The Southtowns (also known as the Buffalo Southtowns, the South Towns, or Southtown) is a region of Western New York, United States, that lies within the snowbelt or ski country and includes the southern suburbs of Buffalo, New York. This is the common name for the southern part of Erie County, New York which served as the home of United States President Millard Fillmore. The region has numerous historic landmarks, especially in Springville and East Aurora.
According to a telephone directory that formerly published specific editions for the area, this region includes Aurora, Blasdell, East Aurora, Elma, Hamburg, and Orchard Park. Several other towns in the snowbelt south of Buffalo are also considered part of the Southtowns. According to one source the entire southern part of Erie County, West Seneca, Elma, Marilla, and southward are part of the Buffalo Southtowns. This region is the northwesternmost foothills of the Appalachian Mountains. The New York State Department of Transportation's Scenic Byways Advisory Board created Western New York's first Scenic Byway, WNY Southtowns Scenic Byway, which travels through the townships of Orchard Park, Boston, Concord, Colden and Aurora, the three villages of Orchard Park, Springville and East Aurora and several rural hamlets including the hamlets of Boston and Colden. (In 2016, the Southtowns Scenic Byway was extended into Ashford, a town in Cattaraugus County and not generally counted in the Southtowns proper.) The National Weather Service defines the Southtowns (forecast zone NYZ085, "Southern Erie County") as anything south of U.S. Route 20A. The region includes the northeastern half of the village of Gowanda, but not the southwestern half.
Buffalo also has a "Northtown" region north of the city. Some sources divide the entire Buffalo Suburban region into the Southtowns and the Northtowns.
Ski country runs through the Southtowns, as does the Niagara Frontier, both of which continue southwestward from the region along Lake Erie's shoreline; the Niagara Frontier continues north into Buffalo toward Niagara Falls while ski country goes eastward toward Bristol Mountain. The region is bounded to the south by the Cattaraugus Creek and Cattaraugus County to the south, Chautauqua County to the southwest, to the east by Wyoming County, and to the west by Lake Erie.
The Southtowns, particularly the more southerly towns closer to the Cattaraugus Creek, are very rural in nature and are similar to the Southern Tier; the northern Southtowns (beginning at approximately Orchard Park and Hamburg) begin to take on a more suburban feel.
East Aurora, the home of Fisher-Price, has earned the nickname as "Toy Town, U.S.A." According to the New York State Department of Economic Development's New York State Tourism organization publications produced by the Buffalo Niagara Convention & Visitors Bureau, attractions in the Southtowns include, Toy Town Museum, Elbert Hubbard-Roycroft Museum, National Historic Landmark Millard Fillmore House, the Frank Lloyd Wright and the Graycliff Estate. Frommer's also mentions the Kazoo Museum, Eden as an attraction.
The National Register of Historic Places includes the following Southtowns venues among its Erie County listings: United States Post Office-Angola, First Church of Evans Complex, Graycliff, Millard Fillmore House, Roycroft Campus, George and Gladys Scheidemantel House, Kleis Site, Gamel Hexadecagon Barn, Buffalo, Rochester and Pittsburgh Railway Station (Orchard, New York), Johnson-Jolls Complex, Old Sardinia Town Hall, Rider-Hopkins Farm and Olmsted Camp, The Baptist Church of Springville, Buffalo, Rochester and Pittsburgh Railroad Station (Springville, New York), Citizens National Bank, East Main-Mechanic Streets Historic District, Scobey Power Plant and Dam, US Post Office-Springville, and Eaton Site.
Other highly attended attractions in the region include New Era Field, the home of the National Football League's Buffalo Bills, Chestnut Ridge Park, and Buffalo Raceway. Since 1868, Erie County Fair has been held annually in Hamburg. Until the 1980s one of the region's largest employers was Bethlehem Steel.
Three broadcast stations are explicitly licensed to the Southtowns: WSPQ (AM 1330) in Springville, religious TV station WDTB-LD in Hamburg, and MeTV affiliate WBBZ-TV in Springville. None of them operate from within the southtowns; WBBZ is based in Clarence and WDTB is a straight satellite feed from Texas, while WSPQ, which operated out of Springville for its entire existence, shut down at the end of 2017 and, due to an equipment robbery, is slated to lose its license at the end of 2018. However, several of the Buffalo-licensed broadcasters take advantage of the region's higher topography and have placed their broadcast towers there so that they can reach both the Buffalo region and the Southern Tier. One of the more notable examples is the WTSS Tower.
The Buffalo News is the primary daily newspaper in the region. Many of the Southtowns communities were served by weekly newspapers until July 2016, when the most recent owner of those newspapers, Community Papers of Western New York, abruptly shut down. The Springville Times serves the village of Springville using staff of one of the former Community Papers, the Springville Journal; the Times is based in Ellicottville. Likewise, the Salamanca Press launched a Gowanda edition to replace the Gowanda Pennysaver/News in August 2016.
United States President Millard Fillmore resided in East Aurora, where the Seymour Knox I family has held property. 1996 Vice Presidential nominee Jack Kemp represented Hamburg and nearby suburban southtowns regions in the United States House of Representatives.
The area's current political representatives are state assemblyman Kevin Smardz, state senator Patrick Gallivan (with a small portion represented by Tim Kennedy), and representative Brian Higgins.
- Smyczynski, Christine A. (2005). "Southern Erie County - "The Southtowns"". Western New York: From Niagara Falls and Southern Ontario to the Western Edge of the Finger Lakes. The Countryman Press. p. 136. ISBN 0-88150-655-9.
- National Park Service (January 23, 2007). "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service.
- "Fillmore, Millard, House". National Park Service. Archived from the original on April 30, 2009. Retrieved April 15, 2009.
- "Roycroft Campus". National Park Service. Archived from the original on September 11, 2009. Retrieved April 15, 2009.
- Polk 1994 Buffalo South Towns New York Directory. R. L. Polk & Co.
- "Welcome to the WNY Southtowns Scenic Byway". WNY Southtowns Scenic Byway Steering Committee. November 1, 2007. Retrieved April 7, 2009.
- Byway extended into Cattaraugus County
- "YMCA Buffalo Niagara: Branch Locations". YMCA Buffalo Niagara. Retrieved April 9, 2009.
- Buffalo Spree list of "ski country" restaurants and resorts
- "East Aurora". Fodor's. Fodor's Travel. Archived from the original on March 4, 2009. Retrieved April 8, 2009.
- Buffalo Niagara Convention & Visitors Bureau. Experience Fun History and Nature in the Southtowns of Buffalo Niagara. New York State Tourism.
- "Kazoo Museum". Frommer's. Wiley Publishing, Inc. Retrieved April 8, 2009.
- "Ralph Wilson Stadium: Driving Directions". Buffalo Bills. Archived from the original on March 31, 2009. Retrieved April 8, 2009.
- "Chestnut Ridge Park". Chestnut Ridge Park and Campground. 2005. Retrieved April 8, 2009.
- "Buffalo Raceway: Directions". Buffalo Raceway. Retrieved April 8, 2009.
- Eberle, Scott and Joseph A. Grande (1987). A Pictorial History of Buffalo and Erie County (1013 of 2000 ed.). The Donning Company. p. 48. ISBN 0-89865-609-5.
- May, Clifford D. (December 20, 1988). "Man in the News; Theorist With a Heart; Jack French Kemp". The New York Times. Retrieved April 8, 2009.
- "New York's 26th Congressional District". govtrack.us. govtrack.us. Retrieved May 5, 2016.