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A Love Letter to Buffalo, New York

You may not have heard a whole lot about Buffalo, New York, but it’s the second biggest city in the Empire State, after NYC, and has a fascinating history of its own—and a lot of assets that appeal to young adults just starting out after high school or college.  

Located on the shores of Lake Erie, the city is just 25 minutes away from Niagara Falls, which generated hydropower for Buffalo at the start of the 20th century. One of the richest American cities at the time, Buffalo became the first U.S. city to have widespread electricity, earning it the nickname of City of Light.  

There’s a reason that a giant mural exists downtown that says “Keep Buffalo a Secret.” This city is a hidden gem whose citizens are incredibly passionate about their hometown.  Alum Edie Falk, City Year Buffalo ’22, a Buffalonian transplant, shares a few reasons why she fell in love with her new city and decided to stay and work in Buffalo after her year of service in schools was completed.

5. History

“I love exploring historical sites in my free time and Buffalo has a rich background that reaches into nearly every era of American history!” Edie says. “Places like Fort Niagara, which is the oldest building on the Great Lakes and was a key military installation for the United States during the War of 1812, let you immerse yourself in the events that occurred here.” 

Buffalo has many historical sites you can explore like Underground Railroad stops, the Buffalo lighthouse, and Buffalo Central Terminal.

4. Buffalo’s Art Deco architecture…

is some of the best preserved in the country, and there are tons of amazing examples of it all over the place!” Edie says. “City Hall is an especially good spot to go to see the geometric decorations and futuristic motifs that make Art Deco architecture what it is.  I totally felt like I was transported back into the early 1930s when I stepped inside—the work that has been done to preserve the building is really impressive and well worth a stop in.”  

The city is full of other kinds of architecture, too, from houses by Frank Lloyd Wright to parks designed by Fredrick Law Olmstead, creator of Central Park in New York City, the U.S. Capitol in Washington D.C., and  Boston’s Emerald Necklace.   

3. Walkability

“Being able to easily walk wherever I want to go is super important to me- it helps me to feel like I’m really a part of a community!  Buffalo has several really distinct neighborhoods, and most of them are really easy to walk through.  The West Side, Elmwood Village, Allentown, and Downtown are all easily connected and have tons of great shops, restaurants, breweries, and murals to explore.” 

Learn more about Buffalo’s distinct neighborhoods.


2. Food

There is a reason that National Geographic once ranked Buffalo as the world’’ third best food city.  “If you’re craving it, Buffalo has it,” says Edie.  “Hit up Sato for incredible ramen or sushi, the West Side Bazaar for awesome Ethiopian or Thai food, or Big Mood if you’re craving something plant based!  Obviously, you’ll also need to travel along Buffalo’s famous wing trail (I’m not biased but Duff’s definitely has the best wings.  And ok, I’m definitely biased).” 

Check out this list of classic foods Buffalo is famous for.     

1. The Buffalo Bills 

Every Sunday is essentially a citywide holiday in Buffalo.  If there’s a Bills game, the world stops,” Edie says.Restaurants, the Bills stadiums, and hearts are all full.  But loving football isn’t why I put this as my number one reason to love Buffalo- it’s the sense of community that this team helps to create.  I truly understood why Buffalo is referred to as the ‘City of Good Neighbors’ when I attended my first Bills game.  Everyone was sharing their food and the simple joy of rallying together around a city that they love more than anything else.   

Yes, Buffalo has snow. But it also has a lot of heart. 

“Years ago, chef and food critic Anthony Bourdain visited Buffalo, absolutely expecting to hate every moment of it,” Edie recalls.  

“By the time he ended his stay here, he said, ‘There is a perverse joy of being alive and living in Buffalo even in the coldest part of winter at night in what I call a blizzard.’   

“That quote just about sums up what I love so much about Buffalo.  People here find joy in the small things—their cup and char pepperoni, a football team that is definitely going to the Super Bowl, and pretending they don’t hate ridiculous amounts of snow.  Buffalo has everything I’ve been looking for and more, and I hope that you get to visit someday soon!”  

And we have one more reason why young adults ages 17-25 may want to move to Buffalo sometime soon …. The chance to work with teammates like Edie, serving students in Buffalo schools. 

Learn more about becoming a City Year AmeriCorps member.

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