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North Tonawanda, New York facts for kids

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North Tonawanda
Left to right from top: Gateway Harbor, Herschell Carrousel Factory Museum, Riviera Theatre
Location in Niagara County and the state of New York.
Location in Niagara County and the state of New York.
Country United States
State New York
County Niagara
 • Type Mayor-Council
 • Total 10.89 sq mi (28.22 km2)
 • Land 10.09 sq mi (26.14 km2)
 • Water 0.80 sq mi (2.08 km2)
574 ft (175 m)
 • Total 31,568
 • Estimate 
 • Density 2,996.63/sq mi (1,157.02/km2)
Time zone UTC-5 (Eastern (EST))
 • Summer (DST) UTC-4 (EDT)
ZIP code
Area code(s) 716
FIPS code 36-53682
GNIS feature ID 0958935

North Tonawanda is a city in Niagara County, New York, United States. The population was 31,568 at the 2010 census. It is part of the BuffaloNiagara Falls Metropolitan Statistical Area. The city is named after Tonawanda Creek, its south border.

Tonawanda in the Seneca tongue means "Swift Running Water". Tonawanda Creek, which flows into the Niagara River, once had large stretches of rapids (see Rapids, New York) until it was tamed with the construction of the Erie Canal.

The city also calls itself "The Lumber City," due to its past primary industry and once was the largest port on the Great Lakes during the height of the Erie Canal. Along Goundry Street are mansions built for the lumber barons, including 208 Goundry Street, called "Kent Place", designed by Stanford White. Many of the local residents refer to it as "The Jewel of Niagara County" due to its geographical setting between the Niagara River and Erie Canal. It is also home to the 2009 Class AA NYS Football Champion Lumberjacks. Street signs on the borders of town welcome visitors to "The Home Of The Carousel".


After the first settlers arrived in 1809, North Tonawanda became part of the town of Wheatfield, New York in Niagara County, from May 1836. An abortive attempt at a village containing portions in two counties and two towns from January 1854 until April 1857, it was part of the Niagara County/Town of Wheatfield component, with the other portion in Erie County and the Town of Tonawanda. The experiment was abandoned after New York State removed the village's North Tonawanda component. Oral history claims a dispute between merchants was the cause, but the combination of communities in two counties and two towns was unwieldy. After becoming a village on May 8, 1865 (still in the Town of Wheatfield, but as part of Martinsville, New York), North Tonawanda was incorporated as a City on April 24, 1897.

North Tonawanda is on the north side of the Erie Canal/Tonawanda Creek, across from Erie County, New York and the communities of the City of Tonawanda and the Town of Amherst. The Town of Wheatfield borders North Tonawanda on the north and east; the Niagara River serves as its western border, as Tonawanda Creek is its southern border. North Tonawanda is the second largest city in Niagara County.

North Tonawanda is known as "The Lumber City," because it was from the mid-19th century through the 1970s, a lumber transportation and forwarding center of significance because of the ready availability of lumber. It was the birthplace of the Herschell-Spillman Company/Allan Herschell Co., one of the leading manufacturers of carousels in America and is now the home of the Herschell Carrousel Factory Museum. In 1888, Herschell attracted expatriate Belgian Eugene de Kleist to North Tonawanda, who started the North Tonawanda Barrel Organ Factory to produce band organs. Taken over in 1909 by the Rudolph Wurlitzer Company after De Kleist became mayor of North Tonawanda in 1906, Wurlitzer became one of the largest musical instrument manufacturing plants in the world. The Ray H. Bennett Lumber Co., one of more than 150 lumber companies to have called North Tonawanda home, produced kit homes sold around the nation and Canada for 70 years. Richardson Boat, Buffalo Bolt, Durez Chemical, National Grinding Wheel, Taylor Devices, International Paper, Tonawanda Iron & Steel, Riverside Chemical, and hundreds of other successful manufacturing businesses called North Tonawanda home.

The Railroad Museum of the Niagara Frontier occupies a 1923 Erie Railroad station on Oliver Street. The Riviera Theater and Performing Arts Center on Webster Street, in a restored Italian Renaissance-style building, features plays, concerts, movies and other events, and its 1926 "Mighty Wurlitzer" organ is featured in monthly organ concerts. The theater is one of only a handful in the United States with projectors capable of showing the nitrate film used for silent movies. The Ghostlight Theatre is a community theater in a century-old church. The former Carnegie Library is home to the Carnegie Art Center. An E. B. Green designed building houses the Buffalo Suzuki Strings Musical Arts Center. An active arts community has developed in the downtown area as well. The North Tonawanda History Museum occupies the former G. C. Murphy Co. store building on Webster Street in the heart of the Downtown Historic District.

Parks in North Tonawanda include Veteran's Park, which has a monument to U.S. Seabees, one to the U.S. Marines, and is working on one to Vietnam War Veterans; Gateway Harbor Park, along the Erie Canal, the site of the annual Canal Fest in July and free concerts and other activities; the 53-acre (210,000 m2) Gratwick-Riverside Park along the Niagara River; and Pine Woods Park, Mayor's Park, and the North Tonawanda Botanical Gardens with a boat launch.

The Buffalo Norsemen played their home games in North Tonawanda during their existence.

According to James W. Loewen, North Tonawanda was historically a sundown town.


Sunset over the Erie Canal in North Tonawanda, NY.
Gateway Harbor on the Erie Canal in North Tonawanda, NY.

