In the 1700s, the village of Niles was first settled by Potawatomi Indians before its official city incorporation in 1899. The first pioneers settled from Germany and favored the area for its rich farmland and low cost.
In 1832, the first log cabin was built in Niles by John Schadegar and Jules Perren. In 1834, Christian F. Ebinger, from Ann Arbor, Michigan, settled in the area and built a second home. Ebinger's acquaintance with Chief Black Hawk led to friendly relations with the Potawatomi Indians.
The first school was erected in 1838, and the Niles Township was incorporated in 1850. During that period, the only local doctor was Theo Hoffman, who arrived in about 1850. Danish, Bohemian, Polish and English immigrants migrated into the area around 1870, and by 1884, the population was made up of about 200 people. During the city's incorporation in 1899, John Huntington was elected the first mayor.
As of 2014, the estimated population was 30,000 with about 13,000 of its residents being foreign-born. A 2013 community survey returned results showing the median age to be 48.3, with the highest percentage of residents aged 50 to 59. The median household income is $46,763, and the city boasts roughly 3,664 businesses.