Lockport is a city in Niagara County, New York, United States. The population was 22,279 at the 2000 census. The name is derived from a set of Erie canal locks within the city. Lockport is the county seat of Niagara County and is surrounded by the Town of Lockport. It is part of the Buffalo–Niagara Falls Metropolitan Statistical Area.
The construction of the Erie Canal was authorized by the New York State Legislature in April 1816. The route proposed by surveyors was to traverse an area in central Niagara County, NY, which was then completely undeveloped and totally lacking in any settlement. At the time, the nearest settlers were located in nearby Cold Springs, NY. 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 whole area of what would eventually become Lockport was owned by only fifteen men, many of whom were Quakers.
The canal reached Lockport in 1824, but the locks were not completed until 1825. By 1829, Lockport had become an established village. The community was centered around 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 neighborhoods of Lowertown and North Lockport.
The City of Lockport was officially 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 were replaced by two much larger locks E34 and E35. The north "flight of five" lock chambers still remain as a spill way.
In recent years public officals and private buisnesses have made an effort to incorporate Lockport history into regional if not a national tourist attraction. This includes the completion of the Canal Discovery Center, Lockport Cave Tours, and The Lockport Locks and Erie Canal Cruises. Currently, 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 that a living history site in Lockport marketed as a day trip from Niagara Falls could draw thousands to Lockport yearly.
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) of it is land and 0.1 square miles (0.3 km²) of it (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 locks. Originally, five smaller locks were used.
Lockport is at the junction of several major trunk roads, including NY Route 78 (North Transit Road), NY Route 31, NY Route 77 and NY Route 93. It is 17 miles morth of Interstate 90.
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.
- A museum is located in the old lock control structure and contains historic photograps, maps, engineering drawings, and machinery.
- The Canal Discovery Center is housed in an old church about 100 yards to the west of the locks.
- Lockport is home to the widest bridge in North America which spans the canal to the southwest of the locks.
- The Lockport Caves tour can be taken near the locks.
- The Niagara County Historical Society located at 215 Niagara Street in Lockport, NY. It is a complex of buildings that together 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 located 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 is now the home of the Molson Canal Concert Series on Fridays in the summer. The series brings national acts to the recently constructed Ulrich City Centre and eventsare free of admission charge.
As of the census
of 2000, there were 22,279 people, 9,459 households, and 5,609 families residing in the city. The population density
was 2,612.4 people per square mile (1,008.4/km²). There were 10,341 housing units at an average density of 1,212.6/sq mi (468.1/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 91.04% White
, 5.78% Black
or African American
, 0.47% Native American
, 0.48% Asian
, 0.01% Pacific Islander
, 0.50% from other races
, and 1.72% from two or more races. Hispanic
of any race were 2.06% of the population.
There were 9,459 households out 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.
In the city the population was spread out with 25.8% 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 income for a household in the city was $35,222, and the median income for a family was $44,614. Males had a median income of $35,197 versus $23,944 for females. The per capita income for the city 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 the year 2003, Michael Tucker was elected mayor of the city of Lockport. He is currently serving a four-year term. John Lombardi, III is the President of the Common Council.
Some people of note who were born in Lockport are:
- Kim Alexis, supermodel
- LtCol William G. Gregory, astronaut(ret.) in the NASA Space Shuttle program
- Herbert C. Harrison, sometimes credited with the invention of the modern honeycomb automobile radiator
- Stephanie Miller, nationally syndicated radio talk show host (and daughter of William E. Miller)
- William E. Miller, 1964 vice-presidential running mate of Barry Goldwater
- William G. Morgan, inventor of volleyball
- Joyce Carol Oates, author and professor
- Daren Stone, professional football player, currently playing for the Atlanta Falcons
- Mark Wahlstrom, founder of The Legal Broadcast Network
Some people of note who have resided in Lockport are:
- Geoffrey Giuliano, author, actor and syndicated radio host.
- 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.
- Aaron Albert Mossell, first African American to graduated from the University of Pennsylvania Law School
- Birdsill Holly, inventor; credited with inventing the first integrated fire hydrant system along with 150 U.S. patents
- Peca, Paulette (2005), Lockport, Arcadia Publishing, ISBN 0738512222