Buffalo was laid out in 1797 by Joseph Ellicott with a plan based on L'Enfant's design for Washington, DC. Though overshadowed by New York City and nearby Toronto, Buffalo offers a surprising wealth of architectural riches to the trained eye. It still retains a sense of Washington's grandeur in the plazas and streets downtown.
Buffalo grew rapidly after the Erie Canal opened in 1825. Growth continued through the 19th Century with the coming of the railroad, heavy industry, and masses of European immigrants. The city's achievements were celebrated in 1901 with the Pan American Exposition - marred tragically by the assassination of President William McKinley. The city's growth continued until 1950, when population peaked at 580,132.
Since then, suburbanization and a shift away from heavy industry have caused many changes. A relative lack of modern buildings on the skyline reflect the overall state of the economy. Nontheless, Buffalo remains an important industrial center, a leading center of grain processing and handling - and an outstanding urban asset.