The state's second largest city, Buffalo, looms up in a cluster of Art Deco spires and glass-box skyscrapers – Manhattan in miniature on Lake Erie. The city's early twentieth-century prosperity, which busted while many other American cities were booming, and thus exempted Buffalo's historic buildings from destruction and replacement, is reflected in such architecturally significant structures as the towering 1928 City Hall (the tallest in the country; free observation deck on the top floor) and the deep red terracotta relief of Louis Sullivan's Guaranty Building on Church Street. The massive abandoned grain elevators, which rise proudly along the Erie waterfront like wonders of the industrial world, provide an interesting architectural counterpoint. Because of its proximity to the Canadian border, Buffalo also has numerous Underground Railroad sites.
As a traditionally blue-collar city, Buffalo loves its professional sports teams: football's Bills (Tel:1-877/228-4257, Web: www.buffalobills.com ), ice hockey's Sabres (Tel:1-888/467-2273, Web: www.sabres.nhl.com ), and minor-league baseball's Bisons (Tel:1-888/223-6000, Web: www.bisons.com ), who, as the top farm team for the New York Mets, attract huge crowds to downtown's pleasant ballpark.
From the renaissance of the Waterfront and downtown's steady growth, to the major airport expansion and a revived arts and cultural scene, New York's second-largest city is booming again.
Buffalo's ethnic diversity includes people of Greek, Irish, Italian, African American, Polish, Scottish, Latino and German decent, to name a few. That, combined with a blue-collar mentality, creates a solid foundation for the community to build and re-build. And that it has, by pumping millions into its downtown showpiece Theater District , by expanding the Buffalo Niagara International Airport, by creating waterfront housing and establishing a Metro Rail line from HSBC Arena to the South Campus of the State University at Buffalo. It has diversified its economy, moving from strictly "rust belt" industries to services and tourism, then to high tech and fiber optics. It has put up hotels, banks, office buildings and a state-of-the-art convention center .
Allentown, Bailey-Lovejoy and Delaware
The National Historic District of Allentown is home to both the Wilcox Mansion (where Teddy Roosevelt was inaugurated) and the Allentown Art Festival . It's also where you can find popular local haunts like The Old Pink , Gabriel's Gate and the Allen Street Dress Shop .
Bailey-Lovejoy is committed to preserving its railroad-rich past through the Iron Island Museum and the annual neighborhood festival . Places like Hennepin Park and the Buffalo Fire Historical Museum are major draws for people in surrounding neighborhoods.
Delaware Park is the jewel of the Frederick Law Olmsted-designed park system, the historic Forest Lawn Cemetery , the Albright-Knox Art Gallery and Cofeld Judaic Museum of Temple Beth Zion are all a part of the Delaware District. Polonia features traditional Broadway Market food vendors and the New York Central Terminal .
It is here that the 1929 Art Deco masterpiece, Buffalo City Hall , rises high above the tree tops. Also note the French Renaissance-style Ellicott Square Building finished in 1896 as the largest office building in the world at that time.
Within the compact downtown is where you'll find the hive of performing arts activity known as the Theater District . Shea's Performing Arts Center , with its classic Baroque interior, serves as an anchor for the 20-block Theater District. You'll find plenty of night life in the Chippewa Club Zone , which rose from the ashes of the former red light district. Buffalo Place has a pedestrian mall and a reputation for being festival central. If ice hockey's your thing, you'll be interested to find the HSBC Arena (formerly the Marine-Midland) where the NHL Buffalo Sabres skate.
And it's true: Buffalo chicken wings actually were created here, thanks to a stray shipment of wings that made its way to the Anchor Bar in the mid-1960s. Buffalo is also home to the Beef on Weck sandwich and it is the Friday fish fry capital of the world.
Not to be overlooked, Buffalo is a mere 25 miles from what has been called one of the seven natural wonders of the world. For 11 million visitors a year, the breath-taking Niagara Falls are attraction enough to check out Buffalo.
The "City of Good Neighbors" offers all of its visitors small-town hospitality in a big-city environment. Explore the ethnically-diverse cuisine, high-caliber theater, the mansions of Elmwood Avenue and the Chippewa Club Zone's sizzling nightlife.
