For a visitor exploring Niagara Falls, or even for a long-term resident, some mention is necessary of the history of the city, in order to understand what one might encounter.  The first point is that today's City of Niagara Falls is an amalgamation of earlier separate communities.   

There has been some European presence in the Niagara area since the late 1600s, when the French first arrived in the area, and created a fort at the mouth of the Niagara River.  However, major settlement occurred over a century later in the wake of the American Revolution, when the Loyalists came north to what was then Upper Canada, a part of British North America.  The Loyalists came from many backgrounds, including American blacks and a surprising number of people of German heritage, and the Niagara area was one of the ongoing destinations of the Underground Railway. 

The communities that now make up the City of Niagara Falls were Stamford (the north west area), Clifton, incorporating the main tourist area, Drummondville, (near the corner of Lundy's Lane and Main Street), Chippawa (to the south), Willoughby Township and parts of Crowland Township.  This means that the present city has a number of historic central areas - not just one.  For the architectural tourist, this means that both historic and more recent sites of interest are spread over the entire city. 

The Niagara area was fought over during both the American Revolution and the War of 1812, giving an interesting historical context and numbers of battlefields.

The economic basis of Niagara Falls has always incorporated tourism, but the availability of power and transportation links caused the development of industry.  In particular, in the post World War 2 period, Niagara Falls prospered.  With the arrival of free trade with the United States in the 1980s, the advantage of American firms having a Canadian manufacturing facility decreased.  This was combined with increasing globalisation, so the manufacturing base of Niagara Falls diminished.  However, the population of Niagara Falls has continued to increase, rising to 88,071 in 2016, with the economy embracing tourism, including legalised gambling, and the expanding wine industry,  

The ongoing success of the tourism industry results from a variety of factors.  The first is geographical - the view of both of the falls is better from the Canadian side.  In addition, the development of heavy river-side industry on the American side did not occur in Canada.  One reason is the ongoing involvement of the Province of Ontario in supporting tourism.  An integral part of the Niagara experience results from the activities of the Niagara Parks Commission, an agency of the province set up in 1885.  It controls 62.2 hectares of land around the falls, and over 1,300 hectares of land along the Niagara River frontage.  The province also has had programmes to support the expanding wine industry and casinos. 

The result of this unique and complex history is that there is a collection of buildings and other places, within and beyond the tourist areas, that are worth visiting.