The American Cyclopædia (1879)/Buffalo (N. Y.)

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1888253The American Cyclopædia — Buffalo (N. Y.)J. N. Larned

BUFFALO, a city, port of entry, and the capital of Erie county, N. Y., at the E. extremity of Lake Erie, at the head of Niagara river, and at the mouth of Buffalo river (formerly called Buffalo creek), in lat. 42° 53′ N., lon. 78° 55′ W., about 265 m. W. of Albany and 293 m. N. W. of New York. The site is a plain, which from a point about 2 m. distant from the lake slopes gently to the water's edge. The uplands com- mand an extensive prospect of the lake and river, and afford beautiful situations for sub- urban residences. The city has a water front of about 2½ m. on the lake, and of the same extent on Niagara river. A portion of the river front is a bold bluff 60 ft. high. Buffalo has one of the finest harbors on the lakes. It is formed by the Buffalo river, a small stream, which is navigable for one mile from its mouth. The entrance is protected by a breakwater which is 1,500 ft. long, upon the S. side of the river. A breakwater has likewise been constructed in Niagara river upon the N. side of Buffalo river, by which a new and capacious harbor has been made. In 1869 the United States government began the construction of a capacious outside harbor by building a breakwater designed to be 4,000 ft. long, fronting the entrance to Buffalo river, at the distance of about half a mile from the shore. Nearly half of the breakwater had been completed in 1872. In addition, there is a large number of slips and basins for the accommodation of shipping and canal boats. The entrance to the harbor and the approaches from the river are defended by a small fortification called Fort Porter, situated on the heights N. of the city.—Buffalo ranks 11th in point, of population among the cities in the United States. The rapid increase of population is shown as follows: 1810, 1,508; 1820, 2,095; 1830, 8,653; 1840, 18,213; 1850, 42,261; 1860, 81,129; 1870, 117,714. Of the total population in 1870, 71,477 were of native and 46,237 of foreign birth; of the latter, 22,249 were born in Germany, 11,264 in Ireland, 4,554 in England and Scotland, 4,174 in British America, 2,232 in France, and 612 in Switzerland.—Buffalo has many attractions as a place of residence. Its summer climate is delightful; an almost perpetual breeze from the west fans the eastern shore of Lake Erie. The average mean temperature of the three summer months for five years from 1867 to 1871 was 70.3° F. The average mean temperature of the year for the same period was 47.98°. According to a report on vital statistics for 1872, Buffalo was the healthiest city in the United States, the death rate being only 13.9 per 1,000. The streets are generally broad, lined with shade trees, and cross each other at right angles. The plan of the city introduces many squares and public places. The private residences are generally neat and tasteful. The business portion lies near the lake and river. A superb public park, or system of parks, has been designed and laid out by Frederick Law Olmsted, the architect of the Central park in New York city. The land taken for park purposes embraces about 530 acres; it is divided into three plots situated in the western, northern, and eastern parts of the city, with broad boulevards connecting them, forming a continuous drive of nearly 10 miles. The construction of the park was begun in 1871. The prominent public buildings are: the United States custom house and post office, a large freestone edifice of plain style, at the corner of Washington and Eagle streets, in which also the United States district court is held; the state arsenal, a handsome turreted structure of stone, in Batavia street; the Erie county penitentiary, a capacious building of brick and stone; the state armory, in Virginia street, a large plain edifice of brick; and the general hospital, of which only one wing has yet been erected. The most notable church edifices are St. Paul's cathedral (Episcopal), fronting Pearl street, built of red sandstone in the early English style; and St. Joseph's cathedral (Roman Catholic), in Franklin street, of blue stone with white stone trimmings, in the ornamental Gothic style, and having a chime of 42 bells. Several of the bank buildings of the city are costly and imposing edifices, especially those of the Erie County, the Buffalo City, and the Western savings banks. A court house and city hall of granite, fronting Franklin street, is in process of construction, which will cost nearly $1,000,000. The state has undertaken the erection of an asylum for the insane at Buffalo, the corner stone of which was laid in 1872; it is designed to be the largest institution of its kind in the United States, if not in the world. The building will have a front of about 2,700 ft. The grounds attached to it embrace 203 acres, and are laid out in harmony with the plan of the Buffalo park, which they adjoin. The construction of a bridge across the Niagara river was completed in 1873. Four of the principal streets of the city, Main, Niagara, Genesee, and Batavia, have horse railroads, which are under the control of one company. The Main and Niagara street lines are each about 4 m. long and have double tracks. Buffalo is the western terminus of the Erie canal, and of the New York Central railroad and two of its branches to Niagara Falls and Lockport; it is the main western terminus of the Erie railway, with a branch road from West Corning and one to Niagara Falls. It is the eastern terminus of the Lake Shore and Michigan Southern railway; of the Buffalo and Lake Huron branch of the Grand Trunk railway of Canada; and of the nearly completed Canada Southern railway, and “loop line” of the Great Western railway of Canada. The Buffalo, New York, and Philadelphia, and Buffalo, Jamestown, and Titusville railroads will give the city direct connections with middle and western Pennsylvania; and the Midland and the New York and Chicago air-line railroads, now in progress, will both be added in a few years to the railroad system of which Buffalo is the focus.—The position of Buffalo at the foot of the great chain of lakes gives it a marked commercial importance. The board of trade was established in 1844 and incorporated in 1857. For many years the business of the city was almost wholly confined to shipping and forwarding. Since about 1862, however, its lake and canal commerce has declined in relative importance, owing to the increased traffic of the railroads; and manufacturing enterprise has taken the lead. The grain trade of Buffalo forms the most important item of its commerce. The facilities for handling and storing grain are unsurpassed. The first grain elevator built on the lakes was erected at Buffalo by Joseph Dart in 1843. In 1873 there were 32 elevators at the port, with an aggregate storage capacity of 7,415,000 bushels, and with a capacity for transferring 2,883,000 bushels per day. Many of these elevating warehouses are costly structures of stone, or of iron and brick, or of wood with corrugated iron sheathing. The following table shows the receipts of flour and grain for 1871:

