Buffalo/Downtown

Downtown has been the nucleus of Buffalo since its foundation; over two centuries later, it retains its central importance in the Niagara Frontier both geographically and commercially. Though its bygone era of bustling streets and fancy department stores along Main Street has not been completely reclaimed, visitors to downtown today will be greeted with a lot more than the boarded-up storefronts and eerie desolation that they would have seen a quarter-century ago.

For the purposes of this article, the Medical Corridor — located north of what has traditionally been called downtown, where the University at Buffalo Medical School has helped cultivate a complex of medical research institutions that are a new and growing sector of the area's economy — falls under the umbrella of downtown due to its abundance of tall buildings and white-collar workers.

Understand

Downtown Buffalo has come a long way in the past decade or two, and now contains a number of distinct attractions for tourists. Main Street's Theater District sprang up around the grand old silent movie palace-turned-performing arts venue, Shea's Buffalo Theatre, when it was rescued from the wrecking ball in 1976. The Theater District now boasts a range of restaurants, bars, shops, music venues, and of course, theatres, that is astonishingly wide for a city Buffalo's size. Additionally, clubbers flock to the entertainment district along West Chippewa Street that buzzes with activity until 4AM. Most recently, the ongoing revitalization of the Canalside area is a paradise for history buffs, families with children, and those who just enjoy the simple pleasure of a stroll along the lakefront on a warm summer day. Fans of architecture will also be enraptured by the many well-preserved examples of turn-of-the-century buildings found all over the business district, many of which have been lovingly restored and have been repurposed with new identities amid the modest but growing renaissance that Buffalo is currently enjoying.

History

Not surprisingly, downtown Buffalo is the oldest section of the city. Though the official incorporation of Buffalo dates to 1804, it is known that there was a tiny trading post, a few cabins, and perhaps a half-dozen settlers located here before that date — and perhaps even before the Holland Land Company's purchase eleven years earlier of all of what is today New York State west of the Genesee River. However, it was in 1798 when Joseph Ellicott, a land agent and surveyor for the Holland Land Company, arrived at the junction of the Buffalo River and Lake Erie. Soon afterward, he began to lay out streets and lots for a village he called New Amsterdam, but which the residents insisted on calling Buffalo (a name change that was made official in 1808). Joseph Ellicott was the brother of Andrew Ellicott, who was responsible for surveying the streets of Washington, D.C.; the radial streets that Joseph Ellicott laid out in Buffalo, centered on Niagara Square and largely intact today, certainly bear a great deal of similarity to the street plan of Washington and also testify to the greatness that Ellicott envisioned for Buffalo — though it was well beyond the frontier of settlement at that time, Ellicott predicted that Buffalo would someday be a huge city and an important inland port. Ellicott's vision came to fruition in 1825 with the completion of the Erie Canal from the Hudson River at Albany to Buffalo Harbor, kickstarting a century of meteoric growth for Buffalo.

It is important to note that for all of Buffalo's importance during those early years as an inland port and manufacturing center, commerce played a much smaller role in its economy than industry. Buffalo's commercial district at that time was quite small, hugging the north side of the harbor and extending no further north than Church Street. By contrast, the northern reaches of today's downtown, i.e. the Theater District, were residential; even Niagara Square was a cluster of elegant and spacious mansions with an appearance much more akin to a village green in New England than the center of an urban business district. It was not until after the Civil War that commerce truly began to take a place in Buffalo's economy; by the turn of the century, Lafayette Square, two blocks north of Church Street, was the home of large office buildings such as the Buffalo German Insurance Company and the Mooney & Brisbane Building. The business district's boundary continued to creep further north during the first part of the 20th Century; at the onset of the Depression, Niagara Square was an odd mishmash, with the remaining mansions standing side by side with tall skyscrapers like the twelve-story Buffalo Athletic Club, the 19-story Hotel Statler, and the then brand-new City Hall, which, at a height of 398 feet (121m), is still the second-tallest building in Buffalo.

