Lackawanna, city (1990 pop. 20,585), Erie co., W N.Y., on Lake Erie; inc. 1909. Formerly a major steel-making center, Lackawanna experienced the rapid and total decline of its foremost industry in the 1970s and 80s. Abrasives, chemicals, and concrete are produced there. A distinguished city landmark is the elaborate Basilica of Our Lady of Victory, a Roman Catholic shrine.
Lackawanna, river, 35 mi (56 km) long, rising in NE Pa. and flowing southwest to join the Susquehanna River near Pittston. It crosses the chief anthracite-coal region of the state, passing the cities of Scranton, Dunmore, Dickson City, and Carbondale.
Lackawanna is a city in Erie County, New York, U.S., located just south of the city of Buffalo in the western part of New York state. The population was 19,064 at the 2000 census. The name derives from the Lackawanna River. It is part of the Buffalo–Niagara Falls Metropolitan Statistical Area. The City of Lackawanna is in the western part of the county.


The City of Lackawanna has a mayor-council form of government. A councilman is elected for each of the four wards of the city. The mayor and council president are elected at large. Fire and police services are also provided by city run departments.


Originally part of the Buffalo Creek Reservation, the area was not open to settlement until 1842 when the land was sold by the Seneca Indians. In 1851 the town of Seneca was formed (changed to West Seneca in 1852) with the area now known as Lackawanna being called West Seneca or Limestone Hill. The Lackawanna Steel Company moved to the area in 1902, and in 1909 the residents of the area voted to split off from West Seneca and the City of Lackawanna was formed.

Lackawanna was a center of steel manufacture throughout most of the 20th century. In 1899 all the land along the West Seneca shore of Lake Erie was purchased by the Lackawanna Steel Company. Construction was started in 1900 and the plant began operation in 1903. The Lackawanna Steel Company was acquired by the Bethlehem Steel Company in 1922. With the 20th century growth of the Bethlehem Steel plant, at one time the fourth largest in the world, came the continued growth of the city and its institutions. At its peak the plant employed 20,000 people. It attracted people from many lands to settle here and make their homes. However, the latter half of the 20th century saw the decline of the steel plant and finally its closure.

In recent years, efforts have been made to convert the former steel plant brownfields to other uses. The site does have a diversity of tenants, some occupy buildings remaining from the former steel plant and a few in newer buildings. These efforts have been opposed by many sectors, as the alleged contamination of the field has been said by some to have caused cancer and other medical issues. EPA reports are still ongoing and contested. Wind turbines were built on the former Bethlehem Steel property in 2007. These initial eight turbines will provide power for up to 7,000 households.

Notable Court Case

The City of Lackawanna was the defendant in the 1971 district court decision Kennedy-Park Homes Association v. City of Lackawanna. This court decision forbade the municipal government (City of Lackawanna) from interfering with the construction of a low-income housing development in a predominantly white section of the city. It was decided that such action would amount to racial discrimination.

The Lackawanna Six

The Lackawanna Six (also known as the Buffalo Six) are a group of alleged Al-Qaida members, who were convicted of providing "material support" to Al-Qaida. They were accused of traveling to Afghanistan and Pakistan in the spring of 2001 to attend terrorist training camps. However, they claimed that their travel was only to Pakistan and was for religious instruction. The group was arrested in Lackawanna, September 13th 2002, by the FBI. In December 2003, the group pled guilty and were given various sentences in federal prison. The incident had tarnished the city's reputation, but it is recovering.

Religious Institutions

The City of Lackawanna is home to fourteen Protestant churches, the Masjid Alhuda Guidance Mosque (the largest mosque in the Buffalo area) , ten Roman Catholic churches, one of which is Our Lady of Victory Basilica (OLV), and Saint Stephen Serbian Orthodox Church.

