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Collier's New Encyclopedia (1921)/Buffalo (city)

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BUFFALO, city and county-seat of Erie co., N. Y., second city in population and importance in New York. It is built at the E. end of Lake Erie, at the head of the Niagara river, 20 miles above the Falls. It is the W. terminus of the Erie canal, and has a navigable water front of 8 miles, with numerous piers, breakwaters, basins and canals, giving it one of the finest harbors on the lakes and making it a great commercial center. The city is connected by several steamship lines with the chief lake ports, and by ferries with Victoria and Fort Erie, on the Canadian side. The International Bridge, costing $1,500,000 and completed in 1873, connects Buffalo with these towns. Area, 42 square miles; pop. (1890) 255,664; (1900) 352,387; (1910) 423,715; (1920) 506,775.

Topography.—Buffalo is situated on an elevated plain, 50 feet above the lake and 600 feet above sea-level. From this plain the ground slopes gradually to the lake. It is bordered on three sides by water, the Niagara river, Lake Erie, and Buffalo river. Buffalo river is navigable for 2 miles, and two canals pass between the river and the lake. The city is noted for its wide and beautiful streets, and the abundance of shrubbery and trees decorating them. The principal streets are Main, Niagara, Delaware, Broadway, and Linwood and Elmwood avenues, 120 feet wide, and all over 5 miles in length.

Municipal Improvements.—The city owns an extensive waterworks system, costing $9,000,000. The water is distributed through 600 miles of mains. The sewerage system has about 525 miles of pipe, and the sewage is carried off, by means of a tunnel, into the Niagara river. The city is lighted by gas and electricity. Much natural gas, piped from Pennsylvania and Canada, is used for heating and manufacturing purposes. There are more than 225 miles of street railways and a steam belt-line connects with the suburbs.

Public Parks.—Buffalo has an extensive park system. There are several attractive parks and squares in the business portions of the city, among them Lafayette, Niagara, and Franklin. Lafayette square contains the Soldiers' and Sailors' Monument, erected at a cost of $50,000, and the Buffalo Library. A portion of the Niagara river front rises in an abrupt bluff and is known as The Front. It affords a grand view in all directions and is the site of Fort Porter, where several companies of United States troops are stationed. The Parade Ground is one of the principal parks and contains 50 acres of land.

Notable Buildings.—The principal public buildings are the Federal Building, containing the Postoffice and Custom House, a large building of freestone; the State Arsenal; the Board of Trade Building; the Old and New Armories; Grosvenor Library; Normal School; two public high schools; Erie County and Buffalo Savings Banks; the Erie County Penitentiary; and the City and County Hall. The latter is of granite with a tower 245 feet high, situated in Franklin street, completed in 1880 at a cost of about $1,400,000. Besides these, there is the Buffalo Library, in Lafayette Square, containing a circulating library of 77,000 volumes, and, in the same building, are the Buffalo Historical Society, the Buffalo Fine Arts Society and School of Arts, and the Society of National Sciences. The State Insane Asylum has a plot of 203 acres and adjoins the Buffalo Park. Other notable structures are the numerous grain elevators. Buffalo is one of the greatest grain shipping cities of the United States and contains some of the largest grain elevators in the world. The first elevator in the world was built at Buffalo in 1843.

Commerce.—Buffalo has had an astonishing industrial growth. Its location at the eastern terminus of transportation on the Great Lakes has made it an important station on the highway connecting the growing West with the eastern seaboard. It is one of the world's greatest ports, and despite the fact that navigation on the Great Lakes is limited to about eight months of the year, the city stands eighth in tonnage among the ports of the world. Clearances are issued to 10,000 vessels annually. The grain receipts in 1919 totaled 93,627,867 bushels. Receipts of coal over water routes were 69,805, tons; copper, 52,501 tons; pig iron, 2,650 tons; merchandise, 113,937 tons; stone flux, 960,337 tons; iron ore, 4,837,981 tons; lumber, 16,374,708 feet. In addition to the foregoing, there is the tremendous tonnage of the railroads, operating twelve months in the year instead of eight, but for which only fragmentary statistics are available, it being impossible to obtain from the railroads the record which would make such a computation possible. Additional great quantities of grain are received by rail, together with an enormous coal tonnage and miscellaneous freight amounting to millions of tons. Buffalo is also one of the country's most important live-stock markets, receipts for 1919 including 9,522 cars of cattle, 7,993 of hogs, 3,156 of sheep, 773 of horses, and 4,535 mixed cars. The importance of the city as a killing and packing center is seen in the comparison of the foregoing figures with the shipment from Buffalo for the same period, which amounted to 5,582 cars of cattle and 3,223 hogs. The stockyards are the second largest in the world. It is the first sheep market in the country and the second horse market. It is also the world's largest lumber market.

