Niagara Falls itself was carved out more than 10,000 years ago by the receding Wisconsin Glacier, and humans have inhabited the area around the three waterfalls for just about half of its history. One early group to call Niagara home were the nations of the Iroquois League, the people who lent much of their culture to the area today and even gave the falls its name (Niagara is an Iroquois name meaning “the strait”).

With the arrival of European explorers and settlers in the New World, the area around Niagara became an important strategic and commercial site in the fur trade. The British and French (and later the Americans) sought control of the region, establishing fortifications along the river ( Old Fort Erie on the Canadian side is still standing).

Despite its strategic significance, Niagara Falls did not become a major settlement for those other than Native Americans until the time of the American Revolution, when American loyalists fled in droves to the west bank of the Niagara River to escape persecution.

By the 19th century, Niagara Falls had become a prime tourist destination for visitors from both sides of the border. Since then, various small villages and towns on the Ontario side have combined to create a larger city. The City of Niagara Falls reached its present size in 1963 when nearby Stamford joined the city.