Lockport is a city and the county seat of Niagara County, New York, surrounded by the town of Lockport. The population was 21,165 at the 2010 census, with an estimated population of 20,434 as of 2018. It is named from a set of Erie Canal locks (Lock Numbers 34 and 35) within the city. It is part of the Buffalo-Niagara Falls Metropolitan Statistical Area.
The New York State Legislature authorized the Erie Canal's construction 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 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 area that would become Lockport was owned by only fifteen men, many of whom were Quakers.
The canal reached Lockport in 1824, but the Flight of Five Locks were not completed until 1825. By 1829, Lockport was 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 Lowertown and North Lockport neighborhoods.
The city of Lockport was 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 a regional or 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. 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 a living history site in Lockport marketed as a day trip from Niagara Falls could draw thousands to Lockport each year.
The city has a number of properties on the National Register of Historic Places. They include the: Bacon-Merchant-Moss House, Col. William M. and Nancy Ralston Bond House, Chase-Crowley-Keep House, Chase-Hubbard-Williams House, Nathan Comstock Jr. House, Conkey House, Day Peckinpaugh, Dole House, Gibbs House, High and Locust Streets Historic District, Hopkins House, House at 8 Berkley Drive, Lockport Industrial District, Lowertown Historic District, Maloney House, Benjamin C. Moore Mill, Niagara County Courthouse and County Clerk's Office, Thomas Oliver House, Pound-Hitchins House, Stickney House, Union Station, United States Post Office, Peter D. Walter House, Watson House, and White-Pound House.
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. After 10 years of ownership by Delphi Corporation as Delphi Thermal Systems, it returned to General Motors in October 2009.
In 1948, the Lockport Chief of Police denied a permit for a Jehovah's Witnesses minister to preach in a public park using a sound truck. In Saia v. New York, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the city ordinance as a violation of the First Amendment.
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
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) is land and 0.1 square miles (0.3 km²) (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 -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
Lockport is at the junction of several major truck roads, including NY Route 78 (Transit Road), NY Route 31, NY Route 77 and NY Route 93. It is 17 miles north of Interstate 90 via NY Route 78 (Transit Rd.).
Lockport lies in the 716 Area Code.
- 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 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 has 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, at 215 Niagara Street, is a complex of buildings that 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 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.
- Lockport recently added a new ice rink for the Clarence Mustangs and Lockport Express called Cornerstone Arena.
At the 2010 census, there were 21,165 people, 9,153 households and 5,172 families residing in the city. There were 10,092 housing units. The racial makeup of the city was 87.5% White, 7.2% Black or African American, 0.5% Native American, 0.5% Asian, 0.02% Pacific Islander, 0.8% from other races, and 3.5% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 3.2% of the population.
At the 2000 census, there were 9,459 households, 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.
25.8% of the population were 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 household income was $35,22, and the median family incomewas $44,614. Males had a median income of $35,197 and females $23,944. The per capita income 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, he 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. She was later elected to a full four-year term that began in January 2016.
Anne McCaffrey resigned and accepted position as president and CEO of Eastern Niagara Hospital.
Lockport City School District operates public schools.
Some people of note who were born in Lockport are:
- Kim Alexis, supermodel
- Walter Ransom Gail Baker, former vice president of General Electric, director of engineering for the Radio Manufacturers Association, founder of NTSC
- George W. Barrett, first person sentenced to death by hanging under a Congressional Act that made it a capital offense to kill a federal agent
- Philip Baruth, writer and politician
- George W. Batten, former New York State Treasurer
- Lillian Bronson, American film/TV character actress
- Bernard Buzyniski, retired American Football League player
- Helen Stuart Campbell, social reformer
- Jerry Cook, race car driver
- Francis R. Delano, banker, first warden of the Minnesota State Prison, first general superintendent of the St. Paul & Pacific Railway
- Lyman Draper, secretary for the Wisconsin Historical Society, Superintendent of Public Instruction of Wisconsin
- Geoffrey Deuel, actor
- Holly Broadbent Sr., Orthodontist
- Helen Stuart Campbell, social reformer and home economist
- Ferrin Fraser, radio script writer for Little Orphan Annie and Frank Buck
- Harold Huston George, general officer in the United States Army Air Forces during World War II
- Lt Col William G. Gregory, astronaut (ret.) in the NASA Space Shuttle program
- Katherine Hannigan, writer
- Tommy Hicks, boxer