ARTICLES. By Lake and
 G. T. Railway. 
 By Lake Shore 

Flour, bbls.  1,278,077 1,437,736   2,715,743

Wheat, bush. 22,606,217 1,379,000  23,985,217
Corn, bush. 26,110,769 10,256,600  36,367,369
Oats, bush.  9,006,409 5,674,850  14,681,259
Barley, bush.  1,946,923 204,200   2,151,123
Rye, bush.  1,095,039 98,200   1,193,239

 Total grain, bush.  60,765,357 17,612,850  78,378,207
Equivalent of flour  6,390,035 7,188,680  13,578,715

Grand total, bush. 67,155,392 24,801,530  91,956,922
Grand total, 1872 62,260,332 23,000,000   85,260,332 

The aggregate receipts of grain (including flour) by lake at Buffalo in each decade, from 1836 to 1872, were as follows: 1836 to 1845, 41,851,483 bushels; 1846 to 1855, 174,717,437; 1856 to 1865, 432,390,318; 1866 to 1872, 379,207,797. The shipments of grain and flour by canal for four years ending 1872 were as follows:

ARTICLES. 1869. 1870. 1871. 1872.

Flour, bbls. 51,928  76,471  47,731  5,172

Wheat, bush. 16,363,480  16,738,613  19,028,316  11,001,069
Corn, bush. 7,816,960  5,911,668  20,695,305  30,934,606
Oats, bush. 3,983,046  5,572,254  6,649,439  4,598,237
Barley, bush. 82,429  830,024  825,420  1,729,772
Rye, bush. 76,792  378,322  986,517  210,705

Total grain, bus.  28,322,707  29,430,881  48,184,997  48,474,389
Equiv. of flour 259,640  385,355  238,655  25,860

Total  28,582,347   29,813,236   43,423,652   48,500,249

The exports of grain from elevators by the Erie and New York Central railroads for two years were:

ARTICLES. 1871. 1872.

