4.5 out of 10


Ranked 53rd best city in New York
42.9823287152185 -78.8623456417157
Great for
  • Internet Access
  • Eating Out
  • Medical Facilities
  • Neighborly Spirit
  • Parking
Not great for
  • No ratings yet
Who lives here?
  • Professionals
  • Singles
  • Families with kids
  • Retirees
  • LGBT+


2/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 4/5
  • Safe & Sound 3/5
  • Clean & Green 1/5
  • Pest Free 4/5
  • Peace & Quiet 2/5
  • Eating Out 5/5
  • Nightlife 4/5
  • Parks & Recreation 4/5
  • Shopping Options 5/5
  • Gym & Fitness 5/5
  • Internet Access 5/5
  • Lack of Traffic 3/5
  • Parking 4/5
  • Cost of Living 4/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 3/5
  • Public Transport 3/5
  • Medical Facilities 5/5
  • Schools 2/5
  • Childcare 4/5

"Between Buffalo and the Falls"

North of Buffalo and south of Niagara Falls is the Town of Tonawanda, home to about 74,000 people. Tonawanda means “swift waters,” and was the name given to the area by its original Native American inhabitants. The Town of Tonawanda includes the City of Tonawanda (population about 15,000), as well as the Village of Kenmore (population also about 15,000.) The latter two are sometimes referred to as “Ken-Ton,” and all three are part of the Buffalo–Niagara Falls metropolitan area.

Here the Erie Canal joins the Niagara River, and there are miles of bike trails and walking paths along the riverfronts of Niawanda and Gateway Parks. Although this area has a reputation as a snowy Arctic, both Syracuse and Rochester actually receive more snow, and the Buffalo-Niagara Falls area has some of the best summer weather in the East. Everyone takes advantage of the sunshine, with many outdoor summer concerts, a Canal Fest in July, and lots of boating.

Like Buffalo, Tonawanda was once a thriving industrial hub. Its chief industry was Spaulding Fibre, manufacturer of leatherboard, bakelite, and fiberglass tubing. During the turn of the century, most residents moved here because of manufacturing jobs. By the 1960s, however, the company was sold and began declining, and it closed its doors in 1992.

Because of its industrial background, this area continues to have quite a few environmental problems. Tonawanda’s industrial area is home to 53 different air polluting industries, and in 2009 the Environmental Control Manager for Tonawanda Coke Corporation was arrested for covering up violations of clean air, clean water, and toxic waste laws (coke being the product derived from coal and used for fuel and in steelmaking, not the shortened version of Coca-Cola.)

This event galvanized some of the population, and now there are citizen watchdog groups that continue to monitor these industries, and to try to work with (or, if that fails, bring lawsuits against) various state agencies to enforce stricter environmental regulations. Green energy and initiatives are big here, with a town-sponsored website (www.RenewTonawanda.org) dedicated to offering residents grants, subsidies, rebates, etc. to lower their energy costs and use renewable energy.

You can find all kinds of housing in Tonawanda, from apartments and condos to multi-family dwellings, from small single-family homes to large McMansions. The median house/condo value is about $92,000.

The crime rate here is about 40% lower than the national average for violent crime, and about 10% lower than average for property crime.

The Kenmore-Town of Tonawanda School District is one of the largest in the state, serving over 8,400 students; North Tonawanda and the City of Tonawanda each have separate districts. Buffalo Business First publishes an annual list rating public and private schools in the eight counties of Western New York in terms of academic excellence, and last year, out of 280 elementary schools, Tonawanda, Ken-Ton and North Tonawanda came in 22, 61, 77, 86, 89, 90, 97, 99, 107, 108, 109, 123, 142, 159, 167, 173, 187, 194, 202, 207; out of 210 middle schools, 19, 37 46, 51, 59, 67, 70, 113, 117, 121, 143; and out of 133 high schools, 8, 11, 60, 68, 69, 75, 87, and 92.

There’s lots to do here, whether it’s right in Tonawanda, twenty minutes south in Buffalo, or twenty minutes north, where you’ll find the legendary Niagara Falls. Right in Tonawanda is the Veterans Memorial, with its famous blue Korean War-era Grumman F9F–6P Krueger Naval airframe; there is also a local recreation area, with a skate park, ice hockey rink, tennis court, and soccer field. You can continue on to the Buffalo Zoo, the Buffalo Museum of Science, the Botanical Gardens, or the Buffalo and Erie County Naval and Military Park. There’s the Explorer and More Children’s Museum, and the Herschel Carousel Factory Museum, both great for kids. You can go on a 45-minute Whirlpool Jet Boat tour into the Niagara River Gorge, or, if you’d rather supply your own power, rent a kayak from Buffalo Harbor Kayaks.

You’re so close to Canada that Canadian shoppers routinely cross the border to shop for bargains in New York, so as long as you’re in this area theatre lovers should head for the Stratford Shakespeare Festival in Ontario, which the Chicago Tribune says is “North America’s largest and arguably its most prestigious classically-based theater.”

Hospitals near Tonawanda include the Kenmore Mercy Hospital in Kenmore, and the Sisters of Charity Hospital and the Erie County Medical Center, both in Buffalo.

There are 3 Amtrak stations within 11 miles of Tonawanda, and the largest airport is the Buffalo–Niagara Airport.

One last info bit: in Mark Twain’s “The Diary of Adam and Eve,” published in 1904, Tonawanda is where the pair ended up after they were thrown out of the Garden of Eden. Check out Tonawanda and decide for yourself!
  • lots to do
  • nice summer weather, snow-lover's dream
  • affordable housing
  • industrial pollution sites
  • long winters
  • some crime areas
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Singles
  • Families with kids
  • Retirees
  • Tourists
  • LGBT+
  • Students
  • Country Lovers

Best Neighborhoods in Tonawanda

"Whatever you need to find!"
42.9742375029946 -78.878766846008

Unranked Neighborhoods in Tonawanda

"Beautiful, Quiet Street"
42.9750508509887 -78.8695708395707

Curtis Park

"Fond childhood memories of the park"
42.9780806941487 -78.8308918685914
"Where memories are made"
43.0186853075132 -78.8256486452445
"Deumant Terr"
42.9631124706195 -78.8470199735372

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