10 Ways to Find Buffalo in Buffalo

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Michael Morgulis, owner of New Buffalo Graphics

It’s one of the most common questions we answer from visitors: “Were there ever any buffalo in Buffalo?”

The question is a good one: why else would our city be named Buffalo? Some theories point to a population of bison who lived here until a few centuries ago when they migrated west. (North American Bison is the scientific name for the species found on this continent; “buffalo” are actually in Africa and Asia but the name is used conversationally here.) Another suggests that early French explorers uttered the phrase “Beau fleuve,” French for beautiful river, when they saw our waterways.

Either way, the name stuck, and over our 184 years as a city, Buffalo has embraced its namesake image for its toughness and resiliency.  Buffalonians can represent their pride and heritage visually with this image in a way few other U.S. cities can. Michael Morgulis, owner of New Buffalo Graphics on Hertel Avenue, has made a career out of incorporating bison imagery into his designs and apparel.

“It’s the true American symbol – more than the eagle – because it represents the movement westward of our nation,” Morgulis said.

Buffalo’s two professional sports teams – the Bills and the Sabres – as well as the minor league Bisons baseball team –  have each woven the image of a bison into their logos. Here are 10 more ways to find bison, or “buffalo,” during your next visit to Buffalo:

On our architecture. The Market Arcade building (1892) modeled after London's Burlington Arcade, has a giant Buffalo head over its entrance.

On our architecture. The Market Arcade building (1892) modeled after London’s Burlington Arcade, has a giant Buffalo head over its entrance.

On our utility boxes. Public art is popping up everywhere in the city these days - even on utility boxes along Hertel and Elmwood Avenues. This buffalo was spotted at a utility box near Elmwood and Lafayette Avenues.

On our utility boxes. Public art is popping up everywhere in the city these days – even on utility boxes along Hertel and Elmwood Avenues. This buffalo was spotted at a utility box near Elmwood and Lafayette Avenues.

On our street signs. A number of our street signs, particularly along Delaware Avenue and Court Street downtown, have a Buffalo incorporated into their design. Newer ones have a buffalo perched on top of a globe, while older ones have the image coupled with our old "We're talking Proud!" civic slogan of the 1980s.

On our street signs. A number of our street signs, particularly along Delaware Avenue and Court Street downtown, have a Buffalo incorporated into their design. Newer ones have a buffalo perched on top of a globe, while older ones have the image coupled with our old “We’re talking Proud!” civic slogan of the 1980s.

In our visitor center! Roamer has enjoyed hanging out at our downtown center at Clinton and Washington Streets.

In our visitor center! Roamer has enjoyed hanging out at our downtown center at Clinton and Washington Streets.

On local artist, Casey William Milbrand’s new Greetings from Buffalo mural on the side of the Washington Market on Ellicott Street.

As a statue. This bison is outside the University at Buffalo's North Campus, in front of its Center For the Arts.

As a statue. This bison is outside the University at Buffalo’s North Campus, in front of its Center For the Arts.

On our bike racks. Many of the bike racks in Buffalo, like this one in the Elmwood Village at Elmwood and Bidwell, have the image of a Buffalo head on them.

On our bike racks. Many of the bike racks in Buffalo, like this one in the Elmwood Village at Elmwood and Bidwell, have the image of a Buffalo head on them.

At a thruway interchange. Buffalo statues roam on the fields near the junction of Interstates 90 and 190 in Cheektowaga.

At a thruway interchange. Buffalo statues roam on the fields near the junction of Interstates 90 and 190 in Cheektowaga.

The bison is even on the exteriors of our social halls, like the Polish Cadets at Grant and Amherst Streets.

The bison is even on the exteriors of our social halls, like the Polish Cadets at Grant and Amherst Streets.

If only real-life bison will do, head to the Buffalo Zoo. The bison exhibit is also visible while walking past the zoo on Ring Road in Delaware Park.

If only real-life bison will do, head to the Buffalo Zoo. The bison exhibit is also visible while walking past the zoo on Ring Road in Delaware Park.