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Niagara County, New York

Niagara County, New York
Niagara County Clerks Office
Seal of Niagara County, New York
Map of New York highlighting Niagara County
Location in the state of New York
Map of the United States highlighting New York
New York's location in the U.S.
Founded March 11, 1808
Seat Lockport
Largest city Niagara Falls
 • Total 1,140 sq mi (2,953 km2)
 • Land 523 sq mi (1,355 km2)
 • Water 617 sq mi (1,598 km2), 54.12%
Population (Est.)
 • (2013) 214,249
 • Density 414/sq mi (159.7/km²)
Congressional districts 26th, 27th
Time zone Eastern: UTC-5/-4
Website .com.niagaracountywww

Niagara County is a county located in the State of New York. As of the 2010 census, the population was 216,469.[1] The county seat is Lockport.[2] The county name is from the Iroquois word Onguiaahra; meaning the strait or thunder of waters.[3] It is the location of Niagara Falls and Fort Niagara, and has many parks and lake shore recreation communities. In the Summer of 2008 Niagara County celebrated its 200th Birthday with the first town of the county, Town of Cambria.

Niagara County is part of the Buffalo-Cheektowaga-Niagara Falls Metropolitan Statistical Area. Its Canadian border is the province of Ontario.


  • History 1
  • Geography 2
    • Adjacent counties and areas 2.1
    • Major highways 2.2
      • Niagara county routes 2.2.1
  • County government and politics 3
    • Structure of county government 3.1
    • Leadership of the Niagara County Legislature 3.2
    • Full membership of the Niagara County Legislature 3.3
    • Political Composition of County Government 3.4
    • Other County Government Entities 3.5
    • Other elected officers of county government 3.6
    • Representation at other levels of government 3.7
  • Demographics 4
  • Communities 5
    • Indian reservations 5.1
    • State parks and state lands 5.2
  • Educational institutions 6
  • See also 7
  • Footnotes 8
  • Further reading 9
  • External links 10


When counties were established in the New York colony in 1683, the present Niagara County was part of Albany County. This was an enormous county, including the northern part of New York State as well as all of the present State of Vermont and, in theory, extending westward to the Pacific Ocean. This county was reduced in size on July 3, 1766 by the creation of Cumberland County, and further on March 16, 1770 by the creation of Gloucester County, both containing territory now in Vermont.

On March 12, 1772, what was left of Albany County was split into three parts, one remaining under the name Albany County. One of the other pieces, Tryon County, contained the western portion (and thus, since no western boundary was specified, theoretically still extended west to the Pacific). The eastern boundary of Tryon County was approximately five miles west of the present city of Schenectady, and the county included the western part of the Adirondack Mountains and the area west of the West Branch of the Delaware River. The area then designated as Tryon County now includes 37 counties of New York State. The county was named for William Tryon, colonial governor of New York.

In the years prior to 1776, most of the Loyalists in Tryon County fled to Canada. In 1784, following the peace treaty that ended the American Revolutionary War, the name of Tryon County was changed to honor the general, Richard Montgomery, who had captured several places in Canada and died attempting to capture the city of Quebec, replacing the name of the hated British governor.

In 1789, Ontario County was split off from Montgomery. In turn, Genesee County was created from Ontario County in 1802.

Niagara County was created from Genesee County in 1808. It was, however, larger than the present Niagara County even though it consisted of only the Town of Cambria.

From 1814 to 1817, records of Cattaraugus County were divided between Belmont (the seat of Allegany County) and Buffalo (then in Niagara County).

In 1821, Erie County was created from Niagara County.

The county has a number of properties on the National Register of Historic Places.[4]


Niagara County is in the extreme western part of New York State, just north of Buffalo and adjacent to Lake Ontario on its northern border and the Niagara River and Canada on its western border.

The primary geographic feature of the county is Niagara Falls, the riverbed of which has eroded seven miles south over the past 12,000 years since the last Ice Age. The Niagara River and Niagara Falls, are in effect, the drainage ditch for four of the Great Lakes which constitute the largest supply of fresh water in the world. The water flows north from Lake Erie, then through the Niagara River, goes over Niagara Falls, and then on to Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River, eventually emptying into the North Atlantic Ocean. Today, tourists and visitors to the Falls see a diminished flow of water over the Falls, since a portion of the flow has been diverted for hydroelectric power purposes. Both the American and Canadian side of the Niagara River have massive electrical power plants.

The spectacular Niagara Gorge is the path Niagara Falls has taken over thousands of years as it continues to erode. Niagara Falls started at the Niagara Escarpment which cuts Niagara County in half in an East-West direction. North of the Escarpment lies the Lake Ontario plain, which is a fertile flatland that is used to grow grapes, apples, peaches and other fruits and vegetables. The grape variety Niagara, source of most American white grape juice but not esteemed for wine, was first grown in the county, in 1868. Viticulture, or wine culture has begun to take place, with several wineries below the escarpment. This has helped to improve the depressed economy of the region. To further capitalize on economic development, the state has created the Niagara Wine Trail.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 1,140 square miles (3,000 km2), of which 523 square miles (1,350 km2) is land and 617 square miles (1,600 km2) (54.12%) is water.[5]

Adjacent counties and areas

Major highways

Niagara county routes

County government and politics

Structure of county government

Niagara County is governed by a 15-member Legislature, with the Chairman of the Legislature as the de facto head of county government. Currently, there are 11 members of the Republican-led Majority Caucus and four members of the Democrat-led Minority Caucus. The Legislature formerly consisted of 19 members, but was downsized to 15 seats effective January 1, 2012 based on the results of a public referendum.