Our Lady of Victory Basilica

Our Lady of Victory Basilica, located in Lackawanna, is a National Shrine. Next to Our Lady of Victory (OLV) Basilica is Holy Cross Cemetery. It has been a parish cemetery since 1849, although burials date back to 1830. Father Nelson Baker was responsible for the building of working boy's home (protectory)in 1898. He also supervised construction of an infants' home in 1907, a maternity home in 1915, Our Lady of Victory Hospital in 1919, and the Basilica of Our Lady of Victory in 1926. Father Baker named the Basilica after the shrine of Notre Dame des Victoires in Paris, France, which he visited as a seminarian in 1874. He was in charge of the Basilica and the various institutions of charity until his death at 94, on July 29 1936.

Father Baker's social programs have evolved into Baker Victory Services, which care for more than 2,500 children each day. Our Lady of Victoy Hospital, closed in 1999, is being converted into senior housing . The Homes of Charity provide the funds to continue his social programs through donations, and Our Lady of Victory Basilica had its 75th Anniversary in 2001. In addition, the Catholic Church named Father Baker "Servant of God" in 1987, the first step towards declaring him a saint. In 1999, Father Nelson Baker's remains were moved from Holy Cross Cemetery and re-interred inside the basilica. This was a recommended step for his canonization process. His cause for canonization is under review by Vatican officials.


Lackawanna is located at (42.819391, -78.825637).

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 6.1 square miles (15.9 km²), all of it land. Lackawanna sits on Lake Erie, although the waterfront is occupied by the remnants of the Bethlehem Steel facility. Smokes Creek (named after Seneca Indian Chief Sayenqueraghta who was nicknamed "Old Smoke") runs through the city before it discharges into Lake Erie.

Abbott Road is a major road that runs from north to south through the city. Ridge Road is also a main east to west road in the city.

Adjacent Cities & Towns

Major Highways in the City of Lackawanna

  • Interstate 90 (New York State Thruway), runs through the extreme southeast corner of the city.
  • U.S. Route 62 (South Park Ave.), North-South roadway that runs through the city from Buffalo into Blasdell and Hamburg.
  • New York State Route 5 (Fuhrmann Blvd., Hamburg Tprk.), North-South roadway through the city that runs from Hamburg to Buffalo. Busy north-south route for traffic to and from Buffalo.


As of the census of 2000, there were 19,064 people, 8,192 households, and 4,775 families residing in the city. The population density was 3,114.0 people per square mile (1,202.7/km²). There were 8,951 housing units at an average density of 1,462.1/sq mi (564.7/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 83.99% White, 9.50% African American, 0.40% Native American, 0.31% Asian, 0.01% Pacific Islander, 2.30% from other races, and 3.49% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 5.08% of the population. The population of whites includes a significantly large Yemeni population.

There were 8,192 households out of which 26.0% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 37.2% were married couples living together, 16.5% had a female householder with no husband present, and 41.7% were non-families. 37.0% of all households were made up of individuals and 15.9% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.30 and the average family size was 3.06.

In the city the population was spread out with 24.5% under the age of 18, 8.5% from 18 to 24, 28.0% from 25 to 44, 20.4% from 45 to 64, and 18.5% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 38 years. For every 100 females there were 92.3 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 87.5 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $29,354, and the median income for a family was $39,237. Males had a median income of $32,063 versus $22,794 for females. The per capita income for the city was $16,727. About 13.1% of families and 16.7% of the population were below the poverty line, including 27.4% of those under age 18 and 9.0% of those age 65 or over.


Children in Lackawanna attend school in the Lackawanna City School District. Grades Pre-K to 2 attend Truman Elementary School. Martin Road Elementary School has grades 3-6. In a shared building, Grades 7 through 8 are in the Lackawanna Middle School section and Grades 9 through 12 are in Lackawanna High School section. Also, Our Lady Of Victory Elementary School offers education from Kindergarten through Grade 8 along with the Global Concepts Charter School which offers education from Kindergarten through Grade 5. Lackawanna Senior High School was nationally famous in the 1960s because of race riots. It was also famous in the 1960s and early 70s because of its dominant football teams (quarterbacked by Ron Jaworski for some of those years).

Notable Residents

Nicholas DeSantis, The current Head Supervisor of Parks and Recreation.

Photos of Lackawanna


External links

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