Buffalo ( /bʌfəloʊ/) is the second most populous city in the state of New York, after New York City. Located in Western New York on the eastern shores of Lake Erie and at the head of the Niagara River across from Fort Erie, Ontario, Buffalo is the seat of Erie County and the principal city of the Buffalo-Niagara Falls metropolitan area, the largest in Upstate New York. Downtown Buffalo is located 17 miles (27 km) south of Niagara Falls. Buffalo itself has a population of 261,310 (2010 Census) and the Buffalo–Niagara–Cattaraugus Combined Statistical Area is home to 1,215,826 residents.
Originating around 1789 as a small trading community near the eponymous Buffalo Creek, Buffalo grew quickly after the opening of the Erie Canal in 1825, with the city as its western terminus. By 1900, Buffalo was the 8th largest city in the United States, and went on to become a major railroad hub, and the largest grain-milling center in the country. The latter part of the 20th Century saw a reversal of fortunes: Great Lakes shipping was rerouted by the opening of the St. Lawrence Seaway, and steel mills and other heavy industry relocated to places such as China. With the start of Amtrak in the 1970s, Buffalo Central Terminal was also abandoned, and trains were rerouted to nearby Depew, New York (Buffalo-Depew) and Exchange Street Station. By 1990 the city had fallen back below its 1900 population levels.
Today, the region's largest economic sectors are health care and education, and these continue to grow despite the lagging national and worldwide economies. This growth has been maintained, in part, by major expansions of the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus and The University at Buffalo. The retail sector of the economy is strong with additional revenue from Canadian shoppers who wish to take advantage of the lower prices. A recent study showed that Buffalo's May 2011 unemployment rate of 7.5% In 2010, Forbes rated Buffalo the 10th best place to raise a family in America.