A subordinate county manager reports to the County Legislature. Jeffrey M. Glatz is Niagara County Manager, with a four-year term commencing December 1, 2010.

Leadership of the Niagara County Legislature

Chairman William L. Ross

Vice Chairman Clyde L. Burmaster

Majority Leader Richard E. Updegrove

Minority Leader Dennis Virtuoso

Full membership of the Niagara County Legislature

(Majority Caucus in bold; Minority Caucus in ital.)

Legislator Clyde L. Burmaster (1st District—Towns of Lewiston and Porter)

Legislator William L. Ross (2nd District—Towns of Wheatfield and Lewiston)

Legislator Mark J. Grozio (3rd District—City of Niagara Falls)

Legislator Owen Steed (4th District—City of Niagara Falls)

Legislator Jason A. Zona (5th District—City of Niagara Falls)

Legislator Dennis F. Virtuoso (6th District—City of Niagara Falls)

Legislator Kathryn L. Lance (7th District—Town of Wheatfield and City of North Tonawanda)

Legislator Richard L. Andres (8th District—City of North Tonawanda)

Legislator Randy R. Bradt (9th District—City of North Tonawanda)

Legislator David E. Godfrey (10th District—Towns of Cambria, Wilson and Wheatfield)

Legislator Anthony J. Nemi (11th District—City of Lockport, Towns of Lockport and Pendleton)

Legislator Richard E. Updegrove (12th District—Town of Lockport and City of Lockport)

Legislator Wm. Keith McNall (13th District—City of Lockport)

Legislator John Syracuse (14th District—Towns of Newfane and Somerset)

Legislator Michael A. Hill (15th District—Towns of Royalton and Hartland)

Governing functions of the Legislature rely on a committee system; currently, there are five standing committees and one long-term ad hoc committee. The five standing committees are Administration, chaired by Nemi; Community Services, chaired by McNall; Community Safety and Security, chaired by Godfrey; Economic Development, chaired by Lance; and Public Works, chaired by Syracuse. An ad hoc Refuse Disposal District Committee is chaired by Hill.

The Administration Committee has oversight of the following government departments: County Manager, County Attorney, Management & Budget, Treasurer, Audit, Real Property, Data Processing, Legislature Office, Printing/Mailing, Human Resources, Civil Service, Risk Management, and Board of Elections.

The Community Services Committee has oversight of the following government departments: Social Services, Employment & Training, Youth Bureau, Office of Aging, Public Health, Mental Health, NCCC, County Clerk/DMV, Historian, and Veterans Services.

The Community Safety and Security Committee has oversight of the following government departments: Sheriff, District Attorney, Public Defender, Probation, Fire Coordinator/Emergency Services, and Coroners.

The Economic Development Committee has oversight of the Niagara County Center for Economic Development and the Niagara County Industrial Development Agency.

The Public Works Committee has oversight of the following government departments: Public Works, Parks/Golf Course, Refuse Disposal District, Sewer District, Water District, and Weights & Measures.

Additionally, the ad hoc Refuse Disposal District Committee has oversight of that District.

Political Composition of County Government

The dominant political party in the Niagara County Legislature is currently the Republican Party, which is ancestrally the dominant party in Niagara County. The Majority Caucus which controls 11 seats in the 15-member Legislature includes one member of the New York State Conservative Party. The Minority Caucus, meanwhile, is composed entirely of members of the Democratic Party.

Other County Government Entities

In addition to the areas mentioned above, much of Niagara County is serviced by a Water District and a Sewer District. Both bodies are subordinate to the County Legislature; the former has a direct relationship, while the latter is currently under limited oversight of the town supervisors within the district.

Other elected officers of county government

County Clerk Wayne F. Jagow (R)

Treasurer Kyle R. Andrews (D)

Sheriff James R. Voutour (D)

District Attorney Michael J. Violante (R)

Coroner, 1st District Cindy Lou Joyce (D)

Coroner, 2nd District Joseph V. Mantione (R)

Coroner, 3rd District Kenneth V. Lederhouse (R) Lederhouse is also the senior coroner, having served longest of the four county coroners.

