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Erie County, along with Niagara County, makes up the Buffalo–Niagara Falls metropolitan area, the second largest metropolitan area in New York State. The county's southern part is known as the Southtowns.
Old Erie County Hall
When counties were established by the English colonial government in the Province of New York in 1683, present-day Erie County was part of Indian territory occupied by Iroquoian-speaking peoples. It was administered as part of New York colony. Significant European-American settlement did not begin until after the United States had gained independence with the end of the American Revolutionary War in 1783. They forced the Iroquois to cede most of their lands, as many had been allies of the British.
About 1800 the Holland Land Company, formed by Americans and Dutch associates, extinguished Indian claims by purchasing the land from New York, acquired the title to the territory of what are today the eight western-most counties of New York, surveyed their holdings, established towns, and began selling lots to individuals. The state was eager to attract settlers and have farms and businesses developed.
At this time, all of western New York was included in Ontario County. As the population increased, the state legislature created Genesee County in 1802 out of part of Ontario County. In 1808, Niagara County was created out of Genesee County. In 1821, Erie County was created out of Niagara County, encompassing all the land between Tonawanda Creek and Cattaraugus Creek.
The first towns formed in present-day Erie County were the Town of Clarence and the Town of Willink. Clarence comprised the northern portion of Erie county, and Willink the southern part. Clarence is still a distinct town, but Willink was quickly subdivided into other towns. When Erie County was established in 1821, it consisted of the towns of Amherst, Aurora, Boston, Clarence, Collins, Concord, Eden, Evans, Hamburg, Holland, Sardinia, and Wales.
The county has a number of houses and other properties listed on the National Register of Historic Places listings in Erie County, New York.
In 1861, the hamlet of Town Line in the Town of Lancaster voted 85 to 40 to secede from the Union. Town Line never sought admission into the Confederate States of America and there is no evidence that men from the community ever fought for the Confederacy. Some reporting from that time indicates the vote was a joke. On January 24, 1946, as part of a nationally reported event, Town Line voted to officially return to the Union.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 1,227 square miles (3,180 km2), of which 1,043 square miles (2,700 km2) is land and 184 square miles (480 km2) (15%) is water.
Erie County is in the western portion of upstate New York, bordering on the lake of the same name. Part of the industrial area that has included Buffalo, it is the most populous county in upstate New York outside of the New York City metropolitan area. The county also lies on the international border between the United States and Canada, bordering the Province of Ontario.
The northern border of the county is Tonawanda Creek. Part of the southern border is Cattaraugus Creek. Other major streams include Buffalo Creek (Buffalo River), Cayuga Creek, Cazenovia Creek, Scajaquada Creek, Eighteen Mile Creek, and Ellicott Creek.
The county's northern half, including Buffalo and its suburbs, is relatively flat and rises gently up from the lake. The southern half, known as the Southtowns, is much hillier. It has the northwesternmost foothills of the Appalachian Mountains.
The highest elevation in the county is a hill in the Town of Sardinia that tops out at around 1,940 feet (591 m) above sea level. The lowest ground is about 560 feet (171 m), on Grand Island at the Niagara River.
The Onondaga Escarpment runs through the northern part of Erie County.
Rivers, streams, and lakes
Eighteen Mile Creek
Adjacent counties and municipality
Niagara County - north
Genesee County - northeast
Wyoming County - southeast
Cattaraugus County - south
Chautauqua County - southwest
Niagara Region, Ontario, Canada - northwest
I-90.svg NYS Thruway Sign.svg Interstate 90 (New York State Thruway)
I-190 (long).svg Interstate 190 (Niagara Thruway)
I-290 (long).svg Interstate 290 (Youngmann Expressway)
I-990 (long).svg Interstate 990 (Lockport Expressway)
US 20.svg U.S. Route 20
US 20A (NY).svg U.S. Route 20A
US 62.svg U.S. Route 62
US 219.svg U.S. Route 219 (Southern Expressway)
NY-5.svg New York State Route 5 (Buffalo Skyway/Hamburg Turnpike)
NY-16.svg New York State Route 16
NY-33.svg New York State Route 33 (Kensington Expressway/Genesee Street)
NY-39.svg New York State Route 39
NY-78.svg New York State Route 78 (Transit Road)
NY-179.svg New York State Route 179 (Milestrip Expressway/Road)
NY-198.svg New York State Route 198 (Scajaquada Expressway)
NY-263.svg New York State Route 263 (Millersport Highway)
NY-240.svg New York State Route 240
NY-277.svg New York State Route 277
NY-324.svg New York State Route 324 (Grand Island Blvd./Sheridan Drive)
NY-354.svg New York State Route 354 (Clinton Street)
NY-400.svg New York State Route 400 (Aurora Expressway)
Erie County routes
Main article: List of county routes in Erie County, New York
National protected area
Theodore Roosevelt Inaugural National Historic Site
State protected areas
Amherst State Park, Town of Amherst.
