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A Brief History
Tonawanda means Swift Waters
Tonawanda, which means "swift waters," was the name given to the area by Neuter and Erie Indians, the area’s original inhabitants, and it probably refers to the Niagara River current.

Early Visitors
In the 1600s, the area was visited by French missionaries and explorers, and later by traders, settlers and military personnel, as Tonawanda became an important crossroads in America’s westward expansion.

The British captured the territory from the French in 1759, yielding it to the United States in 1796. During the War of 1812, they burned the village of Tonawanda - even the village of Buffalo itself.

Construction of the Erie Canal in the 1820s brought a new wave of workers and settlers. With the opening of the canal linking Lake Erie and the Hudson River, and the resulting increase in trade and traffic, the area developed swiftly.

Founding of the Town
The Town of Tonawanda, formed on April 16, 1836, prospered as an agricultural and trading center. The Village of Kenmore, created on September 18, 1899, and located within the framework of the town, is one of the largest incorporated villages in the state. The City of Tonawanda parted from the Town of Tonawanda on March 23, 1903.

Thanks to foresighted, systematic planning and responsive government, town facilities have grown to keep pace with community needs.


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