HIS 401 History of Buffalo



Dr. Timothy R. Dzierba



The study of historical, geographical, sociological, religious, political and economic development of Buffalo.
Emphasis is to be placed on the period following the burning of the city during the War of 1812 to the present

Campus Emergency Closure

In the event of a campus emergency closure, please log on to your BbVista course link at  http://learning.
medaille.edu ( also http://drtimothydzierba.com) to continue with your course requirements and to communicate
with your instructor.  You should access this course link early in the semester to familiarize yourself with it.
Report and access or usage problems to the course instructor.

B. OBJECTIVES: The student will be able to:

-analyze the economic growth of Buffalo and Western New York throughout its history by tracing industrial
changes that have taken place, i.e. flour milling, steel industry, services, etc. -examine and compare plans for
the city's layout and physical growth. -explore immigration patterns and ethnic contributions to the Western New
York area. -trace the continuing effects on the city and suburbs brought about by developments in
transportation and communications technology. -examine the effects of war on the Buffalo area. -analyze
reasons for Buffalo's rise to "Queen City of the Great Lakes" and reasons for her decline. -appraise prospects
for Buffalo's future. -demonstrate awareness of local historical resources.

C. OUTLINE OF COURSE CONTENT: I. General Geographical Perspective a. Geological formation of Western
New York b. Effect on settlement and growth II. General Historical Perspective a. Reasons for early settlement
b. Inhabitants prior to War of 1812 III. Crossroads a. Ups and downs of the economy, 1814-1830 b. The Erie
Canal IV. Impact of Mid-19th Century Economy on Buffalo a. Difficulties in commerce and manufacturing prior to
the Civil War V. Immigration a. Ethnic groups influencing the development of the city 1. Irish 2. Germans 3.
Blacks VI. Buffalo's Original Settlers a. WASPs respond to change VII. Coming of Industry a. Rise of banking
and problems faced VIII. The Response to Industrialization a. Life and labor b. Values and beliefs IX. Changing
Structure of the City a. Joseph Ellicott b. Frederick Law Olmstead c. Downtown d. Neighborhoods e. Parks X.
New Ethnic Groups a. City economy during World War I and the 1920s b. The coming of the Polish and other
groups after WWI XI. The City During the Great Depression and World War II XII. A Changing City a. Post-war
migration b. Changing neighborhoods c. Suburban growth d. Political and social unrest and change XIII.
Erosion of the Industrial Base a. Large scale migration of industry and the failure to draw new ones XIV.
Technology and the City a. The search for a post-industrial base and a new relationship between downtown,
neighborhoods, and suburbs XV. Buffalo – The City D. METHOD OF EVALUATION:

The grade for HIS 401 will be based on: 1. Reading the three textbooks and discussing in class 40% 2. Three
in class examinations with open notes 40% 3. One book review written to be delivered in class orally 20%


Since class participation is a significant part of the grade, attendance at all classes is expected. Also see Class
Policy Link on this page.


Academic Integrity Medaille’s faculty and administration expect all students to complete their academic
assignments with honesty and integrity. Students who engage in any form of academic dishonesty (e.g.,
plagiarism, cheating on a test, forging a signature or an entire college document) will be dealt with severely,
with penalties ranging from an F on a given assignment to failing a course or even academic suspension.
Students should consult their Student Handbook for full details on the college’s policy and procedures for
handling formal charges of academic dishonesty.

Suggested Texts:

High Hopes by Mark Goldman
City on the Lake by Mark Goldman
Power Failure by Diane Dillaway
Reflections of Life in Buffalo  homas J Murphy