Western New York
|This article needs additional citations for verification. (August 2009)|
|Western New York|
Skyline of Buffalo
|Region||Western New York|
|Counties||Erie, Monroe, Niagara, Chautauqua, Ontario, Wayne, Cattaraugus, Livingston, Genesee, Allegany, Orleans, Wyoming|
|Cities||Buffalo, Rochester, Niagara Falls, Batavia, Jamestown, Lockport, Canandaigua, Tonawanda, Geneva|
|Timezone||Eastern Standard Time (UTC-5)|
|- summer (DST)||Eastern Daylight Time (UTC-4)|
|Area code||585, 716|
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|Regions of New York|
Western New York is the westernmost region of the state of New York. It includes the cities of Buffalo, Rochester, Niagara Falls, the surrounding suburbs, as well as the outlying rural areas of the Great Lakes lowlands, the Genesee Valley, and the Southern Tier. Some historians, scholars and others consider the western New York border to be at the Monroe–Orleans County line. However, many in the region consider western New York's easternmost county to be Wayne County.
Western New York consists of 12 western counties in New York State: Allegany, Cattaraugus, Chautauqua, Erie, Genesee, Orleans, Niagara, Wyoming, Monroe, Wayne, Livingston and Ontario, with a land area of 8,973 square miles (23,240 km2). Western New York can also be defined as the area of New York within the Buffalo and Rochester media markets. The Buffalo market covers the eight counties of the Holland Purchase (as well as two counties in Pennsylvania; each station varies slightly in its coverage) and the Rochester market covers from Wyoming County northeastward to Wayne County.
There is disagreement as to whether the term "Upstate New York" includes western New York—some consider "Upstate" to consist of all of New York State outside Long Island and the New York City metropolitan area (and thus include western New York), while others consider "Upstate" to include only the northern part of New York.
Western New York has three "sub-regions". The mountainous southern regions of Chautauqua, Cattaraugus, Allegany and Steuben counties make up a "sub-region" known as "The Southern Tier" or simply "The Southerntier" which can be considered part of Appalachia. This portion of western New York takes up most of the counties along the New York-Pennsylvania border. Another "sub-region" is the Niagara Frontier, the name of which dates back to America's Colonial period, when the area surrounding Lakes Erie and Ontario, as well as the Niagara River were the point of the colonies' furthest expansion. To this day, the "frontier" is sometimes defined as also including part of northeast Ohio, as well as Pennsylvania's Erie region. A third "sub-region" is the Genesee Valley region, which includes Genesee, Livingston, Monroe and Wyoming Counties as well as Steuben County (which is seldom defined as being part of western New York). A large portion of the Genesee Valley region is also considered part of the Finger Lakes region.
If it were counted as a single area, the population of western New York would number 2.5 million, or roughly the population of the entire Pittsburgh metropolitan area or the inner city of Toronto. However, the U.S. Census Bureau has classified the Buffalo and Rochester areas as two different metropolitan areas.
