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Introducing Buffalo

This often maligned working-class city does have long, cold winters and its fair share of abandoned industrial buildings, but Buffalo also has a vibrant community of college students and thirty-somethings living well in cheap real estate and gorging on this city's unique and tasty cuisine. Settled by the French in 1758 – its name is believed to derive from beau fleuve (beautiful river) – the city's illustrious past as a former trading post and later a booming manufacturing center and terminus of the Erie Canal means there's a certain nostalgia and hopefulness to the continuing limbo of ambitious revitalization plans (the latest calls for a massive expansion and relocation of the University of Buffalo medical school to downtown). Buffalo is about an eight-hour trip from New York City and less than an hour south of Niagara Falls.

The helpful Buffalo Niagara Convention & Visitors Bureau has good walking-tour pamphlets and a great website.