Manufactures.—As a manufacturing center, Buffalo ranks ninth among the cities of the United States. It is known as the “City of Diverse Industries,” producing in quantities 58 per cent. of all the different lines of goods recognized by the U. S. Census Bureau. It is one of the most extensive producers of pig iron in the world, having over 20 large blast furnaces with a combined annual capacity of between 2,000,000 and 3,000,000 tons. It has the largest dye plant in the country. It produces one-third of the nation's linseed oil. There are 2,500 manufacturing plants employing 75,000 men and women. The principal industries are steel, pig iron, coke, flour, tanning, wall board, linseed oil, dyes, automobiles, rubber, benzol, cereals, lumber, copper, brass, leather, soap, and packing products.

Banking.—There are sixteen banks, with a combined capital of $18,300,000, and surplus and profits amounting to $20,332,427, with total deposits of $245,766,717. The savings-banks deposits, Jan. 1, 1920, were $126,247,413. The bank clearances for 1919 were $1,655,366,659. There are 27 savings and loan associations.

Education.—There are 66 public schools, with an enrolment of 65,265 pupils, and 62 parochial schools, with an average attendance of 30,000. There are 5 high schools, 4 vocational schools, 1 training school, 1 normal school of practice, and 1 opportunity school. There are 2,700 teachers and employees. In addition, there are many night and vacation schools. Higher education is afforded by the University of Buffalo, Canisius College, and Holy Angels Academy. The public library has 400,000 volumes, and 4,500 pamphlets, and over 130,000 individual borrowers made use of its circulating department in 1919. The Grosvenor Library has 136,000 volumes. Other institutions are the Buffalo Historical Society, the Society of Natural Sciences, and the Buffalo Fine Arts Academy. The city has the largest night school attendance of any city of its size in the world.

Churches.—There are 260 churches in Buffalo, many of them with beautiful structures. Noteworthy edifices are Trinity (Protestant Episcopal), the First Presbyterian, and St. Joseph's Cathedral (Roman Catholic), which has the largest carillon in the United States and the third largest in the world. Hospitals and charitable institutions are the Buffalo State Hospital, Children's Hospital, Erie Hospital, General Hospital, Homeopathic Hospital, Lexington Heights Hospital, Providence Retreat, Riverside Hospital, and Women's Hospital; the Home for the Friendless, Orphan Asylum, St. Vincent's Orphanage for Girls, Church Home for Aged Women, St. Mary's Asylum for Widows and Foundlings, Home for Erring Women, State Asylum for the Insane, Fitch Institute, and St. Mary's Institution for Deaf Mutes.

Finances.—The funded debt of the city, June 30, 1920, was $45,034,719. The total assessed realty valuation was $608,175,115. The ratio of assessed valuation to market value was 100 per cent. There is an excellent police force numbering 800, and a fire department numbering 915. The total number of city employees including laborers was 7,865. There are more than 600 miles of paved streets. The mileage of street railways was 223.40 and the passengers carried annually were 191,200,048. There are 610 miles of water mains and 568 miles of sewers. The birth rate per 1,000 was 26.70 and the death rate 15.30.

Government.—The city is under the commission form of government, which went into operation Jan. 1, 1916. The commission consists of the mayor and four councilmen, and in these all executive, administrative and legislative power is vested. The term of office of each member is four years. The government of the city is divided into five major departments, designated as the Department of Public Safety; Department of Finance and Accounts; Department of Public Works; Department of Parks and Public Buildings, and Department of Public Affairs. The Mayor in 1920 was George S. Buck.

History.—The site of Buffalo was first visited by the French, under La Salle, in 1679. In 1687 a settlement was made by Baron La Honton and Fort Supposé was erected. It was held by the British as Fort Erie during 1783-1784, and was incorporated as the village of Buffalo and soon afterward burned by the British, in 1813. It was rebuilt in 1815; but its progress was slow until the completion of the Erie canal in 1825. It became a city in 1832 and since then it has been very prosperous. During 1901 the Pan-American Exposition was held in Buffalo. Here on September 6, Pres. McKinley was assassinated. The exposition was a brilliant affair, but not successful financially.