The History of the City
The City of Tonawanda is located in Western New
York alongside the Niagara River and Erie Canal, and boarders the Town of
Tonawanda to the south, east, and west, with borders to North Tonawanda north of
the Erie Canal.
1803 - Henry Anquish was the first known person to settle within
the present day boundaries of the City of Tonawanda. Three years after his
arrival, he opened a tavern.
1813 - A blockhouse which was built before the War of 1812 on the south side of
Tonawanda, was burned down by the British and their Indian allies. They then
destroyed virtually everything along the Niagara River with the exception of one
house, belonging to a Mrs. Francis.
1823 - Albert H. Tracy and Charles Townsend purchased land, laid out a village
and streets. It was named the "Village of Niagara" and shortly thereafter was
changed to the "Village of Tonawanda"
1825 - The Erie Canal was officially opened and stimulated settlement in the
Village of Tonawanda since it allowed people to easily move west.
1829 - A home was built by Benjamin Long at the mouth of Ellicott Creek where it
meets Tonawanda Creek. The Long Homestead has since been fully restored and is
open to the public as a historic site.
1850 - The village's first newspaper was published. It was named "The Tonawanda
1867 - The first cargo of lumber for distribution was received on the docks of
the village. The Canal brought with it the prosperity of the lumber industry. In
fact, at the turn of the century, Tonawanda and its neighboring city North
Tonawanda, were the largest lumber suppliers in the world. This boom of the
lumber industry can be accredited to the East Boston Timber Company, which
opened in the Tonawanda area in 1833.
1876 - J. S. Bliss and Co. began a shingle business. They were the second
largest manufacturer of shingles in the world.
1903 - Tonawanda was incorporated as a city, its first Mayor being Frank Alliger.
1917 - The New York Central Railroad was persuaded into rerouting its tracks in
Tonawanda. This opened up Main Street and gave way to the emergence of several
offices and stores in the area.
Today: The Tonawandas' having lost their industrial roots, the area thrives as a tourist
attraction including the Erie Canal, historic Riviera Theater, the Hershell
Carrousel Factory Museum, the Long Homestead, as well as several waterfront
parks overlooking the mighty Niagara River and the Erie Canal.
For more information on the Erie Canal
Click here to see some old canal side
photographs & postcards of the City of Tonawanda. If you have any old
City of Tonawanda Photographs you wish to have added to the website, email
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