North Tonawanda is on the north side of the Erie Canal/Tonawanda Creek, across from Erie County, New York and the communities of the City of Tonawanda and the Town of Amherst. The Town of Wheatfield borders North Tonawanda on the north and east; the Niagara River serves as its western border, as Tonawanda Creek is its southern border. North Tonawanda is the second largest city in Niagara County.
North Tonawanda is known as "The Lumber City," because it was from the mid-19th century through the 1970s, a lumber transportation and forwarding center of significance because of the ready availability of lumber. It was the birthplace of the Herschell-Spillman Company/Allan Herschell Co., one of the leading manufacturers of carousels in America and is now the home of the Herschell Carrousel Factory Museum. In 1888, Herschell attracted expatriate Belgian Eugene de Kleist to North Tonawanda, who started the North Tonawanda Barrel Organ Factory to produce band organs. Taken over in 1909 by the Rudolph Wurlitzer Company after De Kleist became mayor of North Tonawanda in 1906, Wurlitzer became one of the largest musical instrument manufacturing plants in the world. The Ray H. Bennett Lumber Co., one of more than 150 lumber companies to have called North Tonawanda home, produced kit homes sold around the nation and Canada for 70 years. Richardson Boat, Buffalo Bolt, Durez Chemical, National Grinding Wheel, Taylor Devices, International Paper, Tonawanda Iron & Steel, Riverside Chemical, and hundreds of other successful manufacturing businesses called North Tonawanda home.
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