Erie County and City Hall
Location within the U.S. state of New York
New York's location within the U.S.
|Named for||Lake Erie|
|o Total||1,227 sq mi (3,180 km2)|
|o Land||1,043 sq mi (2,700 km2)|
|o Water||184 sq mi (480 km2) 15%%|
|o Density||881/sq mi (340/km2)|
|Time zone||UTC-5 (Eastern)|
|o Summer (DST)||UTC-4 (EDT)|
|Congressional districts||26th, 27th|
Erie County is a highly populated county in the U.S. state of New York. As of the 2010 census, the population was 919,040. The county seat is Buffalo. The county's name comes from Lake Erie. It was named by European colonists for the regional Iroquoian language-speaking Erie tribe of Native Americans, who lived south and east of the lake before 1654. (They were pushed out of the area by the more powerful Iroquoian nations.)
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 and join the Confederate States of America. It sent five soldiers for the Confederate Army, and did not officially rejoin the Union until January 1946. The Town Line Fire Department supports the slogan "Last of the Rebels", due to their Confederate ties.
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.
As of the census of 2010, there were 919,040 people residing in the county. The population density was 910 people per square mile (351/km²). There were 415,868 housing units at an average density of 398 per square mile (154/km²). 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.
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.
Erie County is home to the Buffalo Bills football team, the Buffalo Sabres hockey team, 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.
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.
|Edward C. Rath||Republican||1962-1969|
|B. John Tutuska||Republican||1969-1971|
|County Executive||Mark Poloncarz||Democratic||Buffalo|
|County Comptroller||Stefan I. Mychajliw||Republican||Hamburg|
|County Clerk||Mickey Kearns||Democratic
|District Attorney||John J. Flynn||Democratic||Buffalo|
|County Sheriff||Tim Howard||Republican||Wales|
|2||April N.M. Baskin (Chair)||Democratic||Buffalo|
|3||Lisa M. Chimera||Democratic||Kenmore|
|5||Thomas A. Loughran||Democratic||Amherst|
|6||Edward Rath III||Republican||Williamsville|
|7||Timothy J. Meyers||Democratic||Cheektowaga|
|8||John Bruso (Majority Leader)||Democratic||Cheektowaga|
|10||Joseph C. Lorigo (Minority Leader)||Conservative||West Seneca|
|11||John J. Mills||Republican||Orchard Park|
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.
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.
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.
Special purpose parks have unique characteristics that provide specific recreational functions within the county's park system.
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.