of the War of Independence. As early as 1784 the present site of the city of Buffalo came to be known as “the Buffalo Creek region” either from the herds of buffalo or bison which, according to Indian tradition, had frequented the salt licks of the creek, or more probably from an Indian chief. A little later, possibly in 1788–1789, Cornelius Winney, an Indian trader, built a cabin near the mouth of the creek and thus became the first permanent white resident. Slowly other settlers gathered. The land was a part of the original Phelps-Gorham Purchase, and subsequently (about 1793) came into the possession of the Holland Land Company, being part of the tract known as the Holland Purchase. Joseph Ellicott, the agent of the company, who has been called the “Father of Buffalo,” laid out a town in 1801–1802, calling it New Amsterdam, and by this name it was known on the company’s books until about 1810. The name of Buffalo Creek or Buffalo, however, proved more popular; the village became the county-seat of Niagara county in 1808, and two years later the town of Buffalo was erected. Upon the outbreak of the second war with Great Britain, Buffalo and the region about Niagara Falls became a centre of active military operations; directly across the Niagara river was the British Fort Erie. It was from Buffalo that Lieutenant Jesse D. Elliott (1782–1845) made his brilliant capture of the “Detroit” and “Caledonia” in October 1812; and on the 30th and 31st of December 1813 the settlement was attacked, captured, sacked, and almost completely destroyed by a force of British, Canadians and Indians under General Sir Phineas Riall (c. 1769–1851). After the cessation of hostilities, however, Buffalo, which had been incorporated as a village in 1813, was rapidly rebuilt. Its advantages as a commercial centre were early recognized, and its importance was enhanced on the opening up of the middle West to settlement, when Buffalo became the principal gateway for the lake routes. Here in 1818 was rebuilt the “Walk-in-the-Water,” the first steamboat upon the Great Lakes, named in honour of a famous Wyandot Indian chief. In 1825 the completion of the Erie Canal with its western terminus at Buffalo greatly increased the importance of the place, which now rapidly outstripped and soon absorbed Black Rock, a village adjoining it on the N., which had at one time threatened to be a dangerous rival. In 1832 Buffalo obtained a city charter, and Dr Ebenezer Johnson (1786–1849) was chosen the first mayor. In that year, and again in 1834, a cholera epidemic caused considerable loss of life. At Buffalo in 1848 met the Free-Soil convention that nominated Martin van Buren for the presidency and Charles Francis Adams for the vice-presidency. Grover Cleveland lived in Buffalo from 1855 until 1884, when he was elected president, and was mayor of Buffalo in 1882, when he was elected governor of New York state. The Pan-American Exposition, in celebration of the progress of the Western hemisphere in the nineteenth century, was held there (May 1-November 2, 1901). It was during a reception in the Temple of Music on the Exposition grounds that President McKinley was assassinated (September 6th); he died at the home of John G. Milburn, the president of the Exposition. In the house of Ansley Wilcox here Vice-President Theodore Roosevelt took the oath of office as president. A marble shaft 80 ft. high, in memory of McKinley, has been erected in Niagara Square.
See William Ketchum, History of Buffalo (2 vols., Buffalo, 1864–1865); H. P. Smith, History of Buffalo and Erie County (Syracuse, 1884); Publications of the Buffalo Historical Society (Buffalo, 1879 et seq.); O. Turner, History of the Holland Purchase (Buffalo, 1850); T. H. Hotchkin, History of Western New York (New York, 1845); and the sketch in Lyman P. Powell’s Historic Towns of the Middle States (New York, 1901).