Wheat, bush.  2,636,170  2,440,551
Corn, bush. 4,320,591  3,032,160
Oats, bush. 1,658,718  1,227,247
Barley, bush. 416,001  396,082
Rye, bush. 18,750  4,825

Total  9,045,140   7,100,865

Including the amount shipped by railroad without passing through the elevators, about 25,000,000 bushels, the total exports of grain amounted to 82,235,000 bushels in 1871 and 80,575,254 in 1872. The imports and exports by canal in 1872 were:


Tons. Value. Tons. Value.

Forest products 3,467  $40,006  347,659   $13,626,415
Animal products 187  68,387  52  17,219
Agricultural products  2,337  122,441  1,324,441  33,497,548
Manufactures 101,513  3,026,151  564  62,769
Merchandise 161,560  25,431,107  367  126,611
Other articles 430,846  3,490,793  101,962  5,542,194

Total, 1872 699,916  32,178,888  1,774,996  52,855,537
Total, 1871 538,593  23,124,220  1,742,157  69,466,629
Total, 1870  533,849   29,591,501   1,303,904  37,333,208

The traffic in live stock which centres at Buffalo, from the western states and from Canada, is second in magnitude only to the grain trade, and is increasing more rapidly. Large yards, well sheltered, paved, and watered, and cleanly kept, have been built in the eastern suburbs of the city, by the New York Central railroad company, for the accommodation of this traffic. The receipts for a series of years were:

YEARS.  Cattle. Sheep. Hogs. Total

1860 156,972 145,354 85,770  382,096   
1863 154,789 474,849 91,128  720,766   
1865 212,839 207,208 300,014  720,061   
1866 275,091 341,560 552,831  1,169,482   
1867 257,872 239,943 607,440  1,105,255   
1868 265,105 385,815 470,578  1,121,498   
1869 347,871 381,450 794,272  1,528,593   $47,932,000
1870 388,057 561,447 739,519  1,644,023    51,545,116
1871 384,294 551,131 886,014  1,821,439    47,560,935
1872  379,086   606,748   1,450,109   2,486,943    45,914,593

The receipts of horses during 1868 were 7,737; 1869, 12,088; 1870, 7,896; 1871, 13,319; 1872, 20,780. Yearly increasing quantities of anthracite and bituminous coal from the Pennsylvania mines are brought to Buffalo as the most favorable point for shipment and distribution, both westward and eastward. Extensive improvements have been made by the Delaware and Hudson canal company, and by the Buffalo Creek railway company, to facilitate the transshipment of coal; and the greater part of the peninsula south of Buffalo river is now occupied for the purpose. The receipts and shipments of coal for ten years were:

YEARS.   Received by 
 Received by 
 Received by 
 Shipped by 

  Tons. Tons. Tons. Tons.
1862 84,523  96,772   28,947
1863 71,323 135,770   20,125
1864 65,224 189,451   30,043
1865 68,141 186,290   28,283
1866 68,142 310,888   50,202
1867 101,108  290,842   57,495
1868 91,457 391,949   59,766
1869 99,460 221,886 227,000 62,690
1870 94,796 340,464 300,000 65,900
1871 88,517 187,846 360,000 60,522
1872 78,879 286,494 496,000 53,198