- Erie County, population 950,265
- Monroe County, population 735,343
- Niagara County, population 219,846
- Chautauqua County, population 139,750
- Ontario County, population 100,224
- Wayne County, population 93,609
- Cattaraugus County, population 83,955
- Livingston County, population 64,328
- Genesee County, population 60,370
- Allegany County, population 49,927
- Orleans County, population 44,171
- Wyoming County, population 43,424
The following cities are found in the 12 western counties:
The following villages are found in the 12 western counties:
Akron, Albion, Alden, Alexander, Alfred, Allegany, Almond, Andover, Angelica, Angola, Arcade, Attica, Avon, Barker, Belmont, Bemus Point, Bergen, Blasdell, Bloomfield, Bolivar, Brockport, Brocton, Caledonia, Canaseraga, Cassadaga, Castile, Cattaraugus, Celoron, Cherry Creek, Churchville, Clarence, Clifton Springs, Clyde, Corfu, Cuba, Dansville, Delevan, Depew, Dunkirk, East Aurora, East Randolph, East Rochester, Eden, Elba, Ellicottville, Fairport, Falconer, Farnham, Forestville, Franklinville, Fredonia, Gainesville, Geneseo, Gowanda, Hamburg, Hilton, Holley, Honeoye Falls, Kenmore, Lakewood, Lancaster, Le Roy, Leicester, Lewiston, Lima, Limestone, Little Valley, Livonia, Lyndonville, Lyons, Lockport, Macedon, Manchester, Mayville, Medina, Middleport, Mount Morris, Naples, Newark, North Collins, North Tonawanda, Nunda, Oakfield, Orchard Park, Palmyra, Panama, Perry, Perrysburg, Phelps, Pike, Pittsford, Portville, Randolph, Red Creek, Richburg, Scottsville, Sherman, Shortsville, Silver Creek, Silver Springs, Sinclairville, Sloan, Sodus, Sodus Point, South Dayton, Spencerport, Springville, Tonawanda, Victor, Warsaw, Webster, Wellsville, Westfield, Williamsville, Wilson, Wolcott, Wyoming and Youngstown.
Western New York has a humid continental climate heavily influenced by both Lake Erie and Lake Ontario. Winters are long and cold, often lasting from around mid-November to early April. There are often snows before and after that period, as well. Western New York is known for its lake effect snows, which can result in highly localized, sometimes intense and even historic snow events. Lake effect storms are a result of cold air blowing over warm lake waters. Lake effect snows are usually most active between November and February and typically diminish when Lake Erie freezes over. The Southern Tier normally receives the heaviest amount of snow in western New York during the winter. Spring and fall in western New York are usually short and changeable. The presence of the lakes allows for fruit growing and wine production along areas adjacent to both lakes which retard the development of damaging spring and fall frost, thereby extending the growing season. Lost in its famed winters, western New York summers are among the sunniest in the Northeast and are generally very pleasant. Thanks in part to breezes blowing over Lakes Erie and Ontario (which are usually cooler than the air temperature in the summer), most of western New York enjoy generally cooler and more comfortable summers than other regions in the same climatic zone.
Western New York is served by Interstate 90, Interstate 86 in the Southern Tier, and Interstate 390 (the former U.S. Route 15) in the Genesee Valley region. The Buffalo-Niagara Falls Metropolitan area is served by Interstate 190, Interstate 290 and Interstate 990. In addition to being served by Interstate 390, the Rochester Metro area is also served by Interstate 490 and Interstate 590. The planned expansion of the U.S. Route 219 Expressway from Buffalo through Cattaraugus County will provide another major thoroughfare in western New York.
Western New York has two airports that provide significant regular passenger service, Buffalo-Niagara International Airport and Greater Rochester International Airport. Buffalo-Niagara International Airport is the most patronized airport facility in western New York. While it primarily serves as the regional airport for the Buffalo-Niagara Falls Metropolitan Area, the facility doubles as a gateway to Canada, and a good portion of its passengers (33%) are Canadian. The airport acts as a third air facility for the Greater Toronto Area. The second major airport in western New York, Greater Rochester International Airport, does not see as much traffic as Buffalo-Niagara International Airport. Still, located just three nautical miles southwest of Downtown Rochester, the facility provides somewhat convenient access to airline service for many residents of the Rochester Metropolitan Area.
The northern part of western New York features four railroad stations in service on the Empire Corridor; Rochester, Buffalo-Depew, Buffalo-Exchange and Niagara Falls. The Buffalo-Exchange Street and Niagara Falls stations do not see as much rail service as the other two western New York stations due to the fact that west of Depew Station, Amtrak's Lake Shore Limited leaves the Empire Corridor en route to the Midwest. For a period of time, there were proposals to service these four stations with high-speed rail. A major objective of implementing high-speed rail service was to better connect western New York as well as the rest of Upstate New York with New York City. However, little of substance has come of these proposals.