However, things were slowly beginning to change. Though World War II saw Buffalo's steel mills and automotive plants working at full force, a number of factors converged after the war that stymied, and finally reversed, Buffalo's growth. In downtown specifically, the Main Street retail corridor began to grow less and less crowded each year as shoppers began to pass up grand old department stores like Adam, Meldrum and Anderson, Hengerer's, and L. L. Berger in favor of suburban plazas and malls. Sadly, the response of Buffalo's civic leaders to the decline of downtown was the same as their response to the deterioration in other neighborhoods: "urban renewal", for the most part poorly thought out and incredibly destructive. Among the many examples of the devastation of downtown's urban fabric was the demolition of the stunning, castlelike Erie County Savings Bank building to make way for the Main Place Tower, a bland modernist office tower with an attached suburban-style shopping mall, the razing of Cyrus Eidlitz's Buffalo Public Library, a beautiful Romanesque edifice in red sandstone at the east end of Lafayette Square, to be replaced by the drab monolith that houses the Central Library today, and the replacement of the beautiful French Second Empire-style Buffalo German Insurance Company with the minimalist, boxlike Tishman Building, which as of this writing has stood abandoned for nearly a decade.

By 2000, signs of hope had begun to emerge. Buffalo's preservationist movement, which was kickstarted in 1950 with the city's shortsighted demolition of Frank Lloyd Wright's glorious Larkin Administration Building, had gained strength all through this time as their list of successes in preventing future disasters of that type grew. Thanks to their efforts, downtown Buffalo retains many splendid old buildings that would otherwise have been demolished. More importantly, the failure of Robert Moses-style urban renewal to address Buffalo's decline has inspired the city's leaders to adopt a new strategy for development, favoring a more broad-based approach that has already borne fruit in similar Rust Belt cities like Cleveland and Pittsburgh. Without this epiphany, West Chippewa Street would likely still be overrun with seedy bars, prostitutes and other unsavory characters, Canalside would likely still be a desolate patchwork of parking lots and moribund warehouses, and downtown in general would likely still be replete with boarded-up storefronts and a virtual ghost town after the end of the workday and on weekends. The most recent phase in downtown's renaissance, beginning over the past decade, has been the conversion of disused office space into high-end downtown apartments and condominiums — a commodity for which many Buffalonians have been surprised to discover there is considerable pent-up demand.

Climate

Because of its proximity to Lake Erie, downtown Buffalo is noticeably cooler and windier than other areas of the city and region. This has the effect of making the Erie Basin Marina and other waterfront areas popular places for Buffalonians to escape oppressive summer heat, but also makes nighttime baseball games at Coca-Cola Field early in the season fairly uncomfortable.

Get in and around

On foot

Although a car is probably necessary for most visitors to Buffalo, the small size of Buffalo's downtown, coupled with issues such as traffic, the proliferation of one-way streets, and the hassle and expense of parking, make walking a far more sensible method of transportation for those who only need to travel from one downtown location to another. In fact, it could be said that walking is the only way to fully experience the best of what downtown Buffalo has to offer — its magnificent architecture, the proliferation of unexpected things to see, and the bustle of the streets are often missed by those who merely pass through in a car. It's really quite a pleasant experience.

By car

Due to its central location and the famously light traffic on area roads, downtown Buffalo is easily accessible by car. (Parking, however, is another story!)

Niagara Square was designed as the central node of Buffalo's network of streets, a status it retains, and thus it is a good point of reference for visitors in navigating the streets of downtown. Niagara Square is where many of Buffalo's most important thoroughfares converge: Niagara Street, Elmwood Avenue, Delaware Avenue, Genesee Street, and Court Street (which splits three blocks east of here, at Lafayette Square, into William Street and Clinton Street). Downtown's other major thoroughfares include Main, Church, Pearl, Tupper, Washington, Chippewa, Ellicott, Oak, and Elm Streets.