Of the total receipts in 1872, 520,994 tons were anthracite, 240,379 bituminous, and 100,000 semi-bituminous coal. The coal trade of Buffalo will be largely increased by the completion of the Buffalo, New York, and Philadelphia railroad, which was opened to the Pennsylvania state line in the summer of 1872, and was terminated in December, 1872, at Emporium, on the line of the Philadelphia and Erie railroad. It will be still further augmented by a new railroad commenced in 1872, from Buffalo to Titusville, via Jamestown, which will form a direct connection with the railway system of western Pennsylvania. The lumber and timber trade of Buffalo is of considerable importance, although want of harbor and storage room has driven much of it to Tonawanda, on the Niagara river, about ten miles below Buffalo. The imports and exports in 1872 were:

ARTICLES.  Imports by 
Imports by
Exports by

Lumber, ft. 1,431,791  204,976,754  147,519,461 
Timber, cub. ft.  811,200    4,200,000 
Shingles No.   16,039,300  21,175,000 
Staves, lbs. 12,000   (No.) 22,647,000   (lbs.) 196,303,895 

The following is an official report of the tonnage of the district of Buffalo Creek, port of Buffalo, June 30, 1872:

CLASSES.  No.   Tonnage. 

Sailing vessels   95 35,278
Steam vessels 120 49,975
Barges  12  2,726
Canal boats 499 57,137

Total  726  145,116 

There has been a marked decrease in the number of vessels entering and clearing at this port since 1862. In that year the total number of entrances and clearances was 16,390; in 1864, 14,105; in 1866, 13,528; in 1868, 11,744; in 1870, 10,625; and in 1872, 10,303. The entrances and clearances for the year ending Dec. 31, 1872, were:


No. Tons. No. Tons.

Foreign Ports:        
American vessels  744  466,163  706  464,559
Foreign vessels 449  50,591  435  49,766
Coastwise 3,935  1,800,790  4,034  1,846,789

 Total  5,128   2,317,544   5,175   2,360,514

The total value of the imports from Canada for the year ending June 30, 1872, was $2,625,993; domestic exports, $328,843; foreign exports, $8,993. In 1870 Buffalo was made a port of entry for imports from Europe which are transported in bonded cars from eastern seaports.—Since about 1860 the manufacturing interests of Buffalo have been rapidly increasing, manufactures of iron taking the lead. Among the iron-making and iron-working establishments in operation in 1871 were 3 blast furnaces, 2 large rolling mills, 1 nail manufactory, 16 engine works, 5 boiler works, 4 stove and hollow ware founderies, 4 steam forges, 4 manufactories of bolts and nuts, 1 car wheel foundery, 1 chain manufactory, 3 edge tool factories, 1 malleable iron foundery, 1 saddlery hardware factory, 3 builders' hardware factories, 1 iron pipe foundery, 3 general founderies, 1 scale factory, and 2 safe factories, employing altogether over 5,000 men. There were also 18 tin, copper, and sheet-iron manufactories, 5 brass founderies, 5 manufactories of agricultural machinery, 37 furniture and furniture frame factories, 40 carriage and wagon shops, 5 railroad car shops, 10 boot and shoe factories, 11 tanneries, 14 barrel factories, 1 starch factory, and many other manufacturing establishments. Malting and brewing, for which the climate and situation of Buffalo are highly favorable, are extensively carried on. In 1871, 41 breweries produced 176,299 barrels of beer, ale, and porter; and 5 distilleries distilled 1,583,137 gallons of highwines from 437,267 bushels of grain. The number of malting houses (exclusive of those attached to breweries) was 25, with an aggregate capacity for malting 1,250,000 bushels per annum. In 1872, 11 flour mills, with a yearly capacity of 878,000 barrels of flour, were in operation; and there were three gas-light companies, one of which first brought into public use in the United States the oxygen and hydrogen gas light.—Wooden ship building, which was formerly largely carried on at Buffalo, has much declined, but iron ship building is rising into importance. Two of the large iron works of the city have so far constructed all the iron steam vessels that have been put upon the lakes, including 10 of the largest and finest steamers afloat, and have also constructed several iron revenue cutters for government service on the Atlantic coast. In 1872 there were built 54 vessels of 9,645 tons, including 29 canal boats of 3,586 tons. In 1873 Buffalo contained 3 national banks, with an aggregate capital of $550,000; 6 state banks acting under special charters, with a capital of $1,950,000; and 5 savings banks, 4 of which had an aggregate of 46,844 depositors and $13,828,491 deposits. The city is provided with 3 commodious and handsome market houses, each of which is the centre of a busy trade.—The government is vested in a mayor, a common council comprising 26 members, 2 from each of the 13 wards, a comptroller, city attorney, street commissioner, treasurer, superintendent of education, city engineer, overseer of the poor, and 3 assessors, all of whom are elected by the people for a term of two years. The president of the council, the comptroller, and the city engineer constitute a board of health. The police department, under the control of a board of three commissioners, of which the mayor is the head, comprises a force of 174 men. The fire department consisted in 1873 of 8 steam fire engines, 6 hose companies, 3 volunteer hook and ladder companies, and 1 volunteer protection company. The fire alarm telegraph comprised 70 m. of wire, 68 signal stations, and 27 alarm gongs. The water works are under the control of a board of three commissioners. Water is obtained from the Niagara river through a tunnel which penetrates nearly to the middle of the river. In 1873, 67 m. of street mains had been laid. The elevated parts of the city are supplied by forcing machinery on the Holley system, which was brought into use in 1870. The total debt of the city in 1872 was $4,450,659; the property of the city was valued at $3,442,287. The total expenditures for the year were $1,545,031, including a general tax of $1,042,612, and $502,419 from local assessments. The assessed valuation of property subject to taxation, about one third of the actual value, has been:

