Erie County, New York

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Erie County
Left to right from top: Erie County Hall, Wendt Beach Park, Akron Falls Park, Chestnut Ridge Park, Canisius College, Gateway Park, Buffalo and Erie County Botanical Gardens
Official seal of Erie County
Map of New York highlighting Erie County
Location within the U.S. state of New York
Map of the United States highlighting New York
New York's location within the U.S.
Coordinates: 42°45′N 78°47′W / 42.75°N 78.78°W / 42.75; -78.78
Country United States
State  New York
Named for Eriechronon
Seat Buffalo
Largest cityBuffalo
 •  County ExecutiveMark Poloncarz ( D)
 • Total1,227 sq mi (3,180 km2)
 • Land1,043 sq mi (2,700 km2)
 • Water184 sq mi (480 km2)  15%
 • Estimate 
 • Density881/sq mi (340/km2)
Time zone UTC−5 ( Eastern)
 • Summer ( DST) UTC−4 ( EDT)
Congressional districts 26th, 27th

Erie County is a highly populated county located along the shore of Lake Erie in western New York State. As of the 2010 census, the population was 919,040. [1] The county seat is Buffalo, which makes up about 28% of the County's population. [2] The County's name comes from Lake Erie, which was named by European colonists for the regional Iroquoian language-speaking Erie tribe of Native Americans, who lived in the area before 1654. They were later pushed out by the more powerful Iroquoian nations tribes.

Erie County, along with Niagara County, makes up the Buffalo–Niagara Falls metropolitan area, the second largest metropolitan area in New York State. The county's southern part is known as the Southtowns. [3]


Erie County Hall

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. [4]

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. [5]

In 1861, the hamlet of Town Line in the Town of Lancaster voted 85 to 40 to secede from the Union. [6] Town Line never sought admission into the Confederate States of America and there is no evidence that men from the community ever fought for the Confederacy. Some reporting from that time indicates the vote was a joke. On January 24, 1946, as part of a nationally reported event, Town Line voted to officially return to the Union.


According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 1,227 square miles (3,180 km2), of which 1,043 square miles (2,700 km2) is land and 184 square miles (480 km2) (15%) is water. [7]

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, [3] 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.

Rivers, streams, and lakes

Adjacent counties and municipality

Major highways

Erie County routes

National protected area

State protected areas


Historical population
Census Pop.
Est. 2019918,702 [8]0.0%
U.S. Decennial Census [9]
1790-1960 [10] 1900-1990 [11]
1990-2000 [12] 2010-2014 [1]

As of the census [13] of 2010, there were 919,040 people living 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.

Erie County, NY Population [14]

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.

Information about Erie County

Erie County is home to the Buffalo Bills football team, the Buffalo Sabres hockey team, the Buffalo Bulls college teams, 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.

The Erie County Fair, held every August in the Town of Hamburg, is one of the largest county fairs in the country.

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. [15]

County government

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.

Despite the county's Democratic bent at the presidential level, Republicans are competitive for most county level offices. For example, only two Democrats have served as county executive.

Presidential election results
Presidential election results [16]
Year Republican Democratic Third parties
2016 44.5% 188,303 50.9% 215,456 4.7% 19,866
2012 41.0% 169,675 57.3% 237,356 1.7% 7,164
2008 40.5% 178,815 58.0% 256,299 1.6% 6,871
2004 41.4% 184,423 56.4% 251,090 2.2% 9,625
2000 37.7% 160,176 56.6% 240,176 5.7% 24,302
1996 32.3% 132,343 54.7% 224,554 13.0% 53,337
1992 28.7% 129,444 43.5% 196,233 27.9% 125,819
1988 43.8% 188,796 55.4% 238,779 0.8% 3,217
1984 48.3% 222,882 51.5% 237,631 0.3% 1,158
1980 40.2% 169,209 51.2% 215,283 8.6% 35,981
1976 48.7% 220,310 50.7% 229,397 0.7% 3,136
1972 53.9% 256,462 45.8% 218,105 0.3% 1,456
1968 37.0% 167,853 55.2% 250,054 7.8% 35,258
1964 26.7% 125,962 73.1% 344,910 0.2% 704
1960 43.3% 211,957 56.6% 277,203 0.1% 404
1956 63.7% 292,657 36.3% 166,930 0.0% 0
1952 56.3% 253,927 43.6% 196,378 0.1% 550
1948 45.7% 175,118 51.6% 197,618 2.8% 10,636
1944 48.5% 185,975 51.1% 195,905 0.4% 1,355
1940 49.1% 183,664 50.7% 189,779 0.3% 992
1936 44.5% 152,312 53.6% 183,555 1.9% 6,341
1932 49.9% 141,059 46.3% 131,012 3.8% 10,859
1928 51.4% 144,726 44.9% 126,449 3.8% 10,614
1924 58.5% 112,070 21.3% 40,780 20.2% 38,630
1920 63.2% 99,762 25.6% 40,436 11.2% 17,598
1916 52.4% 53,638 44.5% 45,622 3.1% 3,200
1912 22.5% 19,185 39.4% 33,518 38.1% 32,410
1908 52.4% 52,182 45.3% 45,185 2.3% 2,293
1904 55.7% 49,669 41.0% 36,582 3.2% 2,881
1900 51.7% 44,767 46.0% 39,833 2.4% 2,057
1896 58.6% 45,612 38.7% 30,172 2.7% 2,095
1892 47.3% 32,340 47.4% 32,431 5.3% 3,632
1888 51.1% 31,612 47.7% 29,543 1.2% 762
1884 50.5% 26,249 47.6% 24,759 1.9% 985

