In Buffalo’s glory days, hydroelectric power from the nearby Niagara River made it the first U.S. city with an extensive system of electric street lamps. Challenges stemming from the decline of American manufacturing cast a shadow over the “City of Light” in the decades that followed. Lately, though, Buffalo’s impressive urban renewal plan and an influx of newcomers have shown that this Rust Belt relic isn’t letting the past determine its future.

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People on a boat in Buffalo
Visit Buffalo Niagara

Most of Buffalo’s plants and factories were abandoned by industry long ago, leaving them standing empty for years. Over the last decade or so, more than $9 billion has been pumped into the city's redevelopment, turning urban decay into top-of-the-line housing, office space, hotels, downtown shopping, restaurants and green infrastructure. In an epic turnaround, Buffalo’s 2020 Census showed its population was increasing for the first time in 70 years. Now, according to a January Zillow report, the city is poised to become one of the hottest housing markets in 2024, thanks to its modern revamp, healthy job market and low cost of living (Buffalo’s median home price is just $220,000; well below the national average).

People at a museum in Buffalo
Sharon Cantillon / Visit Buffalo Niagara

As for the fun stuff, Buffalo has hundreds of residential and community gardens, dozens of museums and art galleries and one of the best food scenes in the country (hello, wings!) And lest we forget: Niagara falls is just a half-hour drive north.