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History

Buffalo was the quintessential 19th Century boomtown. Its position at the western end of the Erie Canal made it the Gateway to the West - the departure point for immigrants on their way to the heartland. You can experience this history at the newly revived and restored Canalside. Buffalo was also one of the last stops on the Underground Railroad, a beacon for runaway slaves seeking freedom on the far side of the Niagara River. Battles were fought here, the city put to the torch by British loyalists during the War of 1812. Fortunes were made here by the likes of a young William G. Fargo, founder of American Express and Wells Fargo. A President was assassinated here - William McKinley at the 1901 Pan-American Exposition - and another inaugurated - Theodore Roosevelt at the Wilcox Mansion on the city's grand boulevard, Delaware Avenue. Buffalo also sent two of its sons - Millard Fillmore and Grover Cleveland -to Washington as Presidents.

Today, you can step back in time to the War of 1812 on the battlements of Old Fort Niagara; experience 19th century life on the Niagara Frontier at the Buffalo Niagara Heritage Village and Museum; travel 15 miles on the Erie Canal with the help of Lockport Locks and Erie Canal Cruises; tour the Civil War graves at beautiful Forest Lawn; explore Buffalo's pivotal role in America's rise to industrial preeminence at the Buffalo History Museum; or sample a real slice of Americana at the Colored Musician's Club where jazz legends like Louis Armstrong jammed. Presidential history buffs can even stand where Teddy Roosevelt stood when he took the oath of office at the Theodore Roosevelt Inaugural National Historic Site or visit the Millard Fillmore House in historic East Aurora. And the kids are sure to love the Buffalo & Erie County Naval and Military Park, the country's largest inland floating history museum. In between it all, stop in at Founding Fathers, a presidential-themed pub in a former 19th century livery. 

History buffs will also be taken with the antique cars at the Buffalo Transportation/Pierce-Arrow Museum. Rich neighborhood history can be found at the Iron Island Museum. Dedicated to preserving the history of the Lovejoy District, the museum chronicles the railroad history, the schools and churches, and its military men and women. Nearby, you'll find the Chautauqua Institution, a National Historic Landmark, renowned for its Victorian architecture and summer-long cultural activity, and the Genesee Country Village and Museum, the largest collection of historic buildings in the eastern United States.

Courtesy Full Circle Studios