Grand Island, New York
|Elevation||591 ft (180.1 m)|
|Area||33.3 sq mi (86.2 km2)|
|- land||28.5 sq mi (74 km2)|
|- water||4.8 sq mi (12 km2), 14.41%|
|Density||715 / sq mi (276.1 / km2)|
|Town Supervisor||Mary Cooke (R)|
|- summer (DST)||EDT (UTC-4)|
|GNIS feature ID||0979012|
Grand Island is a town and an island in Erie County, New York, USA. As of the 2010 census, the town population is 20,374. This represents an increase of 9.41% from the 2000 census figure. The current town name derives from the French name La Grande Île, as Grand Island is the largest island in the Niagara River and fourth largest in the state. The phrase La Grande Île appears on the town seal.
Over the course of its history, the island has served as home to the Attawandaron Nation, and been an acquisition of both French and English colonial pursuits. In 1945, Grand Island was part of a plan to make a new World Peace Capital on the international border between Southern Ontario and Western New York. The plan proposed placing the United Nations headquarters on adjacent Navy Island (Ontario, Canada), which was considered an ideal location because it lay on the boundary between two peaceful countries. An artist's rendering of the World Peace Capital (as seen in the George Seibel Niagara River Collection at the Niagara Falls Public Library in Niagara Falls, Ontario) showed the property with bridges spanning both countries (at Grand Island in the US and the Canadian mainland on the other side). The proposal was ultimately turned down in favor of the current U.N. headquarters in New York City.
The Town of Grand Island is located at the northwestern corner of Erie County, on the western edge of New York State and on the Canada–US international border, although there is no river crossing. It is northwest of Buffalo and is traversed by Interstate 190 and New York State Route 324.
Period before the American Revolution
In the early historical period of the island, the 16th century, French explorers found members of the Neutral Nation of Native Americans, also known as the Attawandaron, living on the island; by 1651, the nearby Seneca Nation had chased off or killed the Neutrals, having also absorbed some of the survivors. The Seneca used the island for hunting and fishing.
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 $1,000 in hand, and annually, forever, a perpetuity 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. However, the idea failed to attract Noah's fellow Jews and it never got further than a ceremonial laying of a cornerstone. 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 stated that no Native American lands were 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 (86 km2), of which 28.5 square miles (74 km2) is land and 4.8 square miles (12 km2) (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, about three miles upstream (east) of the Falls.
The town lies adjacent to the international border between Ontario and the United States. As there is no direct bridge or ferry connection from the island to Canada, there are no customs or immigration services available. 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 and towns
- Niagara Falls, Regional Municipality of Niagara, Ontario, Canada – west
- Fort Erie, Regional Niagara – southwest
- Town of Tonawanda, Erie County – southeast
- City of North Tonawanda, Niagara County – east
- Town of Wheatfield, Niagara County – northeast
- City of Niagara Falls, Niagara County – northwest
- Interstate 190 (Niagara Thruway), crosses the island from north to southeast by the way of the North and South Grand Island Bridges.
- New York State Route 324 (Grand Island Blvd.), East-West Highway from its northwest terminus at I-190 southeast through the central part of town, joining I-190 as the route travels east (south) to the Town of Tonawanda by the South Grand Island Bridge. (This was the route across town between the single-span bridges that opened in 1935 until I-190 and the second spans were constructed in the 1960s.)
- 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 per square mile (99.6/km²). The racial makeup of the town was 95.80% White, 3.17% 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 or Latino 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
- Fairview Court – A hamlet on the southwest shore of the island.
- Falconwood – A hamlet on the southeast shore of the town.
- Ferry Village – A hamlet on the border of Beaver Island State Park.
- Grandyle Village – Neighborhood (and census-designated place located near Beaver Island Parkway and the South Grand Island Bridge.
- Hennepin Road – Road within Grandyle Village named after a French explorer, Louis Hennepin, who observed and described Niagara Falls in 1677.
- North Grand Island Bridge – Bridge north to the city of Niagara Falls.
- Oakfield – A location north of Beaver Island State Park.
- Sandy Beach – A hamlet in the northeast shore of the island.
- Sheenwater – A location on the west shore of the island.
- Sour Springs Grove – A location by the shore in the southeast part of the town.
- South Grand Island Bridge – Bridge southeast to Tonawanda, a suburb of Buffalo.
Points of interest
- 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.
- Serene Gardens – a garden center and restaurant located on the north end of the island. The store offers authentic Japanese cuisines, landscape design services, and more
- 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.
- Martin's Fantasy Island – 85-acre (340,000 m2) amusement park.
- River Lea Farmhouse – an 1849 Victorian farmhouse once owned by Grover Cleveland's uncle, who hired Cleveland to work on the farm, the future president's first job.
- 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.
- Spaulding-Sidway Boathouse – listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1998.
- Jimmy Arias – retired tennis player
- Dale Brown – best-selling military techno-thriller novelist, graduated from Grand Island High School 1974
- Stacy Clark – singer/songwriter; graduated from Grand Island High School 1998
- Grover Cleveland – 22nd & 24th U.S. President, owned a home at Beaver Island
- Charles N. DeGlopper – World War II hero born and raised on Grand Island
- Carlin Hartman – assistant men's basketball coach, University of Richmond
- Mordecai Noah – an American playwright, diplomat, journalist, and utopian; he tried to found a Jewish homeland at Grand Island
- Brett Kern – NFL player for the Tennessee Titans
- Larry Playfair – retired NHL player
- Bill Scherrer – retired MLB player
- Doug Smith – journalist, actor, author, retired WIVB-TV personality; has lived on GI since 1967
- Neil Tetkowski – sculptor and artisan
Schools on Grand Island
Public schools are under the jurisdiction of the Grand Island Central School District.
- Grand Island High School
- Veronica E. Connor Middle School
- William M. Kaegebein Elementary School
- Huth Road Elementary School
- Charlotte Sidway Elementary School
Dining on Grand Island
- 2010 Census City and Town Growth via NYPIRG
- "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2008-01-31.
- "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 2009-03-13.
- 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)
- Grand Island history
- Highlights of the History of Grand Island, NY
- Grand Island Info
- Historic Preservation on Grand Island
- 2009 School Bus Wreck Info