With Lake Erie and Canada to the west, Buffalo is bordered on its other three sides by suburban areas that are also rich in history and heritage. To the north and northeast lie Tonawanda and Amherst, the first combines a strong industrial base with beautiful parks and natural scenery and the latter is home to the huge University at Buffalo North Campus.
To the east is Cheektowaga, "Land of the Crabapple," with the Buffalo Niagara International Airport and the Walden Galleria Mall , the largest mall in Western NY. To the south and southeast lie the aptly named South-towns: Lackawanna, Hamburg, West Seneca, Orchard Park and East Aurora, that combine a range of heavy industry and farms, shopping malls and village boutiques, modern condos and 19th century architectural gems.
Dining out in Buffalo is more than just chicken wings. In fact, there are more than 1,400 restaurants, bistros, cafes, pubs and grills in the Greater Buffalo Area. That figure doesn't include the annual food festivals where thousands come out to taste local specialties such as Beef on Weck.
Buffalo's downtown offers an eclectic mix of dining styles and cuisines, ranging from the Towne Restaurant , which is open 23 hours a day (it's closed one hour for cleaning) and the as-popular-for-the-crowd-as-for-the-food EB Green's Steakhouse in the Hyatt Regency , rated Western New York's only four-star steakhouse with choices such as a 24 ounce porterhouse and a three pound Maine lobster. Or you can try Harry's Harbour Place Grille for waterside ambiance and a celebrated outdoor patio.
If you're looking for some pre or post-theater dining, you can't go wrong with the Bijou Grille . At Desiderio's , located where the Theater District overlaps the Chippewa Club Zone , you can actually mingle with crew and cast members from the Alleyway or Irish Classical theaters.
Gallery 101 Bistro combines art with fine dining by featuring local artists and Pacific Rim cuisine, mostly Thai and Vietnamese with a little Italian mixed in. Speaking of Italian, Romanello's Roseland is not to be missed, as much for its historical landmark location as for the American-Italian cuisine and table-side cooking. Frank's Sunny Italy is a good choice for families. Also try the Lafayette Tap Room for baby back ribs and blues.
Other Italian restaurants in the Greater Buffalo Area include Nero's Restaurant & Club , which is known for Northern Italian delicacies such as stuffed artichokes and Tuscan-style fillet, Ristorante Lombardo , tucked in a landscaped private courtyard and Andy DiVicenzo's Billy Ogden's tavern-cum-restaurant. If you've still got the munchies after all that, the place to go is La Nova , recently ranked number one among independently owned pizza restaurants by Pizza & Pasta Magazine.
Elmwood and Delaware
While Italian may dominate the ethnic cuisine landscape, Buffalo is also home to many fine restaurants from other parts of the world. The delights of India Gate with its $5.95 lunch-time buffet special, are a must. For a bit of upscale Greek in a friendly and cheerful ambiance, try Ambrosia , recently picked as a top choice by the Buffalo News food critic.
Often maligned as stodgy, Buffalo has managed to build up a fair number of "cool" spots where the "in" crowd can be found. Start at the Caffe Aroma for an afternoon cappuccino and jazz. Stop into the award-winning Sweet Tooth for some tasty pastries and other delights. Also check out Panos On Elmwood for some Greek diner food.
For a chance to try out all of Buffalo's culinary delights at one time, you've got to attend A Taste of Buffalo festival in mid-July. You can sample more then 150 dishes from Western New York's top restaurants, all priced between 50 cents and three dollars.
You can get Beef on Weck and a Friday fish fry in just about any place in the city, but for authentic atmosphere try the Buffalo Brew Pub with its dart tournaments and English-style beer brewed on the premises. Houlihan's Restaurant & Bar located in the Buffalo Marriott Niagara offers up high quality dishes in a relaxed atmosphere. Tandoori's , rated among the top 20 restaurants of Western New York, can be found in quiet suburb of Williamsville.
Walden's is located in the Four Points Hotel Buffalo Airport and next to the Walden Galleria Mall . It features certified Angus beef in a dining room that overlooks a tropical courtyard.
One of the top restaurants in all of Western New York can be found on the northern edge of Buffalo in Kenmore. Truffles Restaurant offers classic continental cuisine with elegance.
