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Buffalo Information

A number of theories abound as to how the city of Buffalo, New York, got its name. It is purported that the name was bestowed by early French explorers who found vast numbers of buffalo on the southern shore of Lake Erie, but not everyone agrees that buffalo existed on the banks of Buffalo Creek. Other theorists believe that a Seneca Indian who lived on a stream in the area had physical characteristics like a buffalo or perhaps his name meant buffalo. If so, English settlers to the area would have naturally started calling the stream Buffalo's Creek.

A third theory is that an interpreter mistakenly translated a Native American word wrongly. Rather than using the word beaver, the interpreter pronounced the word buffalo, which would have been an easy mistake since both words are very similar in the original language. Even with all the speculation, however, sources recently made available tend to verify that the term Buffalo Creek was being commonly used by 1764 on the Niagara Frontier. This finding would seem to indicate that the name probably originated between 1759 and 1764 and was given by an English-speaking person.

The Iroquois Indians inhabited the region before it was colonized. French settlers who came in contact with this tribe called the natives Neutrals because of their helpfulness in mediating with other tribes when disputes arose.

The western portion of New York was granted to the Duke of York by Charles II of England. The French had a presence there until the French and Indian War was won by the British in 1763. During the spring of 1780, Seneca Indian refugees were moved by the British to villages on Buffalo Creek. Later, investors from Holland bought the area from the Senecas and then sold parcels beginning in 1801.

In 1804, Buffalo was designed with a radial street system that resembles bicycle spokes. There are only two other similar systems in the United States. During the War of 1812, most of Buffalo was burned to the ground but was gradually rebuilt. The year 1825 was monumental for the city when the Erie Canal was completed, making Buffalo the western ending point of the 524-mile-long waterway that begins at New York City.

A number of presidents called Buffalo home at some point. Sadly, William McKinley was shot at the Pan-American Exposition in September of 1901 and died in Buffalo a week later.

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