In addition, downtown Buffalo is also served by three urban expressways: the Kensington Expressway (NY 33), which begins at the airport and passes through the suburb of Cheektowaga and the East Side before ending at Oak Street at the northeast corner of downtown; Interstate 190, Exits 6 and 7 of which serve downtown via Elm and Church Streets, respectively; and the Buffalo Skyway (NY 5), which parallels the lake shore along the Outer Harbor before ending at its junction with I-190 downtown.

Visitors who drive downtown may be confused by the many one-way streets. Although a one-way street that runs in one particular direction generally (but not always) is located parallel to one that runs in the opposite direction, and although the major thoroughfares of downtown generally (but not always) feature two-way traffic, indeed there seems not to be much rhyme or reason to the pattern. Those unfamiliar with downtown should bring a good road map or pre-printed directions — and patience. Also, though Main Street has been closed to automobile traffic between Mohawk and Scott Streets since 1985 to accommodate the above-ground portion of the Metro Rail, the "Cars Sharing Main Street" project allowing for the gradual return of cars to that thoroughfare has been ongoing for some time. The segment between Tupper and Chippewa Streets and Chippewa and Mohawk Streets reopened in January and December 2015, respectively, with cars and trains sharing the tracks; the next segment scheduled to reopen (in 2016 or 2017) is the block between Exchange and Scott Streets, just north of Canalside. However, it will likely be many years before all of Main Street is accessible to autos.

On-street parking in the downtown core can be hard to come by (though the scenario is certainly not as dire as in larger cities like New York or Toronto). This is especially true on weekdays during business hours and, in and around the Chippewa Street entertainment district, also at night and on weekends. Parking meters generally charge $1 per hour; parking is free after 5PM on weekdays and all day Saturday and Sunday. Parking is much more easily available, but also more expensive, at downtown's many paid parking lots and ramps. Rates at parking ramps average about $1.50 per hour up to a daily maximum of about $6; surface lots range from $4 to $5 per hour up to a daily maximum of between $8 and $10. During special events at the First Niagara Center, Coca-Cola Field, or the Convention Center, rates at parking ramps and (particularly) surface lots rise steeply.

Rental cars

By public transportation

Public transit in Buffalo and the surrounding area is provided by the Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority (NFTA). The NFTA Metro system encompasses a single-line light-rail rapid transit (LRRT) system and an extensive network of buses. The fare for a single trip on a bus or train is $2.00 regardless of length, with the sole exception of the Enhanced Express service described below. No transfers are provided between buses or trains; travelers who will need to make multiple trips per day on public transit should consider purchasing an all-day pass for $5.00.

By bus

Downtown Buffalo is served by virtually all of the NFTA's bus routes, either directly or via the Metro Rail, and thus is easily accessible from the majority of the metropolitan area by public transportation. The   Buffalo Metropolitan Transportation Center, at Ellicott and North Division Streets, is the central node of the bus network and serves as a stop on most if not all bus routes that access downtown directly. Individual routes and schedules are available at the NFTA Metro System's website.

In addition to regular routes, the NFTA operates thirteen express buses that directly connect downtown Buffalo with more far-flung suburbs, with few if any intermediate stops. Of particular interest to tourists will be NFTA MetroLink Bus #204 — Airport-Downtown Express, which makes 12 runs in each direction Monday through Friday between the Buffalo Niagara International Airport and the Buffalo Metropolitan Transportation Center. Because these buses are primarily intended for residents of the suburbs who need to commute to jobs downtown, all express buses (with the exception of Bus #204) make inbound trips on weekday mornings only, and outbound trips on weekday evenings only. Thus, travelers who are staying in the suburbs but would like to visit downtown may find express buses convenient. Visitors should also note that some express buses fall under the Enhanced Express service that was introduced by the NFTA in September 2012. In addition to the usual one-way fare of $2.00, an additional 50¢ surcharge per trip applies on Enhanced Express buses. These routes are enumerated on the NFTA Metro System's website.

By Metro Rail

An outbound NFTA Metro Rail train pulls into Fountain Plaza Station.

