On April 2, 1821, New York State officially recognized Erie County. After the American Revolution, the Holland Land Company purchased 3.2 million acres of land from the Seneca Nation of the Haudenosaunee (Iroquois). In 1808, New York organized the western most land as Niagara County. By 1821, the population had increased so much that Niagara County was split. Erie County, the land south of Tonawanda Creek, consisted of ten towns and the Buffalo Creek Reservation. Today, Erie County has twenty-five towns, three cities, two tribal reservations, and a population of approximately 920, 000.
Erie County has ties to several US Presidents. Millard Fillmore practiced law in East Aurora before serving as President. He returned to Erie County and helped establish the University of Buffalo, Buffalo General Hospital and the Buffalo and Erie County Historical Society. Grover Cleveland practiced law in Buffalo before becoming Erie County Sheriff. He married Buffalo’s Frances Fulsom. In 1901, President William McKinley was assassinated at the Pan-American Exposition, and on September 14th, Theodore Roosevelt was sworn in as the 26th President at the Wilcox Mansion.
Once heavily forested frontier, the Erie Canal brought prosperity and made the region one of the largest shipping and rail center in the country. Erie County is home to numerous inventors. The Ball Jar, the Barca Lounger and air conditioning were invented in Buffalo. Wilson Greatbatch developed the implantable pacemaker in Clarence, and Bell Aircraft was one of the largest suppliers of aircraft during WWII. The county boasts major works by both local and national architects: Frank Lloyd Wright, Louis Sullivan, H. H. Richardson, E.B. Green and William Wicks and Louise Bethune. Famous writers like F. Scott Fitzgerald, Mark Twain and Lauren Belfer have called the area “home.” The county has given the world Fisher Price toys and the chicken wing.
Today, we celebrate our heritage and look forward to a bright future. The county has capitalized on history, art, and architecture to become a heritage tourism destination. The bio-medical research corridor is at the forefront of international scientific research. Companies from across the county do business internationally and even in outer space!
Join us over the next years for a celebration of our county’s bicentennial as we commemorate the past and look forward to the future!
EC 200 Goals:
From supporting events and programs, to creating and delivering them throughout the bicentennial year- EC200 will engage residents and visitors in educational resources, community activities, and countywide initiatives that inform, inspire, and entertain.
Generate Connection and Sense of Place
Foster a more meaningful connection to our region and the stories that make our community unique. Look to your own unfolding history- share narratives on key movers and shakers, promote positive engagement for the tourists in our own back yard, and turn that engagement into meaningful action- ex: legacy projects, participation in bicentennial events, support and volunteerism at region’s heritage-based sites and organizations.
Raise awareness of the Bicentennial and the array of EC200 experiences.
Nurture appreciation for our region’s past, present, and future- particularly its nuance.
Welcome and Engage
Recruit volunteers, increase event attendance, raise project participation rates, and attract ideas and proposals.
EC200 QUICK FACTS:
- Erie County’s bicentennial date is April 2, 2021
- Planning began almost two years ago! It started being organized by Melissa Brown, Executive Director of the Buffalo History Museum, Douglas Kohler, Erie County Historian, and Jason Hurley, Director of Community Affairs for Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz. The very first meetings started with a few dozen local historical, cultural, and community stakeholders. This grassroots movement has built up to hundreds of volunteers working on programming, marketing, and outreach.
- Notable partners include:
- Due to COVID-19, programming is being planned with the understandings of the current restrictions and guidelines established by New York Forward and Erie County Department of Health. The committee is planning many self-guided tours and virtual programming for now.
- Note that the birthday is April 2, 2021, but the celebration will be from April of 2021 to April of 2022. We need all the time we can get in order to celebrate and reflect on our County and area’s history, and the larger window gives us a higher chance for in-person activities.
- EC200 has the following committee to help streamline ideas, implementation, and community involvement: Education, Programming, Marketing, Media/Social Media, and Diversity and Inclusion.