YEARS.  Real. Personal. Total.

1866  $25,492,000   $6,517,410   $32,009,410
1867 25,868,210  7,730,030  33,598,240
1868 28,807,940  10,755,175  39,563,115
1869 29,359,788  7,156,475  36,516,263
1870 30,289,215  7,350,835  37,640,050
1871 30,838,530  6,547,575  37,386,105
1872 31,990,095  6,247,775  38,237,870

The charitable institutions of the city are numerous. The Buffalo orphan asylum (Protestant), organized in 1835, is provided with a commodious and well arranged building in Virginia street. The St. Vincent's female orphan asylum (Catholic), corner of Batavia and Ellicott streets, is under the care of the Sisters of Charity, who also superintend a capacious and well fitted hospital in Main street, adjacent to the Buffalo medical college. The St. Joseph's boys' orphan asylum, at Lundstone hill, is another large establishment founded by the Roman Catholic church. Connected with it is a reformatory institution of excellent character and reputation. The church charity foundation (Episcopal) in Rhode Island street, near Niagara, embraces a home for aged and destitute females founded in 1858, and an orphan ward opened in 1866. The St. John's orphan home at Sulphur Springs, in the suburbs of the city, founded in 1865, is under the auspices of the Evangelical Lutheran church. The Ingleside home, a well sustained charity, with an excellent building in Seneca street, presented by George W. Tefft, is designed for the reclamation of erring women, and has been very successful since the organization in 1869. The home for the friendless in Seventh street, near Maryland, gives assistance to girls and women who are friendless and strangers in the city. Among other important charities may be mentioned the St. Mary's deaf mute asylum (Catholic) and the St. Mary's asylum for widows, foundlings, and infants (Catholic), in Edward street; the Magdalen asylum (Catholic), in Best street; the Providence insane asylum (Catholic), in Main street; the St. Francis hospital, in Pine street; the Buffalo general hospital, in High street; the Firemen's benevolent association; the Hebrew union benevolent association; the Buffalo association for the relief of the poor; the St. George's benevolent society; the United Evangelical St. Stephen's benevolent society; the machinists' and blacksmiths' benevolent association; two allopathic and one homœopathic free dispensary; and a homœopathic hospital, founded in 1872.

Buffalo, from the spire of the Presbyterian Church in Delaware street.