The Metro Rail is an LRRT line that extends along Main Street from the University at Buffalo's South Campus in North Buffalo southward to downtown. The northern portion of the system is a subway, but as it enters downtown it emerges from its tunnel and runs at street level. Riding on the above-ground portion of the Metro Rail — from Fountain Plaza Station near Genesee Street southward to Erie Canal Harbor Station — is free, and is a pleasant and efficient way to travel from one end of downtown to the other. It's important to note, though, that travelers who continue northward past the Fountain Plaza Station without having paid a fare ($2.00 one-way/$4.00 round trip) may incur a substantial fine.

There are six Metro Rail stations located downtown. From north to south, they are:

Additionally, the   Allen-Medical Campus Station, the next stop north of Fountain Plaza, is located at the corner of Main and Allen Streets, adjacent to the Buffalo Niagara Medical Corridor. Though most Buffalonians would argue that this area is not part of "downtown" per se, the fact that the Medical Corridor is covered in this article makes the Allen-Medical Campus Station the most convenient one for several of the attractions listed below. Also keep in mind that the Allen-Medical Campus Station is not part of the free-fare zone.

The Metro Rail is the backbone of Buffalo's public transit system — the line intersects with most NFTA bus routes, including many crosstown routes that do not access downtown directly. In particular, the University Station, at the outer end of the line, is serviced by many suburban bus routes that traverse the towns north of Buffalo, making for easy access to downtown.

By bike

Buffalo has been making great strides in recent years in accommodating bicycling as a mode of transportation, with recognition from the League of American Bicyclists as a Bronze-Level "Bicycle-Friendly Community" to show for its efforts. As far as bicycling infrastructure goes, downtown Buffalo, along with the city as a whole, has come a long way in a short time. In two short years (as of 2013), "sharrows" (pavement markings on roads too narrow to accommodate dedicated bike lanes, indicating that drivers should be aware of bicyclists on the road), have been painted on West Chippewa Street between Main Street and South Elmwood Avenue, and in the Medical Corridor along Ellicott Street between Goodell and Best Streets. As well, there are bike lanes on either side of Delaware Avenue from Niagara Square northward through downtown (and as far as North Street in Allentown), and along Marine Drive and its eastern extension, Scott Street, between Erie and Washington Streets.

This trend is slated to continue into the future as well, as the aforementioned Cars on Main Street program will see Main Street progressively transformed from a failed attempt at a pedestrian mall lined with moribund businesses to what will be almost inarguably the most "complete" street in Buffalo's "Complete Streets" program, whose aim is to redesign streets so as to promote alternative methods of transportation. At its completion, Main Street will see cars and trains sharing the Metro Rail tracks in the middle of the roadway, flanked by ample sidewalks and — yes — a bike lane on each side of the street.

This is not to say that cyclists should throw caution to the wind: downtown Buffalo is still a place of heavy automobile traffic and crowded sidewalks. In particular, despite the pavement markings, West Chippewa is still an extremely busy road in terms of both automobile and foot traffic.

As well, Canalside serves as the southern terminus of the Riverwalk, a multi-use trail 13.3 miles (21.4 km) in length that parallels the Niagara River north to Nia-Wanda Park in Tonawanda. The Riverwalk was one of the first purpose-built bike trails in the area, dating to the 1980s, and it's still a perennial favorite especially on warm summer days, boasting scenic views over the water. Particularly avid bicyclists will note that the Riverwalk also links up directly to the Scajaquada Creekside Trail to Delaware Park, as well as the Erie Canalway Trail through Tonawanda and Amherst. From Canalside, cyclists can also get to the Outer Harbor's Industrial Heritage Trail via a dedicated off-street trail alongside Ohio Street or on the Queen City Bike Ferry (fare $1, operates late May-mid Oct).

Bike sharing and rental

Buffalo BikeShare has two hubs downtown: in the area bordered by Delaware Avenue, Niagara Square, and Court, Pearl, and West Mohawk Streets, as well as the Innovation Center, at 640 Ellicott St. (corner of Virginia St.) in the Medical Corridor. Members can sign in to the Social Bicycles mobile app to find available bikes in either of these places.

