City of Buffalo by Warren, 1873.
City of Buffalo by A.C. Warren, engraved by W. Wellstood, from Picturesque America, 1873
This engraving features a picturesque view of the city looking toward the lake in the background. Since the publication was aimed at celebrating the American landscape, a wealthier neighborhood was chosen as the focal point of the image. The goal was to give citizens a sense of pride in their nation as they recovered from the effects of the Civil War. Published in 1873, it was drawn during the time that Olmstead was working on incorporating parks and other recreational spaces into the crowded, industrial city.
Located on Lake Erie, Buffalo is the second largest city in New York State. It is currently home to over two hundred thousand residents. Buffalo is the seat of Erie County, which was partitioned off of Niagara County in 1821. Joseph Ellicott was hired in 1797 by Theophile Cazenove, general agent for the Holland Land Company, to survey the area west of the Genesee River recently purchased by the company. It was a massive project, which took Ellicott and a team several years to complete. Ellicott laid out a radial plan for the newly established Village of Buffalo in 1804, which is still present in the downtown area of the city. Growth happened slowly in Buffalo, especially as the Village struggled to rebuild itself after having been burned to the ground by the British in 1813. As construction of the Erie Canal pushed west, Buffalo hoped to become the location of the canal's western terminus. The bid was successful and the canal was completed on October 25, 1825. Expansion began to happen rapidly as the Village became an important port for the transportation of passengers and goods. On April 20, 1832, Governor Enos T. Throop approved the charter incorporating Buffalo into a city. The 1840s were a time of great prosperity for the city.
Due to Buffalo's close proximity to Fort Erie, Ontario, it served as an important stop along the Underground Railroad. Macedonia Baptist Church, constructed in 1845, served as a vital abolitionist hub within the community. President Abraham Lincoln stayed in the city on his way to Washington D.C., in 1861. During the Civil War, Buffalo supplied soldiers as well as manufactured materials to the war effort. During the war, the city's population rapidly increased from approximately eighty-one thousand people to over ninety-four thousand residents. Following the war, Frederick Law Olmstead and Calvert Vaux planned and executed the first coordinated system of parks and parkways in the United States from 1868 to 1896.
Buffalo continued to grow as it entered the twentieth century. Population peaked in 1950 with the census recording more that five hundred eighty thousand people residing in Buffalo. However, at the end of the decade Buffalo saw a shift in fortune. The steady decline of the railway combined with loss of shipping traffic due to the opening of the St. Lawrence Seaway caused an economic downturn. The city population has shrunk by approximately fifty percent and the 2010 census recorded only two hundred sixty thousand residents. Several plans at revitalizing the city have been proposed in the hope bringing prosperity back to the area.
Picturesque America was a two volume set, which described and illustrated American scenery. It was published from 1872 to 1874 and was similar in concept and design to Picturesque Europe. The essays were accompanied by a total of nine hundred wood engravings and fifty steel engravings, based on works by prominent artists. It had a significant effect on American tourism and historic preservation in the United States. William Cullen Bryant (1794-1878) was the editor. He was a romantic poet and journalist. He also served as editor of the New York Evening Post.
- Naomi Bean