What is the city of Buffalo’s nickname and why was it given this name?


One of the things I love about Buffalo are the many nicknames it has earned over the years.

Among the most well known is “The Nickel City,” a reference the American Bison on the back of the Indian Head nickel. I’ve been told this was a common nickname on the CB airwaves in the 1970’s. And of course the “Queen City,” earned when Buffalo was the second-largest city in New York State and a key location at the western terminus of the Erie Canal.

Following the 1901 Pan-American Exposition, Buffalo earned the nickname “City of Light” by being the first electrified city in the US. The city’s official flag still bears this nickname.

But the more interesting ones have been earned more recently. Buffalo became known as the “City of Good Neighbors” in the mid-20th Century, due to the small-town feel and warm welcome experienced by visitors to the city. This is frequently referenced following the occasional blizzards, when residents demonstrate their neighborliness by shoveling each others’ cars out and sharing food, warmth, and the experience in general.

My personal favorite is “City of No Illusions.” This was coined in the 1980’s, when the city was dealing with a lot of disappointment in the economy, politics, and sports. While this may sound pessimistic or signal resignation of some sort, taken in the context of the other nicknames it reveals the quiet confidence that has kept the city going through the hard times. As the people of Buffalo experiences their city’s resurgence they do so with eyes open and nothing to fear. They’ve already been through the worst, so things can only get better.

There are many more nicknames that I’ve heard and you can see in lists online that aren’t as interesting or may be misattributed, like “Bison City,” “Flour City,” and “The Mistake on the Lake” (That’s Cleveland!). I mentioned them here merely for a semblance of completeness.

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