- Alice Tisdale Hobart, novelist
- William Leonard Hunt, (June 10, 1838 - January 17, 1929), also known by the stage name The Great Farini, tightrope performances at Niagara Falls, inventor of the "human cannonball"
- James Jackson, Jr., former US Congressman, Mayor of Lockport
- Sean Kugler, head coach for the UTEP Miners football team
- William F. Leonard, Medal of Honor recipient
- Duane Lyman, architect
- Othniel Charles Marsh, 19th-century paleontologist, discovered and named many fossils found in the American West
- Timothy McVeigh, convicted terrorist responsible for Oklahoma City Bombing
- William E. Miller, 1964 vice presidential running mate of Barry Goldwater
- Stephanie Miller, nationally syndicated radio talk show host and daughter of William E. Miller
- William G. Morgan, inventor of volleyball
- John Murphy, Buffalo Bills radio announcer
- Edwin Griswold Nourse, economist
- Joyce Carol Oates, author and professor
- Frank C. Penfold, artist, teacher
- Cuthbert W. Pound, former Chief Judge of the New York Court of Appeals
- John J. Raskob, DuPont and General Motors executive
- John B. Raymond, delegate from Dakota Territory to the United States House of Representatives
- Chris Sacca, tech start-up venture capitalist, former Head of Special Initiatives at Google
- John Shulock, retired MLB umpire
- Clip Smith, talk radio host
- Mark Snell, retired professional soccer player, former coach
- Daren Stone, professional football player
- Robert Thurston, science fiction writer
- Jack White, race car driver
- Charley Wood, amusement park developer
- Brock Yates, automotive writer and author, senior editor of Car and Driver magazine, wrote story and scripts for movies The Cannonball Run and Smokey & the Bandit 2
One of the new steel locks - 24.5-foot (7.5m) lift
Some people of note who have resided in Lockport are:
- Maltbie Davenport Babcock, clergyman
- John J. Bagley, former Governor of Michigan
- Ryan "Thomas Take" Thomas, Local Sports Media and Podcast Celebrity
- Raphael Beck, 1848-1947, internationally recognized American artist/sculptor.
- John Black, former Mayor of Milwaukee
- William W. Campbell, former New York State Senator
- Lot Clark, former US Congressman
- Richard Crowley, former US Congressman
- Oliver Dyer, first Congressional shorthand reporter
- Brent Nicholson Earle, AIDS activist
- Lewis Eaton, former US Congressman
- Timothy E. Ellsworth, former New York State Senator
- Thomas T. Flagler, former US Congressman
- David Gibson, Canadian politician
- Geoffrey Giuliano, author, actor and syndicated radio host
- William G. Gregory, NASA astronaut
- Herbert C. Harrison, sometimes credited with the invention of the modern honeycomb automobile radiator and founder of Harrison Radiator, now a part of General Motors' components division
- William Hawley, Union Army Brigadier General
- Birdsill Holly, inventor, credited with inventing the first integrated fire hydrant system along with 150 U.S. patents, many related to the Holly Steam Combination Company.
- Mark Hopkins, Jr., 1813-1878, lawyer and businessman who lived in Reynolds Basin (east of Gasport in Niagara County) and later Lockport from c. 1829 to c. 1848; he eventually became one of the "Big Four" of California (i.e. The Central Pacific Railroad) with partners Stanford, Crocker, and Huntington that wasformed in 1861
- Washington Hunt, former Governor of New York
- Michael Huskey, Medal of Honor recipient
- Tom Jolls, TV weatherman
- William R. Kenan, Jr., businessman
- Benajah Mallory, Upper Canada political figure
- Timothy McVeigh, committed the Oklahoma City Bombing on April 19, 1995
- William E. Miller, American prosecutor at Nuremberg War-Crimes trials; member of United States House of Representatives 1951-1965; Republican National Committee Chairman 1961-1964; Republican Party Vice President nominee on 1964 Goldwater-Miller ticket; only practicing Catholic to be nominated for national office by the party until Paul Ryan in 2012; later starred in American Express "Do you know me?" commercials
- Charles F. Mitchell, former US Congressman
- Aaron Albert Mossell, first African American to graduate from the University of Pennsylvania Law School
- Jeremy O'Day, retired CFL player
- Chauncey Olcott, American stage actor and songwriter, known for the ballad "When Irish Eyes Are Smiling"; Olcott spent summers as a youth in Lockport in an "Irish Shanty" with his maternal grandmother
- Charles Gilbert Peterson, former mayor and contractor.
- Gilbert Peterson, contractor of multiple waterworks and reservoirs projects along with expansion of the Erie Canal; superintendent of both the Western and Eastern divisions of the Erie Canal.
- Jesse Peterson, presidential elector and industrialist, president of the United Indurated Fibre Company
- Lyman C. Pettit, founder and first president of the Pentecostal Collegiate Institute (now Eastern Nazarene College)
- Thomas Stinson, Hamilton, Ontario, businessman
- Burt Van Horn, former US Congressman
- Thomas Wall, Wisconsin businessman and state legislator
- Samuel Works, former New York State Senator
- 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 New York and Pennsylvania and, with the acquisition of NewAlliance Bank based in New Haven, Connecticut, in April 2011, one of the largest regional banks in the country.
- City of Lockport Webpage
- Lockport history
- Niagara County Historical Society
- Historic American Engineering Record (HAER) No. NY-61, "New York State Barge Canal, Lockport Locks, Richmond Avenue, Lockport, Niagara County, NY", 48 photos, 15 measured drawings, 118 data pages, 8 photo caption pages