We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: Buffalo has a rich history. While some things are a given when you think of the Queen City, here are 19 facts about Buffalo you never knew were true. (Bonus points if you are already privy to these. Your random knowledge is impressive, and I suggest signing up for Jeopardy ASAP!)
We’re aware that these uncertain times are limiting many aspects of life as we all practice social and physical distancing. While we’re continuing to feature destinations that make our state wonderful, we don’t expect or encourage you to go check them out immediately. We believe that supporting local attractions is important now more than ever and we hope our articles inspire your future adventures! And on that note, please nominate your favorite local business that could use some love right now:
1. Largest Dyngus Day celebration in the U.S.
Most people probably don’t even know what Dyngus Day is, but guess what? We do! We've been celebrating pierogis and paczkis for all longer than anyone in the United States!
2. Ralph Wilson didn't want to be a Buffalonian.
In fact, he wanted a team out of Miami so he could spend the winters there. When the AFL was set up and he had the choice between a few cities, he chose Buffalo and agreed to stay for three seasons. Well, those three came and passed and Ralph stayed in Buffalo and even had the stadium named after him…until New Era, of course.
3. The Turkey Trot is the oldest continually run race in America (1896).
Each year, a bulk of our population gets up on Thanksgiving morning to run off the turkey before the L-Tryptophan even thinks about setting in. Dedication.
4. At one point in time, Buffalo had more millionaires per capita than any other city.
During the 1860s until the turn of the 19th Century, bankers and industrial leaders flocked to Buffalo. Most took residence on Delaware Avenue, which became known as Millionaires Row.
5. The British burned down our city.
During the War of 1812, the British torched all but three buildings in our great city. What's that they say about losing the battle and wining the war?
6. F. Scott Fitzgerald spent a bulk of his childhood here.
While we would like to think The Great Gatsby really took place in Buffalo, we can all feel honored that Fitzgerald walked the halls of our very own Nardin Academy.
7. The Bisons are the only accurately named team in the city.
Okay, so the Buffalo Bills were actually named after Buffalo Bill Cody, but the logo is a Buffalo, the animal that resides in Africa and Asia. Bisons hail from North America.
8. Rick James was born and buried here.
“It’s a great town, but it’s a strange place.” Straight from the mouth of the King of funk.
9. Grain Elevators started here.
In 1842, Joseph Dart invented the grain elevator and saved the backs of men across the globe.
10. We have several presidential ties.
President McKinley was assassinated at the Pan American Expo. President Theodore Roosevelt was sworn in after McKinley’s assassination on Delaware Avenue. President Millard Fillmore began his career in East Aurora and even built his wife a house there that still stands to this day. First Lady Frances Cleveland was born in Buffalo.
11. We were home to the first Winter Classic.
In 2008, 71,217 people piled into Ralph Wilson Stadium to watch a game of hockey that would start a yearly tradition.
12. We were the first American city to have streetlights.
In 1901, Niagara Falls' hydroelectric power made it possible for Buffalo to have street lights used for dramatic effect at the Pan American Expo, thus the nickname, City of Light.
13. Child daycare started here.
In 1881, Maria Love founded the first daycare center in the United States and was a saving grace to working parents in the city.
14. The air conditioner was invented in Buffalo.
We only need it about two months of the year, but when the temperatures hit 90 with humidity to match, we're definitely thankful to Mr. Willis Carrier!
15. And the Pacemaker got its start here.
Out of all technology ever invented, our very own Wilson Greatbatch created something that does the best thing we can think of: extends lives.
16. The first cancer research lab came about in Buffalo.
Today, we know this as Roswell Park Cancer Institute. It wasn’t an easy road for Dr. Park to get funding approved for the lab, but through patience and persistence, he finally convinced Governor Black it was essential to fighting for human life. Countless lives are thankful for "just one day" at Roswell!
17. The Pan American Exposition called Buffalo home in 1901.
In 1901, Buffalo had the 8th largest population in the US and extensive railroad ties, so it won the battle for the location of the Pan American Exposition (between Buffalo and Niagara Falls). While the Expo showed off Buffalo’s beauty and above-mentioned lights, it is mostly remembered for President McKinley’s gruesome assassination.
18. Non-dairy creamer, whipped topping, and instant coffee came from Buffalo.
Okay, so instant coffee might not be cafe quality, but it gets the job done when you’re in a pinch! (PS: You’re welcome for the whipped topping, pumpkin pie.)
19. The electric chair was invented here.
This invention created quite the buzz (pun intended) in the execution industry… if there is such a thing. Buffalo dentist Alfred Southwick saw his invention as a humane way of ending one’s life. The verdict's still out on that one.