Beaver Island State Park, Town of Grand Island.
Buckhorn Island State Park, Town of Grand Island.
Buffalo Harbor State Park, City of Buffalo.
Evangola State Park, Towns of Brant and Evans.
Great Baehre Swamp Wildlife Management Area, Town of Amherst.
Hampton Brook Woods Wildlife Management Area, Village of Hamburg.
Knox Farm State Park, Town of East Aurora.
Motor Island Wildlife Management Area, Town of Grand Island.
Onondaga Escarpment Unique Area, Town of Akron.
Reinstein Woods Nature Preserve, Town of Cheektowaga.
Spicer Creek Wildlife Management Area, Town of Grand Island.
Strawberry Island State Park, Town of Townawanda.
Tillman Road Wildlife Management Area, Town of Clarence.
Woodlawn Beach State Park, Town of Hamburg.
Zoar Valley Multiple Use Area, Town of Collins.
Census Pop. %±
1830 35,719 —
1840 62,465 74.9%
1850 100,993 61.7%
1860 141,971 40.6%
1870 178,699 25.9%
1880 219,884 23.0%
1890 322,981 46.9%
1900 433,686 34.3%
1910 528,985 22.0%
1920 634,688 20.0%
1930 762,408 20.1%
1940 798,377 4.7%
1950 899,238 12.6%
1960 1,064,688 18.4%
1970 1,113,491 4.6%
1980 1,015,472 ?8.8%
1990 968,532 ?4.6%
2000 950,265 ?1.9%
2010 919,040 ?3.3%
Est. 2019 918,702 0.0%
U.S. Decennial Census
As of the census of 2010, there were 919,040 people living in the county. The population density was 910 people per square mile (351/km?). There were 415,868 housing units at an average density of 398 per square mile (154/km?). The racial makeup of the county was 82.18% White, 13.00% Black or African American, 0.61% Native American, 1.46% Asian, 0.02% Pacific Islander, 1.42% from other races, and 1.31% from two or more races. 3.27% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race. 19.6% were of German, 17.2% Polish, 14.9% Italian, 11.7% Irish and 5.0% English ancestry according to Census 2000. 91.1% spoke English, 3.0% Spanish and 1.6% Polish as their first language.
Erie County, NY Population
There were 380,873 households out of which 29.60% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 46.50% were married couples living together, 13.70% had a female householder with no husband present, and 36.10% were non-families. 30.50% of all households were made up of individuals and 12.50% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.41 and the average family size was 3.04.
In the county, the population was spread out with 24.30% under the age of 18, 8.70% from 18 to 24, 28.40% from 25 to 44, 22.70% from 45 to 64, and 15.90% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 38 years. For every 100 females there were 91.60 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 87.80 males.
The median income for a household in the county was $38,567, and the median income for a family was $49,490. Males had a median income of $38,703 versus $26,510 for females. The per capita income for the county was $20,357. About 9.20% of families and 12.20% of the population were below the poverty line, including 17.30% of those under age 18 and 7.80% of those age 65 or over.
Information about Erie County
Erie County is home to the Buffalo Bills football team, the Buffalo Sabres hockey team, the Buffalo Bulls college teams, the Buffalo Bandits lacrosse team, and the Buffalo Bisons minor league baseball team. The city also features a zoo, a botanical garden, a science museum, a historical museum, and the famous Albright-Knox Art Gallery.
The Erie County Fair, held every August in the Town of Hamburg, is one of the largest county fairs in the country.
Plans to merge Erie County with the City of Buffalo have been suggested, which proponents say would eliminate much of the extensive bureaucracy and political and municipal subdivisions among the various towns, cities, and villages in the county. The result would be a consolidated city-county controlled by a single government, effectively making Buffalo's borders and population contiguous with Erie County's. These plans have proven very controversial; opposition has come from residents of the rural villages on the borders of Erie County, who feel the plan would not benefit them, and the suburbs, which want to avoid the financial troubles of Buffalo and Erie County while simultaneously benefiting from the amenities of close proximity to a large population base.
Prior to 1936, Erie County predominantly backed Republican Party candidates, with only two Democratic Party candidates winning the county from 1884 to 1932 in a presidential election. Starting with the 1936 election, it has turned predominantly Democratic, with only three Republicans carrying the county in a presidential election since then. The most recent of these Republican winners was Richard Nixon in 1972. However, like in most counties in the Rust Belt, Donald Trump fared better than other recent Republican presidential candidates, holding Hillary Clinton to a single-digit margin of victory in the county, the first Republican to not lose by double digits here since Ronald Reagan in 1984.
