During its boom years, Buffalo benefited from Great Lakes-area shipping, grain storage and the steel industry.
The city produced two presidents, it had more millionaires per capita than any other city in the USA by 1901, and Frank Lloyd Wright built many of his signature works there.
But in the 1980s and early 1990s, the Rust Belt city lost more than 30,000 jobs after Bethlehem Steel and related businesses closed.
Buffalo has tried to climb back, shifting to a more service-oriented economy, with some major banks opening corporate offices and the State University of New York at Buffalo and the Roswell Park Cancer Institute producing research-related jobs, experts say.
"And being close to Canada, there's a lot of cross-border trade that goes on," says Jim Knight, president of the Buffalo Niagara Association of Realtors.
While many cities have suffered the effects of subprime mortgages and home foreclosures, Buffalo's housing market — including suburban areas such as Amherst and Orchard Park — has enjoyed a slow but steady increase in value, Knight says.
"We've never had a market that has gone way over the top, and, therefore, we don't have a market that's now falling down," says Bonnie Clement, a broker at Hunt Real Estate.
And because homes remain a relative bargain, she says, they are now attracting more families to Buffalo.