Erie County, New York

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Erie County
County and City Hall, Buffalo NY.jpg
Wendt Beach March 2007.jpg
2013 July 3 Akron Falls Park Akron NY.jpg
Chestnut Ridge Park Oct2010.jpg
Canisius College - Quad 2.jpg
Sunset over the Erie Canal in North Tonawanda, NY..jpg
Buffalo Botanical Gardens.jpg
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
Flag of Erie County, New York.gif
Seal of Erie County, New York.png
Map of New York highlighting Erie County.svg
Location within the U.S. state of New York
New York in United States.svg
New York's location within the U.S.
Coordinates: 42°45′N78°47′W / 42.75°N 78.78°W / 42.75; -78.78
CountryFlag of the United States.svg United States
StateFlag of New York.svg  New York
Named for Eriechronon
Seat Buffalo
Largest cityBuffalo
   County Executive Mark Poloncarz (D)
  Total1,227 sq mi (3,180 km2)
  Land1,043 sq mi (2,700 km2)
  Water184 sq mi (480 km2)  15%
  Total954,236 Increase2.svg
  Density914.9/sq mi (353.2/km2)
Time zone UTC−5 (Eastern)
  Summer (DST) UTC−4 (EDT)
Congressional districts 26th, 27th

Erie County is a county along the shore of Lake Erie in western New York State. As of the 2020 census, the population was 954,236. [1] The county seat is Buffalo, which makes up about 28% of the county's population. [2] Both the county and Lake Erie were named 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 its northern neighbor Niagara County, makes up the Buffalo-Niagara Falls metropolitan area, the second largest in New York State behind New York City. The county's southern part is known as the Southtowns. [3] The county has seen one of the highest growth rates of any county in New York State from the 2010 to 2020 census.


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. ["They" ambiguous; reference required]

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 westernmost counties of New York, surveyed their holdings, established towns and began selling lots to individuals. The state was eager to attract settlers and have homesteads 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 and Willink comprised the northern and southern portions of Erie county, respectively. 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 85–40 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 after 85 years of Union secession. [7]


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) (85%) is land and 184 square miles (480 km2) (15%) is water. [8]

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 known as the Northtowns and 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
1830 35,719
1840 62,46574.9%
1850 100,99361.7%
1860 141,97140.6%
1870 178,69925.9%
1880 219,88423.0%
1890 322,98146.9%
1900 433,68634.3%
1910 528,98522.0%
1920 634,68820.0%
1930 762,40820.1%
1940 798,3774.7%
1950 899,23812.6%
1960 1,064,68818.4%
1970 1,113,4914.6%
1980 1,015,472−8.8%
1990 968,532−4.6%
2000 950,265−1.9%
2010 919,040−3.3%
2020 954,2363.8%
U.S. Decennial Census [9]
1790-1960 [10] 1900-1990 [11]
1990-2000 [12] 2010-2014 [1]

As of the 2020, [13] there were 954,236 people living in the county. The population density was 915 people per square mile (353/km2). There were 438,747 housing units at an average density of 421 per square mile (162/km2). The racial makeup of the county was 72.6% White, 14.1% Black or African American, 0.6% Native American, 4.9% Asian, 0.03% Pacific Islander, 2.3% from other races and 5.4% from two or more races. 6.3% 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% Spanish and 1.6% Polish as their first language.

Erie County, NY Population ErieCountyPopulation 2.jpg
Erie County, NY Population

There were 380,873 households, out of which 29.6% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 46.5% were married couples living together, 13.7% had a female householder with no husband present and 36.1% were non-families. 30.5% of all households were made up of individuals, and 12.5% 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 24.3% under 18, 8.7% from 18 to 24, 28.4% from 25 to 44, 22.7% from 45 to 64 and 15.9% older than 65. The median age was 38 years. For every 100 females, there were 91.6 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 87.8 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 9.2% of families and 12.2% of the population were below the poverty line, including 17.3% of those under 18 and 7.8% of those older than 65.