—The public schools are under the charge of a superintendent of education. The city is divided into 36 school districts, each containing a graded school, to several of which one or two subordinate primary schools are attached, making altogether 43 district schools. Four public orphan asylum schools are also maintained. On completing the course of study in the graded schools, pupils may enter the central school, a large academic institution, in which the sciences, the classics, and modern languages are taught. In 1872 the total number of teachers in the public schools was 353; pupils, 21,808; average term registration, 14,625. During most of the autumn and winter months evening schools are maintained in 10 or 12 of the public school buildings, and are attended by 2,000 to 2,500 pupils. The state has established here a normal school, which was opened in 1871. Canisius college, founded by the Jesuit fathers in 1870, affords instruction in the higher range of classical and philosophical studies. In September, 1872, a handsome new building, constructed of brick with stone facings, was opened in Washington street, near Tupper. In 1872 there were 12 instructors and 86 students in the collegiate department. A preparatory and an elementary school are connected with the college. St. Joseph's college, on the terrace in the rear of St. Joseph's cathedral, conducted by the Christian Brothers, had 400 pupils in 1873. On the same square, in Franklin and Church streets, is the St. Mary's academy and industrial school for girls, which had 295 pupils in 1873. The Heathcote school, in Pearl street, is a classical academy established under the patronage of the Protestant Episcopal church. The Martin Luther college is a small seminary for the education of young men intended for the ministry in the Lutheran church. The medical college of the university of Buffalo, the Buffalo female academy, and the academy of the Holy Angels (Roman Catholic) are among the other educational institutions of the city. The young men's association has a circulating library of more than 25,000 volumes, and owns real estate valued at from $150,000 to $200,000, including St. James hall, the most popular audience room in the city, in which the regular winter lectures of the association are held. The large library building of the association, adjacent to the hall, is also occupied by the Buffalo historical society, the society of natural sciences, the academy of fine arts, and the mechanics' institute. The historical society has accumulated a large library and cabinet. The society of natural sciences possesses a very complete and valuable collection of minerals, presented by Charles Wadsworth, a good botanical and conchological cabinet, and a complete set of Prof. Ward's fossil casts. The academy of fine arts has been put upon a firm footing by a recent endowment, and is rapidly founding a very fine gallery of painting and sculpture. The mechanics' institute is building up a good library, and is in a flourishing condition. The young men's Christian union, the German young men's association, and the Catholic young men's association are founding libraries for the use of their members. The Grosvenor library is a public library for reference, founded by a bequest of Seth Grosvenor of New York. It was opened in 1871, and contained in 1873 about 10,000 volumes, chiefly important books not easy of access elsewhere. The foundation fund of the library is ample to make it in a few years one of the foremost of its character in the country.—There are published in the city 9 daily newspapers, 5 in English and 4 in German; 10 weeklies, of which 3 are religious and sectarian; and 7 monthlies. There are 76 churches, viz.: 18 Roman Catholic, 11 German Lutheran and Evangelical, 10 Episcopal, 10 Methodist, 9 Presbyterian, 8 Baptist, 4 Mission, 2 Jewish, 1 French Protestant, 1 Unitarian, 1 Universalist, and 1 Friends'. The Forest Lawn cemetery, in the suburbs of the city, contains 75 acres.—Buffalo was founded by the Holland land company, which owned a large tract of land in western New York, in 1801. It became a military post in 1812 during the war between the United States and England, and in 1814 was burned by a force of Indians and British. After the close of the war the village was rebuilt, and it was incorporated as a city in 1832. Its growth was not rapid until the opening of the Erie canal in 1825, which gave a great impetus to western emigration, to the settlement and development of the northwest, and to travel and traffic on the lakes. Buffalo then became the distributing centre of the trade between the east and the west. In 1853 Black Rock, a village on the Niagara river 2 m. below Buffalo, was incorporated with it.