The construction of the Erie Canal was authorized by the New York State Legislature in April 1816. The route proposed by surveyors was to traverse an area in central Niagara County, New York, which was then "uncivilized" and free of White settlers. At the time, the nearest settlers were located in nearby Cold Springs, New York. As it became known where the proposed canal was to be built, land speculators began to buy large plots along and near the proposed route of the canal. By December 1820, when the exact location of the step locks had been determined, the whole area of what would eventually become Lockport was owned by only fifteen men, many of whom were Quakers.
The canal reached Lockport in 1824, but the locks were not completed until 1825. By 1829, Lockport had become an established village. The community was centered on the locks, and consisted mainly of immigrant Scottish and Irish canal workers, brought in as labor. The workers remained in Lockport after the completion of the locks, giving the city a heavy Celtic influence still discernible today, especially in the neighborhoods of Lowertown and North Lockport.
The city of Lockport was officially incorporated in 1865.
The Erie Canal was supplanted by the larger New York State Barge Canal in 1918, and the famous south "flight of five" locks was replaced by two much larger locks E34 and E35. The north "flight of five" lock chambers still remains as a spill way.
In recent years public officials and private businesses have made an effort to incorporate Lockport history into regional if not a national tourist attraction. This includes the completion of the Canal Discovery Center, The Lockport Cave and Underground Boat Ride tour, and The Lockport Locks and Erie Canal Cruises. Currently, local officials are seeking state grants to reconstruct the historic "flight of five" and make it a living history site complete with boat rides and reenactors. Published reports state that a living history site in Lockport marketed as a day trip from Niagara Falls could draw thousands to Lockport yearly.
Lockport's largest employer is General Motors Components, the former Harrison Radiator Corporation, which was founded locally in 1912 and which became a division of General Motors Corporation in 1918. Following 10 years of ownership by Delphi Corporation as Delphi Thermal Systems, it returned to General Motors in October 2009.
The current double lift Lockport Lock is left in the distance with the northern "Flight of Five" to its right. St. Mary's Roman Catholic Church is in the background. The Falls Road Railroad runs above.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 8.6 square miles (22.4 km²), of which, 8.5 square miles (22.1 km²) of it is land and 0.1 square miles (0.3 km²) of it (1.39%) is water.
The Erie Canal passes through the center of the city, turning south toward Tonawanda Creek. It climbs the Niagara Escarpment through a series of two modern locks. Originally, a double set of five combined smaller locks were used.
Original northern five step lock structure crossing the Niagara Escarpment at Lockport, now without gates and used as a cascade for excess water. Double 241⁄2-foot-high (7.5 m), 40-foot-wide (12 m) modern locks are to the left which replaced the original southern "Flight of Five" lock structure
The Lockport Locks and Erie Canal Cruises boat rides are offered on the Erie Canal, with one proceeding upward through the modern locks for a short cruise, and returning to pass downstream under two lift bridges and then returning to the docks.
The Lockport Erie Canal Museum is located in an old Lock control structure between the modern Locks 34 & 35 and the remaining original "Flight of Five" Locks spillway and contains historic photographs, maps, engineering drawings, and antique machinery.
The Canal Discovery Center is housed in an old church about 100 yards to the west of the locks.
Lockport is home to the widest bridge (399' wide x 129' length) in North America which spans the canal to the southwest of the locks.
The Lockport Cave and Underground Boat Ride tour can be taken near the locks.
The Niagara County Historical Society located at 215 Niagara Street in Lockport, NY. It is a complex of buildings that together tell the story of Niagara County history.
100 American Craftsmen is an annual show of arts and crafts held at the Kenan Arena. The arena is located on the historic Kenan Center campus.
Ida Fritz park plays host to the Taste of Lockport every August and to a Cruise Night every Monday during the summer.
(2000 Census)There were 9,459 households out of which 30.5% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 41.4% were married couples living together, 13.5% had a female householder with no husband present, and 40.7% were non-families. 34.7% of all households were made up of individuals and 13.3% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.33 and the average family size was 3.03.
In the city the population was spread out with 25.8% under the age of 18, 8.4% from 18 to 24, 30.6% from 25 to 44, 20.9% from 45 to 64, and 14.3% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 36 years. For every 100 females there were 91.7 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 87.4 males.
The median income for a household in the city was $35,222, and the median income for a family was $44,614. Males had a median income of $35,197 versus $23,944 for females. The per capita income for the city was $19,620. About 11.7% of families and 13.3% of the population were below the poverty line, including 18.9% of those under age 18 and 7.4% of those age 65 or over.
The City is governed by a Mayor and a City Council. The Mayor is elected to a four-year term, the Aldermen to two-year terms. There are five wards in the city, resulting in five aldermen plus one alderman-at-large, who is elected by the entire city. In 2003, Michael W. Tucker was elected mayor of the city of Lockport; he was subsequently reelected in 2007 and 2011, however resigned in 2014 instead of serving his third four-year term. City of Lockport Common Council President and 2nd Ward Alderwoman Anne McCaffrey replaced Tucker as Interim Mayor and was sworn in on February 24, 2014.
Mark Hopkins, Jr., 1813–1878, Lawyer and Businessman who lived in Reynolds Basin (east of Gasport in Niagara County) and later Lockport from ABT 1829 to ABT 1848. He eventually became one of the "Big Four" of California (i.e. The Central Pacific Railroad) with partners Stanford, Crocker, and Huntington that formed in 1861.
Yahoo operates a large data center to the west of the city.
First Niagara Bank, Founded in 1870 as Farmers & Mechanics Savings Bank, has grown to include branches throughout NY and PA, and with the acquisition of NewAlliance Bank based in New Haven, CT in April 2011 will be one of the largest regional banks in the country.
Transit Drive-In Theatre, Opened in 1952.
The Lockport Palace Theatre, Operating out of Lockport since 1925, it is notable for retaining its original proscenium-arch-style space.
Intertech Digital Entertainment - a local retailer and installer of DISH Network. The Intertech shared partnership group was one of the first retailers of DISH Network in the United States.
Erie canal with a description of the canal lock structures located here