Buffalo looked very different during the War of 1812.
The Village of Buffalo and the Village of Black Rock were separate, growing municipalities. The Village of Buffalo boasted about 180 buildings and a population of roughly 500 people.
But on Dec. 30, 1813, the burgeoning communities would be burned to the ground by British troops accompanied by their Native American allies.
When American forces burned the Village of Newark (now Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ont.) on Dec. 10, 1813, many people were left homeless during the grip of winter. To get revenge, British forces attacked Fort Niagara on Dec. 19 and set fire to Youngstown.
Not fully quenched, the British crossed the Niagara River in the early hours of Dec. 30 and set fire to the Village of Black Rock. As news of the Black Rock fires spread, people in Buffalo quickly gathered their belongings and fled to neighboring towns. Those that didn't escape were tomahawked and scalped in the Battle of Buffalo.
After the battle, three buildings in Buffalo remained. Many of the hundreds of refugees didn’t return until spring to rebuild.
“It was an event that touched everybody who was here on the Niagara Frontier back then,” Erie County Historian Douglas Kohler said for a 2013 Buffalo News article.
The bicentennial of the burning of Buffalo and Black Rock was acknowledged in 2013 with several local events, including a bonfire on Squaw Island to mark the burning of the two villages.