Service to other parts of western New York ended from the mid-1960s to 1970. The Erie Lackawanna's Phoebe Snow served on a southeastern trajectory from Buffalo to Elmira, Binghamton, Scranton and Hoboken; service ended in 1966. The E-L's Lake Cities originated in Chicago, passing through western New York's Jamestown, then through the rest of the Southern Tier, Orange County and Hoboken; service ended in 1970. The Pennsylvania Railroad's the Buffalo Day Express was another route served western New York, traveling south to Baltimore via Olean and Harrisburg; service ended in 1967.
The Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority runs regular bus service throughout the Buffalo–Niagara Falls metropolitan area. The Rochester-Genesee Regional Transportation Authority serves Rochester and the Chautauqua Area Regional Transit System serves Chautauqua County. First Transit contracts with the Seneca Nation of Indians, the Olean Area Transit System and Access Allegany to provide public transportation to most of the Southern Tier.
In addition to the public transportation authorities, which provide limited intercity connections, several commercial intercity bus services also operate. Coach USA operates a loop service between Buffalo, Jamestown and Olean; the bus connects to a route to New York City in Olean and to Megabus service to Toronto and New York City in Buffalo. Fullington Trailways operates a daily rural route between Buffalo and various locations in Pennsylvania; New York Trailways also serves Buffalo and Rochester, connecting to various locations, as does Greyhound Bus Lines. One discount "Chinatown service" operates in Western New York; Ocean Travel runs an overnight express service between Buffalo, Rochester and New York City.
The territory of western New York, until the 17th century, held by the Neutral Nation in the northern Niagara region and the Wenrohronon and Erie Indians around the Allegheny River. The Seneca nation and their allies in the Iroquois Confederacy eliminated those tribes in wars during the Beaver Wars between 1638 and 1701, with any survivors being assimilated into the Senecas (in the case of the Erie and Neutral) or Huron (in the case of the Wenro). The Neutral territory is currently held by Tuscaroras, who moved up from the Carolinas while refugees from the Erie tribes moved south to the Carolinas.
French forces settled in parts of what is now Western New York through much of the 17th Century, beginning with Étienne Brûlé's pass-through of the region in 1615 and Joseph de La Roche Daillon's missionary journeys in the 1620s; some relics of their presence, including Fort Niagara and a portage road that follows modern New York State Route 394 between Lake Erie and Chautauqua Lake, are still visible in the region.
Western New York's land was acquired from the Iroquois through the Nanfan Treaty, which ceded the territory to England at the end of the Beaver Wars in 1701. At the time, four of the British colonies (Pennsylvania, New York, Massachusetts and Connecticut) laid claim to the unsettled territory, as did New France until the Seven Years' War; the dispute was eventually settled in New York's favor a century later. New York formally acquired the land for settling through the Holland Purchase, the Phelps and Gorham Purchase, the Treaty of Canandaigua, and the Treaty of Buffalo Creek during the late 18th and early 19th centuries. During the War of 1812 western New York was part of the borderland frontier between the United States and British Canada and became the scene of various military actions.
The two major western New York cities, Buffalo and Rochester, benefitted greatly from the opening of the Erie Canal. With its strategic position at the western end of the Erie Canal, the eastern end of Lake Erie and proximity to Niagara Falls and Canada, Buffalo emerged as a major port. Niagara Falls provided Buffalo with a ready supply of power, so much so that one of its enduring nicknames is "The City of Light". Buffalo experienced steady growth during the 19th Century and at one point was one of the 10 most populated cities in the United States. According to some, Rochester was "America's First Boomtown" and was a key player in the flour industry (hence its initial nickname "Flour City"). Its growth was attributed to both the completion of the Erie Canal and its resulting significance in the flour industry. As a region, western New York played a significant role in the American economy during the 19th century. Large scale immigration from Ireland, Italy, Poland, Great Britain and Germany soon followed into the region.