2020 Census

Erie County Racial Composition [15]
White (NH)678,23671%
Black or African American (NH)129,87413.6%
Native American (NH)4,6670.5%
Asian (NH)46,0904.83%
Pacific Islander (NH)1990.02%
Other/Mixed (NH)35,5123.72%
Hispanic or Latino 59,6586.25%

County government and politics

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 that of Erie County's. These plans have proven controversial; there is controversy on the impact of the city's debt on a regional government. Concerns have also been raised that a regional government would dilute minority representation in government. [16]

Prior to 1936, Erie County predominantly backed Republican Party candidates, with only four Democratic Party candidates winning the county in a presidential election - James Buchanan in 1856, George B. McClellan in 1864, Grover Cleveland in 1892 and Woodrow Wilson in 1912. However, starting with the 1936 election, it has turned predominantly Democratic since then, with only two Republicans carrying the county in a presidential election-- Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1952 and 1956 and Richard Nixon in 1972, with Nixon being the most recent. In 2016, like many other counties in the Rust Belt, Donald Trump drastically expanded the Republican vote share thanks to his appeal to working-class whites and Ethnic-Catholic voters. Four years later, in 2020, Joe Biden won 267,270 votes in Erie County, more than Barack Obama in 2008.

United States presidential election results for Erie County, New York [17]
Year Republican Democratic Third party
2020 197,55241.73%267,27056.46%8,5961.82%
2016 188,30344.45%215,45650.86%19,8664.69%
2012 169,67540.97%237,35657.31%7,1641.73%
2008 178,81540.46%256,29957.99%6,8711.55%
2004 184,42341.43%251,09056.41%9,6252.16%
2000 160,17637.72%240,17656.56%24,3025.72%
1996 132,34332.26%224,55454.74%53,33713.00%
1992 129,44428.67%196,23343.46%125,81927.87%
1988 188,79643.83%238,77955.43%3,2170.75%
1984 222,88248.28%237,63151.47%1,1580.25%
1980 169,20940.24%215,28351.20%35,9818.56%
1976 220,31048.65%229,39750.66%3,1360.69%
1972 256,46253.88%218,10545.82%1,4560.31%
1968 167,85337.04%250,05455.18%35,2587.78%
1964 125,96226.71%344,91073.14%7040.15%
1960 211,95743.30%277,20356.62%4040.08%
1956 292,65763.68%166,93036.32%00.00%
1952 253,92756.32%196,37843.56%5500.12%
1948 175,11845.68%197,61851.55%10,6362.77%
1944 185,97548.53%195,90551.12%1,3550.35%
1940 183,66449.05%189,77950.68%9920.26%
1936 152,31244.51%183,55553.64%6,3411.85%
1932 141,05949.86%131,01246.31%10,8593.84%
1928 144,72651.36%126,44944.87%10,6143.77%
1924 112,07058.53%40,78021.30%38,63020.17%
1920 99,76263.22%40,43625.63%17,59811.15%
1916 53,63852.35%45,62244.53%3,2003.12%
1912 19,18522.54%33,51839.38%32,41038.08%
1908 52,18252.36%45,18545.34%2,2932.30%
1904 49,66955.73%36,58241.04%2,8813.23%
1900 44,76751.66%39,83345.97%2,0572.37%
1896 45,61258.57%30,17238.74%2,0952.69%
1892 32,34047.28%32,43147.41%3,6325.31%
1888 31,61251.06%29,54347.71%7621.23%
1884 26,24950.49%24,75947.62%9851.89%

Erie County executives

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

County ExecutiveMark Poloncarz Democratic Buffalo
County ComptrollerKevin R. Hardwick Democratic Tonawanda
County Clerk Mickey Kearns Republican Buffalo
District AttorneyJohn J. Flynn Democratic Buffalo
County SheriffJohn C. Garcia Republican Buffalo

County legislature

1 Howard Johnson Democratic Buffalo
2 ChairApril N.M. Baskin Democratic Buffalo
3 Lisa M. Chimera Democratic Kenmore
4 Kevin Hardwick Democratic Tonawanda
5 Jeanne Vinal Democratic Amherst
6 Christopher D. Greene Republican Clarence
7 Majority LeaderTimothy J. Meyers Democratic Cheektowaga
8 Frank Todaro Republican Cheektowaga and Lancaster
9 John Gilmour Democratic Hamburg
10 Minority LeaderJoseph C. Lorigo Conservative West Seneca
11 John J. Mills Republican Orchard Park