Coroner, 4th District Michael Ross (R)

Representation at other levels of government

Office District Area of the county Officeholder Party First took office Residence
Congressman New York's 27th congressional district All[6] Christopher C. Collins Republican 2013 Clarence, Erie County
State Senator 62nd State Senate District All[7] George D. Maziarz Republican 1995 Newfane, Niagara County
State Assemblyman 140th State Assembly District North Tonawanda[8] Robin L. Schimminger Democratic 1977 Kenmore, Erie County
State Assemblywoman 144th State Assembly District Roughly the north and east parts of the county (Towns of Hartland, Lockport, Newfane, Porter, Royalton, Somerset, Wilson)[9] Jane L. Corwin Republican 2009 Clarence, Erie County
State Assemblyman 145th State Assembly District Roughly the west part of the county (Towns of Cambria, Lewiston, Niagara, Wheatfield, City of Niagara Falls, Tuscarora Reservation)[10] John D. Ceretto Republican 2011 Lewiston, Niagara County
State Assemblyman 146th State Assembly District Pendleton[11] Raymond W. Walter Republican 2012 East Amherst, Erie County

Niagara County is part of:


As of the census of 2010, there were 216,469 people, 87,846 households, and 58,593 families residing in the county. The population density was 420 people per square mile (162/km²). There were 95,715 housing units at an average density of 183 per square mile (71/km²). The racial makeup of the county was 90.70% White, 6.15% Black or African American, 0.94% Native American, 0.58% Asian, 0.02% Pacific Islander, 0.40% from other races, and 1.21% from two or more races. 1.33% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race. 23.6% were of German, 18.1% Italian, 11.3% Irish, 11.2% Polish and 8.3% English ancestry. 94.5% spoke English, 1.6% Spanish and 1.0% Italian as their first language.

There were 87,846 households out of which 30.90% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 50.30% were married couples living together, 12.30% had a female householder with no husband present, and 33.30% were non-families. 28.60% of all households were made up of individuals and 12.00% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.45 and the average family size was 3.03.

In the county the population was spread out with 24.70% under the age of 18, 8.50% from 18 to 24, 28.40% from 25 to 44, 23.10% from 45 to 64, and 15.40% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 38 years. For every 100 females there were 93.30 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 89.50 males.

The median income for a household in the county was $38,136, and the median income for a family was $47,817. Males had a median income of $37,468 versus $24,668 for females. The per capita income for the county was $19,219. About 8.20% of families and 10.60% of the population were below the poverty line, including 15.00% of those under age 18 and 7.30% of those age 65 or over.


Map of Niagara County's municipalities
=> designation in parentheses shows official political level.

Indian reservations

State parks and state lands

Educational institutions

Niagara University is located in Lewiston, New York. Niagara County Community College is located in Sanborn, New York. Many Niagara County residents also attend Erie and other Western New York County Schools. In the Buffalo Metro area there more than 20 public and private colleges and universities in Buffalo and its environs offer programs in technical and vocational training, graduate, and professional studies.

See also


  1. ^ a b "State & County QuickFacts". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved October 12, 2013. 
  2. ^ "Find a County". National Association of Counties. Retrieved 2011-06-07. 
  3. ^ Retrieved 9 October 2008
  4. ^ "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places.  
  5. ^ "US Gazetteer files: 2010, 2000, and 1990".  
  6. ^ W, Eric (2012-04-02). "Congressional District 27". View 2012 Congressional Maps.  
  7. ^ W, Eric (2012-03-02). "Senate District 62". View 2012 Senate District Maps.  
  8. ^ W, Eric (2012-01-25). "Assembly District 140". View Proposed 2012 Assembly District Maps.  
  9. ^ W, Eric (2012-01-25). "Assembly District 144". View Proposed 2012 Assembly District Maps.  
  10. ^ W, Eric (2012-01-25). "Assembly District 145". View Proposed 2012 Assembly District Maps.  
  11. ^ W, Eric (2012-01-25). "Assembly District 146". View Proposed 2012 Assembly District Maps.  
  12. ^ "U.S. Decennial Census". Retrieved October 12, 2013. 

Further reading

  • History of Niagara County, New York: With Illustrations Descriptive of Its Scenery, Private Residences, Public Buildings, Fine Blocks, Public Manufactures, and Portraits of Old Pioneers and Prominent Residents. New York: Sanford & Co., 1878.
  • John Theodore Horton, Edward Theodore Williams, and Harry Stevens Douglass, History of Northwestern New York: Erie, Niagara, Wyoming, Genesee and Orleans Counties. Lewis Publishing Co., 1947.
  • Robert D. Kostoff, A History of Niagara County, New York. Lewiston, NY: Edwin Mellen Press, 2001.
  • Niagara County Pioneer Association, Souvenir History of Niagara County, New York: Commemorative of the 25th Anniversary of the Pioneer Association of Niagara County. Lockport, NY: The Lockport Journal, 1902.
  • William Pool, Landmarks of Niagara County, New York. Syracuse, NY: D. Mason & Co., 1897.
  • Samuel T. Wiley and Winfield Scott Garner, Biographical and Portrait Cyclopedia of Niagara County, New York. Philadelphia: Gresham Publishing Co., 1892.
  • Edward T. Williams, Niagara County, New York: A Concise Record of Her Progress and People, 1821-1921, Published during Its Centennial Year. In Two Volumes. Chicago: J.H. Beers & Co., 1921.

External links

  • Niagara County webpage
  • Niagara County at DMOZ
  • Niagara County Sheriff's Department website

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