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There's a line in an old Carly Simon song that says it best: "These are the good old days." That is, there's no sense in pining for eras gone by. They aren't coming back. And for an individual, a family, a community, life is what you make it -- every day.

Still, today's life in Western New York is built on a rich tapestry of yesterdays. Our neighborhoods, our work, our recreation, even the way we talk -- all are influenced and enriched by the lives of those who have gone before us.

It is in that spirit that we present -- 100 days before the turn of the millennium -- this special section devoted to the past, present and future of Western New York. These are stories of immigrant optimism, harsh economic realities, tremendous creativity and the promise of good things to come. As the world prepares for 2000 and beyond, it's a chance to reflect on all that has made Buffalo and its surroundings what it is today.

So read, reflect, enjoy. And remember: History isn't just the way we were. Together, every day, we're making it our own.

About this section: The Millennium special section was produced by the Editorial Department of The Buffalo News. Editor: Scott Thomas. Designer: John Davis. Copy editor: Margaret Kenny. Cover design: Vincent J. Chiaramonte. Photo research: Dave Valenzuela.