North Tonawanda is located at 43°2′28″N 78°52′8″W / 43.04111°N 78.86889°W / 43.04111; -78.86889 (43.041006, -78.868920).

The Erie Canal defines the southern and the majority of the eastern borders of the city, with the rest of the eastern border made up of Sweeney Street and Old Falls Boulevard. Niagara Falls Boulevard (US Route 62) defines the northeastern border of the city. The majority of the northern border of the city is a line that runs east-west just above Forbes Terrace, mostly paralleling Ruie Road, with the rest of the northern border being a short northwesterly line that runs from Ward Road to Witmer Road. The western edge of the city is defined by the Niagara River and a line that runs just west of and parallel to Witmer Road. Also, at the southwest corner of the city is Tonawanda Island, which is separated from the mainland by the Little River (Part of the East Branch of the Niagara River) and is part of the city.

The edge of North Tonawanda is sometimes hard to find, because the southern parts of both the Towns of Wheatfield and Pendleton use the 14120 zip code. (14120 is North Tonawanda's zip code.)


It is home to many historic mansions and an historic cemetery.

The North Tonawanda City Market, established in 1908, is the oldest farmer's market in Niagara County. It is open three days a week year round but busiest in the summer and early fall, when more than 70 area farmers sell there.

The city has a number of properties on the National Register of Historic Places. They include the Carnegie Library, Dick Block, Herschell Carrousel Factory Museum, Herschell–Spillman Motor Company Complex, Riviera Theatre, and U.S. Post Office building.

The old Wurlitzer Organ Factory which is now leased to various light industrial, high technology, and commercial businesses.


Historical population
Census Pop.
1880 1,492
1890 4,793 221.2%
1900 9,069 89.2%
1910 11,955 31.8%
1920 15,482 29.5%
1930 19,019 22.8%
1940 20,254 6.5%
1950 24,731 22.1%
1960 34,757 40.5%
1970 36,012 3.6%
1980 35,760 −0.7%
1990 34,989 −2.2%
2000 33,262 −4.9%
2010 31,568 −5.1%
2020 30,496 −3.4%
U.S. Decennial Census

As of the census of 2000, there were 33,262 people, 13,671 households, and 8,981 families residing in the city. The population density was 3,293.2 people per square mile (1,271.5/km2). There were 14,425 housing units at an average density of 1,428.2 per square mile (551.4/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 97.86% White, 0.29% African American, 0.34% Native American, 0.53% Asian, 0.01% Pacific Islander, 0.29% from other races, and 0.68% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 1.09% of the population.

There were 13,671 households, out of which 30.2% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 50.8% were married couples living together, 11.1% had a female householder with no husband present, and 34.3% were non-families. 29.5% of all households were made up of individuals, and 12.8% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.43 and the average family size was 3.03.

In the city, the population was spread out, with 23.7% under the age of 18, 8.6% from 18 to 24, 28.9% from 25 to 44, 23.1% from 45 to 64, and 15.6% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 38 years. For every 100 females, there were 94.6 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 90.6 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $39,154, and the median income for a family was $50,219. Males had a median income of $36,551 versus $25,129 for females. The per capita income for the city was $19,264. 7.2% of the population and 5.4% of families were below the poverty line. Out of the total people living in poverty, 9.1% are under the age of 18 and 6.1% are 65 or older.

Essential services

  • North Tonawanda City School District
  • North Tonawanda Police Department
  • North Tonawanda Public Library
  • DeGraff Memorial Hospital, part of Kaleida Health
  • North Tonawanda Fire Department(Combination Fire Dept); The department consist of 39 full-time career firefighters and volunteer firefighters form the Columbia Hook & Ladder Co. #1, Active Hose Co. #2, Live Hose Co. #4, Rescue Fire Co. #5, Gratwick Hose Co. #6, and the Sweeney Hose Co. #7.

Notable people

  • Ted Barrett, MLB umpire
  • Rudy Bozak, notable engineer
  • Cindy Bradley, jazz trumpet player
  • Jim Britton, retired MLB pitcher
  • Rita Kogler Carver, studio designer
  • Samantha Christmann, journalist
  • Eugene de Kleist, organ builder
  • Maryalice Demler, former Miss New York
  • Tonio di Paolo, opera singer
  • Ed Harmon, professional football player
  • Bret Hoffmann, death metal vocalist
  • Jim Hurtubise, automobile racer
  • Edward C. Kuhn, U.S. military coat of arms designer
  • William Larson, photographer
  • Robert Mangold, artist
  • George D. Maziarz, politician
  • Bernard Joseph McLaughlin, Auxiliary Bishop of Buffalo Diocese
  • Hans Oldag, German-born American long-distance runner
  • Jamin Olivencia, professional wrestler
  • Robert G. Ortt, politician
  • Gladys Parker, comic strip artist
  • Lewis S. Payne, former New York State Senator
  • Roman Piskor, NFL football player
  • James Rand Jr., industrialist
  • Stan Rojek, major-league baseball player
  • Geoff Sanderson, former NHL player
  • Paul Schaus, sledge hockey gold medalist
  • Robin Schimminger, politician.
  • Don Smith, Olympic rower
  • Henry P. Smith III, politician
  • Paul Van Arsdale, hammered dulcimer player
  • Christopher J. Waild, screenwriter
  • Andy Williams, guitarist in Every Time I Die
Phil Fasciana (Death Metal Guitarist)

See also

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