If you're in town between May and October and are keen to take a two-wheeled spin around the harbor,   Blue Bikes of Canalside is another option. Made possible by BlueCross BlueShield of Western New York, Blue Bikes' fleet of 46 includes adult- and child-sized bikes and even a few tricycles for the littlest riders, which are rented from a kiosk on the west side of Main Street across from the Courtyard by Marriott, near the paddleboat station. In theory you can ride wherever you like, but the fairly steep prices — $15 per hour, $20 for two hours, $25 for three hours, and $35 for four or more hours (BlueCross BlueShield members can show their card for a $5 discount) — make this a less practical option if you're planning to venture outside of the immediate Canalside area.

By train

The   Buffalo-Exchange Street Amtrak Station (BFX) is located downtown at 75 Exchange St., and is directly accessed by a number of NFTA Metro Bus routes. See the main Buffalo article for more information on arriving via Amtrak.

See

Museums

History

Monuments and memorials

Viewed from the City Hall Observation Deck (see listing in the Miscellaneous section below), the radial street plan of Buffalo, centered on Niagara Square, is the main raison d'être of the Joseph Ellicott Local Historic District.

Architecture

More and more, Buffalo's exquisite and well-preserved architecture has grabbed the attention of locals and tourists alike. As of May 2015, there are sixteen historic neighborhoods in Buffalo that have been recognized by either the National Register of Historic Places or the Buffalo Preservation Board, at least partly for reasons of architectural importance. Four of those are located downtown:

Art

Recent years have seen the emergence of a growing arts community in downtown Buffalo, centered in the Theater District as well as the emerging 500 block of Main Street immediately south of there. For more art galleries in downtown Buffalo — specifically, ones where art is sold as well as displayed — see the Buy section.

Breweries

Outdoors

Ice skating at the Rotary Rink is a popular winter activity downtown — never more so than at New Year's, when the First Night celebration draws revelers to Fountain Plaza (see the Festivals and Events section below).

Miscellaneous

Do

Festivals and events

Buffalo's calendar of annual festivals, parades and events is huge and growing, and its central location makes downtown a popular location for these events. In particular, Niagara Square and Canalside are among Buffalo's preeminent venues, each hosting a multitude of festivals per year.

Spring

Summer

Canadian rockers Sloan play at Thursday at the Harbor, a long-running summer music series that recently moved to Canalside from its former home at Lafayette Square.

Autumn

Winter

Sports

The Buffalo Bisons are the AAA farm team of the Toronto Blue Jays. Their home games are played at Coca-Cola Field in downtown Buffalo.

Downtown is home to five of Buffalo's seven professional sports teams.

Pro sports aside, HarborCenter is also home to the Canisius College Golden Griffins men's ice hockey team, playing Division I hockey in the Atlantic Hockey Conference.

Ice skating

Boating

Harbor cruises

Theater

For a city its size, Buffalo has a surprisingly large, active, and diverse theater scene. The Theater District, bounded roughly by Washington, Tupper, Pearl, and Chippewa Streets, is especially vibrant, with Curtain Up!, the gala event that marks the opening of the theater season, drawing larger-than-ever crowds downtown each September.

For further information on many of the theaters listed here, and on the shows currently running, please visit the Theatre Alliance of Buffalo's website.

The heart of downtown Buffalo's Theater District, with its great variety of performance venues, restaurants, and other attractions.

Movies

Live music

Buy

Urban renewal gone wrong

No discussion of downtown Buffalo retail would be complete without a mention of the Main Place Mall, opened in 1969 on two blocks on the west side of Main Street, between North Division Street and Lafayette Square. In the midst of suburbanization, the Main Place Mall was a tragically wrongheaded attempt on the part of downtown developers to provide a shot in the arm to the then-declining phenomenon of Main Street retail by recreating the sterile ambience of a suburban shopping mall in an urban setting. Although this attempt was mostly a colossal failure, the Main Place Mall clings to life today, albeit with the vast majority of its storefronts vacant. An exception to that rule is the food court, which is fairly active as a lunchtime destination for the white-collar workers at the nearby office towers. However, one would be hard-pressed to recommend the mall as a shopping destination to anyone other than those few readers who happen to be in the market for dollar-store trinkets, basketball sneakers, or cheap prepaid mobile phones.