The New Religious Movement known as Spiritualism was among several that arose in the early 19th century burned-over district of western New York. Its major center is Lily Dale, one of the largest spiritualism communities in the United States. The original house of the Fox sisters was relocated to Lily Dale in 1916. Joseph Smith Jr., founder of the Latter Day Saint movement, reported receiving the Book of Mormon in Palmyra, Wayne County.
In the late 20th century this area became part of the Rust belt of the United States, being a focal point for the transportation of grain, steel, and coal. The opening of the Welland Canal in 1957 effectively rendered the narrower Erie Canal obsolete, further exacerbating economic problems in the region. The area saw an economic decline during the period of deindustrialization, leaving many empty steel mills including those of Bethlehem Steel, which was the 2nd largest steel mill in the world. The plant located in Lackawanna, New York provided nearly 25,000 jobs to the local economy. Republic Steel also had a large integrated steel mill located in South Buffalo. General Motors in Tonawanda is the largest vehicle engine plant in the world, which still is a major contributor to the Buffalo area economy. Ford Motor Company also maintains a large manufacturing facility in Woodlawn, New York, which is just south of Buffalo.
Western New York is culturally a mix of Midwest and Northeast, with a dose of Appalachia in the Southern Tier, an overlapping region of the state. Buffalo appears to most visitors to have much more in common with Chicago or Cleveland, OH from both an economic and a cultural standpoint than it does with New York City. The similarities with Chicago run the list from sharing a common industrial base traditionally built around steel and automobile manufacturing. The cities were both developed during the same period in American history, so the street patterns, architecture, and ethnic communities share a common appearance. Unlike most of the Eastern seaboard, both local populations also speak with the same dialect of Inland North English, with its use of short broad vowels and heavily pronounced final "r" sounds in words ending in the letter "r". Western New York is part of the Inland North region of American English, which means it is subject to the Northern Cities vowel shift; a distinct variant of that accent, "Buffalo English," is heard in many parts of the region.
Perhaps the best-known food specialty of western New York is Buffalo chicken wings (known locally simply as 'wings' or 'chicken wings', but never 'Buffalo wings'). The two best-known places to get wings are Duff's and the Anchor Bar, which have a strong local rivalry in Buffalo.
"Friday night fish fry" is also regionally popular, a holdover from when Catholics were forbidden to eat meat on Fridays. It is usually skinless cod although most restaurants in the area claim they use the higher quality haddock, and is frequently beer-battered, deep fried, and served with French fries and cole slaw. Numerous restaurants in western New York have a Friday fish fry special. The fish fry retains particular popularity during Lent, when Catholics are still barred from eating meat on Friday.
Beef on Weck is a regional favorite and a local invention in which sliced warm roast beef is piled high on a Kummelweck roll topped with caraway seeds and large grained salt, au jus and horseradish are often added to the sandwich.
A garbage plate is popular in the Rochester area. It was created and continues to be served by Nick Tahou Hots on West Main Street. Other Rochester-specific foods include the white hot, a hot dog with a slight variation of ingredients that appears without the distinctive pink color of most hot dogs.
Italian-American food is a specialty in western New York. Most towns in the region have pizzerias.
The region produces many agricultural products, including milk, maple syrup, apples, cherries, potatoes, sweet corn, strawberries, raspberries, peaches, and grapes. As with the rest of Upstate New York, dairy farming is an important part of the economy. New York State is a leading producer among the states of dairy, maple, and wine.
In urban areas in western New York, education, business, light manufacturing and tourism have replaced heavy manufacturing which left the area at the end of World War II. Rochester and Buffalo were especially hard-hit with the exodus of manufacturing jobs to other areas of the United States and nations like China and Mexico. Niagara Falls was also hard-hit and has shed half of its population since its peak in 1960.
Outside of the cities, agriculture has always been a major factor in the economy, especially dairy farming.
