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While the rest of Western New York was under British settlement, Buffalo’s Erie County was first settled by the French. In fact, the first known settlement was at the mouth of the Buffalo Creek (the city’s namesake) in the 1750s. Once the British captured Fort Niagara, however, the French evacuated, and the British finally took control about 5 years later, after the French and Indian War.
The first permanent settlers in what is now Buffalo were Cornelius Winney and “Black Joe” Hodges. These men set up a log cabin store in the late 1780s to trade with the Native Americans. After Dutch investors bought the area as part of the Holland Land Purchase, parcels were sold through the Holland Land Company’s office in Batavia, New York. That settlement, originally named Lake Erie, was later changed to Buffalo Creek, and finally shortened to Buffalo.After the completion of the Erie Canal, Buffalo became the western end of the more than 500-mile waterway that started in New York City. The area flourished with increased commerce, and Buffalo incorporated as a city in 1832. Thanks to hydroelectric power from nearby Niagara Falls, the Buffalo became the “City of Lights,” the first city in America to have electric lights. Another significant act occurred in 1927, when the Peace Bridge linked Buffalo with Fort Erie, Ontario.