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For uses of the name "tonawanda," see Tonawanda, New York.

Location within Niagara County.

North Tonawanda is a city in Niagara Countymarker, New Yorkmarker, United Statesmarker. The population was 33,262 at the 2000 census. It is part of the BuffalomarkerNiagara Fallsmarker Metropolitan Statistical Area. The city is named after the creek that once flowed past it. 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 Yorkmarker) 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 Lakesmarker 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.


The City of North Tonawanda was incorporated in 1897 after a split with the city of Tonawanda purportedly over gravel fill rights. It is on the north side of the Erie Canal, adjacent to the Erie County, New Yorkmarker communities of the City of Tonawandamarker, the Town of Tonawandamarker, and Town of Amherstmarker. North Tonawanda is the birthplace of the Herschell-Spillman Company, one of the leading manufacturers of carousels in America and is the home of the Herschell Carrousel Factory Museum. It is also the place that Rudolph Wurlitzer first developed and manufactured the Wurlitzer Organ and later the Wurlitzer Jukebox. The Wurlitzer building that is on Niagara Falls Blvd. is no longer manufacturing organs but is now home to many smaller businesses.

The Railroad Museum of the Niagara Frontier occupies a 1923 Erie Railroad station and includes indoor and outdoor exhibits. The Riviera Theater and Performing Arts Center, in a restored Italian Renaissance-style building, features plays, concerts, movies and other events, and has a monthly American Theatre Organ concert provided by its 1926 "Mighty Wurlitzer" organ. 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.

Parks in North Tonawanda include Fisherman's Park, which has a monument to U.S. Seabees; Gateway Harbor Park, along the Erie Canal, the site of the annual Canal Fest in July; the 53-acre Gratwick-Riverside Park along the Niagara River; and West Canal Marina, which has picnic shelters, fishing and a boat launch.

The North Tonawanda City Market, established in 1908, is the oldest farmer's market in Niagara County. It is open year round but busiest in the summer and early fall, when more than 70 area farmers sell there. DeGraff Memorial Hospital also is located in the city.

The city has a number of properties on the National Register of Historic Places.


North Tonawanda is located at (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 Rivermarker 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.)


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/sq mi (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.

The city boasts a large Polish-American community along with German-American, Italian-American and Austro-Hungarian communities. It was historically known as a sundown town.

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.

Notable residents


  1. Smyczynski, Christine A. (2005), "Western New York: From Niagara Falls and Southern Ontario to the Western Edge of the Finger Lakes". pp 93-99, 101-102. The Countryman Press: Woodstock, Vermont.

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