Buffalo Wings, Niagara Falls and home to some of the greatest American architecture of the late 19th and early 20th centuries is the little I knew of the City of Buffalo, New York when I accepted the invitation to participate in one of IBM’s Smarter Cities Challenges.
There appears to be some debate as to how the city acquired its name but originating around 1789 as a small trading community near the eponymous Buffalo Creek, by 1900, Buffalo was the 8th largest city in the United States and went on to become a major railroad hub, and the largest grain-milling center in the country. The latter part of the 20th century saw a reversal of fortunes: Great Lakes shipping was rerouted by the opening of the St Lawrence Seaway, and steel mills and other heavy industry relocated to places such as China. With the start of Amtrak in the 1970s, Buffalo Central Terminal was abandoned, and trains were rerouted to nearby Depew, New York (Buffalo-Depew) and Exchange Street Station. By 1990 the city had fallen back below its 1900 population levels.
Today, the region’s largest economic sectors are health care and education, and these continue to grow . This growth has been maintained, in part, by major expansions of the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus and the University at Buffalo, The State University of New York. In 2010, Forbes rated Buffalo the 10th best place to raise a family in America.
Although I have the furthest to travel, I am the first to arrive at what will be home for the next 3 weeks – a historic neighborhood in the City of Buffalo, with some beautiful homes and cool architecture.
The challenge begins!