Western New York
Western New York, reaching so far west that it almost borders Ohio and North to Canada, has a distinctively Midwestern feel. Like the heartland, the region wasn’t settled until the early 1800s, and so lacks the Colonial history of eastern New York’s Hudson Valley and the Adirondacks ,and even the Finger Lakes’ post-Revolutionary War past. Most of the region’s cities started as frontier boomtowns, and much of the countryside supports farmland.
Western New York’s two largest cities are Buffalo and Niagara Falls, situated about 20 miles apart along the Niagara River, across from Canada. At Buffalo’s southwestern edge lies Lake Erie, while north of Niagara Falls presides Lake Ontario, a favorite haunt of serious fisherfolk.
Buffalo is New York’s second largest city. Seriously depressed following the decline of its steel industry in the 1970s, it still faces many economic difficulties, but has also rejuvenated itself to a surprising extent, with a renovated waterfront and theater district.
Niagara Falls has long been regarded as one of the world’s great natural wonders. As far back as 1678, missionary Father Louis Hennepin wrote, “Betwixt the Lake Ontario and Erie, there is a vast and prodigious Cadence of Water.… The Universe does not afford its Parallel.… The Waters which fall from this horrible Precipice do foam and boyl after the most hideous manner imaginable, making an outrageous Noise, more terrible than that of Thunder.”
To the east of Buffalo extends especially fertile farm country. The unique Erie Canal snakes through this land cutting right under the third largest city in New York, Rochester, hitting a number of sleepy canal towns still rich with history in its path.
- Griffis Sculpture Park
- Niagara Region State Parks
- Niagara Reservation State Park
- Whirlpool State Park
- Erie Canal Cruise
Getting to Western New York
Airlines that serve the Buffalo Niagara International Airport (4200 Genesee St., Cheektowaga, 716/630-6000, www.buffaloairport.com) include American Airlines (800/433-7300), Continental (800/525-0280), Delta (800/221-1212), JetBlue (800/538-2583), Northwest (800/225-2525), United (800/241-6522), and USAirways (800/428-4322). USAirways also serves the Chautauqua County Jamestown Airport (3163 Airport Dr., Jamestown, 716/664-9715).
A taxi ride from the airport to downtown Buffalo costs about $20; from the airport to Niagara Falls a taxi costs about $40. ITA Buffalo Shuttle (716/633-8294 or 716/633-8318) provides service between the airport and Buffalo ($14) or Niagara Falls ($22). Metro Bus and Rails (716/855-7211) provides local bus service.
Amtrak (800/872-7245), Greyhound (800/231-2222), and New York Trailways (800/295-5555) all serve both Buffalo and Niagara Falls. Many smaller towns are serviced by Greyhound and Coach USA (716/372-5500). By far the best way to explore the region is by car.
© Avalon Travel and Sascha Zuger from Moon New York State, 5th Edition