Other than landowners Silas King, William Sudderth and Wyatt Wilson, there were few permanent inhabitants in the area now known as Buford in the 1860s. After the Civil War, when construction began on the railroad from Atlanta, a road crew set up a construction camp near Buford and the railroad soon contributed to an explosion in Buford's growth. By 1872, Buford became an incorporated city named after A.S. Buford, president of the railroad. In the early 1900s, Buford was known as the New York of Gwinnett, thanks to the numerous factories and merchants located in the area. Today, the Tannery Row Merchants Association is an organization of local merchants located in Historic Downtown Buford, which offer a wide range of products and services.
John Ferdinand Espy, a teacher and a Confederate soldier, built the first brick home in Buford. "Captain Espy's" home on South Hill Street is still standing today and is one of the finest historic attractions in Buford.
Nestled in the foothills of the Georgia Blue Ridge Mountains, Lake Sydney Lanier is considered by most to be Georgia's greatest playground. The residents of nearby Buford are able to play well and often on Lake Lanier's 38,000 surface acres and 540 miles of shoreline. In addition to Lake Lanier and the Shoal Creek Park and boat ramp, Buford residents enjoy many colorful annual events. Tannery Row Festival of the Arts and Summer in the Streets Festival both take place in downtown Buford.
Buford is home to the largest shopping mall in the Southeastern United States. The Mall of Georgia in the Mill Creek District of Gwinnett County offers all types of shopping enthusiasts a treat. Nordstrom, Macy's and 225 other stores are represented. Five distinctly themed interior courtyards representing the five geographic regions of Georgia—coastal, plains, Atlanta, Piedmont and the mountains—are featured. An outdoor village recreates a historical Georgia town square and the Village Pavilion stage hosts outdoor concerts and live performances. In addition, there is an IMAX 3-D theater and a NASCAR Silicon Motor Speedway simulated racing center.