Or go to the Shannon Pub in Amherst, a genuine Irish pub. The pub claims to pour the best pint of Guinness in North America and it also attracts some of the finest Celtic performers this side of the Atlantic for all the "craig" (that's fun) you can handle.
When Buffalo isn't being hit with tons of snow, it can be a nice place to visit. There are many historical and cultural attractions to explore, all within walking distance of one another.
Downtown The Erie Community College City Campus is a large Flemish Gothic structure, and nearby Dunn Tire Park is the home of the Buffalo Bisons . The popular Chef's Italian Restaurant is right next to the Park. Across from the Stadium is the French Renaissance style Ellicott Square Building .
Theater District The Main Street Pedestrian Mall, created upon the opening of Buffalo's rapid rail line, stretches from the waterfront north to Tupper Street in the heart of the Theater District . The eclectic Alleyway Theatre , the renowned Irish Classical Theatre Company , the Studio Arena Theatre and the Pandora's Box Theatre Company are all located in this district. Once you've finished exploring, stop by the Towne Restaurant .
Main Street M&T Plaza is a white 20-story marble tower. Central Park Plaza , which contains the Gothic Revival St Paul's Episcopal Cathedral is right across the street. If you're looking for a place to grab some lunch, the Pearl Street Grill & Brewery is a brasserie serving microbrews alongside hearty fare. Behind the Cathedral is the Guaranty Building , also known by the name it held for much of its life, the Prudential Building. Notably, it was the first building to use an all-steel frame, making it one of the original "skyscrapers." The Old Erie County Hall is a clock-towered, High-Victorian granite structure that opened in 1872.
Fountain Plaza The Lafayette Court Building on Main Street is an excellent example of neo-classical architecture, with immaculate granite floors and an impressive tower. The Main Place Mall , the only mall in downtown, is just a few blocks away. You'll find many place to dine in this area as well, such as the HB Carvers diner. The CEPA Gallery sometimes holds exhibitions here. The Fountain Plaza is often filled with people on summer days, enjoying a picnic lunch. Shea's Performing Arts Center is one of Buffalo's landmarks, and hosts some of the most renowned plays ever produced.
Buffalo Convention Center The Buffalo Convention Center is near the Statler Office Tower . Stop into Katrina's for some delicious Sicilian fare. To the west, dominating Niagara Square, is Buffalo City Hall . St Joseph's Cathedral , a Gothic Revival building made of local gray limestone, can also be found nearby.
If the walking tour of Buffalo's downtown leaves you wanting to see more of the city and its surrounding areas, here are a few suggestions that you may want to try. Outside of Buffalo you'll find many things to see and do, from winery tours to walks through historical homes.
Boat Tours Miss Buffalo Cruises ( +1 716 856 6696 / http://www.missbuffalo.com/ ) Lockport Cave Underground Boat Ride ( +1 716 438 0174 / http://www.lockportcave.com/ ) Lockport Locks and Erie Canal Cruises ( +1 716 433 6155 / +1 800 378 0352 / http://www.lockportlocks.com/ )
Balloon Tours Balloons Over Letchworth ( +1 585 493 3340 / http://www.balloonsoverletchworth.com/ )
Historical Tours Frank Lloyd Wright's Graycliff ( +1 716 947 9217 / http://graycliff.bfn.org/ ) Frank Lloyd Wright's Darwin D Martin House ( +1 716 856 3858 / http://www.darwinmartinhouse.org/ ) Architectural Treasures Tours ( +1 877 969 6011 / http://www.burchfield-penney.org/ ) Preservation Coalition of Erie County ( +1 716 803 8556 / http://www.preservationcoalition.org/ )
Winery Tours Marjim Manor ( +1 716 778 7001 / http://www.marjimmanor.com/ )
Maritime Tours Lower Lakes Marine Historical Society ( +1 716 849 0914 / http://www.llmhs.org/ )
Nature Tours Tifft Nature Preserve ( +1 716 896 5200 / http://www.sciencebuff.org/tifft_nature_preserve_visitor_info.php ) Buffalo Olmsted Parks Conservancy ( +1 716 838 1249 / http://www.buffaloolmstedparks.com )