Dunkirk, New York

Coordinates: 42°28′46″N 79°20′02″W / 42.47944°N 79.33389°W / 42.47944; -79.33389
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Dunkirk, New York
Chadwicks Bay, Ganadawao[1]
Aerial view of Dunkirk, facing north over Lake Erie
Aerial view of Dunkirk, facing north over Lake Erie
Dunkirk is located in New York
Location of Dunkirk in New York
Dunkirk is located in the United States
Dunkirk (the United States)
Coordinates: 42°28′46″N 79°20′02″W / 42.47944°N 79.33389°W / 42.47944; -79.33389[1]
CountryUnited States
StateNew York
 • TypeMayor-Council
 • MayorWillie Rosas (D)
 • Common Council
 • Total4.57 sq mi (11.83 km2)
 • Land4.54 sq mi (11.77 km2)
 • Water0.02 sq mi (0.06 km2)
Elevation617 ft (188 m)
 • Total12,743
 • Density2,803.74/sq mi (1,082.59/km2)
ZIP Code
Area code716
FIPS code36-013-21105
WebsiteCity website

Dunkirk is a city in Chautauqua County, New York, United States. It was settled around 1805 and incorporated in 1880.[3] The population was 12,743 as of the 2020 census.[4] Dunkirk is bordered on the north by Lake Erie. It shares a border with the village of Fredonia to the south, and with the town of Dunkirk to the east and west. Dunkirk is the westernmost city in the state of New York.[5]


The Iroquoian languages-speaking Erie people occupied this area of the forested lakefront along the southern shore of Lake Erie well into the 1600s, when Europeans, mostly French, started trading around the Great Lakes. They were pushed out by the Seneca people, one of the Five Nations of the powerful Iroquois League, based here and further east in New York.[6][7] The European-American demarcation and settlement of Chadwick Bay and subsequent naming of Dunkirk - after Dunkirk in France[8] - began in earnest in 1826.[9]

Point Gratiot Lighthouse on Lake Erie in Dunkirk.
NRG Energy Power plant along Lake Erie in Dunkirk, shuttered since 2016.

The Dunkirk Lighthouse at Point Gratiot was built soon after and still stands. Dunkirk served as a minor railroad hub and steamship port on Lake Erie into the early 1900s. Both freight and passenger ships traveled the lakes.[7]

The city has been the site of the Chautauqua County Fair during the summer for more than 140 years, with the fairgrounds in use for sporadic events and functions at other points in the year.[1]

A major employer in Dunkirk in the second half of the 19th century was Brooks Locomotive Works, founded in 1869 by Horatio G. Brooks.[10] The Brooks plant built almost 4,000 steam locomotives, for which they won several awards at international exhibitions,[11][12] and a few of their locomotives were hailed as the fastest and largest locomotives in the world.[13][14] Brooks Locomotive Works was merged into American Locomotive Company in 1901.[15] The homestead of Horatio G. Brooks became the Brooks Memorial Hospital following a donation by Brooks's daughter in 1898.[16][17]

The city thrived as a steel town for Roebling and others through the 1950s. In addition, it was a manufacturing leader with Plymouth Tube and Ralston Purina. Its coal-burning Niagara Mohawk Power Corporation plant provided power for the region. The plant was mothballed in 2016, negatively impacting Dunkirk's tax base. NRG Energy acquired the plant and proceeded with plans to convert it from coal-burning to run on natural gas.[18] Since the 1970s, population has declined following a regional drop in manufacturing as the steel industry and other restructured. Overall employment has declined in the area.

Dunkirk gained international recognition in 1946 for the Dunkirk-to-Dunkerque campaign. It was a humanitarian assistance program for its namesake and sister city, Dunkerque, France, which had been devastated in World War II. Dunkirk-to-Dunkerque became the model for similar relief efforts in cities elsewhere in the United States.[19]

Beginning in the 1980s, the city refocused its economic efforts on revitalizing its pier[20] and fishing, to improve the quality of life for residents and attract more tourists. In addition, in 2016 it attracted a high-tech drug manufacturing project as part of business related to the state project of area investment called the "Buffalo Billion."[21]

In 2016, Willie Rosas, a former law enforcement officer, became the first Hispanic to be elected mayor in the State of New York.[22]


Dunkirk lies on the southeastern shore of Lake Erie and is 45 miles (72 km) southwest of Buffalo.

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has an area of 4.6 square miles (11.8 km2), of which 4.5 square miles (11.7 km2) is land and 0.04 square miles (0.1 km2), or 1.10%, is water.[4]


Historical population
U.S. Decennial Census[23]

As of the census[24] of 2010, there were 12,563 people, 5,477 households, and 3,690 families residing in the city. The population density was 2,774.6 people per square mile (1,119.2 per km2). There were 6,071 housing units at an average density of 1,340.6 per square mile (517.4 per km2). The city's racial makeup of the city was 65.70% White, 5.1% Black or African American, 0.52% Native American, 0.50 Asian, 0.02% Pacific Islander, 9.14% from other races, and 1.8% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 26.40% of the population.

