Erie County is a highly populated county in the U.S. state of New York. As of the 2010 census, the population was 919,040. The county seat is Buffalo. The county’s name comes from Lake Erie. It was named by European colonists for the regional Iroquoian language-speaking Erie tribe of Native Americans, who lived south and east of the lake before 1654. (They were pushed out of the area by the more powerful Iroquoian nations.)
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 1,227 square miles (3,180 km), of which 1,043 square miles (2,700 km) is land and 184 square miles (480 km) (15%) is water.
Erie County is in the western portion of upstate New York, bordering on the lake of the same name. Part of the industrial area that has included Buffalo, it is the most populous county in upstate New York outside of the New York City metropolitan area. The county also lies on the international border between the United States and Canada, bordering the Province of Ontario.
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, known as the Southtowns, is much hillier. It has 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.
As of the census of 2010, there were 919,040 people residing in the county. The population density was 910 people per square mile (351/km²). There were 415,868 housing units at an average density of 398 per square mile (154/km²). The racial makeup of the county was 82.18% White, 13.00% Black or African American, 0.61% Native American, 1.46% Asian, 0.02% Pacific Islander, 1.42% from other races, and 1.31% from two or more races. 3.27% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race. 19.6% were of German, 17.2% Polish, 14.9% Italian, 11.7% Irish and 5.0% English ancestry according to Census 2000. 91.1% spoke English, 3.0% Spanish and 1.6% Polish as their first language.
There were 380,873 households out of which 29.60% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 46.50% were married couples living together, 13.70% had a female householder with no husband present, and 36.10% were non-families. 30.50% of all households were made up of individuals and 12.50% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.41 and the average family size was 3.04.
In the county, the population was spread out with 24.30% under the age of 18, 8.70% from 18 to 24, 28.40% from 25 to 44, 22.70% from 45 to 64, and 15.90% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 38 years. For every 100 females there were 91.60 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 87.80 males.
The median income for a household in the county was $38,567, and the median income for a family was $49,490. Males had a median income of $38,703 versus $26,510 for females. The per capita income for the county was $20,357. About 9.20% of families and 12.20% of the population were below the poverty line, including 17.30% of those under age 18 and 7.80% of those age 65 or over.