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New York Counties

There are 62 counties in the State of New York. The first twelve counties in New York were created immediately after the British annexation of the Dutch colony of New Amsterdam, although two of these counties have since been abolished. The most recent county formation in New York was in 1912, when Bronx County was created from the portions of New York City that had been annexed from Westchester County. New York's counties are named for a variety of Native American words, British provinces, cities, and royalty, early American statesmen and generals, and state politicians.
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Erie County, New York

Erie County Education, Geography, and History

County Seat: Buffalo
Year Organized: 1821
Square Miles: 1,045
Court House:

25 Delaware Avenue
Rath Building
Buffalo, NY 14202-3926

Etymology - Origin of County Name

derived from a tribe of Indians living in Western New York prior to 1654


County QuickFacts: Census Bureau Quick Facts

County History

Erie County is located in western New York State. In 1990, the county population was 968,532 in a land area of 1,044 square miles, an average of 927 people per square mile. The county seat is Buffalo, organized in 1810, incorporated as a village in 1816 and as a city in 1832.

The County itself was formed in 1821 from Niagara County which was itself formed in 1808 from Genesee County, formed in turn from Ontario County in 1802, which was created in 1789 from Montomery County which was formed in 1772 from Albany County (Montgomery was known as Tryon County until 1784). Full History at NYSAC

The earliest inhabitants of Erie County were the Erie Indians, followed by the Seneca Indians who controlled Western New York in the 17th century. To protect the fur trade, the French built Fort Niagara in 1726. In 1798 the Holland Land Company purchased the land west of the Genesee River, and hired Joseph Ellicott to survey and begin the development of the area. Ellicott with his brother, Andrew, had laid out Washington D.C. and the same wagon-wheel plan was used for “New Amsterdam” (later called Buffalo).


Erie County is in the western portion of New York State, bordering on the lake of the same name. It is the most populous county in New York State outside of the New York City metropolitan area.

According to the US Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 1,227 square miles (3,178 km2), of which, 1,044 square miles (2,704 km2) of it is land and 183 square miles (473 km2) of it (14.89%) is water. The northern border of the county is Tonawanda Creek. Part of the southern border is Cattaraugus Creek. Other major streams include Buffalo Creek (Buffalo River), Cayuga Creek, Cazenovia Creek, Scajaquada Creek, Eighteen Mile Creek and Ellicott Creek.

The county's northern half, including Buffalo and its suburbs, is relatively flat and rises gently up from the lake. The southern half is much hillier and is the northwesternmost foothills of the Appalachian Mountains.

The highest elevation in the county is a hill in the Town of Sardinia that tops out at around 1,940 feet (591 m) above sea level. The lowest ground is about 560 feet (171 m), on Grand Island at the Niagara River.

The Onondaga Escarpment runs through the northern part of Erie County.

Neighboring Counties:

  • Niagara County, New York - north
  • Wyoming County, New York - east
  • Genesee County, New York - east
  • Cattaraugus County, New York - south
  • Chautauqua County, New York - southwest
  • Niagara Region, Ontario - west


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