Downtown Buffalo is not the retail draw that it was 50 or 75 years ago, before suburbanization took its toll. However, as Buffalo continues its renaissance, a growing number of specialty shops are creeping back in to the business district.

Books

Art

Founded in 1940 at the corner of Washington and Seneca Streets, at what is today the site of Coca-Cola Field, Tent City is now located in the historic Perron Building in the Theater District.

Clothing

Furniture and home decor

Jewelry

Liquor, beer and wine

Toys and gifts

Flowers

Designed in 1892 by eminent local architects Green & Wicks, the ornate Beaux-Arts style of the Market Arcade symbolizes the era's optimism and taste for grandeur. Basically a turn-of-the-century shopping mall, the Arcade's inviting storefronts overlooked a skylit corridor that led from Main Street to the Chippewa-Washington Public Market. After World War II, as its namesake market closed and shoppers began to eschew downtown for the suburbs, the Market Arcade fell into decline; by the end of the 1970s it was shuttered. However, it has since been restored and reopened, and it's today the home of the J. Christian Fashion Boutique, local artist Michael Mulley's Queen City Gallery, and more.

Miscellaneous

Eat

Downtown's dining scene is flourishing, with great new restaurants opening on a constant basis. The scene has taken a turn for the luxurious of late — especially since the reopening of the historic Hotel Lafayette, including three brand-new upscale restaurants — but affordable options are plentiful too, especially for those who are in the neighborhood at breakfast or lunch time on weekdays.

Budget

  • Bobby Alfman's Gourmet Sandwiches. Run by a partnership helmed by Charlie Goldman of Allen Street Hardware Café fame, Bobby Alfman's can be compared to a gourmet (and gourmet-priced) version of Subway sandwich shop. On the menu are your choice of seven deli sandwiches served on same-day-baked 12-inch hoagie rolls — the Number 4 (pastrami and corned beef with Swiss cheese and onion) packs a nice kick courtesy of the spicy mustard it comes slathered in, while the Number 1 (Italian beef with stewed tomatoes and provolone) is pretty underwhelming. Potato chips, fountain drinks, and a soup of the day are available as sides, but on an à la carte basis only — sadly, there's no "Fresh Value Meal" equivalent in the Subway analogy. $10-25.
  • Crush Juicery. Unlike many EXPO Market vendors, the menu at the satellite location of Crush Juicery is comparable in range to its original location: all thirteen of the smoothies and all four of the granola fruit bowls that are available at their little counter within Newbury Street Café on Elmwood can also be enjoyed at their stand-alone booth downtown, and although the original's cold-pressed juices and herbal teas are missing, that's made up for by an enticing menu of $5 breakfasts that are available all day: oatmeal bowls with your choice of fruit topping, yummy Greek yogurt parfaits, and spicy, savory avocado toast topped with crumbled goat cheese. As at its counterpart, though, the smoothies are the biggest draw at Crush Juicery — standouts include the "Ventura Boulevard" (with kale, banana, raw cashew, agave nectar, and almond milk) and the "Oxford Street" (avocado, kale, pineapple, banana, coconut water, and spirulina) — all clean, green, healthy, and packed with energy and nutrients. If you want an extra bit of oomph, you can even order your smoothie "enhanced" with boosters such as whey protein, turmeric, bee pollen, and creatine. $10-20.
  • Mercato. Osteria 166's EXPO Market outlet offers an abbreviated but respectably diverse selection of a half-dozen signature pasta dishes that run the gamut from familiar but well-executed favorites like spaghetti and meatballs, to more interesting creations such as tortellini alfredo with peas, as well as changing daily specials. However, the most recommendable thing on the menu at Mercato is almost inarguably the $10 build-your-own pasta option that enables many combinations that are more creative than the menu standards. You get your choice of one pasta, one sauce, one meat (perennials like grilled chicken and Italian sausage but also pancetta and Italian pulled pork), and an unlimited number of the two dozen or so vegetable toppings Mercato offers (unique standouts here include escarole, pine nuts, and wild mushrooms). Throw in a side of risotto sticks or parmesan truffle chips, add a San Pellegrino soda to drink, and you're good to go. $15-25.
  • Newbury Street. Another Paul Tsouflidis-owned Elmwood Avenue health-food purveyor with a presence at EXPO Market, at Newbury Street you can choose from a curated selection of their well-beloved wraps and burritos, the ever-popular spicy quinoa bowl with chicken, as well as the full range of signature salads that you can get at the original — yes, this includes the Brainy Beet and the Jalapeño Chicken. However, most visitors to Newbury Street opt for the build-your-own salad — you choose a leafy green as a base, any of four additional vegetable ingredients, premium toppings if you like, and dressing — and build-your-own quinoa bowls and wraps work under similar principles. The locally-baked multigrain bread offered for a paltry 35-cent upcharge, sourced from the West Side's own BreadHive Cooperative Bakery, tops it all off (figuratively, and literally too if you like). $10-20.
  • Sun Roll. The EXPO iteration of the West Side's ever-popular Sun Restaurant focuses not on tasty Burmese specialties but on sushi, many varieties of which incorporate chef/owner Kevin Lin's signature ingredient, black rice. Aficionados of the original location will be pleased to know that the pickled tea leaf salad (le peth thoat) is indeed included in the selection of side salads, and if you're not in the mood for sushi, you can also avail yourself of black rice pudding, steamed chicken or vegetable dumplings, or refreshing Thai iced tea or coffee to drink. $10-25.

