History of Niagara Falls, New York

The city of Niagara Falls is at the opposite end of the Niagara River from Buffalo. It has a dual personality as the destination for many honeymooners as well as an industrial center driven by the power of water flowing over the falls of the same name.

Father Hennepin visited the region around the falls in 1678. The portage around the falls was an important link in water transportation, the site assumed considerable military importance and a number of forts were built. La Salle built Fort Conti, the first fort on the site. The French built a fort called Little Niagara near the falls in 1750, but it was destroyed by the British, who replaced it with Fort Schlosser in 1760.

The village of Manchester was started in 1806, but was burned by the British in 1813. The community was incorporated as the village of Niagara Falls in 1848. Real growth waited for the construction of the Hydraulic Canal in 1852, which diverted river water from above the city around the falls. Hydroelectric generation began in 1881. Niagara Falls incorporated as a city in 1892. In the 1960s, the Niagara Power Project, one of the largest hydroelectric facilities in the world with a capacity of 2.4 million kilowatts, was completed. The Discovery Geological Museum north of the falls presents a glimpse into the formation of the falls.

Niagara University, the only four-year institution of higher education in the Niagara Falls area, was founded in 1856 as the College and Seminary of Our Lady of Angels. It is actually located in the city of Niagara University, just outside the city limits of Niagara Falls.

Built in 1824, the Colonel William Bond House was the first brick house in Lockport, about 12 miles northeast of Niagara Falls. The house is maintained by the Niagara County Historical Society.

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