Ski country runs through western New York. Glenwood and Ellicottville both have multiple ski resorts within their boundaries; Ellicottville, in particular, has seen massive gentrification from the development of the large ski resorts within the town boundaries and has attempted to build on that growth by branding itself as a year-round destination with numerous festivals.
In Niagara County, viticulture, or wine culture, is also becoming a driver of the economy. In order to take advantage of this, the state has created the Niagara Wine Trail. To a certain extent, viticulture is also prominent in Chautauqua County, where Welch's has a long history; the western Finger Lakes also have a wine industry.
The prospect of high-speed rail in New York is expected to become a driver of the economy, linking Niagara Falls with New York City, helping to bring economic prosperity from New York City to western New York and the rest of the state, whose economy as a whole is stagnant.
During the late 1990s, then-Governor George Pataki signed an agreement granting the Seneca Nation of New York the right to acquire and build three full-scale casino gaming operations. The three casinos (Seneca Niagara Casino in Niagara Falls, Seneca Allegany Casino in Salamanca and the particularly controversial Seneca Buffalo Creek Casino in Buffalo) operate under a monopoly over all of western New York as part of the agreement, for which the Senecas pay a portion of revenues to the state of New York (which, in turn, returns part of that money to the host municipalities).
The Seneca Nation also has a large influence in the convenience store sector. The tribe has long maintained that it is exempt from excise taxes on gasoline and tobacco products, which allows native-owned convenience stores to undercut their non-native counterparts. Gasoline tax advantages were most pronounced in the 1990s, when low overall gas prices made the tax advantage far more noticeable. In the 1990s and 2000s, a mail-order tobacco industry thrived on Seneca reservations, an industry that has mostly been cut off since then. Increasing regulations now prohibit Senecas from receiving or selling name-brand cigarettes without taxes, sending tobacco products by mail (Prevent All Cigarette Trafficking Act) or private delivery, or accepting credit cards for remote purchases; the Senecas still sell native-produced tobacco products in brick-and-mortar stores on the reservations.
Colleges and universities
Western New York is home to many small, medium and large corporations, including:
- Bausch & Lomb
- Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus
- Computer Task Group, Incorporated
- Delaware North Companies
- Ellicott Development Company
- First Niagara Bank
- Fisher Price
- Gernatt Family of Companies
- Kaleida Health
- Merchants Insurance Group
- M&T Bank
- New Era Cap Company
- Rich Products
- Tops Markets
- Wegmans Food Markets
Western New York is home to two significant scenic attractions. Niagara Falls is undoubtedly the most famous attraction in western New York. Forming part of western New York's border with Canada, the Falls has evolved into a major destination for tourists and locals alike.
Another, less famous scenic attraction, is Letchworth State Park. Located 35 miles south of Rochester, Letchworth State Park has been termed "The Grand Canyon of the East."
Allegany State Park in southern Cattaraugus County offers 65,000 acres of recreation space for camping, hiking, cabin rentals, swimming, and (during the winter) snowmobiling and cross-country skiing. It is mostly surrounded by the Allegany Indian Reservation and to the south by the Allegheny National Forest.
Many towns along a nationally-important historic site, the Erie Canal, have lovely waterfront parks and bike trails.
The George Eastman House is in Rochester, and is the world's oldest photography museum.
The Theodore Roosevelt Inaugural National Historic Site, known locally as the Wilcox Mansion, is in Buffalo. It is the site of the first presidential inauguration of Theodore Roosevelt following the assassination of President William McKinley who had been attending the Pan-American Exposition in Buffalo in 1901.
Darien Lake, a theme park and concert venue in Genesee County, is also a popular summertime destination, drawing in crowds from all over western and Central New York, as well as from southern Ontario. It has benefited from its location about halfway between Buffalo and Rochester and is one of the region's most successful concert venues.