There were 5,477 households, out of which 28.2% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 39.4% were married couples living together, 16.7% had a female householder with no husband present, and 39.1% were non-families. 33.4% of all households were made up of individuals, and 16.0% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.37 and the average family size was 3.02.

In the city, the population was spread out, with 25.3% under the age of 18, 9.0% from 18 to 24, 26.5% from 25 to 44, 21.5% from 45 to 64, and 17.6% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 37 years. For every 100 females, there were 90.9 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 85.8 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $28,313, and the median income for a family was $35,058. Males had a median income of $29,462 versus $21,682 for females. The per capita income for the city was $15,482. About 18.5% of families and 22.3% of the population were below the poverty line, including 38.0% of those under age 18 and 11.1% of those age 65 or over.

Law enforcement and fire/EMS[edit]

The city of Dunkirk has its own police force under the leadership of Police Chief David Ortolano. It employs full-time officers and part-time dispatchers for the police department only.

Dunkirk has a paid fire department under the leadership of Fire Chief Mike Edwards. There are three stations throughout the city staffed by the cities 24 Firefighter/EMT's. The firefighters belong to IAFF Local 616, the union for the city's firefighters.

As of 2011, Dunkirk Fire started handling 90 percent of EMS transports and billing accordingly. Alstar Ambulance still has a reduced contract with the city for advanced life support when needed. In recent years, Dunkirk Fire's dispatching merged with the county dispatch center in Mayville but still maintains its FCC ID of KED 653.

Alstar Ambulance has its north county satellite station on Monroe Street in Dunkirk just southwest of NY 60. Dispatching is still controlled by the main station in Jamestown via MEDCOM. Several transportable units are housed here. There is a fenced-in and pre-lit landing pad on the property for any medevac needing to use the landing pad.



Union Depot, Dunkirk, between c. 1890 and c. 1900

The Chautauqua County/Dunkirk Airport, in the town of Dunkirk, provides training facilities and charter services.[25]

Freight railroad service in Dunkirk is provided by CSX Transportation (via the Buffalo-Cleveland-Willard (Ohio)-Chicago Main Line) and Norfolk Southern Railway (Buffalo-Cleveland-Fort Wayne-Chicago Main Line). The Lake Shore Limited daily Amtrak passenger train passes through the city but does not stop. Erie Railroad and New York Central trains stopped at one station. Nickel Plate and Pennsylvania Railroad trains stopped at another station.[26][27] As recently as 1968 the New York Central operated a Buffalo-Chicago daytime train, #51, the former Empire State Express, that made a stop westbound in Dunkirk. Two other daily trains eastbound stopped in Dunkirk, #64 and #90, the former Chicagoan.[28] In the late 1990s Amtrak considered adding the city as a stop between Buffalo and Erie. Dunkirk was listed as a stop with service "to commence on a date to be announced" on several timetables, but the stop was never added.[29]

The New York State Thruway (Interstate 90) passes through the southern edge of the city, with access from Exit 59 (NY Route 60) just east of the city limits. The Thruway leads northeast 42 miles (68 km) to the outskirts of Buffalo and southwest 28 miles (45 km) to the Pennsylvania border. New York State Route 5 runs through the center of the city, leading northeast 9 miles (14 km) to Silver Creek and southwest 18 miles (29 km) to Westfield. New York State Route 60 runs from Dunkirk south, heading toward Jamestown, New York.


  • The Observer newspaper is published in Dunkirk.[30]
  • WDOE AM radio station in Dunkirk, co-owned with Fredonia FM sister station, WBKX.


Climate data for Dunkirk, New York (Dunkirk Chautauqua Airport) 1981–2010, extremes 1945–present
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °F (°C) 72
Average high °F (°C) 33.6
Daily mean °F (°C) 26.2
Average low °F (°C) 18.9
Record low °F (°C) −16
Average precipitation inches (mm) 1.93
Source 1: NOAA[31][32]
Source 2: The Weather Channel[33]

