is a town
and an island
in Erie County
, New York
. As of the 2000 census
, the town population was 18,621. The current town name derives from the French name "La Grande Ile," as Grand Island is the largest island in the Niagara River
. The phrase "La Grande Ile" appears on the town seal.
The Town of Grand Island is located at the northwestern corner of the county. The town is northwest of Buffalo, New York. Interstate 190 and New York State Route 324 cross the island.
Period before the American Revolution
In the early historical period of the island, the 16th century, French
explorers found the Neutral Indians
living on the island. By 1651, the Senecas
had destroyed this tribe and absorbed some of the survivors. The Seneca used the island for hunting and fishing.
In 1764, as part of the Treaty of Cession after the French and Indian War the island became part of the British colonies in North America.
Period after the American Revolution
In 1815, New York State
purchased Grand Island and other small islands in the Niagara River
from the Iroquois
nation for one thousand dollars in hand, and annually, forever, an annuity of $500 (to this day, paid every June). The treaty was signed by Governor Daniel D. Tompkins
, Peter B. Porter
, Chief Red Jacket
, Falling Boards
, Twenty Canoes
, Sharp Shins
, Man Killer
, and others. The Senecas
reserved the right to hunt, fish and fowl on the islands.
In 1824, in a precursor to modern Zionism, journalist and Utopian Mordecai Manuel Noah tried to found a Jewish homeland at Grand Island in the Niagara River, to be called "Ararat," after Mount Ararat, the Biblical resting place of Noah's Ark. MacArthur Award-winning cartoonist Ben Katchor fictionalized Noah's scheme for Grand Island in his The Jew of New York.
The Town of Grand Island was organized in 1852 from part of the Town of Tonawanda.
On August 25, 1993 the Seneca Nation commenced an action to reclaim land that allegedly was taken from it without the approval of the United States in the United States District Court for the Western District of New York. The Senecas argued that the 1815 transaction with New York State violated the Trade and Intercourse Act of 1790, which states that no Native American lands are to be sold without consent of the Federal government. The Senecas sought the ejection of more than 2,000 property owners on the Island. By decision and order dated June 21, 2002, the trial court held that the subject lands were ceded to Great Britain in the 1764 treaties of peace and that the subject lands were not owned by the Seneca at the time of the 1794 Treaty of Canandaigua and that New York State's "purchase" of them in 1815 was intended to avoid conflict with the Senecas over land it already owned. This decision was appealed and the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit affirmed the trial court's decision on September 9, 2004 The Senecas then sought review of this decision by the Supreme Court of the United States which was denied on June 5, 2006.
According to the United States Census Bureau
, the town has a total area of 33.3 square miles
), of which, 28.5 square miles (73.8 km²) of it is land and 4.8 square miles (12.4 km²) of it (14.35%) is water.
The town is located entirely on the island of Grand Island in the Niagara River. The river splits into two parts at the south end of the island and rejoins at the northwest end, before flowing west to the Niagara Falls.
The town lies adjacent to the international border between Ontario in Canada and the United States (although there is no direct bridge or ferry connection from the island to Canada). Paired bridges connect the south end of the island to the Town of Tonawanda, and another pair of bridges connects the northern end to the City of Niagara Falls in Niagara County. The two sets of bridges are connected by Interstate 190, a branch of the New York State Thruway (Interstate 90). In addition, New York State Route 324 (Grand Island Boulevard) is conjoined with I-190 at the southern bridges and reaches its western terminus in the northern part of Grand Island.
Adjacent Cities & Towns
Major Highways in the Town of Grand Island
- Interstate 190 (Niagara Section), passes through the center of the island by the way of the North and South Grand Island Bridges.
- New York State Route 324 (Grand Island Blvd.), East-West Highway from its northern terminus at I-190 south through the central part of town, joining I-190 as the route travels east (south) out of the town to the Town of Tonawanda.
- Beaver Island Parkway, North-South Parkway from I-190 to Beaver Island State Park. (NYS Reference Route 957B)
- West River Parkway, North-South Parkway along the western edge of town that parallels the Niagara River. It runs from Beaver Island Parkway in the south, north to East-West Park Rd. in Buckhorn Island State Park near I-190 and NY 324's northern terminus. (NYS Reference Route 957C)
As of the census
of 2000, there were 18,621 people, 6,898 households, and 5,221 families residing in the town. The population density
was 653.1 people per square mile (252.2/km²). There were 7,355 housing units at an average density of 257.9/sq mi (99.6/km²). The racial makeup of the town was 95.80% White
, 3.165% African American
, 0.25% Native American
, 1.17% Asian
, 0.01% Pacific Islander
, 0.25% from other races
, and 0.88% from two or more races. Hispanic
of any race were 1.09% of the population.
There were 6,898 households out of which 35.8% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 64.8% were married couples living together, 7.7% had a female householder with no husband present, and 24.3% were non-families. 20.2% of all households were made up of individuals and 7.9% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.68 and the average family size was 3.13.
In the town the population was spread out with 26.7% under the age of 18, 6.5% from 18 to 24, 27.7% from 25 to 44, 27.7% from 45 to 64, and 11.3% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 39 years. For every 100 females there were 97.4 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 94.4 males.
The median income for a household in the town was $60,432, and the median income for a family was $70,521. Males had a median income of $48,457 versus $30,157 for females. The per capita income for the town was $25,816. About 2.4% of families and 3.0% of the population were below the poverty line, including 3.3% of those under age 18 and 5.1% of those age 65 or over.
Communities and locations on Grand Island
- Falconwood – A hamlet on the southeast shore of the town.
- Ferry Village – A hamlet on the border of Beaver Island State Park.
- Hennepin Road – Road within Grandyle Village named after a French explorer, Louis Hennepin, who observed and described Niagara Falls in 1677.
- Oakfield – A location north of Beaver Island State Park.
- Sheenwater – A location on the west shore of the island.
- Grandyle Village – A small neighborhood located near Beaver Island parkway and the South Grand Island Bridge.
- Sandy Beach – A hamlet in the northeast shore of the island.
- Fairview Court – A hamlet in the southwest shore of the island.
- Sour Springs Grove – A location by the shore in the southeast part of the town.
- North Grand Island Bridge – Bridge closest to Niagara Falls, New York.
- South Grand Island Bridge – Bridge closest to Tonawanda, a suburb of Buffalo, New York
Points of Interest
- Grand Island Rod and Gun Club – An outdoor rifle range, trap and skeet range, and archery range. There is also a small pond on the land for fishing.
- Beaver Island State Park – A state park located at the south end of the island. The park is fully developed for many recreational activities, including 18 holes of golf.
- Buckhorn Island State Park – A state park at the north end of Grand Island, noted for its attempts to preserve the local environment.
- Grand Island Nike Base – A town park and senior citizen center originally a US Army missile site which was part of Project Nike from the mid 1950s through the mid 1960s.
- Martin's Fantasy Island – 85-acre amusement park.
- Veterans Park – A park in the north part of the town.
- Woods Creek – A small stream that enters the Niagara River at Buckhorn Island Park.
Schools on Grand Island
Public schools are under the jurisdiction of the Grand Island Central School District
- Selig Adler & Thomas E. Connolly. From Ararat to Suburbia: the History of the Jewish Community of Buffalo (Philadelphia: the Jewish Publication Society of America, 1960, Library of Congress Number 60-15834).
- Rob Roy Macleod. Cinderella Island (Grand Island, NY: Grand Island Chamber of Commerce, 1969)