Erie County executives

Name Party Term
Edward C. Rath Republican 1962–1969
B. John Tutuska Republican 1969–1971
Edward Regan Republican 1972–1978
Ed Rutkowski Republican 1979–1987
Dennis Gorski Democratic 1988–1999
Joel Giambra Republican 2000–2007
Chris Collins Republican 2008–2011
Mark Poloncarz Democratic 2012–present

Elected officials

Office Name Party Hometown
County Executive Mark Poloncarz Democratic Buffalo
County Comptroller Stefan I. Mychajliw Republican Hamburg
County Clerk Mickey Kearns Democratic
Republican ( electorally) [17]
District Attorney John J. Flynn Democratic Buffalo
County Sheriff Tim Howard Republican Wales

The county legislature has 11 members. There are seven Democrats, two Republicans, one Conservative, and one Independence, who both caucus with the Republicans.

County legislature

District Title Name Party Hometown
1 Howard Johnson Democratic Buffalo
2 April N.M. Baskin (Chair) Democratic Buffalo
3 Lisa M. Chimera Democratic Kenmore
4 Kevin Hardwick Democratic Tonawanda
5 Jeanne vinal Democratic Amherst
6 Edward Rath III Republican Williamsville
7 Timothy J. Meyers Democratic Cheektowaga
8 Frank Todaro Republican Cheektowaga and Lancaster
9 John gilmour Democratic Hamburg
10 Joseph C. Lorigo (Minority Leader) Conservative West Seneca
11 John J. Mills Republican Orchard Park


School districts

Higher education


Erie County Department of Parks, Recreation and Forestry

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. [18]

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. [18]

Heritage parks

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. [19]

Waterfront parks

Waterfront parks include the significant scenic sites and recreational trail systems along the county's Lake Erie shoreline. [19]

Conservation parks

View of the Scoby Dam at Scoby Dam Park.

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. [19]

Special purpose parks

Special purpose parks have unique characteristics that provide specific recreational functions within the county's park system. [19]

Forest management areas

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. [20]

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. [19] [20]





Map showing the municipalities of Erie County

Census-designated places


Indian reservations

See also


  1. ^ a b "State & County QuickFacts". United States Census Bureau. Archived from the original on June 29, 2011. Retrieved October 11, 2013.
  2. ^ "Find a County". National Association of Counties. Archived from the original on 2011-05-31. Retrieved 2011-06-07.
  3. ^ a b Smyczynski, Christine A. (2005). "Southern Erie County - "The Southtowns"". Western New York: From Niagara Falls and Southern Ontario to the Western Edge of the Finger Lakes. The Countryman Press. p. 136. ISBN  0-88150-655-9.
  4. ^ The Burned-Over District: Evolution of County Boundaries. Oliver Cowdery Home Page, accessed 7 December 2008.
  5. ^ "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. April 15, 2008.
  6. ^ Klein, Christopher (18 October 2018). "This New York Village Seceded from the Union...for 85 Years". History (American TV channel). Retrieved 29 March 2020.
  7. ^ "2010 Census Gazetteer Files". United States Census Bureau. August 22, 2012. Archived from the original on May 19, 2014. Retrieved January 4, 2015.
  8. ^ "Population and Housing Unit Estimates". Retrieved December 20, 2019.
  9. ^ "U.S. Decennial Census". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved January 4, 2015.
  10. ^ "Historical Census Browser". University of Virginia Library. Retrieved January 4, 2015.
  11. ^ "Population of Counties by Decennial Census: 1900 to 1990". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved January 4, 2015.
  12. ^ "Census 2000 PHC-T-4. Ranking Tables for Counties: 1990 and 2000" (PDF). United States Census Bureau. Retrieved January 4, 2015.
  13. ^ "U.S. Census website". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2008-01-31.
  14. ^ "Empire State Development" (PDF). Archived from the original on August 19, 2008.
  15. ^ Hansen, Robert (July 2005). "Research Brief:County Government Structure Update (vol. 3, no. 1)". National Association of Counties. Archived from the original on 2007-10-09. Retrieved 2007-11-12.
  16. ^ Leip, David. "Dave Leip's Atlas of U.S. Presidential Elections".
  17. ^ "Michael Kearns". Ballotpedia.
  18. ^ a b Erie County (N.Y.) Department of Parks, Recreation, & Forestry; Erie County (N.Y.) Department of Environment & Planning; Parsons; Envision: The Hough Group; Paradigm Consulting; Wendel-Duchscherer Architects & Engineers (2003). Erie County Parks System Master Plan - Executive Summary (PDF). Erie County. pp. 1–16. Retrieved March 7, 2015.CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list ( link)
  19. ^ a b c d e Erie County (N.Y.) Department of Parks, Recreation, & Forestry; Erie County (N.Y.) Department of Environment & Planning; Parsons; Envision: The Hough Group; Paradigm Consulting; Wendel-Duchscherer Architects & Engineers (2003). Erie County Parks System Master Plan, Volume 1, Section 3 - Overall System Framework (PDF). Erie County. pp. 1–13. Retrieved March 6, 2015.CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list ( link)
  20. ^ a b "Bureau of Forestry". Erie County Department of Parks, Recreation and Forestry ( Retrieved March 7, 2015.

External links

Latitude and Longitude:

42°45′N 78°47′W / 42.75°N 78.78°W / 42.75; -78.78