School districts

"Special act" school districts

As of the 2010 U.S. Census some parts of this county were not in a defined school district, with some undefined land and some undefined water. [20]

Higher education

Attractions and recreation

Erie County is home to three professional teams—the NFL's Buffalo Bills, the NHL's Buffalo Sabres and the NLL's Buffalo Bandits, along with Division I's Buffalo Bulls and MILB's Buffalo Bisons. The city of Buffalo also features the Buffalo Zoo, Buffalo and Erie County Historical Society, Burchfield-Penney Art Center and Albright-Knox Art Gallery (all located within a mile of each other in the Delaware Park System), Buffalo and Erie County Botanical Gardens and Buffalo Museum of Science, in addition to tourist districts such as Canalside and Larkinville. The Erie County Fair, held every August in the Town of Hamburg from 1820 to 2019 (the 2020 event, like much everything else across the country, was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic), is one of the largest county fairs in the United States. [21]

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. [22] 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. [22]

Heritage parks

Eternal Flame Falls in Chestnut Ridge Park. Eternal flame falls 7252.jpg
Eternal Flame Falls in Chestnut Ridge Park.

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. [23]

Waterfront parks

Waterfront parks include the significant scenic sites and recreational trail systems along the county's Lake Erie shoreline. [23]

Conservation parks

View of the Scoby Dam at Scoby Dam Park. Scobey Power Plant and Dam 1.jpg
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. [23]

Special purpose parks

Special purpose parks have unique characteristics that provide specific recreational functions within the county's park system. [23]

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. [24] 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. [23] [24]


#LocationPopulation (2010)TypeArea
1Buffalo 278,349CityGreater Buffalo
2 Cheektowaga 75,178CDPGreater Buffalo
3 Tonawanda 58,144CDPGreater Buffalo
4 West Seneca 44,711CDPGreater Buffalo
5 Lackawanna 19,949CityGreater Buffalo
6 Kenmore 15,423VillageGreater Buffalo
7 Depew 15,303VillageGreater Buffalo
8 Tonawanda 15,130CityGreater Buffalo
9 Eggertsville 15,019CDPGreater Buffalo
10 Lancaster 10,352VillageGreater Buffalo
11 Hamburg 9,409VillageGreater Buffalo
12 East Aurora 6,236VillageGreater Buffalo
13 Harris Hill 5,508CDPGreater Buffalo
14 Williamsville 5,300VillageGreater Buffalo
15 Grandyle Village 4,629CDPGreater Buffalo
16 Springville 4,296VillageSouthern
17 Lake Erie Beach 3,872CDPSouthern
18 Sloan 3,661VillageGreater Buffalo
19 Eden 3,516CDPSouthern
20 Orchard Park 3,246VillageGreater Buffalo
21 Wanakah 3,199CDPGreater Buffalo
22 Akron 2,868VillageNortheast
23Gowanda 2,709VillageSouthern
24 Clarence 2,646CDPGreater Buffalo
25 Alden 2,605VillageNortheast
26 Elma Center 2,571CDPGreater Buffalo
27 Blasdell 2,553VillageGreater Buffalo
28 North Boston 2,521CDPSouthern
29 Town Line 2,367CDPNortheast
30 Angola 2,127VillageSouthern
31 Billington Heights 1,685CDPGreater Buffalo
32 Angola on the Lake 1,675CDPSouthern
33 North Collins 1,232VillageSouthern
34 Holland 1,206CDPSouthern
35 Farnham 386VillageSouthern
- Highland-on-the-Lake N/ACDPSouthern
- University at Buffalo N/ACDPBuffalo

† - County Seat

‡ - Not Wholly in this County


Map showing the municipalities of Erie County Map of Erie County, New York.png
Map showing the municipalities of Erie County


Indian reservations

See also

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Further reading

Coordinates: 42°45′N78°47′W / 42.75°N 78.78°W / 42.75; -78.78