Notable people[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c "Dunkirk". Geographic Names Information System. United States Geological Survey, United States Department of the Interior.
  2. ^ "ArcGIS REST Services Directory". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved September 20, 2022.
  3. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2011-07-14. Retrieved 2010-04-17.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  4. ^ a b "Geographic Identifiers: 2010 Demographic Profile Data (G001): Dunkirk city, New York". U.S. Census Bureau, American Factfinder. Archived from the original on February 12, 2020. Retrieved October 30, 2014.
  5. ^ "2013 ACS Vintage TIGERweb". U.S. Census Bureau. Retrieved October 30, 2014.
  6. ^ "Dunkirk: Between 1626 to 1798". Dunkirk Historical Society. Retrieved July 17, 2016.
  7. ^ a b "History of Dunkirk Lighthouse". Dunkirk Lighthouse and Veterans Park Museum. Retrieved July 17, 2016.
  8. ^ Gannett, Henry (1905). The Origin of Certain Place Names in the United States. Govt. Print. Off. pp. 110.
  9. ^ Bush, Gladys A. Dunkirk: A Chronology and Index of Historical Facts. Dunkirk Historical Society. Archived from the original on 2016-04-23. Retrieved 2016-07-17.
  10. ^ "Leading Industry of Busy Dunkirk; History of the Brooks Locomotive Works". The Buffalo Review. Buffalo, NY. October 11, 1899. p. 6 – via Newspapers.com. open access
  11. ^ "Railway Exposition". The Inter Ocean. Chicago, IL. June 28, 1883. p. 3 – via Newspapers.com. open access
  12. ^ "Brooks Locomotives. Awarded a Medal and Diploma by the World's Fair Commission". Buffalo Courier. Buffalo, NY. June 3, 1896. p. 7 – via Newspapers.com. open access
  13. ^ "The Railway Record". Buffalo Courier. Buffalo, NY. April 18, 1896. p. 7 – via Newspapers.com. Average speed 72.92 miles an hour. Maximum speed 92.3 miles an hour. open access
  14. ^ "Brooks Locomotive Works Building Giant Engine". The Buffalo Enquirer. Buffalo, NY. August 15, 1899. p. 7 – via Newspapers.com. open access
  15. ^ "In Dunkirk". Buffalo Courier. Buffalo, NY. June 23, 1901. p. 22 – via Newspapers.com. open access
  16. ^ "The Social Chronicle: Coming and Going". Buffalo Evening News. Buffalo, NY. May 10, 1898. p. 11 – via Newspapers.com. open access
  17. ^ "City May Run Hospital". The Ithaca Journal. Ithaca, New York. June 27, 1924. p. 6 – via Newspapers.com. open access
  18. ^ "NRG ready to revive Dunkirk power plant project". The Buffalo News. 2016-11-21.
  19. ^ "The Dunkirk-to-Dunkerque Heritage Center". Retrieved December 20, 2020.
  20. ^ "Dunkirk Boardwalk Market". Chautauqua Art Trail. Archived from the original on 2016-08-16. Retrieved July 17, 2016.
  21. ^ "Giant drug factory planned for Dunkirk will extend the reach of the Buffalo Billion". The Buffalo News. February 4, 2016. Retrieved July 17, 2016.
  22. ^ "Dunkirk swears in first elected Hispanic Mayor in NYS". USA Today. January 1, 2016. Retrieved March 8, 2020.
  23. ^ "Census of Population and Housing". Census.gov. Retrieved June 4, 2015.
  24. ^ "U.S. Census website". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2008-01-31.
  25. ^ "www.dkk.com网站建设中". www.dkk.com.
  26. ^ "Index of Railroad Stations, p. 1530". Official Guide of the Railways. National Railway Publication Company. 64 (9). February 1932.
  27. ^ "Index of Railroad Stations, p. 1317". Official Guide of the Railways. National Railway Publication Company. 78 (12). May 1946.
  28. ^ "New York Central January 1968 timetable" (PDF). www.canadasouthern.com.
  29. ^ "DUNKIRK MAY OPEN AMTRAK STATION". Buffalo News  – via HighBeam Research (subscription required). January 5, 1996. Archived from the original on March 29, 2015. Retrieved 2012-12-03.
  30. ^ "News, Sports, Jobs - Observer Today". www.observertoday.com.
  31. ^ "NOWData - NOAA Online Weather Data". National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Retrieved September 27, 2015.
  32. ^ "NY Dunkirk Chautauqua AP". National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Retrieved September 27, 2015.
  33. ^ "Climate Statistics for Dunkirk, New York". The Weather Channel. Retrieved March 29, 2012.
  34. ^ Samuel Hopkins Adams, Encyclopædia Britannica
  35. ^ "Dunkirk Native Toby Holicki Returns For Eastern Premiere Of His Movie Wednesday," Dunkirk Evening Observer, 1 October 1974, Dunkirk-Fredonia, New York.
  36. ^ "Valor awards for Thomas Horan | Military Times Hall of Valor". Archived from the original on 2012-05-19. Retrieved 2010-04-17.
  37. ^ "CMOHS.org - Sergeant HORAN, THOMAS, U.S. Army". www.cmohs.org. Retrieved 2018-03-29.
  38. ^ Gates, Alexander E. (2003). A to Z of earth scientists. New York: Facts on File. pp. 132–134. ISBN 978-1-4381-0919-0. OCLC 234234247.
  39. ^ Van Miller Archived 2011-06-05 at the Wayback Machine, Buffalo Sports Hall of Fame
  40. ^ "Best DHS Nicknames". Archived from the original on 2009-05-30. Retrieved 2010-04-28., Dunkirk High School Yearbook
  41. ^ "About Wendy Corsi Staub".

External links[edit]