Presidential election results
Erie County executives
Name Party Term
Edward C. Rath Republican 1962–1969
B. John Tutuska Republican 1969–1971
Edward Regan Republican 1972–1978
Ed Rutkowski Republican 1979–1987
Dennis Gorski Democratic 1988–1999
Joel Giambra Republican 2000–2007
Chris Collins Republican 2008–2011
Mark Poloncarz Democratic 2012–present
Office Name Party Hometown
County Executive Mark Poloncarz Democratic Buffalo
County Comptroller Stefan I. Mychajliw Republican Hamburg
County Clerk Mickey Kearns Democratic
Republican (electorally) Buffalo
District Attorney John J. Flynn Democratic Buffalo
County Sheriff Tim Howard Republican Wales
The county legislature has 11 members. There are seven Democrats, two Republicans, one Conservative, and one Independence, who both caucus with the Republicans.
District Title Name Party Hometown
1 Howard Johnson Democratic Buffalo
2 April N.M. Baskin (Chair) Democratic Buffalo
3 Lisa M. Chimera Democratic Kenmore
4 Kevin Hardwick Democratic Tonawanda
5 Jeanne vinal Democratic Amherst
6 Edward Rath III Republican Williamsville
7 Timothy J. Meyers Democratic Cheektowaga
8 Frank Todaro Republican Cheektowaga and Lancaster
9 John gilmour Democratic Hamburg
10 Joseph C. Lorigo (Minority Leader) Conservative West Seneca
11 John J. Mills Republican Orchard Park
Main article: List of school districts in New York
Akron Central School District
Alden Central School District
Amherst Central School District
Buffalo City School District
Cheektowaga Central School District
Cheektowaga-Maryvale Union Free School District
Cheektowaga-Sloan Union Free School District
Clarence Central School District
Cleveland Hill Union Free School District
Depew Union Free School District
East Aurora Union Free School District
Eden Central School District
Frontier Central School District
Grand Island Central School District
Gowanda Central School District
Hamburg Central School District
Holland Central School District
Hopevale Union Free School District At Hamburg
Iroquois Central School District
Kenmore-Tonawanda Union Free School District
Lackawanna City School District
Lake Shore Central School District
Lancaster Central School District
North Collins Central School District
Orchard Park Central School District
Springville-Griffith Institute Central School District
Sweet Home Central School District
Tonawanda City School District
West Seneca Central School District
Williamsville Central School District
Buffalo State College
Erie Community College
University at Buffalo
Villa Maria College
Erie County Department of Parks, Recreation and Forestry
The Erie County Department of Parks, Recreation and Forestry was established in 1925 with four parks spanning 2,280 acres (9.2 km2). As of 2003, the county managed 38 properties, totaling approximately 11,000 acres (45 km2) of land. Management objectives include providing and maintaining recreational space and the conservation of the county's natural and historic resources.
A 2003 Master Plan identified several broad categories of parks operated by the county, including heritage parks, waterfront parks, conservation parks, special purpose parks and forest management areas.
View of Akron Falls at Akron Falls Park.
Eternal Flame Falls in Chestnut Ridge Park.
Erie County's heritage parks include the five original county parks that were established during the 1920s and 1930s. These parks are examples of multiple-use sites with significant scenic, natural and historic features. Each park has unique man-made structures of historical character, many constructed as part of the Works Progress Administration movement in the 1930s.
Akron Falls Park (Established in 1933, acquired by Erie County in 1947)
Chestnut Ridge Park (Established by Erie County in 1926)
Como Lake Park (Established in 1923, acquired by Erie County in 1926)
Ellicott Creek Park (Established by Erie County in 1926)
Emery Park (Established by Erie County in 1925)
View of Wendt Beach in March 2007.
Waterfront parks include the significant scenic sites and recreational trail systems along the county's Lake Erie shoreline.
Bennett Beach Park
Isle View Park
Wendt Beach Park
View of the Scoby Dam at Scoby Dam Park.
These largely-undeveloped parks are managed primarily for conservation of the natural environment and passive nature-based outdoor recreation activities. These lands are intended to generally remain in a natural state.
Eighteen Mile Creek Park
Franklin Gulf Park
Sgt. Mark A. Rademacher Memorial Park (commonly known as Hunters Creek Park)
Scoby Dam Park
Special purpose parks
The Buffalo and Erie County Botanical Gardens.
Special purpose parks have unique characteristics that provide specific recreational functions within the county's park system.
Buffalo and Erie County Botanical Gardens
Elma Meadows Golf Course
Grover Cleveland Golf Course
Sprague Brook Park
Forest management areas
Forest management areas are managed by the Erie County Bureau of Forestry, which was established in 1927. These areas include several thousand acres of mostly-coniferous plantation style forest, much of which was planted on abandoned farmland by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930s. These areas are located mostly in the rural southern portion of the county.
These lands have limited recreation potential, mostly in the form of trails. Management of these lands is focused on natural resource conservation, in addition to potential commercial resource extraction of timber products or maple syrup.
Map showing the municipalities of Erie County
Buffalo (county seat)
Map also showing the municipalities of Erie County, but with Census Designated Places and Hamlets
Angola on the Lake
Lake Erie Beach
University at Buffalo
Town Line Station
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