Western New York is represented by the Buffalo Bills in the NFL and the Buffalo Sabres in the NHL. The Buffalo Bills currently play their home football games at Ralph Wilson Stadium, the largest sports stadium in the state. The Bills reached the Super Bowl in four consecutive seasons (1990–1993) only to lose all four times.
Western New York has several teams that participate in semi-professional and amateur football. The Northeastern Football Alliance hosts teams in Buffalo, Jamestown, Olean and Lyndonville; the Premier Amateur Football League operates a team in South Buffalo.
The Buffalo Sabres also have a strong following in western New York, and have the highest local Nielsen ratings of any professional hockey team in the United States. The Sabres reached the Stanley Cup Finals in 1975 and 1999. The Sabres lost the 1999 Stanley Cup Final series on a controversial goal. The Sabres currently enjoy healthy rivalries with both the Toronto Maple Leafs and Ottawa Senators. On January 1, 2008, the Sabres played the Pittsburgh Penguins in the inaugural Winter Classic at Ralph Wilson Stadium. This was the first ever regular-season NHL game held outdoors in the United States. The Buffalo Sabres minor league affiliate, the Rochester Americans, play in the American Hockey League.
While western New York currently does not have a team in Major League Soccer (occasionally considered the fifth major league on the American sporting landscape), until relatively recently, Rochester had frequently been mentioned as a candidate for a new expansion franchise. This was due to the relative success of the Rochester Rhinos. However, in recent years the Rhinos have seen a downturn in attendance due to a number of factors. The Rhinos are something of a regional team in western New York, though at nowhere near the popularity of the Bills or Sabres. The Rhinos are best known as being the only non-MLS team to win the US Open Cup since that competition was opened to MLS teams. Western New York is represented in National Women's Soccer League by the Western New York Flash, a team that originally began play in the W-league in 2008. The Flash, like the Rhinos, plays its home games at Sahlen's Stadium in Rochester. U.S. soccer star Abby Wambach is a member of the Flash. The western New York region is home to one indoor soccer franchise, the Rochester Lacers who play in the Major Indoor Soccer League
There are no Major League Baseball teams in the region, but four Minor League teams play in the region: the Buffalo Bisons and Rochester Red Wings, both in the AAA International League-North Division, and affiliates of the Toronto Blue Jays and Minnesota Twins, respectively. In addition, the Batavia Muckdogs and Jamestown Jammers play in the short-season class A New York-Penn League. The New York Collegiate Baseball League has several teams in western New York: the Niagara Power, Wellsville Nitros, Alfred Thunder, Geneva Red Wings, Olean Oilers and Webster Yankees. The Southwestern New York Men's Baseball League, a weekly adult amateur league spun off from the Pennsylvania-based Alle—Catt Baseball league in 2014, fields teams in Cattaraugus and Allegany Counties.
Lacrosse, the national sport of the native Iroquois, is popular in the region, with the Buffalo Bandits and Rochester Knighthawks both perennial contenders in the National Lacrosse League. Lacrosse fans can enjoy the Rochester Rattlers of Major League Lacrosse during the summer months or attend box lacrosse games in arenas on the Seneca reservations.
College hockey also has a following, with Canisius College, Niagara University, and Rochester Institute of Technology competing at the Division I level and several other teams (including most of the SUNY schools) competing in Division III and/or the ACHA.
College basketball has several teams in the area. The four teams in Division I are known as the "Big 4" and include the Canisius Golden Griffins, Niagara Purple Eagles, UB Bulls, and St. Bonaventure Bonnies. College football is much more sparse; only one team competes at the Division I Bowl Subdivision, the UB Bulls. Erie Community College fields a team in junior college football known as the Kats, while Buffalo State, Brockport State, The University of Rochester, St. John Fisher College, Alfred State and Alfred University field teams at the Division III level.
Public high school athletic teams compete in sections 5 (Rochester area) and 6 (Buffalo area) of the New York State Public High School Athletic Association. Western New York Roman Catholic high schools compete in the Monsignor Martin Athletic Association.
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