Buffalo is the second largest city in the U.S. state of New York and the largest city in Western New York. As of 2019's census estimates, the city proper population was 255,284. The city is the county seat of Erie County and serves as a major gateway for commerce and travel across the Canadian border, forming part of the bi-national Buffalo Niagara Region and Buffalo–Niagara Falls metropolitan area. As of 2018, the Buffalo–Niagara Falls metropolitan area had a population of 1,130,152; the combined statistical area, which adds Cattaraugus County, had a population of 1,215,826 inhabitants.
The Buffalo area was inhabited before the 17th century by the Native American Iroquois tribe and later by French colonizers. The city grew significantly in the 19th and 20th centuries as a result of immigration, the construction of the Erie Canal and rail transportation, and its close proximity to Lake Erie. This growth provided an abundance of fresh water and an ample trade route to the Midwestern United States while grooming its economy for the grain, steel and automobile industries that dominated the city's economy in the 20th century. Since the city's economy relied heavily on manufacturing, deindustrialization in the latter half of the 20th century led to a steady decline in population. While some manufacturing activity remained following the Great Recession, Buffalo's economy has transitioned to service industries with a greater emphasis on healthcare, research and higher education including being home to a top research university, the University at Buffalo.
Buffalo is on the eastern shore of Lake Erie, at the head of the Niagara River, 16 miles (26 km) south of Niagara Falls.