PopulationMetro: 1,136,856
With a strategic location close to the Canadian border, affordable housing and rich infrastructure from its glory as an early 20th century industrial hub, the Buffalo comeback is on.

Once-neglected architectural landmarks have been transformed into tourist attractions and hotel while a formerly industrial waterfront is now a popular spot for kayaking, grain silo ziplining and rock climbing.

Old factories are being repurposed as studio lofts and the city’s culinary scene, once known only for deep fried drumsticks, showcases flavors from around the globe. Like a cool Lake Eerie breeze, the city is being refreshed by bootstrapping locals, millennial entrepreneurs and recently resettled immigrants.

This is another American city with a strong professional sports pedigree, boasting the NFL’s Buffalo Bills and the Buffalo Sabres, established in 1970 when the NHL expanded to 14 teams. Sports tourism is big business throughout the country and Buffalo ranks #20 in our Professional Sports Teams subcategory. According to Longwoods International, a market research company, in 2017, 125.2 million people traveled overnight for sports events, and generating $32 billion in travel expenditures. This travel includes everything from professional and collegiate sports to high school and youth sports.

Place 35
Product 9
Programming 5
People 39
Prosperity 23
Promotion 6

Along with three minor league franchises—the Buffalo Bisons, Buffalo Bandits and FC Buffalo—sports are a big reason this resurgent New York State metropolis, situated on the eastern tip of Lake Erie close to the U.S. – Canada border, earns a #45 ranking in the Product category.

So too is the city’s outstanding showcase of neoclassical, beaux arts, and art deco architecture, which testify to the city’s former glory as an early 20th century industrial capital. The Frank Lloyd-Wright-designed Darwin D. Martin House and the Greek revival styled Albright-Knox Art Gallery, home to works by Picasso and Andy Warhol, are two of Buffalo’s many cherished architectural landmarks. With three post secondary institutions in the region, led by SUNY Buffalo, the city scores a #25 University Ranking.

Architectural riches, affordability and a great university are likely factors in Buffalo’s impressive urban renewal driven in part by urban refugees from New York City. The city’s economy stumbled following the exodus of workers from the Rust Belt. However, in recent years the city has been singled out for its inclusive neighborhood renewal efforts that have also helped the formerly marginalized urban black communities. Buffalo’s economy has shifted from an industrial base, to one rooted in health and social services, light manufacturing and medical services.