Mid-range

Splurge

Local chains

The following local chain restaurants have locations downtown. Descriptions of these restaurants can be found on the main Buffalo page.

Pizza

The following pizzerias are located downtown. Those who are interested in pizza delivery (as opposed to pickup) might want to also check listings in adjacent districts; local pizzerias will often deliver to several different neighborhoods of the city.

Groceries

Farmers' markets

Drink

West Chippewa Street forms the core of Buffalo's most popular entertainment district.

Chippewa Street

Though it's "grown up" a great deal since its glory days, there are still a good many lively party bars and thumping dance clubs to be found along West Chippewa Street, generally clustered near the corner of Franklin Street — magnets for a youthful crowd comprised heavily of students from the University of Buffalo, Buffalo State College, Canisius College, and the many other colleges and universities in the area. That being the case, these days the western half of the strip, closer to Delaware and Elmwood Avenues, is dominated by more laid-back, upscale bars and fine restaurants that cater to an older clientele.

Dance clubs

Other bars

Theater District

Here you'll find a sizable selection of more upscale establishments, especially along Pearl and Franklin Streets on the western periphery of the district. These places are usually busiest before and after shows during theater season, but that's changing — with new life coming to Main Street thanks to the Cars Sharing Main Street program and the downtown revival in general, the Theater District's bars now attract their share of the Friday and Saturday night crowd too.

Elsewhere Downtown

Coffee shops

Sleep

This guide uses the following price ranges for a standard double room:
Budget Under $100/night
Mid-range $100-150/night
Splurge Over $150/night

The number and quality of hotels available in downtown Buffalo has exploded in recent years, with new hotels opening their doors, such as the Embassy Suites in the Avant Building, as well as renovations and modernizations at existing ones such as the Adam's Mark and the Hotel Lafayette. This boom shows no signs of slowing, with several new hotels slated to open in the near future — in many cases under the framework of the myriad rehabilitation projects of historic buildings that have come to pass recently.

All of the establishments listed below offer free wireless Internet to guests.

Mid-range

The Hotel Lafayette is one of a growing number of new or newly remodeled hotels that are mushrooming in downtown Buffalo.

Splurge

Hostels

Connect

There are two post offices located downtown:

Free wireless Internet is available through BuffaloConnect, whose 30 dozen hotspots run along the Main Street corridor from the Theater District through Canalside. In addition, Starbucks and SPoT Coffee on Chippewa Street also have free WiFi.

For wired computer terminals, the   Central Library on Lafayette Square is the place to go: their media room has several dozen Internet-enabled computers available for a nominal charge, as well as WiFi if you've brought your own laptop.

Stay safe

Despite the fact that Buffalo's crime rate has fallen steadily since the 1990s, it is still higher than the national average for cities its size. Downtown Buffalo registers more crimes than other areas of the city, but this probably has to do with the fact that it has a far denser concentration of people and businesses than other neighborhoods. Though the usual precautions should obviously be taken — locking your car doors, keeping valuables out of sight, being aware of your surroundings — the central business district is patrolled vigilantly by police officers, and generally speaking, it doesn't "feel" especially unsafe by Buffalo standards.

The pickpocketing, drunken brawls, and assaults that were once common in the Chippewa Street entertainment district have decreased sharply in number over the past five years or so, thanks to the Buffalo Police's vigilant patrols and stepped-up enforcement of drinking laws (not to mention the resultant decrease in the number of nightspots operating there). Still, if you're planning a night out at one of Chippewa's remaining clubs, it never hurts to be aware of your surroundings and to make yourself scarce if you find yourself in a heated situation.

Panhandling is an increasingly common phenomenon in many neighborhoods of Buffalo, including downtown. Panhandlers can be found all over downtown but seem to be especially fond of the Theater District and the 500 block of Main Street, with the Tim Hortons at Lafayette Square particularly notorious in that regard. They can be a nuisance, but they are rarely aggressive. A polite but firm "no" almost always suffices.

Cope

Hospitals

Buffalo has a remarkably large number of hospitals and medical facilities for a city its size. Located just north of the business district, the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus, a complex of health care centers, research institutes, and educational facilities that is the epicenter of Buffalo's growing medical technology and bioinformatics industry, was established in 2001 by the University at Buffalo Medical School, Roswell Park Cancer Institute, and others.

For non-emergency situations, Lifetime Health operates an urgent care facility at the   William E. Mosher Medical Center, at 899 Main St. in the Medical Corridor, three blocks from Buffalo General.

Places of worship

Downtown Buffalo is the site of some of Buffalo's most historic and imposing church buildings, including the seats of both the Roman Catholic Diocese of Buffalo and the Episcopal Diocese of Western New York. Attending services at many of these locations is a truly magnificent experience.

Roman Catholic

For a part of Buffalo that is not primarily residential, and especially given the decline of population in the inner city and the rash of closures and mergers of Catholic parishes in recent years, a surprising number of older Catholic churches remain open and active downtown in neighborhoods that have long since transitioned from residential to commercial.

St. Paul's Episcopal Cathedral, a Nationally Registered Historic Place and a National Historic Landmark, has stood since 1821 at the corner of Pearl and Church Streets in the heart of downtown. It is the seat of the Episcopal Diocese of Western New York.

Protestant

Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints

Buddhist

Go next

The Elmwood Village boasts all the hip boutiques, trendy restaurants, and engaging cultural attractions a visitor to Buffalo could want, not to mention a bar scene that is a lot more laid-back than Chippewa.

The Delaware District — particularly Millionaire's Row, along Delaware Avenue between North and Utica Streets — is the place for architecture buffs to be bowled over by the opulent mansions that were once the home of Buffalo's élite aristocracy of yesteryear, most of which have been given new leases on life in recent decades as the headquarters of locally-based businesses and not-for-profits.

For those who want Delaware District-style history and architecture and Elmwood Village-style culture and nightlife in the same compact, thoroughly charming neighborhood, Allentown is the place to Go Next.

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